Posts tagged ‘Professor Streamas’

Asymmetrical Racism

First, just as background, I can't get too worked up about a black professor named John Streamas at WSU calling a Young Republican a "White Shitbag."  As I have written many times before, speech shouldn't be banned in a public forum merely for being offensive  -- we don't have a right not to be offended, and even idiots can speak.  While I think that a number of observers are correct in saying that if the races of the protagonists were reversed, the reaction to the statement and the university penalties applied would have been much more severe, it really doesn't matter.  WSU might rightfully evaluate whether they would like its professors to be more eloquent in political discourse or better able to handle heated arguments with students with some self-restraint, but that is in the realm of employee evaluation and not punishment for speech.

That being said, this case does provide a useful insight into something many of us have suspected for years but few African-Americans have admitted:  Some blacks and black leaders would like to redefine "racism" as applying only to slights against blacks.  Professor Streamas comes right out and argues that blacks can't be guilty of racism:

Prof. Streamas "insists that he did not utter the phrase as an
expression of racism, in part, because he argues that a person of color
cannot be racist, by definition, because racism also defines a power
differential that is not usually present when a person or color is

This is an asymmetrical definition of racism that I have long suspected is harbored by various folks on the left.  By the way, the "power differential" argument is just a distraction.  If he really believed this, it would mean that I could utter the foulest things about powerful men like John Conyers or Colin Powell with impunity from being called a racist, and I know he doesn't mean that.  What he means is that he wants to claim the title of victim all for himself, allowing for enormous restrictions on actions and speech of others vis a vis himself, while not in the least bit in any way restraining his own actions or speech.

This is a common theme nowadays, especially on campus:  Everyone seems to be looking for a way to say anything they want, while simultaneously silencing their critics.  You can't have it both ways.  Its much easier to let everyone speak.  Free speech should not partially be for your enemies, but especially be for your enemies.