How to Tell If You’re a Racist

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You’ve probably heard the news that Donald Trump believes it’s possible for a Muslim judge to treat him unfairly. Do you think Trump is wrong about this?

When asked by a reporter if Trump believed it would be possible for a Muslim judge to treat him unfairly, Trump answered, “It’s possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”

Notice that Trump didn’t say, “all Muslim judges are unfair to me.” Nor did he say all Hispanic judges are unfair. He said it’s possible for some judges to treat him unfairly, even they’re Muslim or Hispanic.

[Read more on this subject here.]

Let’s drop the modifier “Muslim” and talk about judges for a moment.

Do you believe any judge has ever been unfair to anyone who came before their bench? If you know a couple who got divorced, I’ll bet at least one of that pair says the judge was unfair. Maybe both. Christian conservatives tell me the judges on the Supreme Court were unfair in deciding gay marriage and ObamaCare. And a ton of people think judges sometimes sentence black defendants more harshly than white defendants in nearly identical cases. And there’s more.

My Irish friends believe judges in the United States treated their ancestors unfairly when it came to property law, labor law, and criminal law. Some Italians believe judges treat them harshly because of the Mafia. And every time an appeals court reverses a lower court ruling, the judges on the appeals court believe the lower court did something unfair. That happens a lot, you know. Also, judges have been removed from the bench for things like taking bribes and colluding with police to hide evidence. And some people believe a judge was unfair for giving a tiny sentence to a rapist because a longer sentence might have hurt the rapist’s swimming career.

At this point, any reasonable person would agree that it’s possible for judges to treat people unfairly.

Now, then, are some judges immune to unfairness? In other words, let’s say we sorted all the judges in the United States into two buckets: one bucket of judges who’ve never been unfair, and another bucket of judges who have been unfair. Next, let’s look at various traits these judges have and see if we can find any strong correlations. In other words, do the fair judges share any traits that the unfair judges do not? Try to imagine what those traits might be. Height, weight, time on the bench, law school, etc. Just for kicks, let’s do like the government does and consider race, ethnicity, sex, and religious preferences, too.

What are the chances that a not single unfair judge would be Muslim or Hispanic? I have no idea if it’s true, but the people who believe Trump was wrong must believe Muslim judges and Hispanic judges are genetically incapable of being unfair. There’s no other explanation. People who are upset at Trump believe that all Muslim and Hispanic judges are genetically fair to everyone.

Now, let’s look at the dictionary definition of racism:

a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

[source Merriam-Webster]

So Donald Trump believes that Muslims and Hispanics are capable of unfairness, just like everybody else. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor also believe a judge’s ethnicity influences her rulings, so she agrees with Trump. People who are mad at Trump believe Muslims and Hispanics possess traits and capabilities, like fairness, primarily attributable their their race. Who’s the racist here?

If you believe Donald Trump is wrong about Muslim judges, you’re probably a racist.