RACE Part III: Modern Day Racism

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In this article, I will be focusing on the victimization of specific groups of people in various parts of the world, under the pretence of race in modern history. I will be looking at white supremacy and its impact on the United States, particularly on the Civil Rights Movement, and link it to the racial purification plans of the Nazi Party. I will also examine the atrocities the state of Israel carries out on Palestinians, behaving not very unlike the Nazis who tortured them.

 

ANTIRACISM & ANTIRACIALISM

Antiracism and antiracialism are two very separate things. Antiracialism is merely the process of ending the application of races in day-to-day life. On the other hand, “all antiracist social movements were committed to transforming the racial status quo, the prevailing set of stultifying and subjugating conditions of existence for those deemed not white” (Goldberg 2009: 18). Anti-racism, therefore, was real way to bring about equality in a society. Unfortunately however, “antiracist struggle gave way… to antiracial commitments at the expense of antiracist efforts and ongoing struggle” (Goldberg 2009: 21). The powerful and dominant classes in society used antiracialism to their advantage. It allowed them to be racist, but feign innocence, a sort of colorblind racism. Indeed, there was an “emerging emphasis on rendering any reference to race illegitimate, irrespective of the… motivation or implication” (Goldberg 2009: 21). This leads to erasing historical memory and the racial degradation that has been felt in the past. In conducting this erasing, it becomes clear that the horrors of the past are not important to the government, or the economically and socially powerful strata of society: “antiracialism is about decategorization, a gesture necessarily by the racially dominant towards those they racially suppress” (Goldberg 2009: 22).  This therefore means that there is going to be no constructive social change that is going to bring about equality and freedom for all in society.

 

At the end of the day, “antiracialism… is (merely) whiteness by another name, by other means, with recruitment of people of color to act as public spokespersons for the cause” (Goldberg 2009: 22). Obama, for example, is now cited as an example of the US being colorblind. Yet, he is asked for his birth certificate and his college and university transcripts; the only US President to have been asked for these documents. Children in the United States are made to read a censored and modified form of this nation’s highly bloody history: “American history… textbooks are dull… their pages… remove the categories for claiming redress, remove the stain of pained group histories from the national record, to… nationalize (children), by lobotomizing racial violence from historical consciousness” (Goldberg 2009: 25).

 

 

BLACK AND WHITE, POOR AND RICH

The white people in the United States historically feared homogeneity. This led to a policy of segregation between the whites and the non-whites. This was more pronounced in cities, after urbanization. Indeed, “until the late 1800s nearly 90 percent of black Americans lived in southern rural counties while almost that proportion of whites lived in northern cities… by 1981 (blacks living on the land and working in agriculture) has almost disappeared to 1 percent” (Goldberg 2009: 71). Many urban cities in the US today are predominantly black. The government started using color-coded residential security maps, which became the basis to deny “mortgage loans by government and private banks especially to black home seekers and in black neighborhoods… (fueling) racial residential segregation, urban abandonment, and ultimately capital flight, thus hyper-concentrating racial poverty, slum conditions, and urban blight” (Goldberg 2009: 73).

 

After WW2, there was a boom, which led to plenty of federal policy initiatives in forms of mortgages for “middle- and working-class whites” (Goldberg 2009: 74). They all moved to the suburbs. Between 1945 and 1960, “less than 2 percent of new housing financed by mortgages guaranteed by federal insurance went to black homeowners” (Goldberg 2009: 74). So now, not only were neighborhood segregated, but so were public schools. Indeed, “children… in different school districts (grow) up literally not knowing each other beyond the stilted stereotypical images they glean from television and other audio-visual media” (Goldberg 2009: 74). Later on in life, non-white students find it harder to get into private institutions, if they make it to there at all. Goldberg rightly states that “private universities are overridingly the preserve of wealthier whites” (Goldberg 2009: 81). Most recently, in the George W. Bush era, “funding for education, health, housing, and transportation as well as emergency relief has been cut repeatedly” (Goldberg 2009: 80). Non-whites are therefore isolated, living in less privileged conditions, while having no government support.

 

HARD WORK = SUCCESS [always]

To add to this misery, there is the “assumption (that) the blacks, not whites, should move, class somehow trumping race” (Goldberg 2009: 74). Non-whites who get into higher education are often criticized of being benefactors of affirmative action, a system which neoconservatives have blasted for they believe it murders “the Fourteenth Amendment’ (calling for equal treatment before the law)” (Goldberg 2009: 82). Most recently, Donald Trump had hinted at Obama only being able to attend prestigious schools such as Harvard and Columbia due to affirmative action:

 

(Skip to 9:52 for specific point, or watch the whole thing to see how repetitive he is because of  how little he knows about foreign affairs/the economy – warning: very frustrating to listen to his opinions and “facts”).

Antiracialization is seen as the norm, “standards… are represented as… those associated with the structure of whiteness” (Goldberg 2009: 92), “whites are projected as the real victims of anti racist excess” (Goldberg 2009: 92), and people dedicated to affirmative action… are called “cultural elites… out of touch with the ‘real’ concerns and interests of ‘real,’ everyday, working – that is… white people” (Goldberg 2009: 93). Recently, while she was secretary of state in the Bush administration, herself an African American, Condoleezza Rice “recommended that those in the United States should forget about slavery, as the enactment of civil society” (Goldberg 2009: 23).  This is a classic example of antiracialism, and basically discredits all that people over time in the United States fought for, in regards to racial equality.

 

THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT; NOT ABOUT COLOR

W.E.B. Du Bois had problems with the NAACP, which had liberal whites in key positions, looking out for their own interests. The blacks in the group were at the mercy of the liberal whites to get funding. Du Bois thought blacks should seek higher education, preferably liberal arts. He also believed blacks should challenge and question whites on all grounds. He believed that African Americans could be assimilated as equals into American society without a socialist revolution (what was then gaining popularity amongst blacks in the US).

 

By the 1920’s, however, his view on the latter had changed. His engagements with young radicals, observations of the increasing horrors of society in the United States and “the fight against imperialism, capitalism, colonialism, and white Western world hegemony” (Bush 2009: 65) led to this change. While before he thought of race as a different political issue altogether, in his book Darkwater, he highlights correctly that the problem of color “is not a separate problem, but (a result of)… a problem of work, rule, sex and training” (Bush 2009:65). With this, he travelled to Russia, to understand more about the Bolshevik movement 1926, to try and link blacks to Russian counterparts, who, like African Americans had been marked as non-historic people by Western philosophers: “What amazed and uplifted me in 1926 was to see a nation stoutly facing a problem which most other modern nations did not dare even to admit was real… It might fail… but the effort in itself was social progress and neither foolishness nor crime” (Bush 2009: 71). He called for an elimination of race as the principal stratifying process.

 

Du Bois recognized that the problem of pan-Europeanism and white supremacy needed to be addressed more broadly. He thus embraced “the radicals of the Three Continents (Asia, Africa, and Latin America), including an intense study of Marx and the Marxist-influenced intellectuals around the world” (Bush 2009: 65). He was deepening his understanding “of the relationship between the fight for justice in the United States and the fight against imperialism, capitalism, colonialism, and white Western world hegemony” (Bush 2009: 65). Malcolm X, the main propagator of Marxism, realized that the civil rights movement needed to be a human rights movement, since it was not just about black people in America, but about the non-white all over the world. He was arguing for “a coalition of radicals in the civil rights movement, black nationalists in the US, and revolutionaries in the Three Continents” (Bush 2009: 160). His radical views, according to Bush, led to an assassination by a joint collaboration of the Nation of Islam, FBI and CIA.

 

The US government was frightened of Marxism – “there was the possible ideological appeal to a rebellious working class, to a left and cosmopolitan intelligentsia, and to the left-out, some of whom identified with allied forces in the third world, which America was attempting to win to its side in the cold war with the Soviet Union” (Bush 2009: 160). Toward the end of his life, Martin Luther King sounded more and more like Malcolm X. He realized that the black people could no longer count on a friendly government to give them their rights and freedom; they had to “compel unwilling authorities to yield to the mandates of justice” (Bush 2009: 214). He argued that there needed to be a “radical reconstruction of society itself” (Bush 2009: 214). In this new stride, Dr. King went to Tennessee to link sanitation workers’ rights to that of blacks in north and to majority of people in North Vietnam. He was now a threat to the way society was run in the US, no longer someone who could easily be pacified with antiracialist doctrine. He had realized that the main problem in the US was not the KKK, but the white liberal. He was therefore assassinated.

 

GENOCIDE IN THE USA

The brutality of lynching in the US almost always went unpunished. Liberal democracy was upheld in the US, but it was not for everyone. Black people’s effort to add a 15th point of “the elimination of civil, political and judicial distinctions based on race or color in all nations for the new era of freedom everywhere” (Dray 2002: 407) to Wilson’s 14 points post WW1 was rejected. We Charge Genocide, a petition presented to the United Nations in 1951, arguing that the U.S. federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States, was guilty of genocide under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention, was “denounced as Communist propaganda, and excessive propaganda at that, since “genocide,” it was commonly believed, could not possibly occur in a democratic society” (Dray 2002: 411). Indeed, it was clear to see that “the nation’s original ‘implements of freedom’” (Dray 2002: 414) were not for non-whites. The US followed and separate but equal doctrine, to segregate the whites from the rest.

 

And the government not only did nothing to punish or stop lynchings, but often times encouraged it. Governor Herman Talmadge of Georgia vowed in 1949: “we shall fight this dastardly effort with all the strength and resources we have… We intend to fight hand to hand with our weapons and we will never submit to one inch of encroachment on out traditional pattern of segregation” (Dray 2002: 413). It was clear that white supremacy was not something many white men wanted to let go of. Similarly, “Theodore Bilbo, a governor of Mississippi… suggested publicly that black Americans should be shipped back to Africa… (he said) he’d rather see humanity destroyed quickly by the atom bomb than see it slowly degenerate through interbreeding” (Dray 2002: 418). It was well known that “whites in Mississippi generally received longer jail sentences for killing deer out of season than for killing a Negro” (Dray 2002: 427). Even when there were trials, as in the case of Emmett Till, it was obvious the non-White was going to lose, even if he was really innocent. Indeed, “the FBI was biased against black people” (Dray 2002: 433). The “policy of being unable to produce the names of persons guilty of [lynchings]” (Dray 2002: 433) clearly highlighted this. On top of this, under McCarthyism, civil rights workers were called Communists and were often arrested and beaten up.

 

Europe played a role in this process since “foreign opinions had played an important role in the antilynching fight since Wells toured England and Scotland in the mid-1890’s” (Dray 2002: 407). Many US embassies abroad “had been inundated with letters and telegrams pleading that Southern justice be averted and McGee’s life spared” (Dray 2002: 407). The US was made to look quite shameful after WW2 and the Nuremburg trials. The aforementioned Genocide petition “scored a minor blow to America’s postwar moral righteousness, raising painful questions about the country’s commitment to the ideals for which the war was fought” (Dray 2002: 411).

 

The ruling strata in the US were key in producing the ideology of racial science around Eugenics and sterilization. The wealthy in US admired Hitler; George W. Bush’s grandfather in particular was a great admirer. Many in the US were against eugenics, but the powerful wanted it: “It didn’t matter that the majority of American people opposed sterilization and the eugenics movement… they relied upon the powerful, wealthy and influential to make their war against the weak” (Black 2003: 87). Dr. John Harvey Kellogg founded the Race Betterment Foundation, which “attracted the most radical elements of the eugenics community” (Black 2003: 88). He wanted the “white races of Europe… to establish a Race of Human Thoroughbreds” (Black 2003: 88). This was supposed to enhance capitalism by keeping an able bodied, ready workforce. This violent movement had everyone from the Supreme Court to the President to large businesses involved. Sterilization was accompanied with “mass incarceration, and sweeping immigration restrictions” (Black 2003: 88). [See: Eugenics in the US]

THE MOST INFAMOUS GENOCIDE

By participating in the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations (IFEO), Germany’s racial hygienists aimed to lessen the number of unwanted people, which they thought would help improve the economy and decrease unemployment rates. To help this, they also were trying to stop women from working; there was a subordination of women and glorification of men. In 1936, it was announced that “the US had taken strong measures to prevent the further admission of undesirable immigrants and to purge the existing population”. In fact, Hitler learned plenty from the US eugenics movement. Clarence Campbell, the senior representative of the American eugenics movement in Berlin praised German eugenicists, including Hitler and his cronies. The Nazi journal NSK “noted Campbell’s article as proof of acceptance of race-oriented measures on the other side of the Atlantic” (Kühl 2002: 35). This was all wrapped around the farce of white biological superiority.

 

It is important to understand that anti-Semitism was prevalent in Europe far before the Nazis came along. The Russian pogroms, in which they were blamed for the famine and the failure of the Russians in the Russo Japanese War of 1905 led to the deaths of hundreds of Jews. They fled to central and western Europe and the USA. This caused the spread of anti-Semitism. The Dreyfus affair in France, followed by France’s defeat by Germany in 1870-1871, “assimilated Jews like Dreyfus who were seeking to weaken France and undermine her traditional values” (Christie 1998: 142). The Great Depression was also blamed on the Jews. So the Nazi violence against the Jews was no unnatural or out of the ordinary: “for the anti-Semite, the role of the Jews was ultimately seen as destructive per se” (Christie 1998: 141).

 

For Hitler, who considered the state to be of utmost importance, and did not trust the working class, Marxism was a great threat. He therefore saw a great enemy in communist USSR. In addition, he saw the threat of international Jewry. For him, “these two threats were symbiotically linked” (Christie 1998: 144).There was also a “persistent strand in European thinking that saw ‘the East’ in general as a threat to European civilization” (Christie 1998: 144). Indeed, he thus reached the logical conclusion that the Jews need to be exterminated. Seeing how Jews had been treated over the years, Hitler decided that the “Final Solution” or complete annihilation of the Jewish race would be the culmination of centuries of European brutalism that had been nurtured via colonialism and imperialism.

 

THE TRENDING RACISM IN EUROPE

Europe made it seem like racism just disappeared after the “angelic” Western nations discovered the brutalities committed by the Nazis. While all the European colonialists had carried out very similar brutalities in their respective colonies, this was the first time that atrocities at such a scale had been discovered on European soil (Western European to be sure). Europe is in denial of this incident. Post WW2, there was a process of trying to fade away the horrifying and humiliating memories of racial discrimination and genocide. However, they have not fully disappeared. Europe, with the establishment of the European Union, has closed itself up. The EU functions like a Panopticon, a type of prison that allows the observer to see all its prisoners, while remaining invisible.

 

There is now a new problem, the problem of Muslim immigrants. The death of Van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker, by a Muslim immigrant brought up this issue of racism in Europe again: “The Muslim, his color and culture a warning against his ever-potential treachery, came to be read as inevitably hostile, aggressive, engaged for religious purpose in constant jihad against Europe and Christianity” (Goldberg 2009: 163). The Muslims are the new Jews in Europe. They are attacked openly and are the new scapegoats. Many white Europeans, including politicians claim the Muslims do not fit in with the European culture, do not belong there. They are outcasts.

 

The current fear that Europeans have with Muslims is very serious: “the contemporary euro-panics around “the Muslim,” signaling something relatively new, nevertheless also have very deep roots” (Goldberg 2009: 193s). It is very problematic since many European countries, with their dwindling or stagnant populations depend on immigrants from nearby Turkey and Northern Africa, who are usually Muslim to sustain their economy. The countries in Western Europe are thus using double standards with their citizens and residents, by allowing the “authentic Europe”, filled with white people, to be grounded in civil liberties, while providing Muslims and other minorities a lack of freedom and civility. Recent Islamic-targeted activities in Western European countries such as France and its law on religious symbols in schools, means that this racism cannot stay concealed, buried, and mute for much longer.

 

PALESTINIAN TERRORISM

The concept of myth plays a key role in the establishment and maintenance of the state of Israel. Palestinians identified as “the direct kin of biblical Philistines… seen as philistines as much in characterization as in scriptural name… bloodthirsty and warmongering, constantly harassing modern-day Israelite, debauched and lacking altogether in liberal culture” (Goldberg 2009: 107). They are also automatically identified to be terrorists. This justifies the existence of Israel, as “the Jew is the hounded, the perennial foe and fugitive” (Goldberg 2009: 109). Israel is constructed to be racially different – modern, progress, industrious, whereas Palestine is “the past, failed effort” (Goldberg 2009: 109). Moreover, many Israelites quote the Bible and refer to the ‘promised land’, and the “Jews’ ‘right to return’… (which) presupposes a belonging” (Goldberg 2009: 112). Indeed, the fabrication of “Israeli jurisdiction as an ancient biblical claim (reduces) Palestinian insistence to return to a delusional, maniac vision, to political propaganda” (Goldberg 2009: 123). Ultimately, now, Israel cannot live without Palestine, since they are needed to “command militarization, American support and weaponry, even its own victimized self” (Goldberg 2009: 114). If the Philistine did not exist, “he would have to be invented, as indeed he has been” (Goldberg 2009: 113).

 

Every Palestinian is portrayed as a terrorist, and the myth of the “Promised Land” is rampant. The country is united through retrospective illusions and a common dislike of the Palestinians. The land is seen by Israeli Jews as being mystical, the property of the Maccabees, the original source of light. The Jews apparently also stayed “pure” by having no miscegenation during their exile period. Indeed, the state of Israel belongs to all the Jews across the world, even though they are no longer being persecuted and even if they have the passport of some other country; yet it does not belong to the people who have been living on it for centuries and have been displaced and are living in refugee camps or ghettos. And this is all facilitated by the USA, and Western Europe, all of who superficially send over their leaders to get a peace settlement between the two sides every year or so.

 

Israel has also made sure to portray itself as European, not Arab, which makes them, the Israelis in their minds and in the minds of most Americans, “normatively white” (Goldberg 2009: 116). Indeed, there was a systematic and deliberate cleansing of Palestine at the founding of Israel. Many Palestinians were murdered by shooting them almost at random and their houses were torn down. Prior to 1948, 90 percent of the population of the population of Palestine was Palestinian, only 5 percent was Jewish. Today, only about 20 percent of Israel is of Palestinian or Arab origin. This highlights the murder of a whole country and culture. The Jews were originally aided by the British through arms, aid and training to plan the end of Palestinians. Palestinian villages were registered and expelled, falling into Jewish hands. In addition, many Palestinian villages had the water in their wells poisoned, to murder thousands of Palestinians. As if this was not enough, many Palestinian homes were bulldozed, to build new ones that did not look Arabic. Olive and orange trees, which were native to the region, were uprooted, and instead European Cyprus plants were planted. Over 700,000 trees were uprooted. All streets and places were also renamed, with Hebrew terms.

 

CONCLUSION

It is clear that human rights cannot be left up to the government or state. A government that is currently maintaining inequality cannot accommodate radical change, which is what the world desperately needs. The state and government puts the security of the state over security of human rights. The primary aim of the government is dominance. It is obvious that governments do not cater to all its citizens, but to a certain elite section of it, which in the case of the US tends to be white, or has “white mannerisms”.

 

Bibliography

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