My social media feed in recent days contains several references to the recent interview between the Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson and the BBC journalist Cathy Newman. Throughout the interview, when Dr. Peterson gave his opinion on topics such as feminism and LGBT rights, Ms. Newman routinely interrupted him with the phrase meme, “So what you are saying is …” before to say again what Dr. Peterson said in such a way that it makes him seem prejudiced.
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Dr. Peterson responded graciously throughout the interview, and the whole event was taken advantage of by multiple ideological views, from conservatives like Ben Shapiro, who acclaims Peterson as a hero of freedom of expression, to leftists who denounce Peterson as a drug addict.
Her ideology really leads her to listen to what she says she is saying.
However, the apparently simple ideological clash in this video reveals an unfortunately common truth: when issues such as prejudice are discussed, it seems that many of us are not speaking the same language. While we all speak English, the semantic meaning of the words seems to be completely different according to the ideology you follow.
It is tempting for both sides to dismiss the other as “wrong” or “stupid”, but what we have to understand is that, in conversations on issues like this, the ideological divide has become so deep that, in a sense, both sides They are speaking a different language. Therefore, when someone like Cathy Newman hears that someone like Dr. Peterson speaks, she not only tries to manipulate the conversation by putting words in her mouth; her ideology really leads her to listen to what she says she is saying.
A new definition of racism
To understand how this fundamental difference in language originated, it is necessary to explore one of the most fundamental theories of modern prejudice: symbolic racism. Originally conceived as a psychological construct to help explain racism in post-Jim Crow America, it was quickly adopted not only in the psychological community, but in sociology, political science, and even economics, and currently defines much of our cultural discussion about the prejudices of all kinds.
In 1973, after several racial unrest, the United States began to realize that, despite the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, we still had a long way to go as a society. Psychologists David Sears and John McConahay coined the term “symbolic racism” in their 1973 book, The Politics of Violence: The New Urban Blacks and Watts Riot, defining it according to three principles:
A newer and more subtle form of racism is emerging, due to social pressure against explicit participation in the behaviors and attitudes of the Jim Crow era.
This racism manifests itself in the socio-political sphere, and many use racially oriented legislation to manifest their racism in a socially acceptable manner.
This new, subtle and “symbolic” racism has its origins in socializing to accept certain conservative values.
A definition problem
The concept of symbolic racism is not without foundation. Certainly, racism has not disappeared from the United States, but it has become more subtle, and there is certainly racially motivated legislation that passes itself off as “tradition”. However, the theory of symbolic racism goes further by defining conservatism as intrinsically racist.
It does not matter what you really believe; The “real motive” can be determined by one’s political actions.
In their 1973 work The Politics of Violence, Sears and McConahay argue that to support equality for African Americans, but not to support government programs “designed to ensure” this equality is a form of racism. This element has defined much of the subsequent study of racism since then, apparently with regret for the original authors. In a 2005 article written with Christopher Tarman, David Sears emphasizes that conservatism is a separate construction from political conservatism. However, whatever their original intentions, their theory has combined the two.
Despite the grief of the Sears buyer, the theory of symbolic racism inherently defines, through faulty logic, that the conservative / libertarian ideology is racist. He does it in a particularly insidious way; It requires that anyone who believes in equal opportunity should support legislation such as affirmative action and welfare spending.
If a person does not support such policies, this can be interpreted as a sure manifestation of symbolic racism masquerading as a political ideology. In this way, it no longer matters what one really believes; The “real motive” can be determined by one’s political actions. Therefore, fiscal conservatism has been inherently defined as a form of racism, both by the social sciences and by society in general.