Joe Biden’s legal advisor Guy-Uriel Charles authored an op-ed entitled “Stop Calling Quake Victims Looters,” offering justifications for looting, while insisting those who use the term are making an improper “moral judgment.”
Written in the weeks after a massive earthquake hit Haiti, Charles’s CNN op-ed begins by asserting that the word “looter” is “void of empathy”:
To define someone as a looter is not simply to describe him, or her, through an act, it is to make a moral judgment. It is to characterize the person as lawless and criminal. It connotes someone who is without self-restraint; an animal; wanton and depraved. It is a description that is void of empathy for someone who is consciously or subconsciously viewed as “the other.”
He also urges media outlets to stop using the “highly derogatory term” before using 11 paragraphs to outline a scenario that would justify looting, concluding with:
So you take. You take just enough for a couple of days and a couple of family members. You take and you run to feed those for whom the only measure of fortune is survival in Haiti, post-earthquake. You take and you run.
Charles also claims that the word is “inevitably racialized”:
Are you a looter? Try as we might to prevent it, the answer to that question is inevitably racialized. We cannot separate the word looting from its racial implications or the supposed crime of looting from its racial origins.
The unearthing of the op-ed follows Charles’s appointment to Biden’s Supreme Court Commission, which will discuss reforms to the composition and practices of the court.