A Short History of American Bigotry

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It started long before Columbus, but our version does begin with the European trend to colonize the known world. The Dutch were the first to reach the Far East, setting up trade with Japan and China, using their base in Indonesia. They considered all easterners to be inferior and gradually began to develop explanations for what they ‘knew to be true.’

It is not so surprising from the Dutch because they were from the Germanic tribes that settled the northern parts of Europe and eventually captured and sacked Rome. As they became more settled in the regions north of Gaul (France), they developed a strong sense of superiority which the Vikings carried with them into the British Isles.

The English took over several of the Dutch territories, including New Amsterdam renaming it New York, and set about subduing the native inhabitants. As a part of that process, they examined the facts and determined that Indians were barbarians without souls, little more than livestock. Worse, in fact, because they refused to be good slaves.

Which brings us to the first Dutch ship that sold 19 African slaves in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. The Dutch, as we have seen, found it easy to identify inferior species and quickly determined that Africans were the lowest of all human-like animals.

Over the next couple of centuries, white Americans, mostly Dutch, British, and German thought about the position of Africans in the culture of the world (meaning the European world).

By the end of the Nineteenth Century, most universities in northern Europe, England, and the US were teaching racial superiority as a science, complete with books full of ‘facts.’ As a Harvard graduate, Teddy Roosevelt had learned the ideas and accepted them as facts. When he negotiated the peace treaty between Russia and Japan, earning the Nobel Prize for it, he was dealing with two groups of inferior peoples. The Russians were ranked below the French, somewhere around the Italians in inferiority. The Japanese were lower than any European but were above all other Asians.

In 1905, TR sent a shipload of officials, plus his daughter Alice, to Japan to negotiate trade relations publicly while secretly agreeing with Japan that they could take over control of all of Asia. TR agreed to this because they were the superior race in Asia and could bring the rest of the continent under control, acting as the US surrogate. Alice, by the way, went with no knowledge of this. TR wanted her passion for upsetting conventional social norms to distract the press.

The Nazi death camps upset the carefully structured ranking of inferiors, even though most British and American whites believed Jews to be inferior. Killing people in a factory system simply overwhelmed the long-held prejudices. Suddenly, world leaders were talking equality.

But as the leaders talked equality, they did their best to return to the pre-1939 state of affairs. France and Britain tried to regain full control of all their old colonies. Churchill was particularly aggressive in maintaining the world empire. A young Ho Chi Min from Indo-China talked to all the leaders about granting independence for his country. President Truman did not want to upset the French, so he sent Ho packing, setting up, first the French, and then the US for long, costly wars.

As you can see, I have painted a picture with broad brush strokes. The details would fill several books. The point of this: white Americans grew up with an understanding that we are superior. While most of us would never support white supremacist like the skinheads, we all too often feel we are entitled to run things, to have the best jobs, best education, best homes, etc. We want Mexicans to pick our green beans and peaches for little pay, the Vietnamese to bring in the shrimp and sell it cheap, the Chinese to make our cheap products to sell at big box stores, but we also want to keep our high paying jobs at their expense. No white American in his right mind wants to pick green beans for a living.

I’m sorry to tell you; there is no easy solution. If whites believe in equality, then they must act on that belief. It will involve changing the way we think and the way we live.

 

Be righteous and do good

Mike Lawrence

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