Readers write: Defining racism, and political dog whistles

Ann Hermes/Staff
See what readers had to say in the Sept. 9 issue.

Defining racism

Regarding the Aug. 5 article “Who is a racist? Definitions vary in red and blue America”: If the question of what constitutes racism is yet another issue that is dividing America, then it isn’t a good discussion to be having right now. 

Instead, we should ask of words and actions, “Are they faithful to the biblical demand that we love our neighbor as ourselves? Do they express and demonstrate the Golden Rule?”

Why We Wrote This

Letters to the editor for the September 9, 2019 weekly magazine.

Robin Smith
Denver

I am of Native American and Mexican ancestry. When I hear President Donald Trump challenge the integrity of an individual based only on that person’s ancestry, it comes very close to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of racism quoted in the article: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

My Spanish-speaking grandmother was born in West Texas. Her grandfather was an Apache scout with the United States Army. My father was born in Colorado. He served in the 101st Airborne Division in World War II. He was well read and he voted. He was also an American who experienced racist insults. So do I.

I was deeply disappointed that the Monitor’s take on racist views seems to echo Mr. Trump’s defense of neo-Nazis at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in implying that there were “fine people on both sides.” That has not been my experience. Racism is racism. While there may be many complexities in analyzing one’s prejudices, accommodating racism defies our American pledge to seek “liberty and justice for all.”

Marlene Cartter
Vacaville, California

Dog whistles

Regarding the Aug. 19 & 26 articles “Why America’s big cities have become the president’s punching bag” and “The power of political dog whistles”: It seems to me that the term “dog whistle” in politics is just the latest attempt to intimidate citizens who might criticize the policies of liberal politicians. Repressing free speech by labeling it as hate speech will ultimately lead to resentment.

Only by being open to criticism, and being willing to admit failings on all sides, can we hope to achieve the promise of America.

Royce Haynes
Georgetown, Delaware

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.