Weaponizing The Racism Charge
I have watched our national politics descend into what appears to be a war against reasoned analysis and discussion. There is one charge—racism—that is designed to stifle dissent and turn the opposition into pariahs, ensuring that the other side can never be viewed as good people with whom you simply disagree.
Why would anyone label a fellow citizen a racist? The charge is designed to cut off any discussion of the issue at hand and allows the person using the charge to signal their virtue to the public and display their moral superiority. To support his/her charge, the virtuous offended party typically has no hard evidence. Instead they point to what should be a policy disagreement and then declare that the motive for espousing the policy can only be the vile racism which is at the core the basis for the policy.
Much has been written about the LBUSD Board and how the charge of racism was used to avoid addressing an issue of spending priorities. The member of the board who recently leveled the charge of racism against a constituent, former college president James J. Kelly, was previously sued over alleged racist comments and actions he took while he was president. The case was settled and the records sealed, so we can’t see the terms of the settlement. I won’t re-plow that ground. The board will probably never address the spending issues brought up at that meeting by a resident who was labeled a “racist.” Why not? Because morally virtuous people don’t have to deal with or even admit that a “racist” has a point. This emotionally charged slur can be effective in silencing the opposition. Reasoned debate? Absolutely not. Why dignify these “deplorables” by engaging with them on matters of substance?
Well what about the members of the public who’d like an answer to these and other questions? If a citizen brings up an issue will they then be labeled a racist? Will they suffer retaliation? After all, in this Kafkaesque world, to even ask a question is prima fascia evidence of guilt and as the officer in Kafka’s “In The Penal Colony” said, “Guilt is always beyond a doubt.”
Emil Monda has lived in Laguna Beach for 25 years with his wife, Michèle, and three sons. He is president of the Laguna Beach Republicans and a member of the Laguna Art Museum Board of Trustees.