2010-05-10

Racism


Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

I really think this is the most comprehensive damnation of racism ever written. The reason for this is that it covers not just "being judgemental against another race," but also because it covers a more modern aspect of racism, which I will attempt to explain.

One of the remarkable things about Ayn Rand was that so many of her predictions have come true. Rand viewed issues from what she saw as their philosoophical roots. She wrote the above statement during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but she was practically alone in offering words of warning even as she praised the concept of equal rights.

See, racism is more than just being prejudiced against other cultures. True racism strikes at the heart of how we conceive of other human beings. It is racism to believe that a white woman in Germany will never truly be able to understand the essential life experiences of a black man in Liberia. While it is true that these two individuals have had vastly different life experiences, it is pure, ugly racism for either person to believe that the other is incapable of understand the other.

Likewise, it is racism to believe that one is "more at home" among "one's kind" than among people of a different race or cultural background. True, there are certain aspects of one's personality that are best understood by people who share that in common. However, it is a terrible crime against oneself to value one's cultural background more than one's individual character traits. For example, sharing a meal with friends will always be more important than the type of food you choose to put at the table. More tragic still is the belief that your friends will never appreciate dinner if you serve them your favorite "soul food."

Finally, I would like to go on the record as saying that it is my belief that people have intellectualized racism to the point that they can no longer see it in themselves. Our society talks so much about examples of racism committed by others that we have completely erased our own ability to see ourselves committing more subtle forms of racism. In this day and age, we need to get away from perceiving racism as klan-rallies and name-calling. We need to recognize the kind of racism Rand predicted, which involves seeing ourselves as members of a genetic club, and believing only those who belong to the club can understand the important parts of us.

Human beings are not so stupid, and polylogism is nonsense. We all share the human experience.