Displaying items by tag: prejudice
One of the most acute manifestations of prejudice is racism. It reveals the mindset of a person and a large part of the society he or she comes from. They may be very intelligent and witty but their racism is manifest and they have perpetrated untold miseries on people of a race that they thought was inferior. That shows the basest view of people who think that theirs is a superior race. They don’t stop to think that biologically all humans are the same with similar blood groups, DNA and what have you. It is just their outside look that sets them apart -- their features and the colour of their skin. Truth to tell, white is not pigmentation but the acute lack of it. So coloured people can consider people with lack of pigmentation as inferior. That’s as far as I’ll go otherwise I’m in danger of sounding racist. Suffice it to say, that people are people and that’s the end of it
But racism causes Man to inflict untold inhumanity on people with a different look. One such racist was the oh so intelligent and witty Winston Churchill, once Prime Minister of Britain. Here are some of his choicest comments about other people: -
“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” The “dog” here are the Palestinians whom Churchill called a “lower manifestation” and advocated the creation of the Israeli State.
Churchill was a product of genocidal British Imperialism at its worst and they have gone and built monuments to him. This man of limited emotion starved four million to death in India in 1943 and has been voted the Greatest Briton of All Time. That’s a grave insult to the British. He boasted that “all who resist” (meaning the Pashtoons) “will be killed without quarter” and that the people of Afghanistan must “recognise the superiority of race.” This about a people who take great pride in their race. He wrote with great relish about the Pashtoon tribesmen who were routinely and summarily executed. Let’s go on. He advocated “self rule” of Afrikaners in South Africa and thus helped plant the seeds of apartheid. About Egypt, he said in 1959 “tell them that if we have any more of their cheek, we will set the Jews on them and drive them into the gutter, from which they should never have emerged.”
In 1896, he declared on Cuba, “a grave danger represents itself. Two fifths of the insurgents in the field are negroes. These men…would in the event of success, demand a predominant share in the government…the result being after years of fighting, another Black republic.”
Another racist feather in Churchill’s cap is that he ordered more that 150,000 Kenyans to be put into concentration camps as part of the land grab of fertile highlands in Kenya for white colonial settlers. Churchill called them “Blackamoors” who were raped, castrated, tortured and burnt. He introduced forced labour, which is slavery by another name. He committed genocide against the Irish, killing hundreds, kidnapping them, beating them and burning down their properties.
Then Churchill ordered the British army to massacre Greek anti-Fascists in Athens in December 1944. In fact, he praised Nazi collaborators in Greece so that he could paint Communists as part of the enemy. About the Afghan campaign in 1897 he said, “We proceeded systematically, village by village, and destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation.”
So here we have the Greatest Briton of them All. To compound their shame and embarrassment, the British have erected many statues of him all over the land including one in their Parliament building. Churchill was a highly prejudiced racist with a great sense of superiority, which is the camouflage for a sense of inferiority. They stole from their colonies, especially from India, with great abandon and thus built a powerful mercantile, industrial complex. I don’t see what the difficulty is in removing his statues except for the fact that re-written history about Churchill has so infected the British mind.
This kind of racism did not end with Churchill. Today, US President Donald Trump proudly parades it for all to see. He probably hates George Floyd for having the impudence to die under the knee of a white policeman. Or all the Blacks who were killed by White policemen as if the hunting season was at its peak. In fact, I have before me a 1922 State of Missouri “nigger hunting license” that whoever pays the license fee, “is hereby licensed to hunt and kill niggers during the open season hereof in Missouri. This license must be carried on person when hunting niggers and gives the holder permission to hunt day or night with or without dogs.”
This kind of licensing may have lapsed in law but it is still prevalent in the white man’s DNA considering the callous manner in which white policemen wantonly kill African Americans. The reaction has finally come and it is severe and will change America, hopefully for the better. This is what the manifestation of prejudice is all about. Not that it is unique to America; it has existed in virtually every part of the world in history but that does not justify it. Man and his society have not progressed a jot and are still victims at least of latent prejudice. I rest my case.
The wave of populism currently engulfing Europe has seen an exponential rise in the fortunes of the continent’s far-right.
In recent years the neo-fascist Marine le Pen has reached the final round of the French presidential elections; Holland’s rabidly Islamophobic Party of Freedom has become the second largest party in the Dutch parliament; the autocratic and anti-Muslim Viktor Orban continues to govern Hungary; and, the British people have voted to turn their backs on European integration in favour of an isolationist nationalism hostile to outsiders.
Even in Sweden, the traditional bastion of stable democratic rule, the far-right Sweden Democrats have become the third largest party in the Riksdag, denying either of the country’s two major parties a majority for the first time.
Such developments have invited comparisons to the rise of fascism in the 1930s. During that earlier period, populist politicians exploited economic unrest in order to promote their own xenophobic agendas, using valid concerns about falling incomes, rising inflation and declining living standards to rail against supposed “intruders” whom they claim are destroying European society from within.
But while 1930s populism directed its ire against Europe’s Jews, today Muslims have come under attack. This shift largely reflects changing demographics; Muslims now constitute Europe’s principle “stranger” and, therefore, the most obvious target of xenophobia. The accusations directed against them, however, differ little in substance from those encountered by the Jews more than 80 years ago.
In the 1930s, Jews were habitually depicted as parasitic, unscrupulous businessmen who hoarded vast amounts of wealth plundered from their Christian neighbours. In the wake of Germany’s defeat in World War I, German Jews were also accused of actively conspiring against their countrymen so they might profit from the resulting chaos. Most shockingly, rumours abounded of so-called “blood libel”, of Jews kidnapping and murdering Christian children (the most vulnerable members of society) so their blood could be used in Jewish rituals.
Although the specifics of these accusations differ from those now hurled at Muslims, the substance remains the same. Muslims are, therefore, also parasitic because their extreme poverty means they sap the resources of an already overburdened state, pillaging the jobs that rightfully belong to the poorest members of the “indigenous” population. Muslims also represent a danger to European security; any one of them might be a terrorist seeking to attack his adopted country for his own gain. And although not accused of murdering children, the traditional European stereotype of Muslim men as violent and lustful has resurfaced in a new form; across northern England in particular, it is commonly believed that the Quran encourages paedophilia, with gangs of Muslim paedophiles now roaming the streets in search of vulnerable Christian girls.
But if little variation exists between the underlying justifications employed by contemporary far-right politicians seeking the expulsion of Muslims from Europe and Nazis demanding Europe be purged of its “Jewish threat”, in one respect there is a significant difference. Since the horrors of World War II, Europe has enacted strict laws preventing the persecution of religious minorities.
Implemented with the intent of preventing another holocaust, these laws have made it socially and politically unacceptable to target specific religious groups for persecution. This has necessitated an evolution in far-right discourse; to render their message more palatable, the far right have begun to employ a common mantra: Islam is not a religion but an ideology. Islamophobia is therefore presented as a legitimate form of political critique, as the condemnation of a dangerous ideology, rather than as a form of ethnic or religious prejudice. And while religions cannot be banned, ideologies can.
Such intellectual acrobatics have become regrettably commonplace in Europe, even entering the political mainstream. With European media outlets demonstrating themselves all too ready to propagate a negative image of Islam, a dangerous environment of public hostility has emerged in which Muslims could, should history repeat itself, find themselves in a very precarious situation.
The Muslims of Europe must therefore unite to meet this threat. They must demonstrate to their fellow Europeans that, far from a danger, they constitute an enrichment of European culture and identity, a strength that will only benefit the continent in years to come. If Muslims convey this message both quickly and successfully, they may yet reverse the tide of prejudice currently encroaching upon their new homelands.
Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 5 October 2018