Characterizing arguments as racist - OK? If not, it should be

To address my specific question in the OP, does a person risk mod action if we say “that’s a racist thing to say” or “that’s a racist argument” or “that’s a racist way to think?”

I would like to be able to make that point without someone implying “you insulted me by basically calling me a racist”, because “basically” and “essentially” and “effectively” get quite a thorough workout in this regard.

The first two statements looks legit but the third is pushing it.

@raventhief & @Hari_Seldon what do you to think? I’m not going to set policy here.

Offensiveness of an argument is usually irrelevant to the actual argument. I don’t think it was relevant here. Why not send a polite PM asking him not to create fictitious black people / pit him for doing so? (If you think it is offensive)


Thanks for the input, but I don’t believe I’m required to care what you think. Public statements should be corrected publicly so everyone at least sees what’s wrong (see: all the folks who have helpfully jumped in here to tell me I’m actually the racist one).

Yes, I concur.

The post directly concerned the post, not the person.

How do you accuse a statement of being racist without accusing the statement’s source of being racist? Where did the racism come from, if not the source of the statement?

You aren’t. :wink:

See: my post. Also, correcting public statements does not imply pointing out how offensive the statement is.


You can say that words and actions are racist without saying a person is racist. For example, someone may use a colloquialism that they’ve heard all their life and used frequently without controversy, not realizing that it’s rooted in racism and is not an okay term to use outside of the cultural bubble they’ve lived in. Or you may put together a hypothetical scenario to make a point which involves a stereotype about an ethnic group that racists hold as fact, and not realizing that you are doing so.

In those cases you can absolutely point out that those were racist things that were said, without labeling the person saying those things as a racist. That’s the entire reason why the SDMB has a general rule (outside of the Pit) about attacking the post, and not the poster.

I feel like these questions invite arguments over the definition of racist (noun).

ETA: actually no, nevermind. I thought you had written ‘statement’s source of being a racist’. Ignore this…


That’s The way I would mod those examples. As long as the agreement is stressing the post, not the poster, it’d be ok.

If only there was some essentialist agreement on what a ‘racist’ action is. If it was so, we wouldn’t have threads on “Is it racist to…” and posts on “That’s not racist”

That’s not what “essentialist” means. Of course there are differences of opinions on what comprises a racist action. That’s precisely the kind of thing that’s appropriate to hash out in Great Debates.

We’re living this in Colorado right now. A state rep called another state rep Buckwheat on the floor o the state house and caused a bit of an uproar because the first was a known racist and the second guy was black. I turned to my wife and told her that my dad had called me Buckwheat growing up and still does she responded that her dad calls people Buckwheat all of the time. So a term that white guys of a certain age don’t think of as racist caused a major uproar.

Of course, the difference is that the jerk off state rep who said it really is a racist dick based on other statements, though based on my cultural knowledge this probably wasn’t intended as a racist statement. So in that case the source may or may not be racist and the comment may or may not be racist but its still appropriate to call out the statement and say that its racist and then have a conversation about it.

Aah, the Porchmonkey defence. Maybe the state rep was just taking it back.

What age is that? Where did you grow up? I’m a 50+ white guy, lived in the US for about 40 of those years. Sometimes rural, sometimes urban. From the northeast to the southwest and I have never heard Buckwheat as anything but a derogatory name for blacks.

Unless you are talking about a Little rascals character. Even so…

A good example was calling brazil nuts "N****r toes. Some very non racist people used that term back then.

But if someone used it today I don’t think you could get away with claiming you didn’t know it was racist. Same with “Buckwheat”.

I agree with this.

Same with “Buckwheat”.

But this I’m not so sure about. I didn’t know that word was ever used as a racist epithet for the first three decades of my life. I learned about it only when it showed up in the news—not the most recent example, but an earlier one.

I do think a Congressperson should be aware enough to know better, but I bet there are lots of older folk who never learned this particular one. I am rather sure my dad will have no idea.

Heck, I just now thought to look it up, and this is about the only source I can find describing why it became seen as racist. The way it happened is sufficiently different from most that I understand why I’d not heard about it.

(I’m a bit worried we’re widely off topic at this point. Is there a thread where this word is being discussed?)

Nope. Using that term is racist, even “way back when”.

There is a gulf in misunderstanding racism. Many folks were raised to believe that in order to be a racist, you have to put on a white hood, yell epithets in public, directly antagonize black people, and maybe start a militia. I know this because much of my biological family is like this, including my own white southern parents, and only getting worse as the relations get more distant from me.

If you didn’t do those things, then by their lights, you could say things like “n*ger toes” and it would just be a silly anachronism. Hey, it’s not like I burned a cross, right? I’m just saying a funny thing other funny people have said. You’re basically saying I’m a card-carrying member of the KKK, which makes you the real racist for raising the subject.

Needless to say, those folks squall like stuck pigs every time you point out an actually-racist that they say or do. It’s not real offense, it’s a pose to duck accountability, and to avoid ever understanding the other side of the coin.