By Rachel Stoltzfoos
An English professor at Columbia University urges liberals to stop unfairly labeling any white person who disagrees with an opinion held by people of color a “white supremacist” in a piece for Time magazine.
“A leftist contingent is now charging any white person who seriously questions a position associated with people of color as a white supremacist,” John McWhorter, previously a linguistics professor, writes in Time. “The idea is that if you go against a certain orthodoxy, then it isn’t only that you disagree, but that you also wish white people were still in charge, that you want people of color to sit down and shut up.”
Pointing to a string of people labeled as white supremacists, ranging from David Duke to Mother Teresa, McWhorter says the term has gone from an accurate description of people who think the white race should rule everyone else to a weapon used indiscriminately and with way too broad a brush.
“‘White supremacist’ is a new way of saying ‘racist’ while stepping around the steadily increasing awareness that that word, too, is being wielded in sloppy ways,” he writes. “Writing ‘white supremacist’ is a way of making the reader jump, in the way that ‘prejudiced’ and ‘racist’ once were. What handier way of driving your critique home than implying that your target would have broken bread with the Confederacy, stood at the school doors at the behest of Orville Faubus, or today would be happy to sip coffee at conferences with well-spoken alt-righters?”
McWhorter clarifies that he is not calling for liberals to stop disagreeing, but to use persuasion rather than name calling to advance their views.
“If you make a claim that someone desires that white people be in charge and muzzle the opinions and opportunities of people of color, you should be able to prove it,” he writes. “No, the fact that psychological tests reveal subtle racial biases in whites does not justify calling any white person’s questioning of the views of a person of color a white supremacist.”