Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

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Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 11 Apr 2013, 01:03

I feel there must be enough examples of how the usage of the word "racist" has become so far removed from its original meaning for me to be able to set the ball rolling in this new thread. I'm not condoning or indeed trying to express any opinion at all on racism in its genuine form, that is the belief that one race is inherently superior to another and any behaviour derived therefrom, but chronicling examples of where the word has been so misused to have lost any real meaning or power.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the word 'racist' only dates back to the 1930s, and was derived from the earlier word 'racialist' which itself only goes back to 1871. Thinking about how often we hear the word now, it's absolutely incredible to imagine that during the slave trade or the Native American genocides or the days when people who "looked different" were paraded before mocking crowds as part of freak shows that the English language lacked the capability to express the concept which nowadays would likely be the first word on most people's minds when we think about those things!

My first example of a ludicrous misuse of the word would be Peter Tatchell's describing the monarchy as "racist" largely because the Royal family in a country which was almost entirely white for most of its history are white. Needless to say this only implicates the British monarchy; the fact that no descendant of mine would ever be accepted as an African tribal chief is neither here nor there.

Another example comes from yesterday and a football match between Borussia Dortmund of Germany and Malaga of Spain. There have been a number of high-profile initiatives to get rid of racism in football in recent years, and on the day of the match the European governing body UEFA announced a new sanction of a 10-game ban for anyone found guilty of racist behaviour. Just a few hours later, after his team lost having conceded two goals in the last minute, the second of which appeared to have been offside, Malaga team owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani of the Qatari royal family blamed the alleged poor refereeing decision on racism and announced he was going to make an official complaint to UEFA.

One might say that Sheikh Abdullah should recognise racism when he sees it, given that the 85 per cent of the workforce in his country who are non-Qataris, largely South Asians, are kept as second-class citizens in a legal system with many overt parallels to apartheid.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 12 Apr 2013, 17:56

Apparently in Australia at the moment there is a minor scandal going on regarding Qantas' decision to remove pork from its menus on flights to Europe going via Dubai. According to the Guardian journalist Saman Shad, those complaining about it are "racists who risk giving their country a bad name".

The piece goes on to say that "Travelling is a wonderful thing. It broadens the mind and allows us to become more accepting of different races and cultures", and doubts whether anybody complaining about Qantas' move even owns a passport (the very definiton of an all-round horrible person who doesn't deserve to be listened to!). I couldn't go without mentioning the reponse to that quote in the comments section, which is also the most-recommended comment:

But the "accepting" is only ever a one way street, isn't it?


I should start reading the Guardian more often - I bet I could get this thread up to 100 posts within about a month!
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Caleb » 13 Apr 2013, 14:25

Racist hair isn't so much gratuitous as just completely down the rabbit hole. I could only skim it because I think my brain was bleeding out of my eye sockets. It's that or the unintentionally funniest thing you'll read all year. Don't even ask how I found this blog post.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 25 May 2013, 22:25

Doctor Who likes cricket and is white - it's racist.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Mike » 25 May 2013, 23:47

Nathan wrote:Doctor Who likes cricket and is white - it's racist.


I had to check the calendar to make sure it wasn't April the first. That's just priceless.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Caleb » 26 May 2013, 07:52

I love these kinds of criticisms. They're like criticisms of comic book or role playing game conventions. If the academics want to talk about an elephant in the room, how about this one? 95% of Doctor Who fans are probably white males, so of course the show is going to cater to their preferences. It's like insisting that a shop specialising in Egyptian antiquities also sell Inca artifacts, or art deco furniture, or a Chinese restaurant sell burritos. For real? These clowns could make a black, female science fiction show and virtually no blacks or females would watch it because blacks and females generally don't like science fiction. It's not about that though, is it, as no one is insisting on being inclusive in whatever it is black people are into as hobbies (I have no idea because I'm not black!).
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Rachel » 18 Jun 2013, 05:06

Caleb wrote:...These clowns could make a black, female science fiction show and virtually no blacks or females would watch it because blacks and females generally don't like science fiction. It's not about that though, is it, as no one is insisting on being inclusive in whatever it is black people are into as hobbies (I have no idea because I'm not black!).


Just to be an annoying pedant, There are 2 science fiction shows that have a equal female/male balance of fans. They are "Red Dwarf" and "Blake's 7" (a forgotton science fiction show from the 70's)
Perhaps females liked those 2 shows because they had stronger character interation, like a regular drama/soap opera but were just set in the future with a spaceship. Red Dwarf was more comedy than science fiction.
I know that they show "Red Dwarf" in Australia and hold conventions with a 50% female turnout.

I wonder how many females used to watch the old 60's "Star Trek" back in the day when it was on primetime TV, and not a cult nerdy men's thing like it is now. I don't believe I was the only little girl who watched it. They wouldn't have put in so many romances with Captain Kirk otherwise.

Sorry for derailing the thread. It just interests me that there are these programs that are exceptions. I'm also a bit of a "Red Dwarf" fan myself.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 15 Jul 2013, 18:52

The mother of a seven-year-old boy was told to sign a school form admitting he was racist after he asked another pupil whether he was brown 'because he was from Africa’.

Apparently, across the country last year more than 20,000 pupils aged 11 or younger were also put on record for so-called hate crimes such as using the word ‘gaylord’. I can't think of anything better designed to destroy normal relationships between people than such over-the-top reactions.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 19 Jul 2013, 19:25

This is the most ridiculous one I've ever seen: David Olander, member of the human rights commission in University City, Missouri was perusing the produce section of the Schnucks supermarket chain. He noticed that unlike in other stores in the area, the asparagus weren’t resting in a tray of water and had gone dry. He then spoke to the assistant manager, and later wrote to the Schnucks CEO, asking if this could be a question of racial discrimination, as the store in question is in a majority-black neighbourhood.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 14 Sep 2013, 17:26

They even have getting offended on other people's behalf and really spurious claims of racism in Russia now. A billboard for toilet seats in Kaliningrad featuring a woman wearing an Indian sari reclining against a white toilet seat with a caption saying "I'm looking for a white friend" was reported by a passer-by, as she considered that the wording "offended not only black people and ethnic minorities, but also all citizens who do not tolerate nationalism and racism".

It sounds like a really odd phrase to use, but how can it be offensive to black people when it doesn't even make the slightest reference to them? If anything, as a white person I would say being associated with toilet seats sounds fairly pejorative. Fewer than 10 per cent of people polled on the Kaliningrad.ru news website considered it to be offensive, though the BBC does take pains to mention that the poll was "unscientific".
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Elliott » 14 Sep 2013, 18:28

"unscientific"

Well the BBC should know. If there's any organisation that can get the polling responses it wants, it's the BBC.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 19 Oct 2013, 18:35

Ethnic minority British doctors are four times more likely than white British doctors to fail their clinical GP exam, and foreign-trained GPs fourteen times more likely to fail, according to the BBC.

Professor Aneez Esmail, an expert on racism in the NHS who led the investigation is not happy about that fact, but doesn't have any concrete evidence of why exactly this might be the case other than the unmentionable of "they're not good enough", so he has gone for the hardest, most abstract claim for the medical profession to defend itself against - "unconscious bias" against ethnic minority applicants.

This makes perfect sense, since we are so dead set against the idea of being treated by somebody from a different background that we've been importing foreign doctors for decades to the point where some locally trained doctors find they can't get work, and we've allowed the situation to come about where only 38 per cent of doctors in Britain declared themselves to be of the ethnic group native to this country...
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Charlie » 19 Oct 2013, 19:03

Professor Aneez Esmail, an expert on racism in the NHS


....and the Lord wept.
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Re: Gratuitous uses of the word "racist"

Postby Nathan » 04 Nov 2013, 20:09

A company selling a spray which reduces snoring has a billboard featuring an American soldier and a woman in a niqab embracing each other, with the tag #betogether. Their skin tones look almost the same and there is no reference to the woman's nationality, but to some Iraqi woman in the Guardian it's still racist, repugnant and highly offensive.
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