Race and Family
A book in the collection: The West
A book in the series: Identity
Race isn’t a social or political construct. The end of race is.
The West’s rejection of race since 1945 is a rejection of biological relationships between people: connectedness. It leaves us solitary individuals, in the most divided race on earth.
People being naturally tribal, white people developed post-racial identities we think unite us with other races, but they only divide us from our own. We’ve become the first culture in history to dismiss our elderly. We reject our young. We’re divided by work, wealth, and values, age and gender, citizenship and geography.
We need something to distinguish whatever we are from whatever we’re not. Be they families, clans, tribes, or races, biological relationships are natural, substantive, and desirable. When we love, we discriminate.
- The Politicisation of Science
- Selective Genetics
- Racial Difference
- Institutional White Racism
- Ideologically Acceptable Generalisations
- Humanising Animals
- Racial Natures
- Tribes without Race
- Dismissing Our Elderly
- Rejecting Our Young
- Our Children
- Other People’s Children
- Other People’s Futures
- Relationship and Marriage
- Racial Suicide
- Hitler’s Wrath
Chapter 1: The Politicisation of Science
We presume our rejection of racism is the result of research or discoveries amidst our endless enlightenment: a drawing back of past curtains from our minds. It’s not. It’s a specific Western response to historical events. Ours is the era post Holocaust: the Jewish Holocaust during World War II. We’re simply another passage of history.
In 1943, a Polish Jew devised a word that would, for the West, become synonymous with race: genocide. Raphael Lemkin coined the word responding not just to the Holocaust but also the Armenian Genocide by Turks almost thirty years earlier. The carnage European peoples suffered at the Somme, Stalingrad, and elsewhere made the two world wars much like genocide. The Greek word “genos,” from which Lemkin derived his word, encompasses family and race: those to whom we were born.
Races, like families, are biological relationships between people: connectedness. The problem, people decided after two world wars and the Holocaust, is that anything linking us together divides us from others.
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was no scientist. The Holocaust would still have occurred if there’d been no science of race. There was more than enough anti-Semitic material unrelated to science for him not to need science as a justification. He exploited scientific learning for political objectives.
So do we. Established within months after the end of World War II, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation’s principal objective wasn’t education, science, or culture. It was the manipulation of them for political objectives. “The preamble of Unesco’s Constitution, adopted in 1945, specifically named racism as one of the social evils which the new Organisation was called upon to combat,” declared UNESCO in its Publication 791 of 1950.
We think racism is irrational because we think race is irrational, but we don’t work so hard against it for being irrational. UNESCO’s Constitution blamed World War II on “the doctrine of inequality of men and races,” as we did with the Holocaust in mind, although almost universal recognition of racial inequality hadn’t driven countries other than Germany or Japan to war.
In fact, World War II owed as much to desires for equality as feelings of inequality. Feeling injustice at the Treaty of Versailles stripping her of land and soul in 1919, Germany’s yearning to be treated as the equals of France and Britain facilitated the rise of Nazism in the first place.
No kind of phobia, Nazi Germany shared her sense of racial superiority with the British, Dutch, and Scandinavians, which doesn’t make us investigate Nazi thinking. It serves only to lump us accidental accomplices together.
Repulsed by the Holocaust, we’re repulsed by race. Determined not to allow any hint of thought that at a distant extreme killed six million Jews, UNESCO sought to abolish mention of race altogether. It preferred ethnic groups. Without race, there’s no racism, but if there were really no races, there’d be no genocide. We just like the word.
Combating racism is still the West’s primary educational, scientific, and cultural objective. In 2005, the Race, Ethnicity, and Genetics Working Group of the National Human Genome Research Institute made no secret of its starting point. “The belief that racial and ethnic groups have substantial, well-demarcated biological differences and that these differences are important has contributed to many of the great atrocities of the 20th century and continues to shape personal interactions and social institutions.”
Other than the Holocaust and Japanese war machine (although we’ve long lost interest in Japanese racism), I don’t know what atrocities the Working Group had in mind. Doctrines of racial and other equality (not superiority) underpinned the far more numerous communist atrocities.
The Working Group criticised race, ethnicity, and ancestry as means of categorising people. Scared to death of where loose talk might lead, we fear the forces that words set forth.
In reviewing the section about shopping in my book that became Western Individualism, I wanted to use a word to mean race. The Microsoft word-processing software listed several synonyms for race, but they all related to a contest: competition, battle, chase, pursuit, event, compete, and take part. Synonyms for ethnicity were civilisation, society, mores, traditions, customs, way of life, and background. None of them spoke to biology.
Ethnicity didn’t bother Australian zoologist and former television presenter Rob Morrison in 2011. “‘Ethnicity,’ ‘nationality’ and ‘culture’ are useful words in discussions like these,” he wrote, citing UNESCO in his continuing efforts to combat racism, “because they have a more or less generally accepted meaning, but isn’t it time we dropped ‘race’?”
I was surprised to read of ethnicity, nationality, and culture having generally accepted meanings. Through my time in Normandy in 1986, Normans saw themselves quite distinct from the Franks. Whether the English, British, or Europeans are a race is the same question whether they’re ethnicities. Whether each is a nationality is just as problematic. Tribes of Australian Aborigines and American Indians call themselves nations, as we call them nations. Few words are more ambiguous in our postmodern West than culture, without biology to assist. None of those words bother us the way race does.
Ethnicity doesn’t fare much better than race. When I hear or read of ethnicity, it normally means what we used to call race. Most of us aren’t able to mention it, except in the friendliest of fashions at an ethnic communities’ council.
Like so many others, Morrison rationalised our condemnation of racism. Also like others, he did so by attacking Europeans. “Race is an old concept,” he wrote, “and one greatly bolstered in its time by Europeans’ assumptions of superiority over the inhabitants of the countries that they were colonising.”
“Physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them,” commented Warren in response. “The term “race” is a 18th century invention used to rationalise (& maintain) the social inequalities between different groups of people… I would suggest learning some history but I fear it would be a waste of time.”
Not only do we use notions of science to advance our social policy objectives, we assume our forebears did too. We think they constructed biological distinctions between people to divide and oppress, because (since the Holocaust) we think they did everything to oppress.
Morrison and Warren were doubtlessly sincere, victims of the falsification of history into a story of white people’s wickedness, without thinking it through. There’s something nonsensical about saying any race or group of races invented the concept of race, as if there’d be no races otherwise: racism without race. All Europeans did was apply a sense of science to people, much as we applied science to everything else. All the peoples of the world understood race to some degree, even if only in the most obviously observable differences. Tribes barely able to do more than drag sticks in the sand distinguished different races as soon as they confronted another, whatever words they happened to use.
Race had been referred to for centuries as we might speak of nations, before our increasingly sophisticated sciences in the seventeenth century focused upon physical and psychological differences and similarities between peoples. Through the ensuing centuries, we led the way in understanding race because we led the way in rational thought. We tried to understand things, through an age of inquiry unlike any in my lifetime, so far.
Our first objective with science was knowledge. I’ve seen no evidence our objective was to maintain social differences. Nineteenth-century Englishman Charles Dickens wrote novels trying to dispel social inequalities between Europeans. We’ve lost interest in those inequalities.
Britain abolished the slave trade way back in 1807. She abolished slavery altogether in 1833. That was all long before Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. Far from justifying our imagined oppression of others, Darwin’s theories of natural selection were at odds with what most people at the time knew to be true. If anything, our sense of other races being inferior led us not to oppress them but to feel a burden to help those less able to help themselves.
No less than others of his era and in spite of his interpretation of history in terms of class and production, the great advocate for the oppressed and founder of communism Karl Marx recognised that races differ in their abilities and capacities to contribute to civilisation. Arguably, race underlay the economic classes upon which Marx focussed.
Marx might have imagined overcoming the biological differences of race, but biological differences they were. Among the many races Marx and his Prussian collaborator Friedrich Engels disparaged were Jews, of whom Marx was one.
Those who think that powerful white people of the past invented race to oppress other races have it back to front. Increasingly since World War II, powerful people have insisted race isn’t real to coax white people out of our racism. Race wasn’t a political or social construct. The end of race is.
The Holocaust is never far away. Morrison’s article arguing for the abolition of race cited white American, South African, and Nazi German racism. He lumped together “holocaust deniers, apartheid supporters, religious bigots, opponents of immigration, those who dislike a particular skin colour and more.”
Put another way, the more consumed we are by the Holocaust, then the more vehemently we opposed racial segregation in South Africa and the more we embrace Muslims, want immigration, and like other races. That’s certainly true, but only for the West. We don’t have the option of accepting the historical reality of the Holocaust while wanting to curtail interracial immigration, for example.
Ours are uniquely Western moralities post Holocaust; we confuse morality with reality. We rejected racism not on scientific grounds but emotional ones, forged in the flames of Holocaust.
Europeans and Jews become two shades of the multitudes. Since the Holocaust, we think that’s worthwhile. We reject reality in other contexts as being subjective, but postmodern relativism doesn’t apply to matters of race; all our talk about each person’s reality falls away. There’s no room for different perspectives, no multitude of truths. We think not with faith but conviction, more resolute than belief merely in God. While we might argue to and fro about Deity, there’s no argument about race.
Words like Negro and Mongoloid became offensive for reflecting a biological basis for race, although we make exemptions in cases like the United Negro College Fund, founded in 1944, for historical reasons. After all, they help Negroes, who don’t mind the name. Only among white people is race an old concept and even then, only sometimes.
The deep trauma of the Holocaust wasn’t its brutality, but its civility. These were no barbarous Turks massacring Armenians where they found them, but the most civilised of peoples from the most civilised races on earth, ours, organising victims onto trains to their deaths. It was society and structure, and we lost our last faith in each of them.
We lost the distinction between good and bad societies, but Obersturmbannführer Bruno Müller recognised the distinction. He led a unit that killed a hundred and fifty-five Jews in the city of Bender, Moldova in 1941, but only trusted the men who’d burnt “the bridges to respectable society” by murdering someone. When the West took up culpability for the Holocaust, we all burnt those bridges.
We’re not fussed about cruelty. When my second son was in year five, his teacher (who was Chinese) gave the class a sheet of paper listing the grounds upon which children shouldn’t bully each other, including their skin colour, race, and homosexuality. That evening, my son told me the class was left with the impression that bullying was fine, but not for the reasons listed.
Opposing racism instead of hatred, greed, and other immorality means we replace one motivation with another. People who condone violence bash and murder for brand-named sport shoes. People who condemn violence don’t. For the sake of a soccer game and one bad decision, South Americans murder a referee. Hating each other and ourselves became acceptable, although a person bludgeoned near death cares less about the attacker’s motivations than the fact of being attacked. I’d rather a person hated me and didn’t touch me at all, than was altogether indifferent to me but thrust a knife through my chest for the sake of my wallet.
We equate racism with the Holocaust, but the problem with racial conflict isn’t the racism but the conflict. The problem with genocide is the homicide, not the racism. We tarnish racism with the brush of war, but there have been many, many other atrocities. If we reject racism for the millions of deaths at the hands of Nazism, we should reject equality for the tens of millions dead at the hands of socialism. The Holocaust was no more the logical consequence of racism than the many communist massacres were the logical consequence of sharing lunch with a friend. They both required a willingness to kill, with little or no compunction.
People kill and make war if they find killing and war acceptable, acting for all manner of reasons: to keep whatever they value or to get more. Iraqis had long envied Kuwait’s vast oil reserves while Kuwaitis partied in the nightclubs of London, when Iraq invaded the rich emirate in 1990. While America and her allies prepared for war not to save us but to repel Iraq, restoring not our countries but Kuwait, I suggested to my colleagues at work that we print captions on tee shirts not quite as polite as “I couldn’t give a damn about Kuwait, but I really like oil.”
Instead of being a call to war, the end of our racism was supposed to end war. It didn’t; war doesn’t need race. Ending white racism just added more reasons to fight.
Nazism is the ideology we fight as if it can never be eradicated, but there have been other ideologies to fight. Senses of ideological superiority killed more people than feelings of racial superiority ever had.
Our causes of killing had been ideological across the crumbling Russian Empire through the end of World War I and across Europe thereafter. In defence of communism from reform or challenge, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Afghanistan in 1979. Communists murdered fellow Germans trying to escape East Germany. There’s still killing and pillage, but not racist killing and pillage.
Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. My father told me communists denied the North was the aggressor until its claims of reaching so far into the South made their denials preposterous.
South Vietnamese revolutionaries and North Vietnamese invaders also wanted national reunification under communism. They waged the Vietnam War from 1955.
Since World War II, Western governments have sent their men to fight and die not for our countries and races but to defend other countries and races. Americans in the Korean War included conscripts, but by the time America and Australia sent conscripts to the Vietnam War, a generation convinced white racism was our foe wasn’t concerned about communism. It defended Vietnam from us.
Western opponents of communism proved as ideological as the communists, willing to give up our races and countries. Journalist Greg Sheridan told a dinner I attended in 2015 that Australia’s most effective force against communism and a devout Roman Catholic, his friend Bob Santamaria, pressed the Australian government to accept Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon in 1975, believing they too opposed communism.
Espousing ideologies of pacifism doesn’t make someone peaceful. Early in the 1970s, physician Stuart Wynter was a leader of the movement opposed to Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, but he was no pacifist at home in Gloucester, north of Newcastle. He pushed his wife Helen Cummings through cupboards, yanked her hair, held her to the floor, chased her with a fishing knife, and smashed furniture and her guitar. “It was like being in a war zone,” Cummings said later, “only in a war zone there are mates to share the experience.”
She took their two children and left him in 1976, but he married again. Eight years after his first wife left, Wynter murdered his second wife Rakentati and their four-year-old daughter Binatia, before killing himself.