In the modern world of political correctness, it’s easy to get lost amid the sea of people shouting, “That’s racist.”
Be it white people wearing dreadlocks, Disney Halloween costumes or #AllLivesMatter, there’s so much alleged racism out there that I’m struggling to keep track of what isn’t racist.
So, in the spirit of social justice, I’ve decided to add something new to the ever-growing list of racist terminology. The phrase “Good Samaritan.”
Now, at first, it might not seem obvious, because the Good Samaritan is a heartwarming parable about helping those in need, so let me elaborate.
In Biblical times, the Jews and the Samaritans were neighboring tribes who had a fierce rivalry to the point of mutual hatred. Of course the Bible was written for a Jewish audience, so in context, the word “Samaritan” would be akin to “Commie” in 1960s America.
As for the story, the basic idea is a Jewish man was walking down the road when he was set on by robbers who left him naked and dying. Along the way came another Jewish man who refused to help him. He was followed by a rabbi who also refused to help him.
Then a Samaritan came in, rescued the Jew and nurtured him back to health. Thus he earned the title “The Good Samaritan.”
This is problematic in that the phrase “The Good Samaritan” perpetuates that racist historical Jewish worldview that the majority of Samaritans are bad. The use of the word “the” implies that this Samaritan being kind is something extraordinary, out of character for Samaritans.
To put it in a modern context, imagine if I were nurtured back to health by an African-American and I dubbed him “The Good Black.” That would be ridiculously offensive.
Many people try to defend this racism by saying, “Well, Samaritans are a historical group. They don’t exist anymore.”
This is ridiculous on two accounts. Firstly, just because a group doesn’t exist anymore doesn’t mean it’s okay to racially profile it and demean its culture. Secondly, in fact, Samaritans do still exist, albeit in small numbers. Claiming they don’t is disregarding their rich cultural heritage, which is even more racist.
Now, a second rebuttal to this argument is that it’s all semantics, that the phrase isn’t intentionally offensive to anyone and doesn’t really mean to insult Samaritans. It’s just an idiom.
To be honest, I completely agree. In fact I don’t think saying “Good Samaritan” is in any way wrong, but it can be taken that way. That’s my point.
That’s my problem with racism today. The slightest things are now racist or cultural appropriation. People get defensive about everything. I certainly don’t support racism — no one should feel like they’re less than anyone else because of their race.
When we get so caught up in the semantics, all we do is hinder people’s ability to speak.
Our litmus test shouldn’t be, “Can this be construed as racist?” It should be, “Do minorities actually care?” or, “Does this demean anyone?”