Stuff White People Say

October 27, 2008

“Where does the hate come from?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwbe @ 10:42 pm

“Where does the hate come from”

The quotation is from the movie “Mississippi burning” and it is also a question many of my generation in Germany asked their grand parents or parents. My generation which had to deal with the fact that many of the adults around us participated actively or passively in the nightmare called “German history”. Those adults who should be our teachers, role-models, teaching us their own history. “Never again” and nobody could or can answer the question: How?
How to stop the masses when they start following a “Führer”.
Also the Iraq war and the propaganda before it demonstrated, that it is not possible. The important question is how to resist or fight against a people running amok? My answer to this question: I don’t know. Propaganda is more convincing than truth. Mob mentality is more powerful than to say “No”.

“Imagine there is war and nobody joins” was our slogan when I was young. Yes imagine presidents without soldiers for their wars. Wishful thinking because people seem to have short memories.
Right-wing extremism is on the rise in entire Europe again, people believing again the lies of politicians and their propaganda with simple pseudo-solutions.

There are some or many white people saying that racism will become less with every generation and I wonder what they believe how much time they will have to “change their attitudes”. Whether they believe that racism is just a bad habit the victims can patiently sit out.

Germans already proved 70 years ago, that knowing people doesn’t prevent them from sending them to the gas chambers, when they themselves feel threatend. Jewish friends where betrayed. The American slavery system proved centuries ago, that knowing or living sometimes quite closely ‘together’ doesn’t prevent people from dehumanizing and killing other people.

So why are we still today praying that racism is built on ignorance or not knowing somebody else’s culture? Why do we believe the illusion that diversity training, multicultural events or anything like this will give us the most necessary tool necessary: To openly resist destructive forces.

And this is what concerns me most with all those self-proclaimed white “anti-racists” who censor their critics and start whining when the wind blows a little bit into their naive face – what will they do when the storm hits hard? Whose side are they on?

When will the masses of whites finally take anti-racism seriously? That there is no room for white paternalism and people who want to “help” PoC, that there is no room for confused egos who are looking for cookies and a thank you and don’t know the definition of ‘ally’ or justice and equality.
Anti-racism is for me also building a strong democracy with equal rights to all people with justice for all to create the necessary and powerful foundation against fascist propaganda and this would perhaps create presidents without soldiers for their wars, real ones or imagined ones towards the alleged “other”. Truly liberated people who are no longer afraid to think on their own and to openly say “No”.

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13 Comments »

  1. I have a question please: How is right-wing extremism/white supremacists considered by (white) anti-racists in America.
    I get the impression, but I can be wrong, that “acknowledging white privilege” and “understanding race” is more important than understanding the political nature of racism. ?

    Comment by jwbe — October 28, 2008 @ 12:17 am | Reply

  2. So why are we still today praying that racism is built on ignorance or not knowing somebody else’s culture?

    Good question. It irritates me to no end when people insist on calling racism “ignorance.” IMO, racists, even the most “uneducated” understand, at least intuitively, what they are doing. At the very least, they perceive themselves acting in their own self-interest.

    It makes no difference whether the stuff they say makes any logical sense or has a basis in fact or knowledge. None of that — knowledge of somebody else — is necessary, per se, for someone to advance what they perceive to be their self-interest.

    So if an Obama presidential administration represents, perhaps, an unpredictable change in the status quo, let alone any symbolic changes… who cares whether Obama has a “terrorist” or “socialist” bone in his body or in his policies. Those terms are just a proxy for “I don’t think he will promote my (racial) interests” or to way too exaggerated idea that “blacks will take over” when the real thing being communicated is: the last people who should get anything out of the political process are Black people. You know, there are “incumbents” who shouldn’t be “surpassed.”

    Comment by Nquest — October 28, 2008 @ 2:17 am | Reply

  3. @jwbe: I’m not American or white, but I’m North American. Maybe Americans are more focused on the individual; I think it’s hard for Americans to see themselves as part of a society. Many people in North America (although it’s more prominent in the U.S.) think that society is just a collection of individuals. So they think that to change society, you change individuals one by one.

    Comment by Restructure! — October 28, 2008 @ 4:15 am | Reply

  4. Would you think it possible to be an issue of self esteem/confidence?
    Some of these hateful characters seem to really need to believe they are better than some other. IMO, one of the ways you could feel that way and remain connected to your “humanity” would be to lower the value of another group. You can’t just do it to everybody(people of your race), though- you would be left to feel alone; If you did it by race, you could shelter yourself from the loneliness by believing that you’re in good company and still get the confidence boost from hating the other group.

    Maybe it’s just the way our societies raise us. We’re pretty much raised to be competitive. What if hatred is a consequence of that?
    Just speculation.

    On another note. Please edit this out if its inappropriate.
    My highest education level is 9th grade. I’m not too ashamed of that-I have continued to educate myself and have recently downloaded 2 books on critical thinking. I’m half way through one.—Anyways, I’d really like to get up to speed on a lot of the topics you all cover and be able to understand the debates about the economy/politics/government. Do you have any “unbiased” links online where I could educate myself from the ground up? I don’t have access to a library so I hope my request isn’t too selfish. Thanks

    Comment by anonymous — October 28, 2008 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  5. > I think it’s hard for Americans to see themselves as part of a society. Many people in North America (although it’s more prominent in the U.S.) think that society is just a collection of individuals. So they think that to change society, you change individuals one by one.

    I thought about this one, I am not sure. White Americans can be “proud to be American”, etc, so there must be a collective they can identify with. I formed another theory why white Americans as a collective are so extremely naive – they don’t know real pain. They don’t know how it feels to be attacked as a group. White Americans as the most dominant and privileged group in the world can effort to be that way they are.
    The average white American can celebrate the “successes” of America, he/she can ‘go on war’, because it is their soldiers who will die in foreign countries all over the world. Civilians all over the world suffer while white Americans watch it on CNN.
    Also their “oh how progressive we are” by voting for Obama shows their naivity and belief in symbolism.
    I also think that Macon is quite representative for white America. The white guy who believes that he “discovers the world” and in reality he has no clue about reality or what is going on beyond his soap opera for other whites.

    Comment by jwbe — October 28, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  6. @Anonymous

    >Anyways, I’d really like to get up to speed on a lot of the topics you all cover and be able to understand the debates about the economy/politics/government. Do you have any “unbiased” links online where I could educate myself from the ground up? I don’t have access to a library so I hope my request isn’t too selfish. Thanks

    I can’t answer this question to you. I personally got almost all the knowledge about America I have via internet

    Comment by jwbe — October 28, 2008 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  7. Weighing in on jwbe’s question as a probably fairly typical liberal white American, who found this blog out of curiosity and link-following…

    I think a lot of us see white supremacists as just racist asshats, throwbacks from the past who deserve to get their asses kicked or go to jail, and possibly that way because they’re scared or desperate.

    We tend not to see white supremacism as having any significant role in mainstream society, or as being a manifestation of something that’s always lurking in mainstream society. We see them as a fringe element who never got with the program, rather than as a part of the program that usually remains more hidden.

    I know I thought this way, until this election year rolled along and I started reading all these political progressive blogs, and saw that racism and white supremacy are still very much a part of mainstream society today. Even among educated urban liberals.

    Comment by space — October 29, 2008 @ 3:15 am | Reply

  8. @anonymous: That’s awesome that you downloaded 2 books on critical thinking! I think it should be a high school requirement, but unfortunately, it’s rarely taught. Many university graduates don’t learn it either, especially if they went into chemistry or engineering and didn’t take any humanities or social sciences courses.

    Where are these two online books on critical thinking?

    I don’t know of any online resources on economy/politics/government. These are all pretty broad topics, and I haven’t taken any university courses on those subjects myself.

    @jwbe: When I mentioned a focus on individualism, I may be projecting from myself, because I also have this bias. I also think that racism is built on ignorance, but I think people should be held responsible for their ignorance when their actions hurt others. To me, it seems like when a lot of normally intelligent and educated white liberals think about race, all of a sudden their brains shut down and the critical thinking skills they normally apply to other subjects evaporate. It’s as if they’re not taking the topic seriously, and they assume that race is an anti-intellectual topic, so they approach it as anti-intellectuals (e.g., color blindness; thinking certain things are ‘obvious’ without any examination; rejecting complex views or explanations because they are complex instead of simple).

    That went a bit off topic, but as a Canadian living in Toronto, the racism that affects me on a daily basis is systemic and the liberal kind, not the right-wingers. The right-wingers I come across are on the Internet, and usually American. I don’t think it’s worth communicating with conservative racists anymore, as I found it to be a waste of time. Hence, I focus on white liberal racism. I don’t even understand white conservative racists, because many appear to lack any kind of logic, are generally anti-intellectual, and don’t care about facts. To them, academic studies are just evidence of liberal bias/conspiracy/political correctness (and they don’t provide any reasons why the study is flawed, just that it supports the liberal worldview so it must be wrong).

    Comment by Restructure! — October 30, 2008 @ 1:46 am | Reply

  9. @Restructure:

    because you also said this: “I also think that racism is built on ignorance, but I think people should be held responsible for their ignorance when their actions hurt others.”

    What kind of ignorance?

    Comment by jwbe — October 30, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  10. Here’s a link to the 2 books plus one on “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler. I don’t think you all need it, but I guess it can’t hurt for reinforcement. http://rapidshare.com/files/159068109/read.rar.html

    Comment by HardLearn — October 30, 2008 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  11. @jwbe: I think that not only is white supremacy oppressive, but it’s an ignorant delusion and fundamental misunderstanding of reality. It’s not ignorance about non-white cultures, but ignorance of white culture, the dominant culture, the very society that white people live in.

    @HardLearn: Thanks. Nobody is ever finished learning. I’ll check it out and see what I’ve missed.

    Comment by Restructure! — October 31, 2008 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  12. I think that whites as a collective exactly know what they are doing, regardless how hard they try to find ‘excuses’.

    Comment by jwbe — October 31, 2008 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  13. think about our “friend” Macon. What he is actually doing is empowering whites. He knows that. People like him who are able to gather other whites the way he does are the saboteurs of any serious anti-racist/anti white supremacy work. He is also successful in ‘confusing’ some PoC who prefer ‘siding’ with him and his ‘good’ work against serious anti-racism and against other PoC.

    Comment by jwbe — October 31, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Reply


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