A Scale For Racism

As a result of the fact that racism is a subject that is poorly understood and seldom discussed openly, it can be hard to identify when a statement is racist and even more difficult to know whether it is the sort of statement we ought to condemn in the strongest of terms. Here is a scale of antisemitic/racist statements about Jews:

1) False Belief: “Jews have horns.”

2) Light Prejudice: “Jews are cheap.”

3) Strong prejudice: “The Jews control the banks.”

4) Demonizing Prejudice: “The Jews caused the global recession.”

5) Eliminationist Prejudice: “The Jews are dangerous and must be killed.”

It is my belief that the first two categories, while certainly racist are not cause for severe condemnation. I would therefore draw a line between the second and third categories. Of course a statement that falls into categories 1 or 2 might indicate stronger underlying prejudices, but this is not necessarily the case and without further evidence of strong prejudice, I think it is inappropriate to react harshly to such statements.

For a more extensive discussion of the problem of racism and antisemitism, check out episodes one and two of my new podcast Four Cubits.