Anti-Racism and Anti-Communism

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A Spectre is Haunting Europe, the Spectre of Communism, Valentin Shcherbakov, 1924. ( The David King Collection at Tate)

A great many college leaders today are on the anti-racism bandwagon, insisting that everything possible be done to eradicate racism.

But suppose that someone were to say, “Communism is also bad. Let’s have a campaign on campus to stamp it out too.”

George Mason University economics professor Bryan Caplan ponders the differences between anti-racist and anti-communist campaigns in this post.

He sees no difference.

Among Caplan’s reasons for thinking that an anti-communist campaign would be bad: “Once the re-definition of ‘Communism’ starts to snowball, people will self-censor to avoid becoming victims of semantic inflation. So the policy doesn’t merely persecute people for leftist leanings; it stifles the creation and evaluation of any idea that a paranoid fanatic might interpret as ‘Communist.’* Universities should be especially horrified by this consequence, because universities are supposed to be centers for the creation and objective evaluation of ideas.”

Similarly: “Once the re-definition of ‘racism’ starts to snowball, people will self-censor to avoid becoming victims of semantic inflation.  So the policy doesn’t merely persecute people for non-leftist leanings; it stifles the creation and evaluation of any idea that a paranoid fanatic might interpret as ‘racist.’ Universities should be especially horrified by this consequence, because universities are supposed to be centers for the creation and objective evaluation of ideas.”

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Dan Klein

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