Disclaimer: This article is designed to describe what some originally well intentioned organizations have become or groups that have formed due to unbalanced ideologies. It is not written to describe groups that formed as a self-protection entity and historical groups of such a nature should be further researched and considered within the historical context of their creation.
It seems that every time the subject of racism is addressed that many people, filled with righteous indignation or otherwise just indignation, end up talking over each others heads and don’t take a moment to listen to the other side of the argument. A dangerous trend in society is following the path of pre-World War II sentiments with social tendencies becoming extensively polarised. Rarely do those in debates of this type have anything intelligent to say, and even more scarce is the ability of debaters to find a common ground on anything. Hate blinds and stupefies many.
Come on a journey with me, the linguist and the last of the critically endangered apolitical social scientists to consider some very important myths and realities of racism. Each point will be broken down into its own subheading for ease of understanding.
Sociology is Wrong
Sociology defines Racism as the combination of Prejudice and power Power. Therefore, by extension it is impossible for those in the “oppressed” classes, that is to say, those without political or social power, to be racist. This very statement is in fact, in of itself, racist.
In a linguistic sense, it seems to suggest a lack of need for accountability on the part of the “oppressed” either because their level of humanity is lesser or greater than the “oppressor”. It removes the freedom of consciousness and degrades the freedom of the person as an individual. Sociology defines people according to their own predefined ideological concepts and structures society into unchangeable castes. Hence, those who are often so outspoken about the evils of social hierarchies are actually responsible for entrapping people in their own form of mental hierarchical prison. Sociological definitions demonize one set group and view any divergence to this rule as a great heresy against the grand school of the Social Justice Warrior.
The redefinition of existing vocabulary is far from a new phenomenon, it has been effectively used by the Nazi regime, the USSR and other Soviet systems. Redefining vocabulary is an important step in propaganda because it enables the propagandist to blind their followers, even when the truth is in plain sight. When an indoctrinated person reads words, their “mental vision” is blurred and unable to register reality.
It makes sense that language engineering of this type is a central point to any totalitarian ideology as it ensures that the indoctrinated remain indoctrinated, and view every difficulty in life as the result of some universal struggle aimed against them or their group.
Racism is not a Monopoly
Now that we have seen that sociology has created an erroneous definition, we can come to realise the ultimate, terrifyingly depressing and sad reality, that racism is not a monopoly. Nay, anyone, from any background and any tone of skin ,can in fact, be racist.
The proper definition of racism is hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Another more detailed explanation would be a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
Racism develops in three steps as it mutates from one form to another. It is comparable to a disease (it is in fact a disease of the mind), which produces symptoms that can be identified depending on its severity.
Symptom One: Prejudice
Prejudice is defined as an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. In reality most people have some degree of prejudice but most people also auto-correct these tendencies and do not allow them to grow. The more an individual digests certain ideologies by means of the company he/she keeps (yes, there are 2 genders) or by means of the types of media he/she consumes the more likely that the individual will build stronger prejudices in line with those ideologies.
Prejudice can be very insidious with entire communities taking on the same hive mind regardless of what facts may be.
Symptom Two: Tribalism
Tribalism is defined as strong loyalty to one’s own tribe, party, or group. This loyalty is often irrational and can take on radical or extreme properties. Fully developed tribalism can be considered a disease in of its own, with the effects being equally as deadly as racism.
Two modern genocides include tribalistic genocide patterns. The Rwandan genocide saw civilians and military personnel of the Hutu and Tutsi slaughter each other in unbridled barbarity, with no mercy for the weak, elderly, women or children. This is an undeniable example where tribalism lead to indescribable atrocities by which a million people were murdered.
The Cambodian genocide while including racial extermination also eradicated political and social “tribes” deemed counter to the Khmer Rouge ideology. Approximately 1.9 million people were exterminated.
Symptom 3: Racism
Racism is something far more profound than mere prejudice shown in social interactions. It is a deep seated resentment and loathing of a person based on their race, it does not change even when the individual is kind or caring. It is like a mental rabies that does not allow a person to behave with any proper reasoning or cognitive function. This form of racism is found globally in all types of people be they White, Black, Asian or any other phenotype.
The racist believes that the other person is inherently inferior or deficient in some manner and therefore not fit for treatment at the same level as themselves. Many racists do not believe themselves to be racist and may even believe themselves to be anti-racist, this type of projected racism is especially dangerous as the person becomes increasingly convinced of their own righteous infallibility.
The 20th and 21st centuries saw the rise of heavily racist civil and political movements which fed off historical injustices and in turn off of each other. Interestingly, fitting with the theme of self justification and self conviction of their own superiority and righteousness these groups view themselves as liberation or enlightenment movements, rather than what they are, hate groups.
Aryan Nations, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi, Skinheads, Phineas Priesthood, Rise Above Movement
Nation of Islam, The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, Sicarii 1715, Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge (ISUPK), New Black Panthers
Asia and Middle East
The unique nature of the Asia and the Middle East means that most racist movements are highly organised, well funded and legally based political entities. Genocides such as the Armenian Genocide used religion as an excuse for what was in essence ethnic cleansing of Armenians and Assyrians.
While almost all people have some degree of prejudice, there is a great difference between those who have a mild prejudice inclination and those who practice unbridled racism. Fringe groups are an important part of indoctrinating the “prejudice group” (who may simply be sitting on the fence so to speak as bystanders) and getting them to become part of the “tribalism group”.
While these fringe groups may or may not be proponents of hateful rhetoric (often more subtle and insidious) they become fertile recruiting grounds for actual hate groups who prey on the disenfranchised and vulnerable. (It is interesting to note that a majority of terrorist attacks are carried out by brainwashed individuals through the guidance of an extremist “handler” making those in the top ranks difficult to prosecute via lack of explicit evidence).
Anti-reactionary rallies become the recruitment grounds for the Klan and other groups sympathetic to Neo-Nazi ideals. BLM rallies become the recruitment grounds for Nation of Islam and other black supremacy groups although the group itself has shown itself to be radical enough in of itself. Women’s marches become the recruitment grounds of radical feminists and their kin. This pattern continues and there is little done to prevent it, logistically little can be done due to the large number of people attending such rallies.
Propaganda outlets publish this hate for impressionable youngsters or those suffering from economic or other woes. They blame everything on the invisible enemy. The first step is highly polarised news channels which lean strongly towards a specific argument such as FOX News or the CNN (this happens during the prejudice and tribalism stages) . Once an individual no longer feels the same moral outrage at watching these channels they may move on to consume more hard-line “news” from such sources as Stormfront or The Root (happens during the racist stage).
Why Racist Groups Need Each Other
Racist groups need each other. They are a validating factor in the twisted, hate-filled, pseudoscientific and debased propaganda with which they indoctrinate their followers. The deplorable actions of their enemies helps to validate the “superiority and righteousness” of their own deplorable actions. It strengthens the power of their propagandist rhetoric in recruiting individuals that may previously been “unconvinced” as to the “validity” of their position. This is a vicious circle that feeds off anger, hatred and disproportionate pride in oneself and one’s people.
It is essential that parents start to train their children to understand the concepts presented in the media and that they may hear at school are invalid and that the “oppressed/oppressor” narratives of these groups is entirely self serving. This is all the more important where the individual lives in areas where these sentiments are more prevalent. Children are not born racist, they learn racism and care should be taken by parents that the sentiments that they themselves display are validating to members of all races and that individuals are judged as individuals not on their “tribal” or “racial” background. If you do not teach your children, you can be sure that someone else will and not positively.
All people are in some ways prejudiced but control those thoughts and reject them. As such, all people regardless of race have the potential to be racist, but that does not by nature make them racist. We all do well to examine ourselves and look in the mirror to see what we really are. After self reflection, are you satisfied with who you really are?
Alaric Naudé is a professor specialising in education, linguistics and social science. He is widely recognised as having a great face for radio.