Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

Gary Strand (
19 Apr 1995 17:42:51 GMT

rh> Robert Hartman
gs> Gary Strand

gs> ... Jews don't blame all their problems on ~3000 years of anti-Semitism.
Why should I take your opinions of 400 years of racism more seriously than

rh> There is a large difference between the forms of oppression that Jews en-
dured in Europe and the oppression that Africans endured in the Americas.
By and large, Jews were not systematically stripped of their native cul-
ture. They were expelled and harrassed, but their families were left in-
tact--as were their customs.

To a point. The Holocaust certainly succeeded in eliminating, via murder, a
huge chunk of the Jewish population of Europe. Dead people don't have a cul-
ture. Burned synagogues, pogroms, and scapegoating certainly made for a dif-
ficult time for Jews in Europe, and for many centuries before there was a
Europe. True, they held onto their culture as a common bond. But, your next
paragraph shows an interesting difference:

rh> This is not true for Africans in America. Their native languages were
suppressed. Their native customs were suppressed. Their children were
taken from them. Their identities were taken from them.

Note the plurals above. There is no such thing as a single African culture,
or one African custom, or a single African language. Since these Africans
main commonality was only their continent of origin, I wouldn't expect them
to unify round a chunk of crust. Also, Hebrew was suppressed - so Jews form-
ed their own schools, analogously with customs.

rh> The experience of Africans in America is on the order of a 400-year holo-

Well, not quite. I reserve the term 'holocaust' for one and one thing only,
*the* Holocaust. Cultural repression and enslavement is nothing new in hu-
man history, nor are African blacks the only sufferers. However, Jews in
Europe during WWII are one of a tiny number of cases of victims of broad,
*designed* and *planned* extermination.

rh> In the South in particular, there was a systematic, intentional, violent
attempt to reduce blacks to robots--to helpless and hopeless slavery _for-

I'd say enough people had problems with the idea that it eventually resulted
in the deadliest, most destructive war in American history. The violence of
that war outweighed the violence against blacks, IMHO.

rh> It seems to me, given the problems that many children of holocaust survi-
vors have to deal with, that overcoming such oppression takes longer than
a generation and a half.

The expectation of being treated like shit was, and still is, part of the
Jewish culture, because it has nearly always happened to them. It's not like
the Holocaust was entirely new, it was just the most "effective" attempt at
wiping out the Jewish culture.

rh> It took three generations for the Irish and Italians to assimilate, and
most of them could pass as WASPs. Africans obviously can't.

So, we're halfway there? I doubt that.

gs> Is it better to break a spine or believe someone doesn't have one?

rh> These are some fine choices here. How about recognizing the evil in white
racism and recognizing the evil in black-on-black fratricide as well?

I've never said white racism *wasn't* evil. What I do believe is that white
racism is the copout answer to the problems of blacks in America, particular-
ly the black underclass, when it's used as the sole cause. It's a lot more
complicated than that.

rh> How about if the white people work on the issue of white racism and the
black people work on the issue of black-on-black fratricide?

Howzabout we work on the problem of making individuals mere appendages of
the group, which is what racism, sexism, homophobia, &c-ism are all about?

rh> How about if the white people show some class by working on white racism
regardless of whether black people appear to be working on black-on-black

OK, but on one condition - we white people get to decide how to handle the
problem, OK? ... And if it doesn't include Affirmative Action?

rh> After all, the fact that some black people may mistreat each other is no
excuse for white people to continue mistreating them, is it?

After all, what right do blacks have to tell white people how to act, or
solve their problems, eh?

Gary Strand WWW: PO Box 3000 Boulder CO 80307-3000 (303) 497-1336
Opinions stated here are mine alone and are not those of NCAR, UCAR, or the NSF