Readers write: Defining racism, and political dog whistles

Why We Wrote This

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

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?”

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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