A few notes on the history of racism

Discussion in 'The Red Room' started by K., Jan 16, 2016.

  1. K.

    K. Sober

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    Criticism of racism addresses at least two distinct problems attached to racist claims: Ethically, that they propagate hate; epistemologically, that they propagate falsehoods. When a racist says, "We must kill the Jews, because they are greedy liars and poison our nation.", he is both hateful in proposing to kill Jews, and wrong in claiming that they are greedy liars. Note that the epistemological problem is not that no Jews are ever greedy or liars, because they probably are, just like anyone else. The problem is in the generalisation that posits a group of people with common character traits in the first place. The problem is with the concept of race itself.

    Today, many people only look for the criticized ethics of racism. They believe that we should be nice to people of all races, basically because being nice is generally, well, nice; perhaps they also refuse any claims that would attribute obviously negative characteristics to a certain race. (The latter is in fact somewhat illogical if you do believe that races exist. If they are a group with shared traits, some of them might be undesirable, unless all traits are equally desirable.) But many of us seem to forget that the very concept of race is wrong, even if you don't use it to argue for hate. Others do argue for hate but think they are not racist because they think they aren't using the concept of race. They think that on the one hand, they hate a certain group; and on the other hand, race is a valid description of a different grouping of mankind, which they aren't using as a basis for their hatred.

    I think many of these people believe that race is in fact a valid biological concept. This is wrong in two ways. Neither is the concept valid, nor is it originally from biology. The word stems from Italian razza in the 16th century, which means dialect or language (the etymology is unclear; it might be connected to radix, root). You belong to a certain race depending on which language you speak. Soon, the concept was widened to encompass cultural or geographical shared qualities, where you could be said to come from different razzas if you came from two different cities, or from the same city, but one of you was e.g., a part of the Jewish community in that city with its distinct cultural and lingual properties, whereas the other was a "gentile".

    By the late 18th century, 'racist' had become a derogative term. This was because two things had become obvious with regards to the concept of race: That it was used to engender hatred; and that predictions on the basis of race failed unless tautological. When you had a group of people, all of whom spoke Swedish as a mother tongue, you could somewhat clearly predict what words they'd use -- Swedish words. Any prediction beyond that (character, competence, metabolism, etc.) regularly proved to be wrong. It is at this point that the rise of biology as a science seemed to offer a saving grace for the concept: Surely, if we could see that traits could be inherited, then that would give a sound basis for assuming that groups with shared heritage could have shared traits, right?

    And that thinking is not logically false, as far as plausible general hypotheses go. Descendants of humans do tend to be human. It just doesn't apply to all kinds of traits. Being greedy or a liar, for instance, is not something we can accurately predict by knowing which continent your ancestors hail from. But note that at this point it had long also become clear that we can't predict the same depending on culture, language or location, either. Biological racism is just the fourth and last among these doomed concepts to be proven wrong.

    Biology's short (in historical terms) love affair with the concept of race is over; the concept is hardly ever used any more, and when it is, it is employed in an emphatically non-essentialist, tautological manner (we observe that all these peas have angular ends; let's call any pea with such ends part of the same race, until we can figure out the actual context of the phenomenon, but remember that this does not suggest other shared traits). Some countries still have laws that speak of races; the US, notably, classifies its citizens by race, which can possibly but only possibly be defended by pointing out that citizens classify themselves, and the classification is used for political measures that are supposed to counteract racism. So the use of the concept is both separate from the original meaning (biological racism assumes that you can't set your race by consciously deciding your affiliation, and the same is true for language, location, and culture) and reactive (it's not there because the law wants to treat races unequally, but as a reaction to unequal treatment that the law is intended to equalise -- ideally, the endgame is abandoning the classification). So we hope that it isn't ethically racist, when used well, but it does carry traces of the epistemological falsehood of the concept of race.

    So what is a racist? At the very least, you are a racist if you hate a group of people and have created the concept of that group of people in your mind by using one set of observable characteristics, and then deceiving yourself into thinking they also share another set of characteristics that you haven't observed as applying to them specifically. To limit racism to abused biology is to accept as valid one of the false defensive strategies that racism adopted around 1800.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
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  2. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    So observing that people who speak German and wear an SS uniform seem to consistently try to kill you is racist?
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  3. El Chup

    El Chup Fuck Trump Deceased Member Git

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    Curiously, the Wikipedia page on racism is actually quote useful in this regard, and supports very much what you're saying - and even goes to consider religious traits to be one of the many factors that can define racism. Gtardo, with his penchant for drawing all his info from Wikipedia, might be disappointed that he joins @Dinner's cabal of racists. :lol: @Dayton3 might also be disappointed that he too can't even claim not to have joined the ranks of racists with his rampant xenophobia and religious superiority complex.

    This real question is which of three are too stupid to realise what they are, and which truly do have the inherent hate and don't care either way?
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  4. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    You've defined racism to include everything. Do you realize that hating arch conservatives is racist, too?
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  5. K.

    K. Sober

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    Nope.
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  6. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    If racism includes the details about a person's view on transubstantiation, what the hell does it not include? Are Voyager fans a race now?
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  7. gul

    gul Revolting Beer Drinker Administrator Formerly Important

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    Packard has very clearly said that there is no such thing as race, you idiot.
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  8. K.

    K. Sober

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    Well, ex falso quodlibet. So to answer your question: If racism includes a person's views on transubstantiation, then Voyager fans are a race. And if Paris is the capital of Great Britain, Fridays are moons.
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  9. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    So when you go to the pet store and the clerk asks you what breed you're looking for, you start interrogating kittens with theological questions about Ceiling Cat instead of saying "Maine coon" or "Russian blue."

    Liberals apparently never bothered to learn what "race" meant despite all the long explanations from geneticists, Nazi scientists, and the entire world of biology and agriculture. Racism doesn't mean "a trait of people I disagree with," anymore than "race" means "a fictional concept like Ceiling Cat." The terms actually have real meanings. If you use the words correctly you can express concepts without sounding like a blithering idiot, which is what you two are doing.

    If culture and religion are races, then why do we need the words "culture" and "religion"? We would just use the one word, "race", for everything.
  10. K.

    K. Sober

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    Ah. So you didn't read or didn't understand what I said at all. You know, up to right now, I wasn't sure; now I know you really are that dumb, since this is not explicable as a joke, an act of self-delusion, or a lie.
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  11. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    In today's "race" news there was an attack in Burkina Faso

    At least 27 people of 18 different nationalities have been killed in an attack on a hotel in the capital of Burkina Faso by al-Qaida-linked militants, security officials have confirmed.

    Three jihadis, including an Arab and two black Africans, were also killed in the assault on the Splendid hotel and the nearby Cappuccino cafe in Ouagadougou, officials said. A fourth extremist was killed at the Yibi hotel, which was searched by troops as part of a later raid on nearby buildings.

    Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, said two of the attackers had been identified as women. A witness told Agence France-Presse that a fifth attacker was seen rushing into a nearby bar before escaping.

    So what race were the attackers? If you answered "Muslim" you're an idiot because "Muslim" is a religion, not a race. If you answered "men" you're also an idiot, because "men" and "women" are sexes, not races.

    In this case the attackers were all Muslim, both men and women, and at least including an Arab and two black Africans. They said the attack was revenge against French and the "disbelieving West" and bragged that they killed many crusaders.
  12. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    No one can understand what you said because it doesn't make any sense to anyone who knows what the words mean.
  13. gul

    gul Revolting Beer Drinker Administrator Formerly Important

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    It's interesting how the racists want to have it both ways. They will hold simultaneously that race is real, then make an argument regarding what is not racism that yields the conclusion that the NAZIs were not racists.
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  14. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    Let's say race doesn't exist - which is right scientifically. What we generally call "race" is just is just a variety of homo sapiens, like a Siberian husky & a German shepherd are the same species but easy to tell apart, and their offspring share qualities of each variety. I'm sure space aliens would be confounded by why humans categorize themselves. That is until the research it's all about bands/tribes in which case many tight knit groups of primates fight other groups of tight knit primates, and just because we are the smartest/more advanced species that evolutionary trait hasn't left us yet.
    That said IMO we need to dump the word race (since it doesn't really exist except in human minds) because there is $$$$$$$ and POWER involved in keeping people divided. Dig hard enough and these two things are at the root.

    "the classification is used for political measures that are supposed to counteract racism." - from the article
    :facepalm: the key word being "supposed to" when all it does is promote more racism by drawing attention to the concept of race. Uh oh......notice the word "political measures" which says it all. :(

    That said is it wrong to notice general differences in behavior/physical traits/motivations in different ethnic groups? White people do X....black people do Y.....Asians people do....Z?
    Not at all, or millions of comedians would be out of a job. Of course CULTURE is what drives the differences. Thus English people do X....German people do Y.....Irish people do Z are also funny & interesting because of cultural differences versus race.
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  15. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    No, the Nazis were proud and scientific racists. What I'm arguing with is the idiotic definitions being presented that would hold that opposition to Nazism is itself a form of racism. You're including cultural, religious, and political beliefs as "race". Although the Nazis were splitters, like many Europeans throughout the 18th century who would use the term "race" for Bulgarians, Magyars, and other ethnic identities, they did so on the belief that those were distinct genetic lineages. That view was the same as was held by most learned Europeans for a very long time, many of whom like Marx and Engels advocated mass genocide to clean up the mess and separate the wheat from the chaff so civilization could advance. Such views were common in the colonial era.

    What made Hitler stand out was that he was so adamant about it, he founded a massive socialist movement based on it, and then proceeded to wipe out tens of millions of people in a mechanized onslaught. The evil of racism doesn't stem from recognizing that people are different and different groups have differences, the evil comes from thinking of groups of people like a farmer thinks about pigs and sheep. Liberals still think that way but they avoid using "race", instead substituting other traits as they plot how to treat people like livestock, whether sticking them in ghettos, trapping them in dependency, farming them for votes, forcing them into unions, or telling them what to think.
  16. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    The NAZIs were evil & twisted but were they racist as it applies to specifically to Jews? :chris: Technically not, if we consider that both are "white" in broad terms. However were the NAZIS racist when the said blacks were inferior? Technically yes. So the NAZI's hate both groups, one group for religious/cultural differences and the other group just because.
  17. gturner

    gturner Banned

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    Hitler's earliest and strongest supporters were German doctors who couldn't stand competition from Jewish doctors. They started talking about "racial hygiene," and that just as the body has to fight disease and doctors have to surgically remove cancers, so too must the German people, otherwise defective and inferior genes will spread and weaken the entire stock. They were very explicit about it, and very scientific for the day. Primitive and defective people weren't fit to live in the new socialist world.
  18. Forbin

    Forbin Do you feel fluffy, punk?

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    Ah, whither eugenics?
  19. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    Beliefs in the superiority of yourself or a group you belong to does not imply hatred of others.
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  20. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    Got anything better to say than a foolish emoticon Rick?
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  21. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    So, all the genocidal bigots in the Bible, they were doing their acts of slaughter and mayhem in a state of bored indifference?
    Oh, well, that's okay then.
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  22. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    There are many events in history that indicate otherwise, from the very beginning of recorded history. It's been almost tradition for humans to massacre, imprison, torture, enslave those from a different ethnic, religious, or racial group simply because one group believed itself superior to another.
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  23. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    A valid point. Perhaps I should clarify what I said as you probably did not understand it.

    Beliefs in the superiority of yourself or a group you belong to does not NECESSARILY or INEVITABLY imply hatred of others
  24. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    Why was almost all the WWII propaganda (particularly toward the Japanese) racist?
    Because it's easier to kill people you dehumanize.
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  25. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    Oh, no, of course not, Thomas Jefferson loved black people in his bed.
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  26. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    Actually there is no proof of that. IIRC, there are more indications that another male relative of Jefferson's fathered children with which slave was it? Sally Hemmings?
  27. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    To maintain support for the war effort among the CIVILIAN population.

    You know the people NOT sent to kill the enemy.
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  28. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    Yeah, no, DNA of his modern relatives, and a strand of hair from his exhumed body pretty well slam dunked it.
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  29. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    Post a link.
  30. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 high speed, low drag

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    True, this would be bigotry by definition.