Skip to main content

View Diary: On Race (54 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  My reading of his book is that the European (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    svboston, DeadHead

    explorers and the colonists were in a class by themselves for developing racist social controls before the 20th century. For example, Africa had a substantially less horrific slavery than the European slave trade; theirs was more like indentured servitude. Additionally, the Europeans brought their sexism to more egalitarian civilizations both in the Americas and Africa.

    Maybe I am misreading his intent here and the Europeans were no worse than anyone else.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:39:40 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  This often seems to be Zinn's thing (4+ / 0-)

      As great as he is in many ways, everything is always ten times worse when done by a white person and worse still when done by an American. So, you're probably both right: there's nothing new about these tactics and Zinn describes them as horrifyingly unique.

      •  That makes sense (3+ / 0-)

        I haven't read the book in question, so your elaborating on the original comment helps.

        So you are correct that we were both correct.

        I love it when everyone is right! :-D

        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
        ~ Jerry Garcia

        by DeadHead on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:20:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sometimes I see that as a sort of variation (5+ / 0-)

        on American exceptionalism. In people I know personally it seems to spring from having grown up with the belief that the United States is a uniquely wonderful country. When they grow up and find out that it's as imperfect as every other country, they somehow feel betrayed. Then the United States and Americans suddenly turn into the most mythically nightmarish country in the world.

        I actually grew up in a fairly leftward leaning environment and was raised being told how awful the United States was. It surprised me when I grew up and found racism and, more commonly, anti-Semitism among supposedly more enlightened people.

      •  the european colonialization (0+ / 0-)

        of the Americas, North Africa, India, and entry into China, and eventually Australia...has been pretty extensive, although I agree with you that anyone is capable of being horrible, and all cultures and peoples throughout history have undoubtedly done something xenophobic and tribal and fucked up. But it kinda goes to scale and impact, and the current balance of economic power.

        •  Also... (2+ / 0-)

          ....we read the expansion of other peoples' countries in the past through their official sources, which rarely even try to represent opposing viewpoints fairly. It isn't only Europeans who write history from their own perspective. Every large country rolled over its neighbours and incorporated them by force, or it wouldn't be large. Take Japan, for example. People usually think of it as a monocultural society, but it's a creation of violent conquest just as much as the United States is. The last full-scale battle between Japanese indigenous people and Imperial forces in Honshu, the main island, was around 1560, the final episode of a war that had gone on for over five hundred years. Or take all the independent states and cultures that used to exist where China is now. All we know of them is what Chinese historians chose to record, which rarely reflects poorly on the Imperial throne. For a few early ones, the only name we have for them is a Chinese ethnic insult.

          It might be better to say that we weren't the first to do this; we were the first to get caught. And after all, getting caught is the first step towards reform.

          "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

          by sagesource on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:48:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I had a friend whose sister was a lawyer working (0+ / 0-)

            on the subject of indigenous rights in Taiwan. He compared their situation to that of Native Americans. Most people don't even realize that there was an indigenous group living there before the island was colonized by mainland Chinese starting in the seventeenth century.

            The mother of a very close friend of mine came from an indigenous group in Malaysia. If you want to read about a country which has complicated racial tensions, that's really worth looking up.

            Just to be clear, I'm not saying this in any way, shape or form to minimize what has happened in the United States.

      •  I've heard some controversy on that (0+ / 0-)

        Also, I remember talking to my History of Latin America professor when we were talking about slavery in Latin America. I'd read some accounts that said that while slavery there was no picnic, it was not so racialized as it was in the US and wasn't as dehumanizing. It was merely viewed as an unfortunate (but necessary) thing that could happen to anyone. She pointed out that the people who most encouraged this contrast were Latin American elites.

    •  Read a history of Ireland if you want to see the (3+ / 0-)

      same type of dynamic in action -- the Anglo-Normans, then the English, and then the Protestants justified the gradual immiseration of the Irish over centuries by saying, essentially, that they were less than human.  For example, although Shakespeare's Caliban is usually portrayed today as black, there's much better evidence that he was originally intended to represent the Irish.  (E.g., his skin is described as "freckled" and his mother as "blue-eyed.).  But it's not like the English have had a monopoly on degrading other nations or races in their minds into subhumans. The dehumanization of a exploited class in the minds of the exploiters is a universal rationalization for the exploitation.  

      •  One need not even travel (0+ / 0-)

        Farther back than the 20th century to find a case study in this behavior:

        NSDAP, anyone?

        Tragic, how many examples there are.

        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
        ~ Jerry Garcia

        by DeadHead on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:50:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm hesitant to buy into Zinn (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Simply because he often falls back on the "noble savage," mythology too much. Even when pointing out the horrible atrocities of the "egalitarian," civilizations he will try to dismiss them as "childlike innocence," treating these people as if they were children.

      Zinn, while right in some areas was very apt to source mine when it comes to the nature of European, American and African civilizations and jump to some bold conclusions.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (136)
  • Community (65)
  • 2016 (46)
  • Elections (39)
  • Media (36)
  • Environment (36)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (34)
  • Republicans (32)
  • Hillary Clinton (31)
  • Barack Obama (29)
  • Law (29)
  • Iraq (27)
  • Civil Rights (26)
  • Jeb Bush (25)
  • Culture (25)
  • Climate Change (24)
  • Economy (21)
  • Labor (20)
  • Science (18)
  • Bernie Sanders (18)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site