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Consensus and detente on racism

(85 Posts)
thatbags Tue 15-Nov-16 22:16:00

I've just bumped into via Twitter and read this really good, thought-provoking essay about the current state of racism in the US. It's by David Marcus.

His argument is that America had a detente, an agreement, about racism—a set of rules that people understood and agreed with on the whole—but that the presidential election has marked the end of the detente and we have lost something as a result. He concludes that we should:

"listen to each other without immediate judgment and with trust in people’s good faith. That trust will not always be rewarded, but without it a détente can never be.
If a generation of Americans who lived through the racism, riots, anguish, and terror of the civil rights movement were able to trust each other’s decency and create cultural codes and norms to punish abject racism, we should be able to do it, too. But the truly scary thing is that, at this moment, it doesn’t appear we want to".

Eloethan Wed 16-Nov-16 01:34:51

The headline to this article contains the words "Whites are not content to let everyone but them get special treatment any more". So apparently non-white people in the US are receiving preferential treatment, at the expense of white people. That is so obviously a ridiculous statement since the figures indicate that the vast majority of non-whites in the US have substantially lower incomes, much poorer access to health and education, lower life expectancy, lower numbers engaged in professional occupations, higher infant mortality, etc. etc.

The article then goes on to speak of the breaking down of a so-called "detente" by which whites were expected to abide by a rule not to make "outright racist statements or appeals to white racial identity" and to accept a "double standard" regarding "political and cultural tribalism".

The author contends that this detente has broken down because "minorities and progressives broke the essential rule - not to run around calling everyone racist".

So it seems that non-white people are expected to shut up about the underlying racism they have experienced in everyday life in terms of income, jobs, education, health etc., in exchange for whites not making overtly racist and inflammatory statements.

Further down the article is the heading "Blame and Destroy Whitey". I think these sorts of headlines speak for themselves.

This writer has his own agenda, which can be illustrated by a statement made in another article of his: "Why a protest vote for Trump is better than voting for a third party". He is also very critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. There seems to be a theme developing here.

Additionally, the Federalist has been described in some quarters as a "rabidly anti-LGBT" vehicle and also appears to have an anti-abortion stance. No wonder it speaks sneeringly of "progressives".

whitewave Wed 16-Nov-16 06:43:22

This sort of argument is spreading and becoming influential, see post-truth. Emotional appeal not objective facts.

daphnedill Wed 16-Nov-16 07:02:28

'Post-truth' has been named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.

Excellent post, Eloethan. That kind of argument is very dangerous. I feel that we are living through an age when intellectual thought and reason are shifting. It seems as though everything which has followed on from the Enlightenment is being swept aside.

whitewave Wed 16-Nov-16 07:12:10

Yes Dd interesting times indeed, but not something I wanted to happen.

I think it shows how easily the argument is lost.

daphnedill Wed 16-Nov-16 07:30:54

I feel we're returning to the Dark Ages. Maybe it's inevitable. History shows us that each age is cyclical. It seems that reason and truth count for nothing.

Anya Wed 16-Nov-16 08:01:27

i can't speak for the States but I recognise much of what he says hold true for the UK too.

Racism has not been properly addressed in this country either. Many of 'our generation' do still hold racist views but they have been unexpressed due to fears of being called a racist. I'm not talking about those who openly supported organisations such as the National Front, the EDL or Britain First. I was often shocked to hear racist views expressed by teachers, nurses, doctors, policemen, solicitors, etc and other professionals. I was less shocked to hear these views expressed by the ordinary, working classes, influenced as they might be by the papers they read.

Why? Because I'd thought that those with a higher level of education, jobs that brought them into contact with people from all walks of life, ethnicity, culture, race, etc. would have a greater acceptance of difference. I was wrong.

So yes, perhaps there was a détent on racism and that has broken down. Whereas it was generally accepted that terms like 'paki' and 'nigger' were unexceptable, and anti-Semitism was less obvious, in the new political climate it is words such as 'immigrant' and 'Muslim' which are bandied about as if these two groups are somehow undesirables and targets of hate.

Grannyknot Wed 16-Nov-16 08:26:43

The very fact that a "consensus" (is that ever really achieved?) and/or detente on racism is needed is telling in itself.

There was an interesting article recently that made comparisons to the South African situation, where racism was "like a tumour that could be excised but post operative treatment was still needed, instead of a suppurating sore that never heals".

Not saying South Africa is perfect by the way ...

whitewave Wed 16-Nov-16 08:32:38

I feel extremely uncomfortable about it. I am not sure I could live in a "post-truth" world as to what do you turn to in making a decision? It is a nightmare situation.

daphnedill Wed 16-Nov-16 08:38:45

So what do you suggest? I agree with you that a considerable number of people, especially older ones, hold racist views. It's impossible to work out an exact percentage, because people aren't going to own up in surveys, but the figure in the UK is generally estimated to be about 30% - and higher in some other countries.

I have no idea if that figure is accurate, but I can believe it from reading people's comments on various internet sites. That woman who called Michelle Obama an 'Ape on heels' issued a defence claiming she's not racist BUT she's entitled to say what she wants anyway. In other words, she is racist and feels emboldened to say so.

Let's assume that the 30% is correct. Are we supposed to allow a free-for-all with no protection from the 'PC mob'?

I was brought up by a racist mother, who had even more racist friends. I've seen some of their correspondence and it's truly scary. They have a totally different philosophy from what most people would consider reasonable.

Racism isn't rational, so racists use warped arguments and emotion to justify their views. Those kind of arguments are becoming embedded in the mainstream.

petra Wed 16-Nov-16 08:49:13

Don't worry Anya . I think you'll find your not alone with those views, particularly here on GN. It's been glaringly obvious what some posters thought of people who read the Sun/mail/ didn't get an 'ology'.
Fortunately, there are a few educated women on here who do understand and 'get it'.

thatbags Wed 16-Nov-16 09:33:03

I think part of Marcus's argument is that people are accused of racism or called racist even when they haven't done or said anything racist. A classic and common current example of this is when people don't distinguish between valid criticism of an ideology, such as Islam, and criticism of Muslims as a group, as if they were all the same. The latter is 'racist'* (in one sense though, of course, Muslims do not belong to a single 'race' in the usual sense—compare Muslims in Arab countries, for instance, with Muslims in South-East Asia; there are also some 'white' Muslims). The former, criticism of Islamic ideology, or some of it, is not racist.

*I would prefer a more accurate description, such as "anti-Muslim". Being anti-Muslim is necessarily wrong, being anti-Islamism is not necessarily so.

I need to think a bit more about the other main claim made in the article about some underprivileged Whites (they do exist) feeling that they are the only group who doesn't have any of what they see as special status.

Im68Now Wed 16-Nov-16 09:39:53

Do you think racism is a built in thing with white people, I do,we can be very judgemental about non whites and you hear it on the golf course and in the clubhouse all very hush hush but its there.

whitewave Wed 16-Nov-16 09:45:10

im68 no! it is a learned concept.

daphnedill Wed 16-Nov-16 09:46:45

No, I don't think it's just white people. Speak to a Malaysian about the legal racism in the country or a South African coloured person about the attitude they perceive blacks have towards them.

Anniebach Wed 16-Nov-16 09:52:08

Racism is taught

daphnedill Wed 16-Nov-16 10:01:57

I disagree with you, thatbags. I think more people are racist than care to admit it. Their thinking is so ingrained they possibly don't even recognise it themselves.

'White' thinking is the norm and everybody else is expected to assimilate. It has always struck me as ironic that Obama is often called the first black President of the US when he isn't. His ancestry is as white as it is black. It's as though being white is the norm for a President, but Obama's DNA has been tainted. Americans expect a President to be white.

You could have cited the example of anti-semiticism and Israel. The Israeli government itself is keen to push the idea that criticism of the Israeli government is anti-semitic.

My daughter's current boyfriend comes from a Yemeni family, although he was born in Manchester and went to a public school. Although he and his parents are agnostic and have a typical British lifestyle, he does have a Muslim-sounding name and experiences racism. Why? Nick Cohen wrote about the same experience in the 'Guardian'. Despite his surname, he's not Jewish, but people assume he is and he's experienced anti-semitic slurs.

daphnedill Wed 16-Nov-16 10:03:28

I agree with you, ww and ab.

Im68Now Wed 16-Nov-16 10:10:50

Their must be something about Yemen men, our daughter has had 2 children with one and He is one of the nicest people I've ever met, He was born in Dudley, West Midlands. His mun can't speak English but that's what their culture is like.

AnnieBach How is racism taught

whitewave Wed 16-Nov-16 10:15:09

Children are not racist, you only have to watch a group of toddlers or slightly older children from all parts of the world to understand that. They don't "see" race or colour or at least put nothing perjoritive upon it.

Anniebach Wed 16-Nov-16 10:22:15

Easily Ism68, not by sitting a child down and clwiming people of a different colour/race are lesser human beings , it is dripped into children's minds over time

radicalnan Wed 16-Nov-16 10:27:38

Racism is such a huge topic. I notice the US has black lives matter but don't see any equivalent for the first nation lives and culture, destroyed by the occupation of the various groups who turned up and occupied their lands. Not a word about them in the recent election coverage.

I was youth working in Peckham and Brixton in the 80's, the whites could be racist , but so could the west Indians who despised the Africans the Cypriots didn't like some groups, it was impossible to resolve some of the issues I had to deal with in a muti racial club setting. If I tried to get the different group to be nicer to each other, I was told I was a racist mixing it up with their cultural beliefs.

I had white kids raised by west Indian foster parents who spoke a sort of patois and were very Caribean in their ways and black kids who were different is far to complex to call.

That we 30 years ago here.......they have grown up together and things are better, some of them got married and have kids now. people work together and get on or live down the same street and become good neighbours. It takes time.

The bigger worry for me is class, it determines so much more in the UK.

whitewave Wed 16-Nov-16 10:30:11

Children learn about "others" from various sources. Just as in the playground they are allowed into a particular group or belong to a particular group where it is fun to exclude some, so this concept of race "fits" with this idea.

But we grow up and hopefully understand that such exclusion is both wrong morally and for the good of the world.

Come into our group because the "others" feel superior or are dimmer etc is even a call we hear in network.

annodomini Wed 16-Nov-16 10:30:33

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

(South Pacific)

Anniebach Wed 16-Nov-16 10:30:34

Class rules this country, always has