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January 13, 2003

Is Hostility to Civil Rights Racist?

Just One Minute disses Ralph Neas of People for the American Way for stating that the organization does not accuse Pickering of being a racist, but opposes him for his hostility to civil rights principles.

Tom snarks: "OK, he is not a racist, he is just insensitive and hostile to basic civil rights principles. My confusion deepens. "

Now here I sense conservatives trying to play rhetoric games. When lefties like myself accuse conservatives of being racist, we are told that just because they disagree on policies to help blacks, we shouldn't label them racists.

So Neas takes the "responsible" position and merely criticizes Pickering's public policy position. And he gets dissed as insincere and/or incoherent.

I've often thought that we do need a word for those who are indifferent to changing the institutional barriers that maintains racial inequality, as opposed to those (like Pickering in the 1960s) who supported active polices to maintain inequality.

Now, I'm a believer in the story of the Good Samaratin, so those who enjoy the benefits of inequality and do nothing to end it are no less sinning than those who actively created the ineqality in the first place. See this post. But for purely rhetorical purposes, an extra word would be useful. "Institutional racist" has been tried out and is serviceable, but it's still a bit clunky. Any suggestions?

Posted by Nathan at January 13, 2003 07:17 PM

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