Our view of the soft sciences grows dimmer by the day, but it’s good to know there are at least a few people involved with the discipline who haven’t completely lost their minds. While most sociologists were quick to jump on the woke bandwagon (to the extent they weren’t responsible for building that wagon in the first place), one professor at the University of Illinois is warning that today’s tendency to smear everything and everyone as “racist” is having the opposite of its intended effect.
In an article for Persuasion, Professor Ilana Redstone said that using that term to describe everything that violates your political philosophy has robbed it of any meaning whatsoever.
“The charge of racism can be reputation-destroying and have long-term psychological effects,” Redstone wrote. “Yet its excessive application dilutes that power—for example, applying the word ‘racist’ to both Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church in 2015, and a local-business promotion in Seattle involving decorative monkeys. The antiracist strategy is not only weakening its own best weapon, it’s backfiring.”
Redstone went on to explain that one can support racial equality without buying into the woke, “antiracist” propaganda.
“The argument of antiracist activists is that, if you stand against their methods, you oppose their ends, no matter how much you insist otherwise. Unsurprisingly, this has narrowed the spectrum of acceptable views on sensitive topics,” she wrote. For example, opposition to affirmative action and support for increased border restrictions are two positions labeled racist under the expanded definition. Racial hostility is a possible motivation for those positions. After all, affirmative action was intended to benefit members of under-represented minorities; and much of the immigration to the West in the 21st century involves non-white migrants.
“But one might have non-racist motives for such views, including concerns over whether affirmative action is the best way to help the targeted groups,” she continued. “And supporting restrictions on immigration could be rooted in concerns about the economic implications. Even if you dispute those positions, you would be mistaken to label their advocates with one of the most negative terms we have—not only because that would be unjust, but because it’s counterproductive.”
The real problem here is that we’ve shut down conversation. At the end of the day, our society – nay, our entire Western civilization – depends on our ability to discuss and hone ideas. That can’t happen when we let a small minority of woke leftists shout “RACIST” every time someone expresses a contrary opinion. And unless we assume that this BLM, antiracist crowd has figured it all out (and thus need no additional feedback), this is a recipe for disaster.
We don’t think you’ll need to spend much time listening to one of these woke antiracists to determine that they have not, in fact, “figured it all out.”