This is a continuation of a point that I brought up in this thread about the significance of one’s views or actions fitting, or not fitting, a certain label. The responses seemed (to me) to miss the point I was making, and I thought I’d try a new thread, instead of trying to hijacking the other one, which was going along quite nicely on a different tangent.
Here’s my perspective:
Suppose someone believes that all or most Jews are penny-pinching money grubbers. This person has, in his mind, some evidence that he feels has led him to this conclusion - his own experience or that of others, observations about Jewish history and culture etc. What would be proper, suppose this person wanted to debate these issues, would be to assert “I believe that Jews are penny-pinching money grubbers because of X, Y, and Z”. Others could then jump in with why his conclusions do or do not follow from X, Y, and Z, and he could either defend or concede. What I see happening in these instances however, is more along the lines of “does a belief that Jews are etc. constitute racism?”, with the implication that if it did, such views would be disqualified for this reason.
This is not logical. Either the evidence does or does not support such a view. The proper interpretation of this evidence should not depend on whether a particular interpretation will cause the interpreter to fall into a category of people that are currently out of favor.
Where I do see a proper place for such queries is where a person might have exhibited signs of an irrational prejudice that he is not aware of. For instance, a long time observer might have observed that he is apt to judge the same conduct as penny pinching in Jews and as “intelligent bargaining” in others. This might form the basis for a reconsideration. But to say “I would stand by the following actions and opinions, but would like for people weigh in on whether they constitute “racism””, does not seem meaningful to me at all.