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I'm seeing more and more people make the assertion that "all white people are racist". Is this a good assertion to make?
2/On one hand, you can certainly define the word "racism" in such a way as to make the statement correct.
3/For example, suppose you say that "racism" means benefiting from a system that has oppressed black people. Well, then yeah.
4/If you define "racism" that way, then since all white people have the option of benefiting from that system, all white people are racist.
5/However, is this practical? Is this useful? I worry that this definition of "racist" is highly counterproductive.
6/Most human beings are pretty good people. Therefore, most white people are pretty good people.
7/If all white people are "racist", then that means you can be "racist" and still be a wonderful person.
8/Do we want a definition of "racist" that allows you to be a great person and still be a racist? That carries no individual sanction?
9/If "racist" just becomes a word for "white", then every white person will just shrug and say "Yep, sure I'm a racist, look at my skin!".
10/The moral power of the word "racist" came from its power to shame people over their individual actions. Should we give up that power?
11/I don't agree with everything in this Federalist article, but I think it gets at the issue I'm talking about:
12/More broadly, this issue gets at a problem I've been worrying about recently: the loss of the Left's moral power in America.
13/In the 1990s and 2000s, the American left gained substantial moral authority, and used it to move society in progressive directions.
14/Marriage equality was an example of this. In fact, this moral power is still strong - see companies' response to Charlottesville.
15/The Left's moral power can be used to do many good things - push companies and universities to try to be more diverse, for example.
16/But I worry that this moral power can be weakened through over-application. A bit like antibiotics.
17/If all white people get used to being morally condemned, all the time, just for being who they are, they'll just learn to live with it.
18/Same with all men, all straight people, all cis people, or whatever. Eventually being condemned just becomes a reason to shrug.
19/And if the Left loses its moral power, I fear for this country. I fear a Right unshackled by fear of moral condemnation.
20/Because if moral power goes away, only physical power remains.

And the Right has all of the physical power.
21/Therefore, for the good of the country's most vulnerable, I recommend that we of the Left be more judicious in our condemnations. (end)

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