Thursday, April 30, 2009

Who's the better racist?

I've been thinking a lot about racial intolerance lately especially with regard to honesty in racism. In the south, given the historical tradition of discrimination, people feel more comfortable expressing discriminatory views and acting overtly racist. In the mid-west and north, however, people seem (generally of course, specific locations may fail to conform to this generalization) to almost never explicitly acknowledge their own racist tendencies, but instead allow those tendencies to passively affect the way that they go about their lives.

What has prompted the most thought for me is which method of racism is worse. One is honest in its discrimination while the other is more overtly civil, but is that better or worse? With regard to the overt racist, one can put his position, actions, and dogma in perspective and weigh those same things accordingly while the passive racist's tendencies could easily be more damaging as it would be easier for him to affect policy or decisions in a calculating manner considering that the passive racist may not be easy to identify as such.

At the same time though, is the easily identifiable action of the overt racism more damaging in that it receives more coverage? An overly racist cause could serve to attract an entirely new set of racist or to mobilize those who might have lesser racist tendencies. The counterpoint there is that this type of coverage could equally mobilize the tolerant, counteracting or even overshadowing the gains made by overt racist. The passive racist on the other hand is not likely to attract new racists in the same degree, but if he is able to covertly affect change, those changes could persuade some to believe that the subtle racism that the passive racist is able to enact is proper. This passive approach is far less likely too to attract anti-racist sentiment among the tolerant.

So which is worse? I've been thinking about this off and on for the past several weeks and can't decide which is more damaging on the personal level or social level. Another thing I've struggled with is determining whether one who truly cannot divorce himself from his own racism should act overtly or passively. Does honestly with regard to intolerance yield a better result than letting it only subconsciously affect action? As you can see, after milling the concepts over, the questions are incredibly difficult to answer as each form of racism offers its own set of detriments, each as difficult to weigh as the previous.

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