We Have to Stop Using The Word Ignorant to Describe People Who are Anything but That

One of the new buzzwords in political criticism right now is “ignorant”. We use it to describe people who hold bigoted opinions, typically holdovers from when those opinions were widely accepted beliefs. But how actually ignorant are these people?

Ignorance is defined as a “lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.” When people have not been educated on topics, then they are ignorant. Your grandfather who’s never met a gay person and thinks they’re all horrible people anyways? Ignorant. Your friend who is unaware that r*tarded is a slur? Ignorant. Your aunt who thinks not vaccinating her children is a good idea because chemicals? Ignorant. People who have been called out on their remarks, have refused to apologize, have been provided more information and have still stood by their views? Not ignorant.

When we use the word ignorant to describe people, we give them a little bit of a pass on the views they’ve held. We say “What they’ve expressed in the past is due to their lack of awareness.” By calling someone out on ignorance, we also take on some responsibility to educate these people, to attempt to remove their ignorance. If you have provided them with more information and they do not offer up their own evidence or apologize, they lose the protection of that label.

To hold people more accountable to their remarks, we have to start by not excusing them with a word that does not even apply to them. Using the word ignorant to describe people who aren’t weakens it, making it harder to use when it does apply. We must understand that there are people who are ignorant, who have never been taught better or educated. But when we apply that word to every one who holds bigoted beliefs, it provides them a defense that they don’t deserve. And in order to make sure people are held to their words, we have to make sure we’re using the right one.



  1. “Using the word ignorant to describe people who aren’t weakens it, making it harder to use when it does apply.”

    Calling someone a racist for everything weakens the word too. Making it more a “boy who cried wolf” scenario. When real racism presents itself then people wont care as much. The word has been weakened to the point of no one caring anymore.

    Perfect example: Trump wanting a border wall and to get rid of illegal aliens (thats technically a legal term used even in the constitution). No all illegal aliens are brown people or black people or whatever. Theres illegals of all races therefore he cant be racist for wanting them all sent back. Its a legal vs illegal issue. As for the border wall, I get that one can argue its focused solely on Mexico but Mexicans and other central and southern Americans arent the only people who come across our southern border. Also a nation has a right by virtue of its sovereignty to enforce its borders else it ceases to really be a nation.

    1. Except Trump doesn’t want them all sent back. Currently, there are approximately fifty thousand undocumented Irish immigrants in America out of an estimated eleven million. If ICE doesn’t have a racial bias, then Irish people will represent point four percent of deported immigrants. So far, in the ICE raids in 2017, Irish people have been zero percent. We’ll see if that number goes up as the year goes on.

      1. He’s always ever said ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, he never specified race. Its not our fault, nor his, that most happen to come from or through Mexico.

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