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 Post subject: Discussion of Racism
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:58 pm 
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[Note: I split these posts off from the main campaign thread so that it could be a separate discussion. tinwë, feel free to change the title if you wish. And if anyone thinks a post should or should not have been moved, let me know. VtF]

solicitr wrote:
tinwë:
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Sure. What the hell’s wrong with uplifting the suffering of Blacks and destroying oppression?


Read the quote again. It's the white oppressors he wants destroyed.


So? I suppose if I was being oppressed I might want my God to destroy my oppressors too. I’m not, and my own personal faith doesn’t believe in a God that destroys people, but given what blacks have endured in this country, I don’t think that one statement makes Cone into some sort of monster.

My understanding is also that Cone has somewhat toned down his rhetoric over the years, if not exactly changing his beliefs. As Wampus pointed out a few pages back, Liberation Theology isn’t just about pointing fingers at oppressors, it’s about viewing the Gospel through the lens of suffering, and acting on it from that perspective.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:10 pm 
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soli, if Cone scares you so badly promise me you'll never read the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Seriously. You'd have a heart attack or something. Though once I got past the constant use of "blue-eyed devils" (it really didn't help that I have blue eyes) I found it enlightening.

When there is injustice that no one wants to admit to, someone has to get up and make a whole lot of noise. Fiery rhetoric is part of it. It's supposed to make black people aware of their position and good and angry about it. It's supposed to make white people nervous. And then you're supposed to think about it. The trouble is, like a real fire, anger and fear are both extremely powerful, extremely destructive, and ultimately almost impossible to control. But they're easy emotions to play on, and, when faced with an insidious social problem like the racism X encountered growing up, you honestly need something like a fire to make people wake up and listen. On both sides.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:50 pm 
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As tinwë said, if I was a black American, I might be dreaming of such things myself.


Well, if you were a racist black American, you might be.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:18 am 
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yovargas wrote:
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As tinwë said, if I was a black American, I might be dreaming of such things myself.


Well, if you were a racist black American, you might be.


Or maybe if you were just, you know, human.

I’m sorry yov, but looking at it from a purely hypothetical perspective, an oppressed person having feelings of wanting to see their oppressor destroyed is not racist, it’s human. That is not meant as an excuse for Rev. Wright or anyone else who implies that whites are the cause of all of their problems. But to suggest that it is racist for an African American to feel anger towards whites is absurd. Acknowledging that the anger is real, as Obama did yesterday, is not an act of racism, it is an act of understanding. It doesn’t condone the statements of Wright, or James Cone for that matter, but it does help to explain where those statements came from. That’s important to me, because simply saying the statement is racist and we should condemn it, is not going to make it go away.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:25 am 
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And Obama also acknowledged the anger some whites feel toward affirmative action programs. He acknowledges the seeds of anger but does not plant those seeds himself.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:26 am 
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Thank you, tinwë. You put that much better than I was able to, in my attempts to respond to that comment.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:40 am 
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Of course blacks have good reasons to be angry at whites. But being angry at, and calling for revenge upon, is quite simply and factually racist. And racism is wrong, morally and factually, and ultimately destructive to everyone involved. Racism is usually found on some kernel of truth - Americans have "good reasons" to be afraid of Muslims, for example - but it doesn't change that it is wrong as a whole. Understanding the cause does not mean accepting it.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:46 am 
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tinwë wrote:
But to suggest that it is racist for an African American to feel anger towards whites is absurd.


On the contrary, I would argue that having negative feelings towards all members of a certain race is both racist and absurd.

Alatar wrote:
But don't suggest that we have ever engaged in the tactics Israel uses regularly.


Although to be perfectly honest, Ireland hasn’t faced the same threats that Israel has.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:48 pm 
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Lord_Morningstar wrote:
tinwë wrote:
But to suggest that it is racist for an African American to feel anger towards whites is absurd.


On the contrary, I would argue that having negative feelings towards all members of a certain race is both racist and absurd.


Actually the phrase in question was "White Oppressors". Meaning the subset of white people who are oppressing you. Why does everyone insist on taking everything to the most extreme possible meaning?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:05 pm 
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Well, I would argue that anger towards one’s oppressor (real or perceived) is a natural human emotion, nothing more. It’s when that anger translates into hate or, as yov said, calls for revenge, that you have something else. I’m still not sure I would automatically classify it as racism, but I’ve argued my opinions of racism here before and lost, so I’ll refrain from it now.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:08 pm 
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Lost? Surely there is no "winning" or "losing" in these discussions. Just sharing ideas and opinions, and advancing everyone's understanding.

Besides, I agree with you. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:08 pm 
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tinwë wrote:
Well, I would argue that anger towards one’s oppressor (real or perceived) is a natural human emotion, nothing more. It’s when that anger translates into hate or, as yov said, calls for revenge, that you have something else. I’m still not sure I would automatically classify it as racism, but I’ve argued my opinions of racism here before and lost, so I’ll refrain from it now.


I agree with you.

People of the same race, people of the same ethnic group, people in the same clan/tribe can be angry with and hate each other if one group oppresses the other. It's the same emotion, only in this case it happens to be along a colour line.

Religious/cultural divisions in the Indian subcontinent. Ireland, the classic example. The English and the Scots. The Finns and the Swedes. (Yes, the Finns and the Swedes. Shocking.)

When you see yourself as oppressed, when you ARE oppressed, the natural human reaction is anger, likely hate, likely the desire for revenge.

Is it "right"? As in "morally correct"? I think we are all agreed that it isn't. But it's just as wrong to say it "shouldn't exist". It shouldn't. But how are you going to get rid of it without getting rid of the causes?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:14 pm 
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I wonder if "racial reconciliation" itself isn't a loaded topic. In families and friendships I have never seen it work to ask someone who feels wronged to simply stop feeling angry. Even if the person asking it didn't cause the wrong, being asked to "turn off" a feeling is likely to make the angry one even angrier.

The wrong has to be acknowledged before the estrangement can start to heal.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:45 am 
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vison wrote:
yovargas, in my mind racism is not rooted in any reasonable cause but arises from fear of "the other". A racist does not need to have ever experienced hurt from the other, he is simply allowing his prejudices and irrational fears to create hate.
'

Oh, I disagree entirely. Firstly, because hating a race is racism by definition no matter what the cause or reason. Secondly, because a lot, probably most, racism has "reasonable causes" at its roots. Blacks do have a higher crime rate in the US. Jews did head a lot of banks and newspapers. Arabs have tried to destroy Western culture. And whites did enslave blacks. All real, factual reasons to fear, hate, or resent a race that have been used to justify racism at one time or another. But in all those cases, the justifications are wrong and the racism is wrong. I LOVED Obama's speech because he called a spade a spade - there are good reasons why some blacks resent and good reasons why some whites resent other ethnicities, and we should look those reasons in the face and do our best to honestly understand them. But understanding those resentments does not mean accepting them; they should be called out for what they are - divisive, destructive, and immoral.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:05 am 
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yov, I agree that all forms of unreasonable hatred of people of different race, color, religion etc. are divisive, and need to be eliminated. However, it is highly simplistic to equate white distrust of blacks because "blacks have a higher crime rate in the U.S." to black distrust of white because of the whole history of slavery, and Jim Crow, and lynchings, and segregation, etc., and just say it is the same thing. Because it is not the same thing.

And by the way, Jews originally became bankers and moneylenders because the were denied the opportunity to do other things. Another case in which discrimination begat more discrimination. Something to consider.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:19 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
yov, I agree that all forms of unreasonable hatred of people of different race, color, religion etc. are divisive, and need to be eliminated. However, it is highly simplistic to equate white distrust of blacks because "blacks have a higher crime rate in the U.S." to black distrust of white because of the whole history of slavery, and Jim Crow, and lynchings, and segregation, etc., and just say it is the same thing. Because it is not the same thing.


I don't know if I agree with that......objectively, it seems like the same kind of thing to me but with different degrees of...stuff. I guess I'm just bothered by the appearance that a lot of you here are willing to "give a pass" to this form of hatred. "The whole history of slavery, and Jim Crow, and lynchings, and segregation" does not mean I have to accept the idea that white people are violent, selfish oppressors who are the root of most of the world's problems. Most of the people on this board are white, most of the people on this board do not fit that description. I think part of Obama's awesome points were that we need to understand the cause and understand why those things are wrong - BUT that we shouldn't just stop at shouting "That's wrong!" at each other but instead try to move beyond that to bridge those gaps. But you still have to be willing to say wrong is wrong.


Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
And by the way, Jews originally became bankers and moneylenders because the were denied the opportunity to do other things. Another case in which discrimination begat more discrimination. Something to consider.


I know. The irony would almost be funny if it weren't so disgusting.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:37 am 
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Who here is saying that all white people are violent oppressors? Who anywhere is saying that?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:40 am 
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yovargas wrote:
I don't know if I agree with that......objectively, it seems like the same kind of thing to me but with different degrees of...stuff.


First of all, objectively the amount of the difference in degree is significant enough to be ... significant. Secondly, there is the simple fact that the whole history of slavery, and Jim Crow, and lynchings, and segregation, etc. is one of (notice I say "one of" not the only) cause of why blacks have a higher crime rate in the U.S. Even more significantly ...

Quote:
I guess I'm just bothered by the appearance that a lot of you here are willing to "give a pass" to this form of hatred.


Here is where I think the biggest misunderstanding is taking place. I don't think that anyone here is saying that any form of hatred should be given a pass. Just that it is important to understand the root causes.

Quote:
"The whole history of slavery, and Jim Crow, and lynchings, and segregation" does not mean I have to accept the idea that white people are violent, selfish oppressors who are the root of most of the world's problems. Most of the people on this board are white, most of the people on this board do not fit that description.


Again, no one here is saying that white people are all violent selfish oppressors who are the root of most of the world's problems. Just that the history of oppression committed by white people can't be disregarded in addressing the problems and seeking solutions.

Quote:
I think part of Obama's awesome points were that we need to understand the cause and understand why those things are wrong - BUT that we shouldn't just stop at shouting "That's wrong!" at each other but instead try to move beyond that to bridge those gaps. But you still have to be willing to say wrong is wrong.


Yes, I agree with this. And just as Obama has condemned Wright's incendiary statements, so have I. But I think his discussion of why people like Rev. Wright and others in his generation feel the way they feel was critically important.

The most important point that Obama made in that speech was that Wright wasn't wrong for pointing out that racism has existed in American and continues to exist in America, he was wrong for acting like America was a static country in which no progress has been made. Progress has been made because of the work of people like Martin Luther King AND Malcolm X. And Lyndon Johnson. And the thousands of black AND white people who made huge sacrifices to participate in the civil rights efforts in the 1960's. Yes, a lot of progress has been made. But there is a lot more progress that needs to be made.

As we are currently seeing.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:42 am 
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yovargas, who has not said "it's wrong"? Who's "giving it a pass"? No one that I can see. We seem pretty well unanimous in saying that racism is wrong.

Are you perhaps confusing our understanding and acceptance of its existence with condoning it? Because we can see how racism might arise, are we then saying "It's okay, because you've been oppressed"? No one here has said that.

Once, "science" taught that the colour of a person's skin, the shape of his eyes, was an indicator of his intelligence. Many people bought into that, and much harm was done. But at the time, don't forget, such beliefs were "politically correct". People forget that, but it's true. It was once "politically correct" for Christians to despise Jews. Not just expedient, yovargas, but actually RIGHT.

The world has changed, ideas have changed. Things that seem so simple and clear to us were not always simple and clear or if they were, they were simple and clear in an entirely different way. Those who spoke out against discrimination and racism were vilified. Once, it took a great deal of courage to defend the victims of oppression and racism, to stand beside them. I wonder how many of us would do so if it could cost us our freedom or our lives.

And I still don't see that Mr. Wright's remarks can be classified as "racist".

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:00 am 
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yovargas wrote:
vison wrote:
yovargas, in my mind racism is not rooted in any reasonable cause but arises from fear of "the other". A racist does not need to have ever experienced hurt from the other, he is simply allowing his prejudices and irrational fears to create hate.
'

Oh, I disagree entirely. Firstly, because hating a race is racism by definition no matter what the cause or reason. Secondly, because a lot, probably most, racism has "reasonable causes" at its roots. Blacks do have a higher crime rate in the US. Jews did head a lot of banks and newspapers. Arabs have tried to destroy Western culture. And whites did enslave blacks. All real, factual reasons to fear, hate, or resent a race that have been used to justify racism at one time or another. But in all those cases, the justifications are wrong and the racism is wrong. I LOVED Obama's speech because he called a spade a spade - there are good reasons why some blacks resent and good reasons why some whites resent other ethnicities, and we should look those reasons in the face and do our best to honestly understand them. But understanding those resentments does not mean accepting them; they should be called out for what they are - divisive, destructive, and immoral.


I’m sorry yov, but reading that post just makes my head spin, and it displays an astonishing naivete about racism. Do you honestly believe that the cause of white racism is high crime rates among blacks? No, no, no, a thousand times no. The root of racism in the US is the belief that the white race is superior to the black race, so much so that blacks could be owned as property by whites, and when that was no longer possible that blacks could be denied access to justice, education and the ability to earn a living. That they could be treated as chattel, and dismissed out of hand as nothing more than wild apes at best and criminals at worst. That is where racism in the US comes from.

Can you not see how equating black anger towards whites with racism makes a mockery of the reality that blacks have endured in this country? Yes, even black hate towards whites, even desire for revenge against whites by blacks? When have whites in this country ever been bought and sold as property? When have whites in this country ever been beaten, whipped and hung from trees and left to die just because they were white? Nothing that white people as a race have endured in this country equates to what blacks have endured.

I’m sorry, but I simply refuse to believe that racism is nothing more than hate, and I absolutely, categorically refuse to believe it is hate based on reasonable cause. I refuse to believe that it can be simplified like that. Racism is about belief in the superiority of one race over another, and the desire to act on that belief. And my personal belief, the one that a lot of people vehemently disagree with, is that there is always an element of power involved in racism. To me, racism is a form of oppression, and oppression is never a two way street, there is always an oppressed and an oppressor. The Nazis weren’t racist because they hated the Jewish ownership of banks and newspapers, the Nazis were racist because they believed they were better than Jews, and they acted on that belief, and had the ability to act on it, by stuffing Jews into furnaces and killing them. And you’re going to tell me that a Jew is racist for hating and wanting to destroy Nazis after that? It just boggles my mind.

Let me put it another way - I’ve said that some of Wright’s statements were reprehensible, but nowhere have I seen Rev. Wright suggest that the problems that blacks have faced in the US would be solved if the tables were turned and whites were sold as slaves and beaten and hung from trees. Nowhere have I seen Wright, or James Cone, say that if only blacks could take their rightful place as the rulers of the world and treat whites the same way whites treated them then all would be right with the world. When he says that, then I will call him a racist.


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