I’m a big fan of Jay Smooth’s take on why telling people they’re racist is often counter-productive, but there are moments when not calling people racist is indefensible.
I just got a heads-up that the student who’s trying to start a White Student Union at Towson University is planning on bringing a guy named Jared Taylor to campus next month. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Taylor:
Taylor believes that white people have their own racial interests, and that it is intellectually valid for them to protect these interests; he sees it as anomalous that whites have allowed people of other ethnicities to organize themselves politically while not doing so themselves. His journal American Renaissance was founded to provide such a voice for white interests, as well as to convince whites that this enterprise is a legitimate one. … Taylor’s views have been described as racist by some academics, political commentators, journalists, and various other organizations. Taylor himself rejects any accusation of racism; he claims that his views are reasonable and moderate, and that they were considered normal by most key figures in American history.
And for context, let’s look at something Taylor wrote a few years ago:
“Our rulers and media executives will try to turn the story of Hurricane Katrina into yet another morality tale of downtrodden blacks and heartless whites, but pandering of this kind fools fewer and fewer people. Many whites will realize — some for the first time — that we have Africa in our midst, that utterly alien Africa of road-side corpses, cruelty, and anarchy that they thought could never wash up on these shores.
“To be sure, the story of Hurricane Katrina does have a moral for anyone not deliberately blind. The races are different. Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears. And in a crisis, it disappears overnight.”
To call this claim racist isn’t pejorative, or even argumentative. It’s straightforwardly descriptive. And to say that Taylor’s views “have been described as racist” instead of saying that they’re racist is silly. It’s pointless. It’s absurd. If this passage isn’t racist, if its author isn’t racist, then literally nothing and nobody is.
March 2013 update | Hi, all! I just tweeted a link to this post because Matthew Heimbach, the Towson White Student Union founder who was looking to bring Jared Taylor to campus last year, was right in the middle of today’s horrible racist brouhaha at CPAC.