The “anti-racists” claim that race is a social construct created by whites to maintain power over black people, but then they turn right around and use race as the basis for another construct, the “minority”.
A friend mentioned Thomas Huxley the other day. Huxley was a contemporary and a big fan of Darwin – so much so, many give him credit for convincing Darwin to publish “Origin of the Species”. Huxley had little formal education, was mostly self-taught, and according to some became the greatest comparative anatomist (studying anatomical structures) of the late 19th century.
Even though Huxley was an abolitionist, he was a product of the “science” of the times and a bit of a “scientific racist”. Let us also remember the state of “science during Huxley’s time – phrenology, the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits, was considered a “science”, cocaine was a wonder drug, heroin was used to treat coughs and electric shocks were used to treat impotence in men. Such was the state of “science” of the late 1800’s. As science evolves over time, it is never perfect and often contains a large component of supposition, superstition, and ignorance – at least until enough data is collected, enough hypotheses are tested and proven or disproven.
In his books and lectures, the leading proponent of “anti-racism” (which is nothing but racism with whites as the target), Ibram X. Kendi uses Huxley as an example of how white racism has harmed people of color since “scientific racism” equates race with mental ability and capacity. Some of what he says is true – scientists of the era did rank non-whites on a scale of intelligence and capacity based on their skin color and that was wrong. While Kendi and others in his camp see no other explanation than the white man constructing “science” purely designed to maintain power over minorities they saw as inferior, I would like to propose another possibility that has less to do with race and more to do with culture.
I am not excusing the treatment of any human or group of humans as inferior based on skin color, my purpose here not to reduce or deny the impact of such, it is merely to examine a different theory of why it happened.
A couple of data points should be understood – western civilization of the 19th and early 20th century witnessed the greatest explosion in discovery and study of ancient civilization that had been seen and perhaps the British, with their great colonial expansion, had more access to these civilizations than any other – from Egypt to India to China – the British museums were filled with antiquities of civilizations the Brits held in great regard…and guess what, all these peoples were considered to be of different races.
And this does not even consider the western exploration of the great civilizations of the Americas.
One must consider that, even with the great esteem in which each of these civilizations held, one of the significant reasons the British and other European countries were able to overcome the current civilizations and colonialize those lands was that these great civilizations had long fallen, and the remnants were seen as inferior to the order and prosperity that existed in England at the time.
I disagree with the idea that domination of non-white races was only based on racism because the real basis for Huxley’s comparison was cultural, not racial. Huxley measured all other races against his culture and assumed that any race that did not possess the same characteristics as Victorian England (which happened to be overwhelmingly white) was somehow inferior. Huxley more or less gives this away when he wrote this in his essay entitled “Emancipation: Black and White”:
“It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man.”
So why would this be? Why would people if Europe, Great Britain, and America think things like this?
Could this opinion be formed because non-whites were not educated in British schools and did not benefit from the intellectualism of western civilization? Could the cultures of the non-whites, especially those of Africa of the period, be seen as savage as compared to a very proper, ordered, and stiff British society? Could it be that while non-whites of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, China and even the Americas had not succumbed to the same infectious urge contemporary of the times to explore as those western whites did?
If you were part of a civilization that explored and conquered the world, would you not assume your culture was superior to those your nation or culture defeated? We can argue all day of such was good or evil, beneficiary or not, but what is not arguable is that every winner considers himself the better combatant. That feeling has been part of human nature since Oog and Grog crawled out of neighboring caves and came to blows over a mastodon leg – by the way, Grog won and named the new tribe the Groglodytes and the cave complex, Grog City.
I would argue that the concept of race was a means of classification and was not, as Kendi proposes, a concept created by white men over the course of centuries for the purpose of maintaining power over groups of people by placing them in generalized groups that dehumanize the individuals. There is no doubt, when studied within their own cultures, the distribution of intellect was likely the same bell-shaped curve as was present in the UK at the time. Taking intellect out of its own context and forcing a comparison to western knowledge and culture of the times was sort of like being the tallest midget in a nation of midgets and then trying to play in the NBA. The very basis for the comparison was illegitimate. If you dropped an average Englishman contemporary to the times in the middle of Africa with no resources from his civilization, you would not get a Tarzan, you would more likely get a corpse. They would be assumed inferior because they would have no idea how to live – and the skills they did have would be virtually worthless.
Such racial classifications were an attempt to explain why blacks and other minorities were observed not to perform as well in western culture as the predominantly white people – who did fit in. I get how wrong that was, but Huxley and many of his time would more accurately be described as “culturalists”, if there is such a word) rather than racists.
The “minority” of today is not the mathematical identity defined by numerical inferiority, but rather a political minority as defined by politically motivated desires.
The goal of any great civilization should be to eliminate minorities, not by segregation or destruction, but by assimilation, with the majority and minorities each incorporating the other’s compatible and beneficial components in a quest to become one civilization.
In my view, that is exactly the opposite of what we see today. Today is about political dominance and punishment for past sins. The “anti-racists” like Kendi and Robin DiAngelo are racial separatists interested in cultivating power through division and chaos.