Andrey (azangru) wrote,

..."an antisemite is someone who hates Jews more than is absolutely necessary." It makes us laugh, but it should also make us think. This pithy observation, which is often attributed to the late philosopher and intellectual giant Isaiah Berlin, provides a simple and useful tool for identifying prejudice. Imagine that someone has done something you find objectionable. You may legitimately resent the person because of his or her actions or attitudes. But if you resent him even an iota more because this person is Jewish, that is antisemitism. Let's concretize this by considering a hypothetical example. The person who has almost been hit can legitimately complain to the other people in the car about the dangerous driver. But if he decries "that black guy" who has done this, he has crossed the line into racism. The driver's race is unrelated to his driving skills. Mentioning it can be considered a racist "dog whistle" that subliminally telegraphs the speaker's contempt for black people in general. (However, including the driver's race in your description of him to a police officer is of course not racist; it is simply one of the ways the driver can be physically identified by the cops who are trying to apprehend him.)

(Deborah Lipstadt, Antisemitism: Here and Now)

What I find problematic about this paragraph is the black-and-whiteness (pun intended) of her hypothetical example. What if it's not "that black guy", but "that hipster", or "that punk", or "that redneck", or "that hillbilly", or "that hobo", or "that midget" etc. Is it crossing into any kind of an -ism? Is it more acceptable by the society, and if it is, isn't it hypocritical?

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