Racism

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Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:15 am
Is Racism ever justified? Why or why not?
 
manored
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:41 am
@OctoberMist,
Racism is always justified, I have the right to use whatever criteria I want to decide who I like/trust and who I dont. Off course that deciding that people are stupid/clever based on their skin color is stupid, but people should have that right anyway. Also if for some reason almost everone of a said race I met had a said trait, why shouldnt I, for safety and management, generalize? Generalizing is necessary for humans because we just dont have the time to know/met everthing/everone, why should race be an exception we stress ourselves for?
 
William
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:45 am
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
Is Racism ever justified? Why or why not?


Racism should not exist, but is understandable why and how it does, at least to me anyway. It is a consequence of condescension due to status. It is a product of a convenient rationalization the haves have developed concerning the have nots that protect that status. Status is an aphrodisiac that is compelled to invent labels for those of lesser status issuing justifications that glorify opulence by creating erroneous labels that offer reasons why the have nots, have not. It is sickening as the haves are the first to make the most noise as to the "unfortunate" lot of these "poor" people have as they survive their lot in life as they offer token smidgens to alleviate any pangs of conscience that might haunt them. In doing so a stigma is attached to those "unfortunate" that can only be equated to that of a pariah in that we avoid all culpability as we blame their sad state of affairs on being irresponsible, ignorant, weak or inept. What a crock.IMO

I will agree there are those who are truly struggling to eliminate racism, but it has to be a natural process that must be initiated from the top down. Racism rears it ugly head and is only aimed at the most poverty stricken among us as they have nothing to offer to maintain the status quo other than labor itself of which we offer little in compensation that will allow an individual to feel a sense of worth. Because of that they are forced to compensate themselves any way they can, often illegally, in order to survive, further compounding the problem.

Every individual must have a sense of worth no matter how minute coupled with an educational process that will allow them to develop their natural skills and talents so they can be a part of this world or all will become victims of those measures that will be taken in order to survive. Treat a human being like a human being regardless of his lot in life and racism will cease to exist. IMO.

For what it is worth, my two cents.
William
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:58 am
@manored,
manored wrote:
Racism is always justified, I have the right to use whatever criteria I want to decide who I like/trust and who I dont.


I couldn't disagree more.

I think one has a reasonable moral obligation to form opinions (at least opinions that influence actions) based on true applicable information. I don't believe one can be possibly justified in applying untrue racist stereotypes to another.

If one is justified in thinking that blacks are subhuman and that subhuman entities do not deserve equal rights, how is one not justified in abridging these rights?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 12:50 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
manored wrote:
Racism is always justified, I have the right to use whatever criteria I want to decide who I like/trust and who I dont. Off course that deciding that people are stupid/clever based on their skin color is stupid, but people should have that right anyway. Also if for some reason almost everone of a said race I met had a said trait, why shouldnt I, for safety and management, generalize? Generalizing is necessary for humans because we just dont have the time to know/met everthing/everone, why should race be an exception we stress ourselves for?


Yes, you have every right to use whatever criteria you want in the process of judging people. That's beside the point. Your right to be a bigot does not justify bigotry.

We humans do not have the time to meet everyone - which is precisely why we should avoid generalizations about people. Without meeting everyone, you have no grounds to generalize.

You say generalization is necessary, but I disagree. Generalization is natural, but not necessary. It seems to me that our natural tendency to generalize is a natural tendency, like promiscuous sex, that we humans should do our best to temper and control.
 
Icon
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 12:57 pm
@OctoberMist,
I am going to, as always, take the middle ground on this one.

I completely agree that racism is a product of ignorance and stupidity. I also agree that it is vital to explore a person for who they are and not the color of their skin.

But I would also like to point out the natural elements of racism as a factor. I am a white male who lives in a very liberal town. Racism isn't so much of a problem here. However, if you look at the major division of the towns population, the different races segregate themselves to specific areas of town. The Spanish speaking cultures live in the south east, the African Americans in the central east, the Anglo-Americans in the west and north west, Asian Americans live in the north. This is natural segregation in that we are not forcing others to live in certain areas, it just happens that way. In this way, it becomes difficult to share culture unless various people go out of their way to do so. Without the ability to freely share culture, we are stuck with misconceptions about others and these misconceptions lead to fear which leads to racism.

I do not believe this is justified but I DO think that it is natural.
 
Solace
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:02 pm
@OctoberMist,
Racism is a natural evolution of mankind. We embrace the familiar and shun the unfamiliar. It's simply part of our survival instinct.

That being said, there comes a point in the evolution of the man creature when we must move beyond animal instinct and develop sentient understanding. If we, in this day and age, and at this stage of our evolution, still need to generalize entire sections of population, then maybe we should do a little more examination of ourselves before we try to examine others.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:02 pm
@Icon,
Icon wrote:

But I would also like to point out the natural elements of racism as a factor. I am a white male who lives in a very liberal town. Racism isn't so much of a problem here. However, if you look at the major division of the towns population, the different races segregate themselves to specific areas of town. The Spanish speaking cultures live in the south east, the African Americans in the central east, the Anglo-Americans in the west and north west, Asian Americans live in the north. This is natural segregation in that we are not forcing others to live in certain areas, it just happens that way. In this way, it becomes difficult to share culture unless various people go out of their way to do so. Without the ability to freely share culture, we are stuck with misconceptions about others and these misconceptions lead to fear which leads to racism.


To some extent different races do segregate themselves. The so called "white flight" north in towns across the country to flee the impoverished inner city and all of that. But this segregation is the result of racism and, most importantly, economic circumstances. Like your town, mine is divided largely along racial lines. Driving through the different sections it's pretty clear that skin color is not the issue - economics is the issue.

Until we manage to develop some degree of economic equality among the races the much needed cultural interaction will be slow and distorted. What's worse, the racial economic disparity causes a great deal of the racism we see today.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:33 pm
@Solace,
Solace;33679 wrote:
Racism is a natural evolution of mankind. We embrace the familiar and shun the unfamiliar. It's simply part of our survival instinct.
That's not really true. What WAS the natural evolution of humankind is to live in very small communities (a handful of families), as was true for the virtual entirety of human history until sedentary, agrarian communities developed in the last 10,000 - 15,000 years.

So what is novel is the size and immobility of our communities. This has a number of effects:

1) It juxtaposes many thousands or millions of people
2) It creates economic codependencies that expose people to others who have shared economic interest but no (necessarily) shared ethnicity
3) It creates social tensions that cause generalizing and scapegoating
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:44 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
That's not really true. What WAS the natural evolution of humankind is to live in very small communities (a handful of families), as was true for the virtual entirety of human history until sedentary, agrarian communities developed in the last 10,000 - 15,000 years.

So what is novel is the size and immobility of our communities. This has a number of effects:

1) It juxtaposes many thousands or millions of people
2) It creates economic codependencies that expose people to others who have shared economic interest but no (necessarily) shared ethnicity
3) It creates social tensions that cause generalizing and scapegoating


I am sure you are aware of that kin selection or some other manner of discernment is necessary for biological altruism.

While I agree with you, I do believe that we do identify with shared qualities in others, and a a group of phenotypes as strong as what is typically referred to as "race" seems a likely candidate.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 02:45 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
I should add that racism, i.e. the notion of racial superiority or inferiority, is a VERY new concept to humanity. It basically got its start in the colonial era when subjugation of other races was a political and economic matter (esp vis a vis the trans-Atlantic slave trade and forced labor). In the last ~150 years scientific racism became a pathologic outgrowth of Darwin's work, culminating in the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. I'd refer you to the phenomenal book "Wars of the World" by Niall Fergusson for more information.

Mr. Fight the Power;33692 wrote:
I am sure you are aware of that kin selection or some other manner of discernment is necessary for biological altruism.
But in the history of human evolution it's only very recently that racial distinctions were part of that. Distinguishing features of human communities were much more subtle. And just because a racial difference is based on more superficially obvious features, it is not inevitable that racism be the next step in social selection. Even insofar as racial differences have existed (since the first African diaspora), people seldom came into contact with different races until much more recently.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 03:01 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
But in the history of human evolution it's only very recently that racial distinctions were part of that. Distinguishing features of human communities were much more subtle. And just because a racial difference is based on more superficially obvious features, it is not inevitable that racism be the next step in social selection. Even insofar as racial differences have existed (since the first African diaspora), people seldom came into contact with different races until much more recently.


I acknowledge that it is not necessarily true that racial differentiation would be a factor in kin selection, but it stands to reason that genes will come with markers or that people will subconsciously notice similarities.

It would lead me to believe that appearance has a bit of a role, but I would certainly state that cultural factors have much more to do with our collaborator/detractor distinguishing. Simple observation shows this.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 06:11 pm
@OctoberMist,
My own conduct has been fashioned from two things I learned from Kant and Sartre:

1. Treat everyone as a end and not as a means. Kant
2. Treat everyone as a subject (pour soi) and not an object (en soi). Sartre
 
Solace
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 07:56 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;

Quote:

Quote:Originally Posted by Solace
Racism is a natural evolution of mankind. We embrace the familiar and shun the unfamiliar. It's simply part of our survival instinct.
That's not really true.

It isn't true? So then we shun the familiar and embrace the unfamiliar? Interesting survival mechanism that would be.

Quote:

I should add that racism, i.e. the notion of racial superiority or inferiority, is a VERY new concept to humanity. It basically got its start in the colonial era


I wonder if the Romans considered themselves superior to those groups of people that they considered "barbarians". Or if the Greeks did. Or the Chinese. I think racism may be much older than you're saying it is.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 08:35 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power;33706 wrote:
it stands to reason that genes will come with markers or that people will subconsciously notice similarities.
Maybe, maybe not. Remember that the genetic differences between races are very small and quantitatively they are vanishingly small compared with the genetic variability that naturally occurs within races.

Point is, what people notice when they notice race (which is not even a biologically definable entity!) is a disproportionately superficial phenomenon.

Quote:
It would lead me to believe that appearance has a bit of a role, but I would certainly state that cultural factors have much more to do with our collaborator/detractor distinguishing. Simple observation shows this.
And history shows it too. That's why stereotypes change with our culture. Think about America's stereotypes of people from Japan during World War II versus now. Do a web search for American political cartoons about the Japanese from the war years.

Solace;33755 wrote:
It isn't true? So then we shun the familiar and embrace the unfamiliar?
Where exactly did I say "we shun the familiar and embrace the unfamiliar"? Oh, I didn't, that's right, you just made it up to be contrarian.

What I said, and that I now emphasize, is that there is no way you can empirically or anthropologically justify the contention that racism is a natural human phenomenon. It is not.

Quote:
I wonder if the Romans considered themselves superior to those groups of people that they considered "barbarians".
Funny you should mention that since the Romans were the same race as the Franks, Goths, Lombards, Huns, etc.
:brickwall:
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:31 pm
@Aedes,
... is racism what happens to the xenophobic instinct when social groups get so large (and the world so small) that one can't possibly recognize every person in their "group" on sight? ... and if so, it will be interesting to see if cultural impulses can truly come to dominate biological instincts - or if they can only divert them somewhere else (to, say, nationalism, or fundamentalism) ...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:38 pm
@OctoberMist,
We shouldn't overstate social traits from our distant anthropological past as if they're somehow biologically determined. Look at the conditions humans live in and have lived in -- from 35 million people in Tokyo to small hunter gatherer societies in the Arctic and the Amazon. We're pretty damn adaptable. It's certain other tensions that elicit racism.

Again, I refer you to "Wars of the World" by Fergusson. He does a very careful analysis of racism in Europe during the late 19th and first half of the 20th century.

Do you know which was one of the LEAST antisemitic countries in Europe during this period? Germany. Antisemitism was FAR worse in Poland and Russia than in Germany until the Nazis took over. But there were many common threads that explained why anti-semitism (or other forms of major discrimination) rose in certain places during that time, including movement of people across borders and economic instability.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:42 pm
@Aedes,
Was antisemitism a greater problem in Germany prior to the war than in any other western European nation?
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:46 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
We shouldn't overstate social traits from our distant anthropological past as if they're somehow biologically determined.


... by this do you mean to completely dismiss the involvement of any biological disposition, or merely downplay it? ... personally, I can easily envision the xenophobic instinct at the root of just about any divisive "ism" ...
 
Poseidon
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:56 pm
@OctoberMist,
Unfortunately, we sometimes have to generalize.
But this is not an excuse to always generalize.

During Apartheid, white South Africans were generalized as being racists. As a result, we made an effort to challenge those within our group who were giving us this bad name. And now white South Africans are not generalized against nearly as much as in the past. Currently, black South Africans are now bigger racists than whites are.

So, yes, it can be justified, but not in any absolute way, as it is a generalization. And, when the people concerned improve their behaviour, the generalization must cease.

Of course, in the past, white South Africans were generalizing against black South Africans in a similar manner. But; as a result, the behaviour of Black South Africans improved greatly.

But lets point out, that generalizing, is a two-faced coin. It can work, if it is done with the understanding that it is trying to improve the situation. It very easily falls down the slippery slope into unfair discrimination, or stereotyping.

However, it is also, very often, the only means people have to try and help the situation. It does get quite slippery at times.
 
 

 
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