Everything is racist. Everything is sexist. Everything is homophobic. And you have to point it all out
– Anita Sarkeesian
Calling things *ist or *phobic is an extremely common leftist tactic. It is of course, not an argument based in fact. One can simply call anything racist or sexist. But it is also dangerous outside of arguments and academia. It only serves as a distraction from reality, in most cases.
The first issue is who gets to determine what is sexist or racist. Is one person enough? What if one person says it is not racist? Does there need to be a group of people? What if a larger group of people says it is not racist? Does it need to be a person who is a minority? What if a person who is a minority disagrees? Do groups of minorities need to agree? What if someone in that group disagrees? What if an entire group disagrees? It is near impossible to determine what is racist just by stating that it is racist. There is no objective test to determine if something is racist or sexist based on outside views.
Therefore, the only way to objectively determine any *ist or *phobic act is the intent. Of course, there are issues with this as well. It is difficult to get a person to admit bias in the first place. So, naturally, the left likes to force the issue of intent. Students found a man in KKK robes roaming on campus. Except it was a Dominican friar. A student posted a swastika pin on a bulletin board. Turns out it was from a trip to India, where the swastika is used as a symbol of luck and success. It is very easy to make up any kind of intent. One might argue that you shouldn’t wear / post things similar to things that can be perceived as racist. You would not be a very good multiculturalist then. This perspective would mean that these minority cultures would have to assimilate to the dominant one.
Another major failing is that wantonly describing events as racist or sexist allows for constant self-serving bias. Didn’t get a job? It’s because the employer is racist! Someone says you’re annoying or bossy? Sexist! It is much easier to blame someone else than it is to address your own shortcomings. This is one of the core tenets of ideological preservation: you can never be wrong. This is not to say that events can’t happen for racist or sexist reasons, or that racism or sexism does not exist. It is difficult if not impossible to prove that something really happened because of it. History is no indicator. Just because people were denied housing loans based on skin color before, doesn’t mean it has happened to you, especially when other factors are obviously in play. It also leads to low self-esteem. People being racist or sexist is out of one’s control, no matter how much the feminists want to think that all racism and sexism can be eliminated (which of course goes back to the question of what can truly be declared racist). It prevents a reevaluation of self. Maybe you didn’t get that job because your resume was badly done. Or maybe you really are just annoying and bossy. Attributing this fact to outside factors only allows events like these to continue. Every time you are called annoying, you can point to sexism or racism. This leads to a never ending cycle, one that can not be broken because it is society’s fault. But if you attribute the event to a personal downfall or error, one can improve oneself. You can pick yourself up and try again, and most importantly, improve yourself and leave feeling stronger. Again, this is not to say that racism doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just that thinking the world is out to get you only leads to paranoia and depression. There is also the point that declaring everything to be *ist only loosens the impact of the term.