The Historical Origins and Development of Racism

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The Historical Origins and Development of Racism

The Historical Origins and Development of Racism

by George M. Fredrickson

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-02-01.htm

Racism exists when one ethnic group or historical collective dominates, excludes, or seeks to eliminate another on the basis of differences that it believes are hereditary and unalterable. An ideological basis for explicit racism came to a unique fruition in the West during the modern period. No clear and unequivocal evidence of racism has been found in other cultures or in Europe before the Middle Ages. The identification of the Jews with the devil and witchcraft in the popular mind of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was perhaps the first sign of a racist view of the world. Official sanction for such attitudes came in sixteenth century Spain when Jews who had converted to Christianity and their descendants became the victims of a pattern of discrimination and exclusion.

The period of the Renaissance and Reformation was also the time when Europeans were coming into increasing contact with people of darker pigmentation in Africa, Asia, and the Americas and were making judgments about them. The official rationale for enslaving Africans was that they were heathens, but slave traders and slave owners sometimes interpreted a passage in the book of Genesis as their justification. Ham, they maintained, committed a sin against his father Noah that condemned his supposedly black descendants to be "servants unto servants." When Virginia decreed in 1667 that converted slaves could be kept in bondage, not because they were actual heathens but because they had heathen ancestry, the justification for black servitude was thus changed from religious status to something approaching race. Beginning in the late seventeenth century laws were also passed in English North America forbidding marriage between whites and blacks and discriminating against the mixed offspring of informal liaisons. Without clearly saying so, such laws implied that blacks were unalterably alien and inferior.

During the Enlightenment, a secular or scientific theory of race moved the subject away from the Bible, with its insistence on the essential unity of the human race. Eighteenth century ethnologists began to think of human beings as part of the natural world and subdivided them into three to five races, usually considered as varieties of a single human species. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, however, an increasing number of writers, especially those committed to the defense of slavery, maintained that the races constituted separate species.

The Nineteenth century was an age of emancipation, nationalism, and imperialism--all of which contributed to the growth and intensification of ideological racism in Europe and the United States. Although the emancipation of blacks from slavery and Jews from the ghettos received most of its support from religious or secular believers in an essential human equality, the consequence of these reforms was to intensify rather than diminish racism. Race relations became less paternalistic and more competitive. The insecurities of a burgeoning industrial capitalism created a need for scapegoats. The Darwinian emphasis on "the struggle for existence" and concern for "the survival of the fittest" was conducive to the development of a new and more credible scientific racism in an era that increasingly viewed race relations as an arena for conflict rather than as a stable hierarchy.

The growth of nationalism, especially romantic cultural nationalism, encouraged the growth of a culture-coded variant of racist thought, especially in Germany. Beginning in the late 1870s and early 1880s, the coiners of the term "antisemitism" made explicit what some cultural nationalists had previously implied--that to be Jewish in Germany was not simply to adhere to a set of religious beliefs or cultural practices but meant belonging to a race that was the antithesis of the race to which true Germans belonged.

The climax of Western imperialism in the late nineteenth century "scramble for Africa" and parts of Asia and the Pacific represented an assertion of the competitive ethnic nationalism that existed among European nations (and which, as a result of the Spanish-American War came to include the United States). It also constituted a claim, allegedly based on science, that Europeans had the right to rule over Africans and Asians.

The climax of the history of racism came in the twentieth century in the rise and fall of what might be called overtly racist regimes. In the American South, the passage of racial segregation laws and restrictions on black voting rights reduced African Americans to lower caste status. Extreme racist propaganda, which represented black males as ravening beasts lusting after white women, served to rationalize the practice of lynching. A key feature of the racist regime maintained by state law in the South was a fear of sexual contamination through rape or intermarriage, which led to efforts to prevent the conjugal union of whites with those with any known or discernible African ancestry.

Racist ideology was eventually of course carried to its extreme in Nazi Germany. It took Hitler and his cohorts to attempt the extermination of an entire ethnic group on the basis of a racist ideology. Hitler, it has been said, gave racism a bad name. The moral revulsion of people throughout the world against what the Nazis did, reinforced by scientific studies undermining racist genetics (or eugenics), served to discredit the scientific racism that had been respectable and influential in the United States and Europe before the Second World War.

Explicit racism also came under devastating attack from the new nations resulting from the decolonization of Africa and Asia and their representatives in the United Nations. The Civil Rights movement in the United States, which succeeded in outlawing legalized racial segregation and discrimination in the 1960s drew crucial support from the growing sense that national interests were threatened when blacks in the United States were mistreated and abused. In the competition with the Soviet Union for "the hearts and minds" of independent Africans and Asians, Jim Crow and the ideology that sustained it became a national embarrassment with possible strategic consequences.

The one racist regime that survived the Second World War and the Cold War was the South African in 1948. The laws passed banning all marriage and sexual relations between different "population groups" and requiring separate residential areas for people of mixed race ("Coloreds"), as well as for Africans, signified the same obsession with "race purity" that characterized the other racist regimes. However the climate of world opinion in the wake of the Holocaust induced apologists for apartheid to avoid, for the most part, straightforward biological racism and rest their case for "separate development" mainly on cultural rather than physical differences.

The defeat of Nazi Germany, the desegregation of the American South in the 1960s, and the establishment of majority rule in South Africa suggest that regimes based on biological racism or its cultural essentialist equivalent are a thing of the past. But racism does not require the full and explicit support of the state and the law. Nor does it require an ideology centered on the concept of biological inequality. Discrimination by institutions and individuals against those perceived as racially different can long persist and even flourish under the illusion of non-racism, as historians of Brazil have recently discovered. The use of allegedly deep-seated cultural differences as a justification for hostility and discrimination against newcomers from the Third World in several European countries has led to allegations of a new "cultural racism." Recent examples of a functionally racist cultural determinism are not in fact unprecedented. They rather represent a reversion to the way that the differences between groups could be made to seem indelible and unbridgeable before the articulation of a scientific or naturalistic conception of race in the eighteenth century.

George M. Fredrickson is Edgar E. Robinson Professor Emeritus of United States History at Stanford University.

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-02-01.htm

© 2003 California Newsreel. All rights reserved.


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Quote: An ideological basis

Quote:
An ideological basis for explicit racism came to a unique fruition in the West during the modern period. No clear and unequivocal evidence of racism has been found in other cultures or in Europe before the Middle Ages.

That is complete bullshit. "The Secret History of the Mongols" for one case clearly documents that the Mongols saw people of other tribes as sub-human. It wasn't until advisors suggested to Genghis Khan that he would profit more from keeping them alive through taxation and tribute that he decided to slow down his all out genocide. It wasn't uncommon for them to kill every man, woman, child, infant, dog and cat in a conquered city. They saw people they conquered literally as animals of another species. 

Also, there is significant evidence that the Roman's were racist against Gauls, Thracians and other groups they called "barbaos". (I would argue the very term "barbaos", which eventually became "barbarian" is a racist term. For example, by the 6th century, the Greeks had outlawed enslaving Greeks for anything other than debt, while they encouraged the enslavement of barbaos, which at that time mostly meant Persian.

It was used to seperate the civilized and cultured citizens, from those who were foreign. There is little doubt that someone seen as barbaos had a much lower social status than someone considered polites and the term was clearly intended to be just as derogatory as the word nigger. Obviously, this dumb fuck is clueless about history. What is relatively new, is the idea that it isn't moral to condemn a person for their ancestry. Most ancient peoples tended to be racist the everyone outside of their immediate culture.    

 

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving wrote:That is

Beyond Saving wrote:

That is complete bullshit. "The Secret History of the Mongols" for one case clearly documents that the Mongols saw people of other tribes as sub-human. It wasn't until advisors suggested to Genghis Khan that he would profit more from keeping them alive through taxation and tribute that he decided to slow down his all out genocide. It wasn't uncommon for them to kill every man, woman, child, infant, dog and cat in a conquered city. They saw people they conquered literally as animals of another species. 

I didn't know Khan was a racist. I always thought that the reason for killing was to strike fear in others and that no one would rise up and seek revenge.

 


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digitalbeachbum wrote:I

digitalbeachbum wrote:

I didn't know Khan was a racist. I always thought that the reason for killing was to strike fear in others and that no one would rise up and seek revenge.

It is a pretty fascinating section of history. For the condensed version, I would recommend listening to the podcast Dan Carlin did of it http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/hharchive/Show-43---Wrath-of-the-Khans-I/Mongols-Genghis-Chingis

There were certainly numerous reasons for why the Mongols were so brutal, but yeah, the Mongols were quite racist. His grandson, Kublai, divided China into a hierarchy of four classes when he declared the Yuan dynasty, explicitly seperated by race. Mongols, Semu, Han and Southerners. Discrimination and oppression based on race was common and eventually is what drove the Han Chinese to revolt. It just wasn't considered noteworthy at the time, because pretty much everyone everywhere in the world was racist and didn't see anything wrong with it.

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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 Group think is

 Group think is evolutionary, you have more oportunity in larger numbers as a social species to create offspring. We are also a pattern seeking species, so when a group sees a real threat or percieved threat, we react negitavely to that threat. It is a threat to the group numbers and or litteral recorces.

This also stems from evolutionary social structers even within the same group. The domanite individual may tolerate to an extent he subordinates up and until they challenge that position of that individual.

This behavior of the individual or group is explaind in "The God Delusion" by evolotunary biologist Richard Dawkins who discribes an alpha male individual bird reacting violently even if the subordinate bird is offering them help.

 

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Beyond Saving wrote:

Beyond Saving wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

I didn't know Khan was a racist. I always thought that the reason for killing was to strike fear in others and that no one would rise up and seek revenge.

It is a pretty fascinating section of history. For the condensed version, I would recommend listening to the podcast Dan Carlin did of it http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/hharchive/Show-43---Wrath-of-the-Khans-I/Mongols-Genghis-Chingis

There were certainly numerous reasons for why the Mongols were so brutal, but yeah, the Mongols were quite racist. His grandson, Kublai, divided China into a hierarchy of four classes when he declared the Yuan dynasty, explicitly seperated by race. Mongols, Semu, Han and Southerners. Discrimination and oppression based on race was common and eventually is what drove the Han Chinese to revolt. It just wasn't considered noteworthy at the time, because pretty much everyone everywhere in the world was racist and didn't see anything wrong with it.

I will need to listen to it. thx.

As for the rest, you beat me to the punch. I did the OP and then got side tracked. My complaint was that I knew India had racism long before the Middle Ages.

http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/010828.caste.html

I know there is debate over if the caste system is actually racial but I believe it is related to it making it more inter-racism? Either way the effects, the treatment of the lesser caste is still the same.

 


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Brian37 wrote:Group think is

Brian37 wrote:

Group think is evolutionary, you have more oportunity in larger numbers as a social species to create offspring. We are also a pattern seeking species, so when a group sees a real threat or percieved threat, we react negitavely to that threat. It is a threat to the group numbers and or litteral recorces.

Technically every aspect of being a living being is related to evolution.


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digitalbeachbum

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Brian37 wrote:

Group think is evolutionary, you have more oportunity in larger numbers as a social species to create offspring. We are also a pattern seeking species, so when a group sees a real threat or percieved threat, we react negitavely to that threat. It is a threat to the group numbers and or litteral recorces.

Technically every aspect of being a living being is related to evolution.




exactly. the point he keeps driving into the ground is such a truism, it's trivial. "humans don't get their morality from religion, they get it from evolution." and? what the fuck is a person supposed to do with that information?

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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According to evolution,

According to evolution, members of all races and animals are one's cousins. So if you claim to not be racist, why not also treat all species equally? Seems like it is kind of 'racists' to kill animals that are pests or not give dogs and cats the same rights as humans. What is the moral basis for species discrimination?

Also, isn't is kind of racist for parents and family members to take care of their own? Shouldn't one equally take care of every person on the planet and not favor your offspring and relatives? What is the moral basis for favored treatment of close relatives?

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Racism ia a

a natural consequence of differences. It stems from being wary of an unknown. All beings have a ntural contempt of others which is normally overcome by beco0meing familiar with others of a difference. It's part of one's protection system to judge first and accept later. It's common in Chimpanze troups even though there is very little difference between troups. It somewhat like fear of the unknown. The opposite is as --birds of a feather flock together. One accepts their own group because the members know each other. Birds and mammals have differering levels of racism. Geese (IE)aremore accepting of their own kind no matter which flock is which, while Crows won't reddily accept members of another flok. Wolves and Coyotes are highly non-recptive of all others. Most all predators have a low tolerqance for strangers. Racism is quite natural andis weighed through the "friend or foe " phenominon. 

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digitalbeachbum wrote:As for

digitalbeachbum wrote:

As for the rest, you beat me to the punch. I did the OP and then got side tracked. My complaint was that I knew India had racism long before the Middle Ages.

http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/010828.caste.html

I know there is debate over if the caste system is actually racial but I believe it is related to it making it more inter-racism? Either way the effects, the treatment of the lesser caste is still the same.

I wonder if it is just because it is relying on a modern concept of racism which tends to lump diverse ethnic groups as a single race even though genetically they might be more distantly related than people who are considered a different race. Americans tend to consider Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and even Vietnamese often as "Asian", even though the racial tensions among those groups has certainly played a role in history. Our modern definition of races is ultimately completely arbitrary. Looking at history using modern definitions isn't very sensible.   

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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I would guess racism started

I would guess racism started in Africa more than 2 million years ago, when two 'tribes' (and I use the term very loosely) ran into a dispute over land or water or a belief system or the colour of a girls eyes or something else.

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iwbiek wrote:digitalbeachbum

iwbiek wrote:
digitalbeachbum wrote:

Brian37 wrote:

Group think is evolutionary, you have more oportunity in larger numbers as a social species to create offspring. We are also a pattern seeking species, so when a group sees a real threat or percieved threat, we react negitavely to that threat. It is a threat to the group numbers and or litteral recorces.

Technically every aspect of being a living being is related to evolution.


exactly. the point he keeps driving into the ground is such a truism, it's trivial. "humans don't get their morality from religion, they get it from evolution." and? what the fuck is a person supposed to do with that information?

Start a evolution revolution?


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Beyond Saving

Beyond Saving wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

As for the rest, you beat me to the punch. I did the OP and then got side tracked. My complaint was that I knew India had racism long before the Middle Ages.

http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/010828.caste.html

I know there is debate over if the caste system is actually racial but I believe it is related to it making it more inter-racism? Either way the effects, the treatment of the lesser caste is still the same.

I wonder if it is just because it is relying on a modern concept of racism which tends to lump diverse ethnic groups as a single race even though genetically they might be more distantly related than people who are considered a different race. Americans tend to consider Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and even Vietnamese often as "Asian", even though the racial tensions among those groups has certainly played a role in history. Our modern definition of races is ultimately completely arbitrary. Looking at history using modern definitions isn't very sensible.   

 

Dunno, but good point though.

I used to see people for their color or nationality. You might have been able to call me a racist. However a couple of trips to third world countries changed everything.


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Old Seer wrote:Most all

Old Seer wrote:

Most all predators have a low tolerqance for strangers. Racism is quite natural andis weighed through the "friend or foe " phenominon. 

Interesting point. I was watching the news this morning and the blacks had knocked a white guy on the ground. They crowded around him and almost started to step on him but they didn't; but in the clip he never got back up.

I was thinking that they reminded me of a wild pack of dogs or monkeys going after an outsider. I thought it was very unintelligent, very ignorant.

 


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digitalbeachbum wrote:iwbiek

digitalbeachbum wrote:

iwbiek wrote:
digitalbeachbum wrote:

Brian37 wrote:

Group think is evolutionary, you have more oportunity in larger numbers as a social species to create offspring. We are also a pattern seeking species, so when a group sees a real threat or percieved threat, we react negitavely to that threat. It is a threat to the group numbers and or litteral recorces.

Technically every aspect of being a living being is related to evolution.


exactly. the point he keeps driving into the ground is such a truism, it's trivial. "humans don't get their morality from religion, they get it from evolution." and? what the fuck is a person supposed to do with that information?

Start a evolution revolution?




and we're back to the early '70s...

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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I Agree except the last sentence.

What is failed to enter into the evolutionary discussion is that people have a more acute level in the use of intelligence. While this greater intelectual ability is also a fact of evolution it's effects are oft time overlooked. The dominent bird in your case doesn't have the mental capacity to know what the other bird is doing. Dominants act most out of preserving their status, authority, and use of force without reasoning the circumstances of situations. Superiority reacts more from force then reason. Superiority complexxes are of a more paranoid nature then subordinates.

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Old Seer wrote:What is

Old Seer wrote:

What is failed to enter into the evolutionary discussion is that people have a more acute level in the use of intelligence. While this greater intelectual ability is also a fact of evolution it's effects are oft time overlooked. The dominent bird in your case doesn't have the mental capacity to know what the other bird is doing. Dominants act most out of preserving their status, authority, and use of force without reasoning the circumstances of situations. Superiority reacts more from force then reason. Superiority complexxes are of a more paranoid nature then subordinates.

I find that there are too many factors to be considered (edit) when thinking about evolution. I think some times we over simplify it rather than overlook it.


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EXC wrote:According to

EXC wrote:
According to evolution, members of all races and animals are one's cousins. So if you claim to not be racist, why not also treat all species equally? Seems like it is kind of 'racists' to kill animals that are pests or not give dogs and cats the same rights as humans. What is the moral basis for species discrimination? Also, isn't is kind of racist for parents and family members to take care of their own? Shouldn't one equally take care of every person on the planet and not favor your offspring and relatives? What is the moral basis for favored treatment of close relatives?

I've often thought of this but I think it relates to ego.


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I would say it relates to

I would say it relates to expected returns. It's like that class group project where everyone works their ass off except the one person who doesn't do their part. A relative is more likely to return the favour or pay you back than a stranger is. You're more likely to know ahead of time if a relative is a deadbeat.

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