The ISD Editorial Board defines who has the right to say what a harmful and oppressive statement is and who doesn't. 

With more and more individuals in the United States becoming aware of their own prejudices and privilege, it is important to remember that people in marginalized communities still face harmful statements and actions.

These groups, whether they are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC), members of the LGBTQIA+ community, women, possess a disability or are in some other way marginalized in the United States, come across instances in their daily lives that can be harmful to them.

The issue we are addressing as the Iowa State Daily Editorial Board is who can really claim if a statement is harmful.

For a long time in United States history, those within marginalized communities have not had the chance to make a statement defending themselves or calling out harmful statements made by those with privileged identities who have been in power, aka white men.

Now with more individuals with marginalized identities either in offices of power or with the ability to speak to their experiences through social media or other forms of media, society overall has been able to hear what is or what has been harmful and the ways to address it.

That still does not stop people with privilege from claiming that something isn’t harmful.

You can hear this when individuals with privilege say “your generation just can’t take a joke” when those individuals say clearly racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, xenophobic or otherwise harmful statements that “used to be accepted.” It is not that the younger generations cannot take a joke or that they are “snowflakes,” it is the simple fact that the statement made was intended to be harmful and, therefore, the statement is not an OK statement to be made.

The age of the statement does not matter.

The older meanings of the terms used in the statement does not matter.

The age of the person does not matter.

The “context” of the statement does not matter.

The only thing that matters is that someone felt attacked due to their marginalized identity, which was harmed in the statement. If that is the case, the statement should not be used, regardless of the feelings of the privileged individual using the statement.

One recent example of this is when individuals with privilege call COVID-19 or coronavirus the “China virus” or “kung flu,” both names equating the virus with China and people of Asian descent.

People who do not hold the marginalized identity of being of Asian descent have claimed this is not a harmful term and is just a way to equate where the virus is from. However, people who do hold the marginalized identity of being of Asian descent have said otherwise, and that the statement is actually harmful and has actually lead to hate crimes.

This gets to the heart of why this editorial is being written. If you do not hold the marginalized identity that is being spoken about in the statement you are making, you do not have the moral right to claim whether that statement is harmful to the marginalized community.

In other terms:

If you are white, you cannot claim something is racist or not.
If you are straight, you cannot claim something is homophobic or not.
If you are cisgender, you cannot claim something is transphobic or not.
If you are a man, you cannot claim something is misogynistic or not.
If you are not disabled, you cannot claim something is ableist or not.
If you are non-Muslim, you cannot claim something is Islamophobic or not.

Yes, any United States citizen has the right to say whatever they want through the First Amendment, but that is not what we are arguing about in this editorial. We are saying that a person who holds a privileged identity cannot tell a person with a marginalized identity that certain statements that relate to their marginalized identity are not harmful.

It seems the reason individuals who hold a privileged identity would claim a statement they said was not harmful, even though a person who holds the marginalized identity addressed in that statement says it was, would be one of two reasons: they are knowingly using it in a harmful way and do not want to face the consequences, or they are only interested in what comes out of their own mouths and only look to others with their same privileged identities for what is “right and wrong.”

We, as United States citizens, need to be better than this. We need to learn and appreciate the ways people are different from one another, because no one is the same, and one group is not superior to another group no matter how these groups were viewed in the past.

Individuals with privilege need to understand they will never know what it is like to be in the place of a person with a marginalized identity, no matter how hard they try or learn. All they can do is listen

Listen to people with marginalized identities, listen to their stories, stories of happiness and hope and stories of pain and hardships. Listen to their dreams and goals, but most importantly listen to what they NEED.

When a person with a marginalized identity says a statement is harmful, listen to them and stop saying it. Do not ask why it is harmful, do not ask why you should stop, do not ask what authority they have to say it is harmful. Just hear that they are hurting and stop.

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Editorials are longer opinion pieces that are written by a group of community members recruited across campus who address relevant issues on a local, national and international level. Editorials are research-based. The purpose of the Editorial Board is to promote discussion concerning relevant issues in the community while advising on possible solutions. Topics are chosen via relevancy and interests of the members, which are then discussed by the Editorial Board in order to reach a general consensus concerning the topic or issue.

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Read our full Opinion Policies here. Updated on 10/7/2020

(8) comments

Steve Gregg

The whole liberal notion of privilege is hateful nonsense. Reduced to its essence, liberal haters want to shut up anyone who disagrees with them. It is an assault on free speech which should be opposed by Americans.

I’m white. My girlfriend is white. She lives in Manhattan. When she was a college kid, running the bars, she was robbed by a black guy who beat her up, put her in the hospital, where they had to put stitches in her head. That’s racist. I’d be happy to hear the racist white liberals of the Daily explain to me why a black guy beating on my girlfriend is not racist.

That was not the last time she was attacked by a black guy, either. Being threatened by black people is part of living in New York City. About every thirtieth time I ride the subway, some random black guy tries to pick a fight with me. That’s racist. The idea that white people can’t call racist things racist if black people do them is itself racist, rotten, and wrong.

I’m a man working in the corporate world where the man is considered wrong in any conflict between a man and a woman. I’ve worked in Texas, the Washington, DC area, and the New York City area. It’s the same everywhere. Any woman can walk into any HR office anywhere, tell them a man they hate is stalking them, and that guy’s job is at risk. I have seen many man-hating women file frivolous harassment claims against men for the thrill of hurting men. In one case I know, a man was sent to a woman to be trained in a skill. She refused to do it because she doesn’t like to train people. When he complained, she filed a harassment claim against him. Things like that happen all the time in every corporation. The harassment programs are mostly vehicles for women to slander men.

Yes, I am free to criticize Islam even though I am not a Muslim and never want to be. The very idea of Islamophobia was developed by the Islamic Institute of Thought to slap down criticism of Islam as an irrational fear of Islam. When Islam holds a doctrine that America is Satan and must be defeated, that is a legitimate thing to condemn, especially when that hate is carried out in terror attacks which kill thousans of innocent Americans. When Islam’s ultimate goal is to annihilate all the Jews in the world, to repeat and complete the Holocaust, it is mandatory for moral non-Muslims to strongly oppose it, contrary to lefty editors of the Daily who immorally forbid such criticism, calling it Islamophobia.

Brian Mcdonough

Not one single word has anything to do with the racist writings of Catt which is the subject of the article. Not one single word.

Nuke Em

Steve, your whole post smacks of privilege and racism; look no further than the broad-based, non-specific language and "examples" you use to support your "claim." The very fact that you equate the very act of examining white privilege as evil indicates that you don't really understand what your are reading or writing (or that you are adhering to a pretty narrow, right-wing view on things, aka the modern GOP and/or Fox News/Brietbart; let me guess, you have some pretty strong negative opinions about CRT, no?). If you can open your mind and read the likes of Kendi ("Stamped from the Beginning") or Angela Davis, you might understand a bit more about how racism has been (and still is) practiced in the US.

Now let's look at other aspects of your argument. The fact that you are pointing to specific incidents with individuals of a certain color as racist incidents seems to lack significant detail to support your claims. For example, were any of the assaults on your girlfriend accompanied with racial epithets, etc.? If not, it is clear you are calling it racist because it was a black person who allegedly perpetrated the crime. That in and of itself is racist.

It seems you don't understand the essence of the article. While it may have flawed exposition in parts, the article is asking folks like you and me (both white and both, incidentally, having spent time in NYC and other major metropolitan areas) to consider how people like us saying something is racist (or not) is immaterial. It is immaterial because we are NOT the marginalized people; to assume we are the authority on what hurts/offends other people is downright arrogant and couter-productive.

Race is a social construct invented by white folks to justify oppression of people who look different. By exploiting religion and science, white racism has been perpetrated for centuries. Any "reverse racism" that you or other white folks may experience is a direct response to the white racist policies implemented by administration after administration. Until you recognize that fact, you will continue to live in fear and adhere to conservative "values" that want nothing more than to conserve their own power. To them, it's always going to be, "To hell with common folks of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. Divide them by emphasizing only difference so they cannot unite and find common ground to defeat our out-moded, out-dated economic and social policies."

On a final note, your commentary about Islam speaks to a simple-minded perspective. This is apparent because you, again, speak in broad generalizations that seem to indicate you believe all folks of the Islamic religion adhere to a small, extremist interpretation of the Koran. I'm willing to bet that if you had any real, meaningful connection to a person or people of Islamic faith, you wouldn't speak in such terms.

Maybe get out from behind your fears and biases; challenge yourself to get to know some marginalized people. LISTEN to what they have to say; try to embrace more acceptance in your life. There are a broad range of health benefits to honestly confronting your fear and relating more positively to your surroundings, including decreased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

Good luck to you.

Brian Mcdonough

Ponder thrice, if your stomach can tolerate it, another evil Iowa State page from racist Iowa State Center for racist Catt:




But there's more. How is that possible? Well, this is racist Iowa State Catt. In "Woman Suffrage by Federal Constitutional Amendment," racist Iowa State Catt wrote at page 77: ""in nine other states the number of white women exceeds the total negro population. Woman suffrage would so vastly increase the white vote that it would GUARANTEE WHITE SUPREMACY if it otherwise stood in danger of overthrow.”


Racist Iowa State Catt did not want simply to "strengthen" white supremacy. Racist Iowa State Catt wanted to "guarantee" white supremacy. If you think that Catt's racism could not get any worse, she boldly declares this racist 'call to action' in the same text: "If the South really wants white supremacy, it will urge the enfranchisement of women.”


There's more racism from Catt. How is that possible? The following passages of racist Catt are from this Iowa State page from racist Iowa State Center for racist Catt:




"This Government is menaced with great danger, and that danger cannot be averted by the triumph of the part of protection, nor by that of free trade, nor by the triumph of single tax or of free silver. That danger lies in the votes possessed by the males in the SLUMS of the cities, and the ignorant FOREIGN votes." "Every ship load of FOREIGNERS brings them nearer to their object." "There is but one way to avert the danger--cut off the vote of the SLUMS and give to women." "Cut it off at the bottom, the vote of the SLUMS. "Granting the vote to woman and cutting of the vote of the SLUMS, if it could not be otherwise controlled, would result at once in good."


There's more racism from Catt. How is that possible? Catt should be cast out of ISU: her racist name removed from everywhere. The Center for this racist should removed from Iowa State and given to Steve King as its new Director. It could be called the "State of IowaSteve King & Carrie Catt Center To Encourage Racist Politics And Culture."


Iowa State students: don't be "chumps" about racist Iowa State Catt. You know what Mister Little of Omaha said about "chumps." The only thing worse than being their chump - is being your own chump.


Action and change are verbs - not nouns. They have no past tense and no future tense - only the present tense. Only now...now... now...

Steve Gregg

This article has nothing to do with Catt. Your replies are spam.

Vincent Montabon

The age of the person and the context does matter. Looking back, I said offensive things when I was 16, but I didn’t have a Twitter account back then, and no one could cancel me. I don’t believe I’m an evil person for being ignorant at age 16, or 18, or even 22.

I agree with the general message of this article but the individual points are pretty cringeworthy. This is the type of thing I would expect to see on a deranged Tumblr post, not a newspaper.

I don’t think criticizing a religion is wrong or racist by default. Religions are ideas. If a system of beliefs is old fashioned or oppressive, we should criticize it.

Steve Gregg

We can especially criticize a religion if it wants us dead, like Islam.

And, really, is the Daily really a newspaper? It's becoming little more than a collection of screeds against people who disagree with them and how such dissent should be punished. The editors used to seem like kids high on a bong. Now, it seems they are high on meth.

Jake Pierson

This editorial doesn't mention Catt. How can it be about something it never mentions?

The Editorial Board claims, “If you do not hold the marginalized identity that is being spoken about in the statement you are making, you do not have the moral right to claim whether that statement is harmful to the marginalized community.”

This statement is claiming moral right, marginalization and privilege based on identity. It assumes and presents these ideas as fact and then restricts speech of a select group (white men as stated earlier in the editorial) based solely on identity.

This claim, along with the entire editorial, is not only bigoted but just plain wrong. Understanding if statements are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. etc. is not based on feeling but rather intellect, wisdom and truth. The editorial Board would rather deceive you into believing it is based on identity and emotion. Notice they don’t talk about truth. Truth used to be a defense for accusations of racism. That no longer exists because racism is determined by identity and feelings not facts.

Here’s the problem with the Editorial Board and those alike. You’re relatively intelligent and gaining more every day. You have brains that work. You can formulate a thought and express ideas intelligibly. You have more information (accurate and false) at your fingertips than any other college class before. Due to technology you can research at amazing speeds. You also have little to no wisdom; certainly not enough to know why you’re wrong. That is not your fault. Wisdom comes with experience. You will get there.

However, you also have no respect for wisdom. Every young generation questions authority and the beliefs of their elders. But, we always maintained respect for them and questioned with the intent of learning truth to eventually gain our own wisdom. You question based on the idea you already know all the answers. How freaking arrogant. You place identity above truth. You actually claimed identity is a determining factor of truth in your editorial. You think you are wise because your brains function yet not understanding the difference between intelligence and wisdom. When seeking truth it is better to seek out wisdom then intelligence. Wisdom is more important when determining right and wrong. Know the difference.

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