Infantile use of ‘racism’ label

Tokyo

In two AP articles published March 21, “Police see racist motive behind French shootings” and “British teacher used Nazi antics to rile neighbors,” we see once more the common misuse of words.

In the terrible French [Jewish school] shooting story, we read that the latest in a series of attacks on minorities in France has “raised fears of a racist killer on the loose.” In the other story, we read that the accused Briton, Geoffrey Butler, denies charges of “racially aggravated harassment” of his German neighbors.

Neither story mentioned the races of the victims or the supposed perpetrators. In the case of Butler and his German neighbors, it seems unlikely that they are of different races, and we should remember that “British” and “German” are merely nationalities. In the synagogue shooting story, we ought to remember that Judaism is a religion, not a race or a nationality. I reject suggestions that conflict between ethnic or religious groups amounts to “racism.”

Similarly, disagreement with or dislike of homosexuality does not equate with “fear” of homosexuality, despite almost blanket use of the word “homophobia” to describe so many crimes against gays. In one more example, I question the use of “terrorist” or “terrorism” to describe things that are merely terrible.

So, I agree with Bloomberg writer Michael Kinsley’s comment in his March 21 article, “Not quite the worst presidential campaign ever,” that we would all do best to develop a thicker skin. These days people more and more want government legislation and police enforcement to protect us from our own feelings and to blame them on others. It seems that we are becoming less human — or possibly just more infantile — as our civilization ages.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

grant piper