Take A Look At What Real* Racism Looks Like
No, I'm not talking about the Klan, or even the Republicans "southern strategy."
But I do want to place this post in the context of much of the back and forth that is going on here at Corrente and through-out the liberal blogisphere about race and racism, what is it, when is it, and who is playing with it.
Mary-Beth at Wampum reminds us of an even wider perspective that liberals have as much difficulty even remembering exists as do right-wingers.
For anyone who doesn't understand why the national discussion of race needs to address more than just African-American concerns, here's exhibit one, from today's LA Times editorial page:Are the Tibetans doomed to go the way of the American Indians? Will they be reduced to being little more than a tourist attraction, peddling cheap mementos of what was once a great culture? In Tibet itself, that sad fate is looking more and more likely.
What makes it all the more remarkable is that aside from its placement in a major American newspaper, the piece in question is by Ian Buruma, a regular contributer at the NYRB, and as Mary-Beth points out, "the Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College."
Here's a question I'd like to ask our readers. Have you already been able to spot what it is in this quote that deserves to be considered within our discussions of American racism?
For those of you who might be distracted by Buruma's tip of the hat to the "once great culture" of native Americans, which, in fact, was actually multi-cultural and multi-lingual, Mary-Beth has a second post up today that will help you see through these apparently innocent bows to a conception of Native American past greatness.
You see, it seems there was another writer/journalist back in the 19th century who bemoaned the tragedy of exactly that past greatness, in terms remarkably similar to Buruma's take today.
Actually, both the 18th and 19th centuries are replete with expressive appreciations for the beauty and majesty of various Indian cultures, which, nevertheless, didn't cause much hesitation on the part of European Americans to destroy those cultures by destroying the people who'd created them. In addition, the past greatness trope has the effect of freezing even that past "greatness" in a time warp, as if native American cultures were static, not subject to change, until the coming of Europeans, which is just another way of dehumanizing Native Americans. Human beings live in time and space; all cultures have a history, all cultures are subject to change.
There is no reason to think that American Indians would not have found their own ways to adapt, (think of the great horse cultures of the American plains), to compromise, or not, with the coming of the Europeans to this continent, had those Europeans not been so determined to rid the continent of those very peoples and their cultures said Europeans found here, an impetus, I probably don't need to remind you, which was continued relentlessly after America wrested its independence from Britain.
I won't spoil the surprise of who the writer Mary-Beth quotes is, so you'll have to go read her post to find out, I will only say that the logic of the two quotes she presents are shattering.
The original post is right under the second post.
Mary-Beth notes that except for Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla,, also a Corrente favorite, there hasn't been much notice of Buruma's piece or Wampum's coverage of it, but just in case you get inspired, Mary-Beth does include Buruma email address: email@example.com.
*Please note that my reference to "real" racism is not meant to start a competition between which racism directed at which minority group is the more "real," okay?