(MISES) – Last summer, infectious disease experts at the University of Washington wrote what they called an "[o]pen letter advocating for an anti-racist public health response to demonstrations against systemic injustice occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic." It is essentially a letter explaining that white supremacy is a public health issue, especially in light of covid-19. The letter was signed by 1,288 "public health professionals, infectious diseases professionals, and community stakeholders."
"White supremacy is a lethal public health issue." The language used here is important. White supremacy is lethal. Racism kills people. What is not written is, "Sometimes white supremacists, acting out of hatred, kill black people," or even, "All white supremacists are culpable in the murder of black people." Instead, the agency is assigned to racism itself. It is racism, not racist people, that is the public health issue; it is white nationalism that kills people.
This is the same tactic used by antigun lobbies in their slogan "Guns kill people." If guns kill people, guns need to be illegal. People killing people with guns is already illegal, just as white supremacists killing black men is already illegal. To advance further legal change, you have to change the language. "White supremacy kills people" leads the same people who want guns outlawed to want white supremacy outlawed. While the letter does not draw out these ideas to their logical conclusions, the logic employed is well down the slippery slope of sacrificing free speech.
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