For obvious reasons, racism and reverse racism are very much on everyone’s minds nowadays. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to blog on those topics right now (or blog on Ferguson); I’m too much in the thick of end-of-semester grading and the like. But Roderick Long has an interesting post on the topic at his blog, to which I’ve offered a bunch of typo-laden comments.
Having thought about the issue over the past few days, I really do disagree with Roderick in some fundamental ways. I don’t think “reverse racism” is a useful or even entirely coherent concept, and don’t think his thought-experiments prove what he takes them to prove. In fact, I don’t think thought-experiments are a particularly helpful way to think about racism in the first place: in my view, something about the subject demands an “ecological” or “in vivo” rather than thought-experimental approach. In other words, the topic demands engagement with the living, breathing complexity of real-live experiences of racism, not with thought-experiments that abstract away from them. I also think that if the topic is racism, as it should be, Roderick’s focus on black-white relations in the U.S. is overly narrow, and problematically distortive of our thinking. It doesn’t even capture race relations in the U.S., much less race relations beyond American borders.
In particular, Roderick’s discussion ignores anti-Semitism altogether, a topic on my mind because I’m at work on a review of Neil Kressel’s “Sons of Pigs and Apes”: Muslim Antisemitism and the Conspiracy of Silence (forthcoming in Reason Papers, February 2015). I agree with parts, and disagree with other parts, of Kressel’s argument, but I think his book does a good job of exposing the defects of what he calls “antisemitism minimization strategies.” Unfortunately, though he doesn’t explicitly discuss antisemitism (because he doesn’t discuss it) I think Roderick’s minimizations of the moral wrongness of “reverse racism” amount, whether wittingly or not, to something like the minimization strategies that Kressel criticizes. Insofar as Roderick can be read as disagreeing with Kressel, I agree with Kressel.
But this all pretty telegraphic, I realize. Blame my day job for that. Back to grading some intensely mediocre papers on aesthetics.