T Nation

What is Racism?


#1

I've been thinking about starting a thread on this for a while. The word "racism" is used in such a wide variety of contexts it's become a largely meaningless word that is used as a general perjorative; often to disparage someone and discredit their argument. It's become a kind of Shibboleth that defines the "in group" - what is accepted and what is not. Once you've been labelled a "racist" you are a pariah. In the workplace, social situation, politics - at all costs one must avoid this label. The consequences of being "outed" as a "racist" are immense. And this of course, stifles free speech and intellectual honesty.

But what is "racism?" What does if mean to be "racist?" Alain de Benoist wrote an interesting essay about the problem defining "racism" and the extraordinary range of meanings and contexts in which it is used:

So what do you think "racism" is? How would you define it?


#2

It has a large relation to the word discrimination, which also is completely misused by society. Any time you choose to do one thing over something else you discriminate. To dislike murderers means you discriminate against a group of people. Discrimination can be a good thing. People who claim to be against discrimination are actually proclaiming themselves to be against making any differentiation between anything.

Racism has also altered in scope. Too many people it just means something bad for a minority. Things like disparity are considered racism though disparity doesn’t mean there was anything done based on race. Also, true belief in racial stereotypes and bias may or may not be considered racist. If the stereotype is beneficial to a minority or negative about the “majority” then it isn’t racism. Where if they are negative for a minority OR positive for the “majority” it’s racism. Therefore, “white people suck” and “black people are awesome” are not racist. And “white people are awesome” and “black people suck” are racist. I also put the word majority in quotes because actual majority means nothing in this context. White are always the majority, even when they aren’t. A white person can live in a town that is 10% white with a vast majority of police and government as a minority group and it doesn’t matter.


#3

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
It has a large relation to the word discrimination, which also is completely misused by society. Any time you choose to do one thing over something else you discriminate. To dislike murderers means you discriminate against a group of people. Discrimination can be a good thing. People who claim to be against discrimination are actually proclaiming themselves to be against making any differentiation between anything.

Racism has also altered in scope. Too many people it just means something bad for a minority. Things like disparity are considered racism though disparity doesn’t mean there was anything done based on race. Also, true belief in racial stereotypes and bias may or may not be considered racist. If the stereotype is beneficial to a minority or negative about the “majority” then it isn’t racism. Where if they are negative for a minority OR positive for the “majority” it’s racism. Therefore, “white people suck” and “black people are awesome” are not racist. And “white people are awesome” and “black people suck” are racist. I also put the word majority in quotes because actual majority means nothing in this context. White are always the majority, even when they aren’t. A white person can live in a town that is 10% white with a vast majority of police and government as a minority group and it doesn’t matter.


[/quote]

All good points and I agree. But pathological hatred of other races does exist. In fact, race is the thing that is most divisive and is the flashpoint of more conflicts than anything else on the planet. And it does a real disservice to victims of real “racism” when the word is thrown around willy nilly.


#4

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

All good points and I agree. But pathological hatred of other races does exist. In fact, race is the thing that is most divisive and is the flashpoint of more conflicts than anything else on the planet. And it does a real disservice to victims of real “racism” when the word is thrown around willy nilly.[/quote]

I agree. But not only is the real racism deluded by all the other claims, but depending on minority status many times what you are talking about is labeled not racist.


#5

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

All good points and I agree. But pathological hatred of other races does exist. In fact, race is the thing that is most divisive and is the flashpoint of more conflicts than anything else on the planet. And it does a real disservice to victims of real “racism” when the word is thrown around willy nilly.[/quote]

I agree. But not only is the real racism deluded by all the other claims, but depending on minority status many times what you are talking about is labeled not racist.[/quote]

Yes I agree. Personally, I couldn’t care less about most things people call “racist”. What concerns me is genuine hatred not whether someone made a tasteless joke or said a taboo word or something. It’s ridiculous when you think about things like hundreds of thousands of Tutsi being massacred with machetes while some smarmy liberal is calling US cops or Israeli Jews racist.

Edited


#6

Really it’s a newspeak term. It means whatever the people in power need it to mean in whatever moment they need it to mean that thing.


#7

Well, my definition of “racism” if we want a meaningful word would be “pathological hatred and animosity towards another race”. Seems pretty simple to me and that’s the only context I’d use the word. But I don’t like even using the word because it’s become so ridiculous.


#8

[quote]SexMachine wrote:
Well, my definition of “racism” if we want a meaningful word would be “pathological hatred and animosity towards another race”. Seems pretty simple to me and that’s the only context I’d use the word. But I don’t like even using the word because it’s become so ridiculous.[/quote]

Do you consider culture and race as separate things? If you were to hate black culture, are you racist?


#9

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

Do you consider culture and race as separate things?

[/quote]

Separate but intertwined.

[quote]

If you were to hate black culture, are you racist?[/quote]

Lol! I do hate black culture. Hate the music, their comedy, the way they talk. Actually “hate” is probably the wrong word. I just don’t like it. And that seems quote normal to me as I’m not black. But of course, I do not hate black people at all. People just like their own culture and feel more comfortable around people who are like them. I’m sure a lot of blacks, probably most, hate white culture.


#10

So then, what does race mean?


#11

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
So then, what does race mean?[/quote]

I hope you’re not going to say race doesn’t exist and that it’s a “social construct”. I seem to recall this is what you said about “gender”.

Okay, just to use plain language to save some time:

Human populations that are separated geographically branch off onto a different biological path. These separated groups of peoples develop into unique groups with shared genetic characteristics. These groups we call “races”.


#12

Racism is probably the first pseudo-scientific theory to gain widespread currency. Roughly a century ago, everyone who was educated was a racist. It offered a supposedly natural way to deal with difference between ethnic groups (the English gravitate to constitutional monarchy, the Russians to authoritarian tsars because it is “natural” for them).

As for the actual Science behind race it is very, very simple. There is one race for humans, unlike, say felids or equines where there are bona fide several. Humans almost died out about 75,000 years ago and as such we are probably one of the most homogeneous animal populations on Earth. So, someone who claims to be for “racial harmony” is bolstering racism then taking on the mantle of benevolence for being able to overcome it. Much of the result of promoting diversity, therefore, is perpetuating defunct pseudo-scientific social theories. This is the modern bureaucratic version of having people dig holes in the morning and hire others to fill them in during the afternoon.

To be blunt, racism has much more political pull than one would have expected, since it managed to transcend nationalism (which is bad, remember??? “greater Germany” is so much more appealing than a welter of small states in central Europe). Bad behaviors of some other group or country are explained by a theory that leaves them as congenitally inferior. The point is that it should be seen as the result of lots of hard work by intellectuals (mostly European, since the US was too much of a backwater to do that by itself) and then power-grabbing politicians. This is the cautionary tale about pseudo-intellectual movements that get a political life of their own.

In more recent memory, global warming advocacy is heading in the same direction, with all sorts of political/social agendas suddenly being “backed by Science”. FWIW the Science of global warming is pretty well understood and people like Al Gore get it so (on purpose, I might add) wrong it hurts. This is not a dig at Science at all 9which is much more boring than people want to admit), but noting how Science gets conscripted in the service of other things. About 30 years ago, it was fashionable to claim an Ice Age was impending and calls for nationalization of industry and agriculture (the usual Progressive dogma) was now firmly backed by Science. That petered out, obviously. And Malthus’ dreary assessments proved that Fabian Socialism alone would save us in the late 19th century.

– jj


#13

[quote] jj-dude wrote:

As for the actual Science behind race it is very, very simple. There is one race for humans, unlike, say felids or equines where there are bona fide several. Humans almost died out about 75,000 years ago and as such we are probably one of the most homogeneous animal populations on Earth.

[/quote]

This is a semantic game. So there’s not different “races” then? We’re all the same? No. There are huge biological differences between human populations that have been separated geographically and temporally. To deny this and pretend we’re all the same is nonsense. Even on the continent of Africa you’ve got pigmies who are three feet tall and East Africans who are twice the size. There are dozens and dozens of separate populations of people in Africa who have vastly different genetic make up and biological differences.

A common response to this from people who deny race is that humans share 99% of their DNA. This is of course a meaningless response as we also share 95% of our DNA with fish.

So no, we are not extremely “homogenous” by any means. And to say there is only one “race” is a semantic game. Call it whatever you like. Human populations that diverged on separate paths developed into very different groups.


#14

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
So then, what does race mean?[/quote]

I hope you’re not going to say race doesn’t exist and that it’s a “social construct”. I seem to recall this is what you said about “gender”.

Okay, just to use plain language to save some time:

Human populations that are separated geographically branch off onto a different biological path. These separated groups of peoples develop into unique groups with shared genetic characteristics. These groups we call “races”. [/quote]

I’ve never said anything like that about gender. Race however is very different. Not all people from regions share characteristic genetic traits and someone from a remote location could. In addition to most people being mixed and there being no real consensus where race lines should or should not be drawn. The genetic basis for race is an incredibly weak one.


#15

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote] jj-dude wrote:

As for the actual Science behind race it is very, very simple. There is one race for humans, unlike, say felids or equines where there are bona fide several. Humans almost died out about 75,000 years ago and as such we are probably one of the most homogeneous animal populations on Earth.

[/quote]

This is a semantic game. So there’s not different “races” then? We’re all the same? No. There are huge biological differences between human populations that have been separated geographically and temporally. To deny this and pretend we’re all the same is nonsense. Even on the continent of Africa you’ve got pigmies who are three feet tall and East Africans who are twice the size. There are dozens and dozens of separate populations of people in Africa who have vastly different genetic make up and biological differences.

A common response to this from people who deny race is that humans share 99% of their DNA. This is of course a meaningless response as we also share 95% of our DNA with fish.

So no, we are not extremely “homogenous” by any means. And to say there is only one “race” is a semantic game. Call it whatever you like. Human populations that diverged on separate paths developed into very different groups.[/quote]

But, all the people from Africa are considered one race?


#16

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
So then, what does race mean?[/quote]

I hope you’re not going to say race doesn’t exist and that it’s a “social construct”. I seem to recall this is what you said about “gender”.

Okay, just to use plain language to save some time:

Human populations that are separated geographically branch off onto a different biological path. These separated groups of peoples develop into unique groups with shared genetic characteristics. These groups we call “races”. [/quote]

I’ve never said anything like that about gender. Race however is very different. Not all people from regions share characteristic genetic traits and someone from a remote location could. In addition to most people being mixed and there being no real consensus where race lines should or should not be drawn. The genetic basis for race is an incredibly weak one.[/quote]

No, this is all completely wrong. Just because the lines overlap and are blurred does not mean distinct groups do not exist. There is no exact point where the atmosphere becomes space. But that doesn’t mean the atmosphere doesn’t exist. If what you are saying is true, how is it possible that I can look at someone and immediately tell they’re from East Africa for example? How am I able to look at someone and tell immediately that they’re Irish? This is really quite a silly argument and I cannot see what the point of it is.


#17

I’m not sure what you’re asking. I consider there to be dozens and dozens of different races in Africa. I do not consider a pygmie and a Sudanese to be the same race no.


#18

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
So then, what does race mean?[/quote]

I hope you’re not going to say race doesn’t exist and that it’s a “social construct”. I seem to recall this is what you said about “gender”.

Okay, just to use plain language to save some time:

Human populations that are separated geographically branch off onto a different biological path. These separated groups of peoples develop into unique groups with shared genetic characteristics. These groups we call “races”. [/quote]

I’ve never said anything like that about gender. Race however is very different. Not all people from regions share characteristic genetic traits and someone from a remote location could. In addition to most people being mixed and there being no real consensus where race lines should or should not be drawn. The genetic basis for race is an incredibly weak one.[/quote]

No, this is all completely wrong. Just because the lines overlap and are blurred does not mean distinct groups do not exist. There is no exact point where the atmosphere becomes space. But that doesn’t mean the atmosphere doesn’t exist. If what you are saying is true, how is it possible that I can look at someone and immediately tell they’re from East Africa for example? How am I able to look at someone and tell immediately that they’re Irish? This is really quite a silly argument and I cannot see what the point of it is.[/quote]

So basically everyone in the US is mixed race?


#19

Ah, no? I didn’t say that. ???


#20

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

Ah, no? I didn’t say that. ???[/quote]

If there are that many races, it would be a long shot to have anyone of exclusively one race. I’m scotch irish danish welsh, what race do I belong to?