Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is "Racism"?

Aside from being used to demonize those with whom you disagree, so-called "racism" is a catch-all term that includes many different concepts. Here's a list that elaborates, bearing in mind that the word "race" itself is poorly defined (and, in our belief, does not exist at all).

1. Racism. This is the belief that there are innate and immutable biological differences that differentiate between all members of different races, and that these differences nearly classify races into different species. Usually, racism involves pseudo-scientific theories that reinforce the racist's beliefs.

2. Prejudice. This is pre-judging an individual based on their race, but without a basis in biological (or any other) theories. Unlike racists, they may not "know" why people of different races behave differently, and they may not care why they act differently, but they nevertheless perceive a difference -- and will act on it. It is also possible for a prejudiced person to change their assessment of individuals within a race once they get to know them. A true racist must be prejudiced, but a prejudiced person need not be a racist. Generally, this is more benign that racism.

3. Bigotry. With a foundation in racism and/or prejudice, the bigot's group is "best".

4. Visceral attraction/revulsion. This is the sense of certain aspects of races that vary in each individual, and that these aspects can be inherently good or bad. Examples include people on dating sites that exclude/include certain races because of some perceived inherent quality.

5. Utopian Racialism. This is the idea, endorsed by racists and the prejudiced, that coercive racial intervention by the state is required to achieve their idea of proper racial representation. Examples range from school and neighborhood "integration" to "affirmative action" to genocide.

6. Statistical Discrimination. This is a conscious decision to tentatively treat individuals in a certain manner because, lacking more detailed information, only group characteristics are available. It is different from prejudice because, unlike prejudice, it does not make assumptions about individuals. Instead, it says, "I do not know enough about you to make an intelligent assessment. So, for the time being, my optimal guess about you as an individual can only be based on generalizations about your group." It also says, "I prefer to (not) work/socialize with large numbers of people belonging to Group "X" because, on average, that group has been demonstrated to exhibit a certain type of behavior.

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