Racism as meanness

This is supposed to be a literary blog but let’s not be too strict. The other day I quoted Chomsky to the effect that race is a red herring. To put it differently, race can be reduced to class: for political questions, or better, for questions of social justice. It is also a marker for cultural differences, but those are ours to make of what we will. What is so unappealing about racism (apart from the disadvantages for its victims) is its mean, narrow view of “us” as well as them, as if what gives us value were something so superficial, never mind muddled. That high-minded talk about the inability of different people to get on envisages instead an oppressive, dull sameness where other kinds of intolerance must flourish. At its heart is a stunted image of human worth. Is that true of all kinds of intolerance? Such a general theory of intolerance is expressed on a practical level in the thought that intolerance does not oppress just its victims.

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