Dissecting the Letter
“White supremacy is a lethal public health issue.” The language used here is important. White supremacy is lethal. Racism kills people. What is not written is, “Sometimes white supremacists, acting out of hatred, kill black people,” or even, “All white supremacists are culpable in the murder of black people.” Instead, the agency is assigned to racism itself. It is racism, not racist people, that is the public health issue; it is white nationalism that kills people. This is the same tactic used by antigun lobbies in their slogan “Guns kill people.” If guns kill people, guns need to be illegal. People killing people with guns is already illegal, just as white supremacists killing black men is already illegal. To advance further legal change, you have to change the language. “White supremacy kills people” leads the same people who want guns outlawed to want white supremacy outlawed. While the letter does not draw out these ideas to their logical conclusions, the logic employed is well down the slippery slope of sacrificing free speech.
“We do not condemn [demonstrations that call attention to the pervasive lethal force of white supremacy] as risky for COVID-19 transmission.” That’s weird because every other kind of gathering is condemned by these people as risky.