To the Editor:
Vote No the “Resolution on Racism and Public Health”.
It may be well-intended but is likely to make things worse.
Everyone I know in Easton was disturbed by the terrible incidents in the national news that seemed truly racist. And many are rightly anxious to take action towards a more just society.
So what’s wrong with the proposed Resolution? It aims to “ensure anti-racist principles” and “strive for Equity” which may sound good initially. However, it’s more problematic than you may realize. Here are some considerations.
First, the terminology is a red flag. Why do we need new vocabulary? Why does this resolution replace American principles like “all men are created equal” with “anti-racist” principles? And why replace “equal opportunity” with the term “Equity”? The reason is the new words mean different and worrisome things.
For example, “anti-racist” is not just being more active in your support of a just society. It’s associated with an ideology that attributes all differences in outcomes between groups to racism alone. Everyone knows people are much more than just their race, but this principle leaves no room for anything else, like diverse preferences, individual choices, natural strengths and weaknesses, or a combination of many factors.
Also, how is the term “Equity” different than the term “equal opportunity”? Equal opportunity is self-evident. But, Equity is associated with the desire to have equal outcomes across groups. Of course, this is not possible in real life without significant top-down intervention. Should all kids have to stay at the same academic level? And get the same grades? Should all people earn the same incomes? Who do you trust to normalize the outcomes and how? This type of thing has been tried in communist countries and with disastrous results. Do I think we’re on the verge of that in Easton? No, not at that scale. But, these kinds of changes usually start small and they’re not far off if we don’t draw a line.
What about Public Health? Most of us know intuitively what a legitimate health crisis looks like. Covid-19 and Opioid abuse are public health crises. Where are the many people from Easton with bad health outcomes attributable to racism? If it’s a crisis, presumably there would be many, but we all know there are not. Therefore we should not empower our local government with the authority to act as if there was.
Some have said “this is the start of a conversation” based on what’s happened in our country and maybe even some events in Easton. My experience is most people are open to conversation and are actually having them within their communities. This is truly positive and should continue. But, I don’t believe a broader, open-minded conversation will be encouraged by adopting into local government two pages of contentious assertions written by an outside, partisan, political-action group.
I share the desire to make things better but I believe the proposed resolution is a bad solution. It’s long on ideology, so it will be divisive; and it’s short on specific problems, so it will not actually solve any. Taken together, it’s more likely be counter productive.