"You know who talks about race?! RACISTS."
August 30, 2014 8:31 PM   Subscribe

What's it called when someone accuses someone of pointing out an injustice as perpetrating that injustice by describing it? Is there a name for this rhetorical device? An example would be in Jon Stewart's recent segment about Ferguson where a news anchor was quoted as saying "You know who talks about race?! RACISTS."

I've also encountered this before in anti-feminist rhetoric. I can't think of where, but I've come across people arguing things like "saying that women are culturally conditioned to be passive to men is saying that women are passive to men and that's sexist."
posted by wrabbit to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Oops. Should have said "accuses someone pointing out an injustice of perpetrating that injustice by describing it."
posted by wrabbit at 8:34 PM on August 30

As Jon Stewart said, the proper term is "he who smelt it, dealt it."
posted by John Cohen at 8:38 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


(I mean that very seriously. That kind of behavior is trolling.)
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:42 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]

Tu Quoque.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:08 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure if this exactly covers your example, but in Racism without Racists, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva calls this kind of racism "color-blind racism."

It's also a derailing technique, so you might be interested in Derailing for Dummies. Also, it could be an example of a white person "playing the race card" (for examples, see the Mitt Romney presidential campaign) or the "denial card" as Tim Wise has called it.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 3:02 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]

And sometimes it's a case of "blaming the victim."
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:21 AM on August 31

posted by LogicalDash at 5:41 AM on August 31

This could be considered an example of Logical Rudeness.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:07 AM on August 31

The Nirvana fallacy ("The perfect is the enemy of the good") comes into play as well -- this is sort of "In a perfect world, no one would talk about race; therefore, when you mention race at all, you're part of the problem."
posted by Etrigan at 6:31 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]

I absolutely find this to be an advanced form of gaslighting.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:36 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]

As far as formal terminology, I've recently found it helpful to conceptualize this sort of conflation as a (deliberate?) failure to make the use-mention distinction.
posted by lesli212 at 6:38 PM on August 31

Chocolate pickle has it.
posted by adamrice at 8:28 PM on August 31

It's also an example of Poisoning the Well.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:45 PM on August 31

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