By Graham Peterson
Donald Sterling is a racist. The question we have to ask ourselves is: how are we going to deal with racists? If we want to scare the racism out of people, then making a public spectacle of them and demanding that their business associates ruin them is the right track — and exhilarating to boot!
But I think that on some honest reflection, you will agree that scaring people isn’t a very effective way to change their beliefs.
It is however a great way to make sure racists don’t subject their beliefs to argumentative scrutiny — and to make sure that they only associate with other racists. In a world where activists are worried about micro-aggressions and the crypto-bigotry that still exists among elites, scaring those folks out of discussing those beliefs seems like a sure fire way to make sure their prejudices stay hidden and shared only among themselves.
We live with unprecedented public intellectual and moral engagement. The number of fora for people to engage their beliefs has exploded. Groups of people who have really never spoken to one another except through representatives in Congress, the intelligentsia, and the newspapers, are now in direct confrontation with one another. It’s ugly. We’re trigger happy.
Well, so are spouses not happy during their first marriage counseling sessions after not having sex or talking about it for five years. That doesn’t mean that the end game is to scream until the divorce papers are ready.
If we want to keep ventilating in perpetuity, the current approach guarantees that we’ll have a reason to vent. Bigotry ain’t goin anywhere by reducing public discussion to a playground gossip mill and black list. Making the world a more reasoned and tolerant place is going to take a lot more work than refusing to play with the kids we don’t like and talking about how gross they are.