John Kelly, President Trump’s Chief of Staff, recently made some comments about the supposed unwillingness of the North and South to compromise over slavery as a leading cause of the Civil War. But Kelly actually has it completely backwards.
Why on earth would anybody want to get rid of the word “racism”? It seems like a perfectly fine word. In fact, it seems like a morally valuable word. If racism is a morally bad thing, then having the language to address it—to track it, analyze it, condemn it, and call it out—must be a good thing, right?
Many public monuments in the United States depict people who have done hideously immoral things. Almost all depict morally imperfect people. If we accept that some statues should be left in place and some should be torn down, what principles determine which should be torn down?