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Tough And Smart On Racist Behavior

I’ve been having a hard time with some of the reflexiveness in today’s progressive movements, but then encounters like these come along to emphasize the need for zero tolerance toward shitty behavior. Where’s there’s smoke there’s a fire. It’s imperative we confront racist behavior until it taps out, period.

The Lyft driver was calm but tough. Kudos for his highly effective approach

At the same time it’s worth keeping our wits about us, even as we apply a zero tolerance policy toward bigots.

In this case, the Lyft driver was calm but tough. Kudos for his highly effective approach. Kicking out the bigoted passenger was inspiring. The passenger’s behavior was unacceptable, his attitude mean and his comments racist, and he ended up where he deserved, on the sidewalk.

One thing. Is the passenger a mean and racist person? I don’t know, can’t tell from a three-minute altercation. I could wager a guess and say yes, he’s a piece of work, but I’d be speculating. It’s impossible to draw a complete and accurate picture (of any person) from such little evidence.

What I can say with certainty is that the passenger’s behavior was racist, and that he deserved getting the boot. Who or what he is in his overall life, how he behaves in general, his values and track record, I have no access to it, no way of knowing.

It’s important to keep our emotions in check and our assumptions in control. Calling the passenger a ‘racist’, as many of us might after seeing the video, would do us an injustice, showing that we don’t know how to judge people, that we’re prone to extreme and sensationalistic overgeneralizations — something we accuse racists of.

It’s important to keep our emotions in check and our assumptions in control

If we’re better than racists, we have to be better at discerning, and not as cavalier with our branding.

Bottom line, this man behaved in a racist manner, that much is evident. He’s most probably a bigot, but it’s meaningless to make that assumption. All we can say and act on/react to is what we saw, the offense caught on video. Come down hard on it to set an example. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.

See, now that this guy’s been caught out and put in his place, there’s a chance he’ll mend his ways.

Let’s give him that chance, make it easier for him to walk back to virtue. Let’s rehabilitate him. Castigate him for what he did and let him know there’s a way back from his mean and ugly behavior, a place among us, so long as he changes his ways. (Aren’t liberals always grilling conservatives for their ‘tough on crime’ approach, arguing that it’s better to be ‘smart’ than ‘tough’? Same here.) Let’s be tough in a smart way. Punish the offense, make room for rehabilitation. Don’t overstate or overreach. Make the distinction between ‘a racist incident’ and ‘a racist person,’ focus on the incident to correct the person. Act only on what we see. The cause of progress needs to be rooted in reason. Be tough with racist offenders and punish the offense, move on. Send a message to all those watching that we will judge them by their actions — that if they correct their actions they’re welcome back inside open society. Do well and they’ll be received well. ‘We won’t judge you for things we don’t know. We’re not the new holy inquisition.’

To defeat racism we have to be tough AND smart

Summing up: To defeat racism we have to be tough AND smart, firm and specific. Call out racist and bigoted behavior when and where we see it, squeeze it until it taps out, and make sure we don’t overreach. Punish the offense and only the offense, showing the world at large that we’re not prone to wanton overgeneralization and gross assumptions.

Do that, and we’re going to make progress in no time. The vast majority of people will join the cause, the racists will retreat, and we will be a stronger, fitter, smarter, more functional world, less prone to branding (the root of all prejudice) and more inclined to move forward rather than in vicious circles.

From your socratic Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.