PITHY POLEMICS 

1) Racism and Intolerance (IL)

The term “racism” is now widely used to refer to any and every invidious comparison among and between descent groups. It’s an incorrect use of the term, and tends to cloud clear thinking and dialogue.

Racism refers to rank ordering groups in terms of imputed capabilities thought to be biologically derived and transmitted through the gene pool.  Adolf Hitler claimed that his race was biologically superior to all other races, including other white people, like Poles and Russians. That’s right. Hitler’s definition of race was not based on skin color. People could be white, but still racially inferior to Hitler!

If you were of the so-called  “Jewish race,” changing your religion would not make you acceptable.  In contrast, if one dislikes, rejects, hates, and fears Muslims, one dislikes their religion, Islam. That opinion is nasty, divisive, and hateful, but all nasty opinion is not racist. Call it religious intolerance, not racism. After all, Muslims can change their religion. Ex-Muslims then become acceptable to anyone who just dislikes Islam. However, someone whose race is declared inferior can never become equal or acceptable to racists.

An eloquent parrot with a doctorate in space science is still a parrot.  That is why racism is worse than intolerance.  Racism is forever.

Understanding this distinction, we can appreciate that sometimes it’s ambiguous whether nasty claims and attitudes are racist, intolerant, or both. When Donald Trump called Mexicans “all thieves and rapists,” his generalization was outrageously wrong, but the error is not racist unless linked to the claim that the “Mexican race” is biologically linked to criminality. That absurd claim would be racist. Possibly that’s what Trump meant. However, if he only meant that for some unspecified  socio-cultural  reason all Mexicans commit these crimes, an absurd error, then his error would reflect ethno-cultural intolerance, not racism.

Intolerance is ugly. Racism is worse. Needless to say, intolerant people are likely to harbor racist views too. Nonetheless, understanding the distinction, one can ask angry people to explain themselves, which will educate some of them.

2)  Whose Job are We Imagining Being Lost? (MR)

One of the chief claims by those supporting walls and deportations is that illegal immigrants take jobs away from good old Americans.

Now statistically that is a loser – the facts do not bear that out at all.  See, among many other studies, reports from the Brookings Institute - https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2017/08/24/do-immigrants-st...

However, there is something else to be said.  I’ll bet that, when those who talk as if those without papers are preventing money from flowing into the pockets of tried and true Americans, they are imagining those kept out of jobs are good old white males. 

Do they imagine that it is Jose, a 3rd generation American citizen, who is prevented from having gainful employment by Ignacio just arrived across the Arizona desert from El Salvador?  Or that is a black teenager who cannot get a job?  Or the graduate who comes from a Somali family?  Or the young man from the nearby reservation?  Why they probably don’t even think of white girls as being those kept out of an economically productive life.

In short, while the claim seems to be a defense of Americans, what is behind it (I’ll bet) is a deeply rooted picture of the country as white and dominated by males.  It is thus not a piece of making America great again, but the defense of a particular false picture of what this country is like.