I’ve been thinking about this article a lot this week. I’ve seen a number of racist, sexist and homophobic opinions from people who would swear up and down they’re not racist, sexist or homophobic. As Daniel Ames says in the linked article, “They’re not lying, they’re just wrong.”
But this is where I think Crystal Moten misses the point. As as soon as you call out behaviour as racist, sexist or homophobic, the perpetrators will think that you are talking about someone else, never them, because nobody ever thinks those labels apply to them. We evaluate these terms against our subjective feelings, and we find that we are absolved.
How else can you understand a sentence like “We believe prejudice to be Biblically wrong, but the whole plan of God shows that races should not intermarry”? (To pick a surprisingly recent example.) The person who said that does not think of themselves as racist. They check: No, I don’t feel any personal animosity towards black people, therefore I’m not a racist. Anyway, it’s not my fault; I’m just repeating the clear teaching of Scripture.
So I think we need to talk not about racism or sexism or homophobia but instead about discrimination, about treating people differently, which is an objective measure and nothing to do with personal feelings. We can then at least have a conversation about whether that discrimination is warranted or not. But if we talk about racism or sexism or homophobia, that conversation can’t even take place.Subject tags: theologyevangelicalism