RE: "New Age Racists"?

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From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Thu Nov 30 2000 - 23:22:38 PST

(I think this is my final effort to explain this position...)

Yangkun, The Supreme Court did not call Duke Power "racist". It said Duke
Power's hiring requirements unintentionally discriminated between
applicants based on race[1]. There's a difference between the terms.
Discrimination is an action or result; it might be motivated by racism, or
by neutral motives (Duke Power), or even by good intentions.

"Racism" refers to a set of beliefs, as does "Marxism", and "pacifism."
One who accepts such beliefs is a racist, a Marxist, or a pacifist
(respectively). Without beliefs, without intent, you cannot have any of
these. You cannot have a Marxist toothbrush. (At least, not without
showing that someone is using that toothbrush to promote Marxism, and then
you're back to having a person who believes in Marxism.)

Yangkun, if intent is really irrelevant to whether you consider someone a
racist, what about backlashes? Suppose a misguided black youth decided to
protest the power of whites over blacks by driving through Beverly Hills,
shooting up store windows. Chances are strong that that action would
cause a public backlash, set back race relations, and (to some
unquantifiable degree) harm the cause he championed. Would you consider
the black youth racist against blacks because of these effects?

No doubt there are some racists in America who like protectionism, both to
keep their salaries higher and to keep other people down. But how many of
the 50,000 WTO protesters do you really think fall into that category? For
the majority of them, the well-intentioned ones who think their policies
will benefit everyone, it's reasonable for you to argue that their
policies are flawed. But to argue that they are "racist" is not only to
misuse a word, but to charge well-meaning people with having an evil
intent, using an emotionally-charged, denigrating term. That's just wrong.

-Matt Jensen

(p.s. - As a side note, if the Supreme Court were to follow Griggs v. Duke
Power as a model in judging the protesters' policies, the policies would
not even be considered discriminatory [2][see my footnote below]. Intent
*is* important, even post-Griggs.)

On Thu, 30 Nov 2000, Zhang, Yangkun wrote:

> > If you hate them BECAUSE of thier race, that makes you a racist.
> > If you hate them becuase of who they are as people, that makes you a
> > hatist.
> Tom, while I agree with you, our court would disagree with you when it comes
> to jobs and employment. Since 1971, with the Supreme Court ruling in Griggs
> v. Duke Power, even a the most high-minded employer could still be charged
> with discrimination if his practices turned out to have a disparate impact
> on women and minorities. It doesn't matter what the intent is, or whether
> you even hate the person/group at all!

[1] See the decision at:

[2] It does say, as you suggest, that a hiring practice having a disparate impact on minorities can be discriminatory, even if there were no overt intention to discriminate.

But, that does not mean that anything having a disparate impact is discriminatory! It's only discriminatory if either a) an intent to discriminate is proven, or b) there is no valid, job-appropriate justification for the practice.

In the above case, Duke Power started requiring applicants to have a high school degree or to pass an intelligence test, even though those credentials had no bearing on the job positions, and even though white workers who couldn't meet those credentials had been doing fine in those jobs for years.

Since there was no reason for these barriers that made it harder for minorities, the Court said they were illegal. But the Court also said that if the tests were related to the jobs, they would be legal. So the intent of the practice is important if there is a positive reason, but not if there is no good reason at all.

And in your analogy, the test would be whether protesters had a valid reason for proposing their policies. They did, in that they believed the policies would improve everyone's lives, including the Third World workers. So there's an affirmative reason for proposing the policies, and they are not discriminatory even by effect.

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