We often see headlines of alleged racism followed by lectures from the politically correct crowd. In an attempt to take a moral high ground, they inadvertently point out a reality of human nature: all of us discriminate all the time. Narrowly defining “racism” has made it politically useful to apply when convenient. By broadening the definition to “discrimination”, we can see how it is meaninglessly thrown around for personal agendas.
What is discrimination? In simplistic terms, it is the pre-conceived judgment of another based on a visual perception of categorical differences, i.e. skin color. Racism is a specific kind of discrimination, just as homophobia or xenophobia. None of them are socially desirable or acceptable, but they are all discrimination.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Suppose you are approached by a person clad in “gothic” style clothes – dark colors, heavy metal themes, and the whole bit. Before this person even opens their mouth, what is your first thought? I highly doubt you think “I am not going to judge this person because I believe in equal and fair treatment”. At some point, you will make a pre-disposed judgment to that person’s character that could seriously affect your perception of them. For better or worse, you perceive them according to how different or similar they look to you. By definition, you are discriminating.
If people were absolutely indiscriminate, we wouldn’t have divisions in all walks of life – athletes vs gothics; businessmen vs artists. Unless you are also a gothic (to each his own), the chances of you associating are slim to none. How many non-gothic readers can honestly say they are open to having gothic friends? Nothing against gothics, but they seem to be a minority amongst social groups.
This does not mean there is anything harmful about how you have chosen to associate. Furthermore, there is no indication that the gothic person has experienced any kind of loss. Just because you don’t want to associate with them does not mean they want to associate with you.
We practice this form of discrimination every day and throughout our entire lives. It’s perfectly acceptable and no one questions its morality. For some reason, applying this principle to race suddenly makes it unacceptable, immoral, and sometimes illegal. To me, that is logically inconsistent and preferential.
For someone to embrace a pure anti-racist stance, they must recognize this inconsistency and address it as they do all racial discrimination. Instead, they legislate “anti-discrimination” laws as if a law will alter human nature.
Anti-discrimination laws use the pretense of equality to establish a moral high ground for how we live every day. However, they are equally as immoral as the behavior they supposedly prevent. In practice, these laws establish a moral threshold on how much and what kind of discrimination is appropriate and permissible. Clearly, a discrimination threshold is an unsound and immoral concept, but that’s what we have effectively created. Such a threshold only affords extra protection to specific groups based on arbitrary standards. By definition, this is discrimination, yet many find it morally acceptable.
We can, however, combat discrimination through the market. If an employer was actively discriminating against potential hires, they would experience a loss. Let’s say you are a racist employer and have to choose between white and black applicants. If the black person is more qualified, but you hire the white person, then you will lose human capital. Your competitor will likely hire the black person for their superior qualifications. Thus, you have lost an advantage to your competition. Over time, this means you lose big.
Let’s say the candidates are equally qualified and you hire the white person. If capitalism is truly racist and employers actively pay minorities less (they don’t), then you would have to pay more to hire the white person. Why? Such racist practices would constrict the supply of labor, which drives up the price of white labor. If the competition hires the black candidate, then you experience a loss in the wage difference. The market has made you pay a premium for your racist beliefs.
In the Internet age, your business practices could very well be put on blast. As a result, lost sales would accrue from a consumer boycott. I would rather a racist business owner suffer their way to bankruptcy than pay a one-time fine.
Furthermore, if the employer is racist, what minority would want to work there? Is that not a prime opportunity for the competition to send a message to candidates and consumers? Even so, I highly doubt a government decree would magically result in a more tolerant employer.
All of this boils down to one thing: your freedom to associate with who you want and for whatever reason you want. Whenever you choose not to associate, you are practicing discrimination of that person or group. I find this truth to be most prevalent in the world of dating.
Dating apps like Tinder have revolutionized the way we find the opposite sex. It also provides a wonderful display of innate human racism. On Tinder, users swipe one way for a like and the other for a dislike. It’s purely anonymous and based only on subjective judgments of pictures. Here is my question to the social do-gooder: would you “like” every single person’s picture, including all races, backgrounds, and creeds? Obviously not because you want to associate with someone who you perceive as beneficial to your human capital.
If it is morally acceptable in the world of love, why should it not be anywhere else? Does the implication of a “serious relationship” or “hooking up” suddenly change the moral playing field? I doubt you could make a good case that discrimination is permissible when the stakes are high.
None of this means “racism” can never be deplorable. In reality, there are different levels of discrimination. If you don’t want to date a black person, I don’t see how that could simultaneously make you a KKK prospect. Nonetheless, you are free to have racist beliefs and practice those beliefs in a peaceful manner. However, just as you are free to express those beliefs, so too are people free to criticize your beliefs. Any act of violence inspired through racism is no more evil than non-racist violence. The right to be racist ends where another’s physical well-being begins.
Discrimination may not be a morally desirable behavior, but it exists in every corner of life. Attempts to outlaw discrimination do not cultivate multiculturalism. In fact, they breed more animosity between groups of people, which is inevitable when one group arbitrarily receives special treatment. If we want to combat racial discrimination, the best way to do so is through consumer power and social ostracizing.
As a nation, we stand up to hate groups like Westboro Baptist. As consumers, we can flex our market muscle by boycotting discriminatory business practices. Relying on the government, an entity that has perpetuated racist policies, will not yield meaningful results. Discrimination, like many outdated beliefs, is fading away because it is not a profitable behavior.
Freedom can be tough sometimes. If we wholly support freedom, then we must acknowledge that these ills exist. As I once told someone, “You have the right to be a racist asshole just as I have the right to call you an asshole for being racist”.