The ABC of racism
What type of racist are you?
Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another–usually one’s own.
Irrational as it may seem, it has never disappeared, with more than half of Americans expressing negative attitudes about African Americans still today.
Hence it is worthwhile examining the underlying motivators of racism as well as separate types of racist attitudes throughout history:
A = Adolf Hitler. The ‘purest’ example of the belief of the superiority of one’s race. His conclusion was to wipe out all other races, leading racism to its destructive extreme.
B = Botha, Pieter Willem. Not claiming racial superiority, but in favour of separate development (“apartheid”) although unclear about how to motivate separation if races are truly equal.
C= Caesar, Julius. Professed the cynical belief that other nations and races possessed equal talent and should indeed interact with Romans, although only as subordinates, servants and slaves.
What do these three (arguably rather different) strands have in common? They are united by the presumption that oneself is entitled to a better life than others, although for different reasons.
In Adolf Hitler’s case it was the biological superiority of the Aryan race that destined it for greatness.
For Botha it was white settlers’ appropriation of most of South Africa’s land that justified leaving Africans behind in township squalor.
And Julius Caesar saw Rome’s military machine as a foundation to enslave others–a widely accepted practice throughout antiquity.
Even today, amateur anthropologists point to IQ tests showing different results across nations and races. They fail to account, however, for factors driving IQ results such as parental and societal resources, education systems, as well as family and peer pressure to perform academically–or lack thereof.
Even if all those were accounted for, the differences between IQ means between nations and races are far below the standard deviations observed within each group
Interestingly, racial prejudice is similar to other socially conservative views, such as intensity of religious belief, that it is heavily correlated with low education.
This is where racism’s chicken are coming home to roost–those deeming themselves superior, and henceforth, entitled to a better life–are those who tend to be inferior themselves, at least in terms of education and their ability to cope with an ever more complex world.