Hains reassures those who are called racist, “you’re not on trial.” Her suggestions, rather, are aimed at “understanding what went wrong.” That sounds nice enough, but, in truth, charges of racism are usually intended to smear and, with a little luck, destroy the accused.

For example, only days after Hains’s article appeared, the same section of The Washington Post ran an article by Marissa Brostoff insinuating without evidence that conservative author J.D. Vance was a racist. Brostoff implied that when Vance expressed concern for declining American birthrates, he was actually upset about white America’s inability to produce white babies at replacement levels.

Perhaps no one had told Brostoff that Vance himself is the father of a biracial child. Readers cried foul on Twitter, and the Post edited out the smear and ran a correction. The attempted character ­assassination was thwarted.

Thus, unintentionally, The Washington Post demonstrated how to handle unjust allegations. It involves only one step, ­requires no false admissions of guilt and excludes no race from the conversation. If the charge is false, fight back until it is ­retracted.