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You’re the Racist! 2: Whites as Victims

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When Trump does something that most Americans regard as racist, he typically uses a two-part strategy. First, he will simply deny that he is racist. His defenders must often pretend that they do not understand how language works and they must ignore key parts of history. Second, which is what I am interested in here, is that he accuses his critics of being racists. This is analogous to how he handled the Kavanaugh situation: it is not women who are the victims of sexism on the part of powerful men; men and boys are the victims of the sexism of women and girls. This strategy is commonly used to “refute” those critical of sexism and racism. But does it have any merit as an argument? To assess it, I will follow the principle of charity and try to make the best version of the argument. One common opening move in the argument is to deny or downplay discrimination against minorities. Since I am trying to make the most plausible version of this argument, this version will not deny that discrimination and racism did exist: one need only point to slavery and past laws that explicitly reference race. It would obviously be absurd to deny that these existed in the past—and the current argument is consistent with accepting this. After all, the claim is not that racism and discrimination never existed, just that it either does not exist now or is far less bad than the critics claim. When making this case, the most plausible way is to point to civil rights, anti-discrimination laws and that there are no laws that explicitly discriminate against minorities by referencing these minorities in the text of the law. And, of course, one must point to President Obama. When critics point to cases of discrimination and racism, the counter is that these cases do exist, but they are rare. For example, one might acknowledge that there are racist police, but they are “a few bad apples.” One might accept that there are racists who say and do racist things, but they are a small number and when. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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