Monday, October 1, 2012

Racism: it's alive and well

Living as we do in the 21st century, where in the U.S. inter-racial marriages, mixed race people, and our first non-white President are now part of the norm (or at least are part of the norm for many people and for readers of this blog I imagine), it's easy to forget what old-fashioned racism looks like--you know, the kind that's not veiled in euphemistic language or hidden behind coded words.  I'm talking about straight up, in your face, one race is better than another racism.

For anyone who still believes that we've moved into a post-racial society, I have 2 recent examples of good-old-fashioned racism.

Exhibit A: The comment thread

I suppose comment threads are thrumming with good old fashioned racism because you can be anonymous.  This choice piece was submitted by someone who identifies as a parent of a Southern U. student--it's in response to this Letter to the Editor, "Bid day racism is not to be taken lightly," which was in response to a sorority whose theme "Mi Casa Es Su Casa" was celebrated with sisters dressed up in sombreros, fake mustaches, and ponchos.
I was a huge believer in racial equality for most of my life. Unfortunately, I am a scientist at heart, and I value honesty, accuracy, and objective reality more than political correctness. And having read the scientific literature and statistics on the topic, and having eyes and ears of my own enough to see the obvious, I have been forced to concede that... all the evidence very clearly shows that white people are objectively superior in most ways (intelligence, compassion, low crime, achievements, etc.) to everyone except Ashkenazi Jews and North East Asians (Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans). And even then, one could make a reasonable case that white people have achieved more than Jews or NE Asians ever achieved without White help. I value intelligence highly though and I have to concede white inferiority in that regard to Jews and NE Asians. comments by anonymous_amren 
I don't think I need to comment too much on why this is racist--the language of eugenics is never where we want to go.  I bolded the part that I thought was the most egregious, but really, most of the comments by "anonymous amren" point to someone who seems like a throwback to life in the 1950s.

Exhibit B: Roger Lotchin's denial of history

Recently UNC Chapel Hill history professor, Roger Lotchin has written an Op-Ed piece to a Wyoming newspaper making many statements about the Japanese American incarceration that are (how to put it) just plain wrong headed.  Among Lotchin's biggest claims are that the phrase "concentration camp" was wrong and those who use it are wrong and that the whole experience was not based on racism but was a justified and justifiable reaction because of (wait for it): PEARL HARBOR--here's my favorite quote from this piece:

"That the Japanese- Americans suffered loss in the camps cannot be denied, specifically loss of property, loss of income, and loss of reputation. For some these losses were grievous. But the reason for that loss was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other American territory in the Pacific."

Racism wasn't a factor in their losses because they deserved to be racially targeted because the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor?  [sound of mouth opening and shutting]

So remember, if you ever start to think that maybe we really ARE living in a post-racial society.  Maybe racism is a thing of the past, just remember these two examples--there are people in the US who still believe that some races are better than others--who are staunchly upholding white supremacy.  I will say that one thing that heartens me is the comment thread of Lotchin's piece--folks do not seem to agree with him.  Which is not surprising.  After all, we are living in a Mixed Race America, even if some people don't want to acknowledge that fact.


1 comment:

Matthew Salesses said...

I was just going to write and ask whether you'd read this! And that is exactly the part where I almost lost it at my computer screen. I don't get this from a professor (of history!), and it makes me pretty sad to have gone to UNC.