Crying ‘Racism’ on Ebola

In the grittier, less sanitized adaptations of Aesop’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” it is not only the sheep that lose their lives but the eponymous “boy” as well, his repeated mendacity and ill-timed attention-seeking leading, ultimately, to his death. Behavior, readers learn, breeds behavior, dishonesty begets mistrust, and gratuitousness fosters insensitivity, for “Men bileve not lyghtly hym whiche is knowen for a lyer.” Alarm, that most useful of things, operates on broadly the same principle. If everything is terrifying, eventually nothing will be. And then what is to become of us?

Over the past few decades or so, “racism” has become one of Aesop’s wolves, “racist” having been converted into such a depressingly quotidian charge that even those who believe racial injustice to be ubiquitous have come to resent the frequency with which it is alleged. Conservatives have long rolled their eyes at the wanton manner in which their ideological opponents have sought to tarnish them with the word — Peter Brimelow famously observed that, in so many instances, the definition of a “racist” is a “conservative who is winning an argument” — but, of late, we have been joined in irritation by other fair-minded sorts who have just about had enough…

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