Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Frank Forman (
1 Apr 1995 22:00:03 GMT

Is the fall of communism now so far in the hoary past that
Soviet mental hospitals have been utterly forgotten? Several responders
to this thread have stated that racism is a mental disorder. So off to
the booby hatch go those who espouse racism, however defined!
I exaggerate perhaps, for Lane Singer, at least, said racists
"suffer from a neurotic disorder, called racism, that requires
compassion and treatment just like any disorder." I am glad for the
compassion business, but I notice that she didn't say what she would do
to those who are not responding to the treatment. Maybe she would have
treated only those with advanced cases of racism, reserving only the
tools of propaganda and mass education for less serious cases.
It's hard to say, though, since I have no idea what she would
regard as an advanced case of racism, for the thing itself is undefined.
When I posted the original article that got this thread started, I said
every word in the sentence (Is white racism necessarily all bad?) was
important and that they should be defined. This did not stop several
people, including Lane, from immediately saying yes. In fact, there was
only one attempt at a definition, supplied by Paul Bernhardt, who said
racism is "prejudices and discrimination based on racial
characteristics." Prejudice itself is "a set of attitudes held about a
specific group. Prejudices are based in stereotypic thinking, that is,
the tendency to lump persons with common outward appearances with a set
of behaviors or capabilities."
So if I have made an at all thorough study of anthropology and
psychology and come to the conclusion that blacks are inferior to
whites, at least as far intelligence goes (and possibly in other areas),
on average and as a result (in good measure) of divergent biological
histories, then I am not thereby a racist, by his definition. I am
guilty only if I stereotype, that is, suppose that persons with dark
skins ("outward appearances") are uniformly of lesser intelligence
(though not necessarily because of their biological history).
The case against Paul's conception of racism (not made by Paul
himself, at least as yet) would seem to be the case against any sort of
premature jumping to conclusions. Well, I should not automatically
suppose that a given black is not very bright any more than I should not
try out some kind of fish I have never eaten before, merely on the basis
of my not liking seafood generally. The seriousness of the two cases
differs, but the principle of not jumping to conclusions is the same.
Nor should I come to conclusions too slowly, as I have learned
to my shame in a few cases where I trusted someone who turned out to be
a rotter and which, in retrospect, should have been obvious. Whether
this is also as a neurotic disorder that "requires compassion and
treatment like any disorder," I shall leave to Lane, as I will generally
the issue of my being too slow in coming to agree with her about various

Back to the drawing boards, folks! I don't think you are putting
out very much in the way of intellectual energy to deal with the
question this thread is supposed to be about. So far, and in a country
that is supposedly wallowing in racism, there has not been anyone in
this group arguing on behalf of racism. What are the arguments on
behalf of racism? Is anyone accepting them suffering from a neurotic