On Friday, CNN’s Don Lemon held a panel discussion regarding Sarah Jeong’s anti-white tweets. During the panel, Lemon and Democratic strategist Symone Sanders had the following exchange about racism:
SANDERS: First of all, I think it’s important to note that these tweets were dug up by a right-wing – it’s not even conservative – right-wingers, people who identify with the white supremacist ideology, and they were taken out of context.
That being said, I subscribe to the notion that I don’t tweet, write, or email anything that I don’t want splashed across the pages of The New York Times.
LEMON: Does it matter who dug them up?
SANDERS: No, but I think it matters that it’s selective. That’s what I’m saying, and so some of the tweets are taken out of context. I think in Sarah’s explanation, she noted that some of it was counter-trolling. Would I have written anything like that? Absolutely not, but it’s not racist for this reason – one, Don, racism, being racist is not just prejudice, it’s prejudice plus power. So, one could argue that some of her tweets, even within context, note that she has a prejudice perhaps against white men, but that, in fact, does not make her racist. I don’t think she’s a racist; I absolutely think we are conflating two conversations.
LEMON: Does it make her a bigot?
SANDERS: No, I don’t think it makes her a bigot either. Again, I think you have to look at the tweets within the context. Could she be prejudiced? Could she have some, not just implicit, but negative bias toward white men in America due to perhaps what she’s experienced throughout her life? Probably, absolutely. Does that mean though that she is in fact racist? No, because [racism] is prejudice plus power.
Over time, the progressive movement has carefully augmented the definition of racism so as to protect individuals who share their political and social beliefs from ever being labeled a racist.
While Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race,” progressives add to this definition a dynamic of power.
To progressives, an individual or group cannot be racist if they are not in a position of power. Thus, Sarah Jeong cannot be racist against white people because she is not a dominant player in the American racial landscape.
Such an argument is incoherent. If racism is characterized by power, then it is also transmutable, and what is considered “racist” is entirely dependent on location.
By progressive logic, a white person uttering anti-Asian slurs could only be considered a racist if he did so in a white-majority nation like the United States. Were this man to utter the exact same slurs in an Asian-majority nation, he would no longer be a racist because he is no longer among the dominant race.
The definition of racism is straightforward; to augment it for the benefit of one’s political allies is intellectually dishonest.