Above us, Only Sky

Politics, Philosophy, Science, and Everything Else.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Racists on the Bus

I take the bus from time to time, and normally it's a mildly irritating but not especially painful process. Last week I was doing this, and some young men got on the bus and started making comments about some people who had missed the bus, then started to talk about how great it was to be white. This was a first for me, I know these people are around but normally they're sufficiently aware of the unpopularity of their views not to air them in public. These kids where not up to that limited level of comprehension, and they invited me to join them in celebrating being white. I told them not to include me, and that was the end of it. The incident left me thinking about this particular human weakness.
It is my opinion that racism is not just a moral failure, though it is. It is a failure of the intellect, an abdication of intelligence in favour of tribalist instincts. Anyone who pays attention will know that race has no meaning in any real sense. I could tell you fifty important things about a person- their job, education, intelligence, how they behave with others- and never mention anythign about race, or tell you anything that would let you guess the race of the person. Nor is it a useful tool for identifying a group- nothing observed about another member of the same race means anything about a person- I'm not a better person for the good acts of white people, nor a worse person for their misdeed. The concept of race is an empty one. That is to say, it is meaningful only in that people give it meaning- it does not have meaning independant of human interpretation.

The point is that racists are nessesarily stupid, that being racist is nto just an immoral act, but it will nessesarily degrad ones ability to function effectively in the world. Which is good, because racists are assholes and deserve every failure their chosen ignorance brings them.


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