Anatomy of Racism
By Habib Siddiqui
Al-Jazeerah, January 4, 2005
Webster defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. While racism has existed in some form or another, probably its worst manifestation has had been seen in the history of Europe and the Americas.
Truly, the history of Western civilization is littered with the corpses of the otherђ peoples. The blueprints for justifications of murder, genocide, annexation, plunder and colonization - all can be found in the Bible and in the statements of its interpreters, Church fathers and leaders, and those who came later as philosophers believing Christians and non-believing atheists, let alone the slave-traders and ֖masters, colonizers and warmongers. Strictly speaking if there ever were just one factor around which all of them agreed to it was in their basic belief about the superiority of their white European race.
Thus we are not surprised to find that the West presented our world with the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the near-extinction of the Native Americans and the Australian Aborigines, the Pogroms, Witch-burning and gypsy-hunting, the Ghettos and the Embargos, the two World Wars, Ethnic cleansing, the Jewish Holocaust and the Genocides, and not to forget the African slavery (or Holocaust). Let us also not overlook the western contribution to such ideologies as Nazism, Fascism, Zionism and Marxism/Socialism/Communism. (The list above is by no means a comprehensive one.) Nor are we astonished with the monstrosity of the crimes that were committed against prisoners and detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Diego Garcia and other places around the world (including the United States). She was the first to try out her latest WMDs on the otherђ people (actually the only one to ever drop atom bombs and there too, the bombs were dropped on Japan and not Germany). She is also responsible for total extermination of some human races from the face of our globe. Over and above all these acts of mass-murder, demonic savagery and violence she has also systematically destroyed the culture, religion, identity and way of life of the peoples that she conquered. But none of these really troubles her. Like a megalomaniac and one gravely afflicted with cognitive dissonance, she is convinced of her ֑civilizing mission and has chosen to be amnesic about her troubling past.
The chauvinistic attitude of European superiority has given rise to western egocentrism Җ something that has always existed since the time of ancient Greece. For a European (and American), civilized world always meant the West; history thus begins from Greece, and ends in England, France, Germany and America. Forgotten are the contributions of Islamic civilization to make that dotted connection possible from Ancient Greece to new Europe (and America). Forgotten also are the Sumerian, Egyptian, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Arab and other civilizations in making our world history. It was all too natural therefore to rediscover Jesus, born in Bethlehem in Palestine, as a European with blond straight hair and greenish eyes. As the (so-called) Son of God, he had to appear European for the collective spirit of the West! His birthday had to be transplanted to December 25 to match the pagan festivity around Sol Invicticus, popularly observed across the Roman Empire. Even his mother Mary had to appear European looking. So complete is this transformation that all his disciples also, minus Judas Iscariot, had to appear European!
The western egocentrism was reinforced by the period of colonial domination, when much of the non-Western (including the Muslim) world fell under European domination. This is what late Prof. Edward Said called Orientalism.Ӕ Belief in their own cultural (religious and racial) superiority helped Europeans to justify colonialism; Europeans were fulfilling a God-given (or evolutionary) duty by educating and enlightening the ignorant non-Westerners.
Racism is so much entrenched within the western psyche that many westerners are unaware of its very existence until put the test. The Clinton Administration wont send troops to stop the genocide in Rwanda. The treatment of the other people, e.g., the Afghans or Iraqis or other Muslims in the prisons and detention camps, is directly linked to that racist mentality. The highly offensive remarks of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, General Boykin, Pat Robertson, Bush and Blair all are part of that contemptuous mindset. So is the contemptible U.S. donation for the five million victims of the Tsunami earthquake that hit 11 Asian countries on the Boxing Day!
Many Westerners genuinely believe in their supremacy! Their scholars and teachers have cemented this mentality. As a matter of fact all western philosophers (with very few exceptions) from David Hume (1711-76), Georg W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), Theodor Noldeke (1836-1930) and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) to Sigmund Freud and Andrҩ Siegfried (1875-1959) have shown a very prejudiced attitude towards their white race. Even Ernest Renan (1823-92), a great anthropologist and philologist, suggested that the western or northern race was superior to all others and that the blacks of Africa, the aboriginals of Australia and the native Indians of America as members of the “inferior race”. According to Count Joseph-Arthur Gobineau (1816-82), mankind is divided into three basic races. The most inferior is the black race, closely followed by the yellow race; the white race is the most superior.
Hegel was arguably the greatest intellectual mind of the West. His philosophy gave rise to almost all the western intellectual movements of the 19th and the 20th century. Marxism, Existentialism, Psychoanalysis, and historiology - all have their roots in Hegel. Speaking about him, Dr. Ali Shariati (d. 1977), one of the great intellectual minds of the East, remarked some 30 years ago: Hegel who purported to be a great genius said that the Spirit was ‘unconscious’ before it entered into the world of nature and animal. There it reached a stage of self-consciousness and then in the form of a spirit it entered into man. Then it started its first evolutionary stage when it entered into the Eastern man. Having completed its Eastern evolution it entered into the Western man. Then it entered into the Germans to achieve further perfection, and then it entered into the German government. And finally it entered the kingdom which rules us now.” Wow! Look how far Hegel’s whole reasoning and arguments have gone!Ӕ
To a westerner, the ancient war between the Persians and the Greeks was a war with the barbarians. This, in spite of the fact that the Medo-Persian Empire under Dhul Qarnain (King Cyrus) had a superior culture and that he defeated the Greeks very badly (see the Quran: Surah al-Kahf for details). So is the war between the Persians and the Byzantines during the time of the Prophet of Islam.
This chauvinism about western superiority is not limited to their history and social etiquette and ethics, but also to their philosophical, ethnological, anthropological, neurological and psychological assumptions and theories. To elaborate on this thread, Dr. Shariati remarked, ғProfessor Siegfried states that, “God or Nature has created two kinds of races in nature: the boss who must direct, and the laborer who must obey. Which one is needed more? Obviously the laborer. Every thousand laborers calls for two to three bosses. So, God has created a European race - who is the boss, and an Eastern race - who is the laborer. This is why the birth rate of the East is 3%-5% annually, while for West is 1%.” He [Siegfried] further says, “What you see and tend to ignore on the sidewalk is a French gentleman, an average worker with blond hair and blue eyes, who can easily direct huge organizations and offices of the East. While, if you go to the East, you will find great thinkers and personalities who are incapable of directing a six-man organization. Why? Because the Western brain creates civilization and organization while the Eastern brain is sentimental, poetical, and theosophical. [Reference: L’Ame des peuples (Spirit of Nations), tr. into Persian by Ahmad Aram, Tehran]Ŕ
There were times when many in the once-colonized Eastern countries believed in such baloney about supremacy of the Western mind. But those days are numbered, thanks to genuine and progressive native intellectuals who were able to sort out symptoms from root causes behind the apparent lagging of their newly independent countries. The best minds in many prestigious western universities today are those of non-westerners. [Already every other faculty member in Engineering in many top-rated American universities is a foreign-born Easterner. And their proportion is steadily rising.] Many non-westerners now run some of the biggest corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. [This, in spite of the not-so-subtle prejudice or discrimination that is so common in the corporate world.] The advancement in areas of science and technology in the western world owes heavily to these non-western experts. So much claptrap about western superior race!
Now the question is: why does the West propagate such falsehoods? I infer it is because of two main reasons: 1) repeating the mantra of White supremacy helps psychologically to inflate the Western ego and renew the faith among her own rank and file (necessary for further exploitation of the East), and 2) (something that sociologists, since the days of Ibn Khaldun have known) she knows very well that cultural slavery is the worst form of slavery. In order to achieve this purpose, the exploiter searches for ways to deprive a nation of its personality, which is defined as the unique aspects of a culture that differentiates it from another. The exploitive sociology of Europe and America, therefore, has realized that in order to rob and exploit the East, it has to strip her of her personality; she has to be defeated and denuded completely. She has to be proven that she is inferior to the European race; everything she produces is also inferior.
Once this is accomplished she will proudly follow the West, and become a happy consumer of western goods that are produced by the Capitalist West. [Yes, it is all about exploitation and greed.] She will have European/American advisers to even choose and decide for herself. He who has a past but cannot recognize it is an easy prey in this vicious game of exploitation.
This task of cultural imperialism is, therefore, shouldered by two forces one imperial/occupational, carried out by its ֑imperialist intellectuals, think tanks and ґexperts - and the other native, comprising of culturally alienated ґhouse niggers or (whom I call) ґcultural coolies. These ґhouse niggers, acting like vultures and hyenas that wait to devour the corpse, are often more zealous than their masters. To defeat racism, it is, therefore, necessary to identify these two forces and confront their untenable messages.
Racism and West-mania have worked in the past and will continue to work for a foreseeable future until the East can reclaim and redevelop her personality.
Originally published on Al Jazeerah at http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2005%20Opinion%20Editorials/January/4%20o/Anatomy%20of%20Racism%20By%20Habib%20Siddiqui.htm and reprinted in TAM with permission of the author.