Re: Racism <comment>

Martin Cohen (mcohen@UCLA.EDU)
Sun, 31 Mar 1996 13:38:21 -0700

Dwight Read wrote:
>I view racism as the process of attributing to an individual
>categorical attributes merely by reason of category membership and with the
>assumption that individual variability either does not exist, or is of less
>importance than the purported categorical attribute.
>If the attribute is "goodness" and even if we agree that on the average "The
>Other is good" (i.e., the Other has lots of "goodness" on the average), if I
>then say that person X (who is a member of the Other) has "goodness" BECAUSE
>X is a member of the Other, then that is just as racist a statement as to
>assert a negative attribute.

Absolutely! I have been considered less than grateful because I have
reacted negatively to "philo-semitic" comments, which I consider just as
offensive as anti-semitic ones. If you are African-American, I am sure you
don't want someone to point out your "natural rhythm" or great athletic
ability. Even these forms of "positive" racism denies the individual
credit, or reduces what may be a positive characteristic of some members of
a group into a sinister talent. So, the intellectual contributes of a
number of Jews can be reduced to the vaguely dangerous trait of "Jewish

Martin Cohen