To preface, racism exists, it is horrible, and it is ruining lives worldwide, with particularly harsh effects in the United States. There is no defense for racism, and if I suggest anything in this, which may sound racist, or encouraging of it… Please, correct, refute, or yell at me on Twitter, I will try to edit the piece as well as explore my own shortcomings if this is the case.
In this piece I would like to look at racism from a perspective of geological time, and explore ways we may view it in the future. Christopher Hitchens once said of monotheism, that from his atheist perspective, in comparison to polytheism which suggested many gods, at least Monotheists were getting closer to the truth. This is what I would like to discuss in regards to American racism… Before America began immigrating people like crazy, the concept of racism, didn’t really make any sense. It existed, slavery is a perfect example, but vicious nationalism pitted virtually every nation against all of its neighbors. So in that sense, in geologic time, I would like to suggest that what can now almost be described as 3 or 4 races of people with great tension, and mild violence, is actually a huge upgrade, from the 100’s of tribes who used to hate one another… because the goal, is of course to get down to 1 tribe with individual liberties.
Why is this important?… Well one reason is… White people. One of the problems with looking at white people as an oppressive majority in America… is that more than half of us came through Ellis Island, fleeing crazy European wars, against other Europeans. Until about 1930 ish, if you were to suggest that white people were an oppressive majority in America, they would have looked at you like you were crazy “We still hate each other, the Irish are shiftless, the Italians are criminals, the British and French are poofs”… there is no unified group “white people” in America at that time, despite harsh racism.
In the rest of the world of course, the concept of white people makes perfect sense. As they say in Catch 22 “Whoever wants to get you killed is the enemy, no matter which side they’re on”. As white people invaded and took over, of course the native Americans, didn’t really care about our cultural differences amongst one another, we were stealing their land. Every European nation was a colonizer, occupier, or a trader taking advantage of wage imbalances… From the perspective of a “white person” now though, seeing pre 1900 Europe as “white people” still doesn’t make much sense. Every tribe of white people, was constantly at war with every other tribe of white people, at the same time they fought other races. The same was true of African or Latin people… There is no universal sense of community at this time in world history, or to this day.
I alternate between atheist, antitheist, and agnostic, but what has never changed since my birth in 1982, is that I think most major religions are inherently sexist, encourage unsustainable behavior, and make people obedient, something I’m not a fan of. I’m second generation American, a white mutt, and come from a family of laborers, who never retired with money. I don’t have much connection to my Scottish, German, or Polish roots… In fact, Barcelona, Spain, and Everywhere Italy, resonated with me far more on my trip through Europe. So, while I am obviously a white male, I don’t’ feel much of a sense of privilege or entitlement. In fact, as an out atheist, according to most studies, I am still far more distrusted, and assumed to be engaged in evil behavior, than any other minority in America. I’m sure Jewish Americans feel the same way “Entitled, half the country still hates me too you know”.
It’s a very odd sentiment… but it’s also one that’s cross racial. If you live in China or Japan… the concept of Asian people is a bit crazy . If you live in Rwanda, black people, or African people, is still a very questionable ephemeral theory. There are legitimate parties throughout Europe right now, running on a platform of ending legal immigration, from anywhere. There are legitimate nationalist movements holding noticeable percentages of the vote in Europe in 2013. In the Islamic world a recent study suggest that more than 50% of the population of Egypt believes that people who ridicule god should be stoned, and people who leave the faith should die. Maybe America isn‘t very racist, maybe we‘ve made enormous progress.
Most of the world is still going through the intense violent nationalism and racism, that America has long risen past. This doesn’t make us the best nation in the world. Canada, and Australia have similar racial tension, but peace. China and India make up incredibly diverse populations of different cultures which have, for the most part avoided direct violence. As we move towards a future in which there is no more direct violence over state and religious tensions however, I think it’s important to realize the progress we’ve made, or risk throwing it away. I think it’s important for the nations which are tolerant, multicultural, and open to immigration, to remember that this is an objective thing about our way of life, which is good, and an enormous improvement over other barbaric one dimensional states which humanity must work to evolve. Instead I see many, including Americans reverting back to nationalist tendencies and turning this into a war between cultures. The only advantage we have over theocracy and dictatorship, is that it is a discussion amongst cultures, not a war between.
White people learning not to hate one another in America, was a huge step forward. Black people learning to love one another in America is a huge step forward… This is only one step, it’s nowhere near good enough, but it’s moving us towards beige and secular harmony. This constant talk however, on both sides of the discussion of race, is not helping. White men, are not any more uniform a block than black men, and the fact that both sides of the discussion tend to want to discount our diverse and often conflicting make up, doesn’t do either of us justice. I think we will one day view our current racial struggles as a huge step forward in the path from tribalism, to community, and space colonization. If we don’t, I worry it will be because we let nationalism, and moral relativism (well if it works for Greece, it works for Greece, who are we to say?), tear apart the small amount of progress we have made.
This is not a call to take over, or fix Greece by the way. Or to impose multiculturalism by force, anywhere. It is simply a suggestion that the countries which actually embrace multiculturalism own it, and allow themselves to present it as an objectively advantageous way of living. Shame the growing nationalist movements for the childish nonsense they represent (this includes several in America). Lead by example, not force. Peace and love friends.