Skip to main content.
Abomination seems a word not strong enough to describe Racism, the practice of discrimination, segregation, persecution, or dominance based on race.

So, also, for racialism, the doctrine of racial differences as well as prejudice, hatred, or discrimination.

Bigotry, the blind and intolerant holding to particular creed, opinion, or idea is of the same cloth. In their presence, dialogue, peace, and justice are impossible. In fact, it is worse than that. It breeds terrorism by motivating other people to the extent that dying seems better than continued rejection, alienation, and humiliation.

Unfortunately, racism and bigotry propaganda can masquerade as patriotic in the public eye, even as they underlie genocide. Unfortunately, also, these attitudes lie close to the surface in human emotions. History is full of racist practices. American had its witch hunters, civil war over slavery, then its own terrorist group known as the Ku Klux Klan, KKK, that visited an American reign of terror on blacks for decades. Hooded marches, lynchings, and cross burnings were used to symbolize and enforce "white" supremacy. The KKK went after other groups as well, but the black sons and daughters of slaves suffered especially and immensely. This is a prime and vile example of racism in modern times in the most "advanced" of societies.

This history of racial terror haunts us even today; the Supreme Court this term will consider the constitutionality of cross burning, the KKK symbol. Emotions will surely enter those deliberations following Judge Thomas' public statement on the matter. Judge Thomas could not be more right, that cross burning or any similar act is purely and simply terror directed at black people. The context of its use [intimidation] removes it from First Amendment protection. But we do not concur that Judge Thomas was wise to announce his view publicly before hearing all the evidence. It seems that his mind is closed on this matter. If it is equally closed on other matters, we have a robot sitting on the Supreme Court when the highest kinds of wisdom should prevail.

Cross burning is a terrorist act if it is directed at a person or group with the purpose of intimidation. Any law dealing with terrorism should be clearly defined as such with punishment as appropriate; intimidation is not free speech and cannot be condoned as such.

We have laws against slander and plagiarism, against assault and murder and many other antisocial and harmful activities. We have laws guarding our civil liberties and our freedoms, and numerous court decisions support those rights. All laws can be invoked in the fight against terrorists while still guarding our freedoms. If you cannot prove terrorism in court, then maybe it didn't happen. Radical elements in the US Government would do away with such protections for "suspected terrorists."

Investigators in the US Government have already been given enhanced ability to eavesdrop, search, and seize. One proclaimed defense of those procedures is that if we have nothing to fear, then we have nothing to fear. That is not so. What we have to fear is the lack of wisdom, willful intent, and the basic integrity of ALL those doing the listening, snooping, and obtaining "legal" rights to search anyone at any time by just convincing a judge that there is reasonable cause to believe that terrorism is involved. The President has already appointed and the Senate has approved a new judgeship that provided a decision in the President's favor in this matter.

In dramatic times such as these, governments tend to overreact. "Guilt by association" and "Classified Information" become sufficient justifications to lock someone up and throw away the key without so much as a hearing. It happened in WW I and WW II, and it is happening now. This is a serious abridgment of individual freedom. See First Amendment Foundation and also Terrorism and the Constitution for more.

Ours is a pluralistic society we can all be proud of. Pluralism requires integration, and we have achieved a remarkable degree of it in our own times. Unfortunately, racism still survives in comments made be high public officials, some of whom were elected to their jobs.

Trent Lott, the former Republican majority leader in the senate, repeatedly made racist remarks. One of his colleagues, Strom Thurmond, was an avowed racist. After lauding Thurmond's racism, Mr. Lott found it prudent not to just apologize, but to do so several times. His is not a unique or isolated case.

Racism still lives, even in our most pluralistic of societies. Through his own words, Trent Lott represents the dark side of American society. He grew up in a highly racist society, and invoked that in his fourth apology — apparently meant to be an excuse. But that is not enough. Many people never bought into that philosophy; why did he? See Even a Child Can Do It for a firsthand anecdote in counterpoint.

Lott's defense boils down to his statement: "You are who you are by virtue of where you were born." Read this careful. There is no shade of gray permitted in his words. The same is true of many of his other remarks. Since Authoritarian personalities speak to us in this way, his utterances give us pause. The trouble, of course, with such a "confessional" is that leopards can roll in the mud and cover their spots, but they are still leopards.

By the very tardiness of his censure of Trent Lott, the President showed a lack of concern over the issue — until it became a boiling political issue within his own party. The President obviously values his racist-voting constituency highly. We do not for a second propose that Mr. Bush is an avowed racist. We just question his independence of mind and priorities.

Like other features in society, racism has its causes — in part from DNA evolved and selected before the dawn of formal written history. But that is not what it may seem for racial differences. For example, we quote from UNRISD

    "Recent findings in genetics reject the scientific value of the concept of race. Advances in DNA research in the last 20 years demonstrate that, on average, 99.9 percent of the genetic features of humans are the same; of the remaining percentage that accounts for variation, differences within groups are larger than between groups; only six genes out of [about 30,000] that make up the human genome account for differences in skin colour; variations in colour are not discrete, but are distributed along a continuum, which reflects different levels of melanin in the skin; and many physical differences are due to environmental adaptations. Based on these findings, a Swede, for instance, may share more genetic features with a Pakistani or Amazon Indian than a fellow Swede. Research on certain types of DNA show more genetic variation among Africans than other groups, with the diversity having developed over a period of about 100,000 to 200,000 years. This supports the findings of physical anthropologists, who believe that humans may have evolved from a small group of Homo sapiens in Africa, and that migration to other parts of the world may have occurred about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago."

In other words we all have vastly more genes in common than in difference.

Peaceful societies accommodate their inborn tendencies via integration and dialogue. America has done exactly that for the most part. In our diversity we are bonded together by freedom with some equality of opportunity. We are learning how to celebrate our differences, not fight over them. Let's not reverse the clock; the pendelum is going the wrong way just now.

With mutual understanding comes peace. Differences are settled in Dialogue.

Unfortunately, dialogue is foreign to racists and bigots, whatever their religion, See Negro Holocaust for more on their work.


No comments yet

To be able to post comments, please register on the site.