Interpretative denial is at work when the facts are not disputed, but their interpretation disguises their racist aspect.

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Denial of racism is meant in the sense that the suffering of victims of racism, the existence of attitudes in oneself or society which makes this suffering possible, and/or the existence of practices and institutions of racism, are denied.

In the book, “The Impact of Information about Human Rights Violations” by Cohens distinction between literal, interpretative and implicatory denial is highly relevant to the denial of racism issues as well.

Literal racist denial is widespread as a governmental reaction to human rights reports, and is expressed in such statements as: Your reports are exaggerated; your position is alarmist, sensationalist, harmful; we work on issues constructively while your way of exposing things is destructive, etc. Interpretative denial is at work when the facts are not disputed, but their interpretation disguises their racist aspect.

Example: This police action was not a punitive expedition as such and such human rights advocate called it; it was a legitimate arrest of suspects in the neighbourhood; it is true that force was used, but police acted in self-defence, etc. I would like to highlight implicatory denial as the toughest challenge in dealing with racist denial. The problem is not to explain how people deny but how anyone ever pays any attention.


source: Cohen, Stanley, Denial and Acknowledgement: The Impact of Information about Human Rights Violations. Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, 1995,(picture)www.azquotes.com-accessed on 23/09/16

Author: brendonnaicker

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