The Monday Morning Teaser

Arizona, it turns out, doesn’t do daylight time. Here in Sedona it’s Mountain Standard Time, three hours head of my usual Eastern Daylight. So the Sift may run a little later than usual this week.

One of the themes I touch on now and then is how to talk about racism. In 2014’s “What Should ‘Racism’ Mean?” I collected a bunch of “outrages” committed by President Obama — things all presidents do, like putting their feet up on the desk in the Oval Office or letting soldiers hold umbrellas over their heads — as examples of a more subtle kind of racial bias: To many, maybe even most whites (including me, sometimes) things just look different — and usually more objectionable — when blacks do them. And I raised the question: If you don’t want to call that racism — reserving that word for extreme cases like slavery and Jim Crow — what is your name for it?

Last year I followed that up in “What Should ‘Racism’ Mean? Part II” by pointing out that two-thirds of Republicans (a group that did not include Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, among other GOP leaders) did not consider an outrageous Trump statement (that Judge Curiel couldn’t rule fairly in the Trump U lawsuit because he was “Mexican”) to be racist at all. What definition of racism did that imply?

This week I return to that subject with a positive suggestion: Let’s allow conservatives their distinction between the KKK and the more subtle kinds of racism by modifying racism with a temperature metaphor: Active racial animus is hot racism, while disregard or skewed perception of non-whites is cold racism, or even room-temperature racism. I’ll explain how that works using a recent shouting match on MSNBC as a jumping-off point in “Racism: Hot and Cold”. That should be out shortly.

In the weekly summary, there’s talk of war: The MOAB was used for the first time in Afghanistan, and Trump rattled his saber at North Korea. And by now you probably know all about the United Air Lines fiasco, but there’s been some interesting writing about its larger meaning. Rick Perlstein’s reassessment of conservative history in the wake of Trump is fascinating reading. Turkey continues moving towards dictatorship. And I’ll close with a collection of 50 photos intended to sum up each of the 50 states, like this summary of Kansas.

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  • Xan  On April 17, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Continually finding ways to make white people feel okay about racism, particularly through euphemisms and soft words (like “privilege,” “fragility,” etc is not okay. Why should people not be confronted with their racism? Racial animus is racial animus whether you acknowledge it or not.

    • weeklysift  On April 17, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Sun Tzu said, “The worst strategy of all is to besiege walled cities.” If people have defenses that prevent them from hearing you, what is the use of shouting at them?

  • Anonymous  On April 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Is a Black holding an umbrella over a white automatically racism? Or just someone doing a job and being paid? If we see racism in everything, then we will be unable to live normal lives. Seeing hate/blame on every instance means we never see good or normalcy.Brookly

    • weeklysift  On April 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

      This idea that anyone is trying to “see hate/blame in every instance” seems like a stereotype to me. I don’t know anyone who is promoting that.

  • Steven Templin  On April 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Biases is common among us all. I do not know if they all are learned. It is identifying these within ourselves is one of the ways we grow. Doing something to change negative biases is another way we grow.

  • Peter H. Johnson  On April 18, 2017 at 11:41 am

    From Politico, April 18, by Scott Lucas — calling people “racist”

    At Berkeley, Marlow clashed with California liberals during a series of events he helped organize called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. At Berkeley, Marlow clashed with California liberals during a series of events he helped organize called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. (That was part of a national effort put on by Los Angeles writer-activist David Horowitz, who received his master’s degree at Berkeley and made a career on the left before switching sides in the 1980s.) As Marlow read quotes from Islamic terrorists at a microphone set up on Sproul Plaza, a group of counter-protesters, organized out of the nearby communist bookstore, surrounded him, shouting him down with cries of racism. (Marlow and I knew each other in college, though not well.) “This was a significant moment in learning the tactics of the left,” Marlow told me last fall. “Branding me a racist was much easier than saying why I was wrong.” >

    • weeklysift  On April 19, 2017 at 9:20 am

      I’m not sure how a protester was going to be able to tell him why he was wrong. When you’re protesting, you have room for a chant or a sign. If Marlow had asked why they thought what he was doing was racist, and started an actual conversation, he might have gotten an explanation. But apparently he did not. To me, it is his response that is too easy.

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