Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Find the Racist - or the Color of our Character

Speaking of racism and since Trans-Int’s European readers are likely to have missed at least one of the quotations reproduced below, here are a series of quotes, one of which reflects some of the basic assumptions that, in “Basque Nationalists Want to Know”, I have claimed are characteristic of racism as an ideology: including the, if you like, “soft” racism or “racialism” that makes no explicit claims about the superiority or inferiority of supposed “races”. (As suggested by George W. Bush’s famous criticism of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, however, “soft” racism or “racialism” can often implicitly contain “hard” racist assumptions about the capacities of different “races”.) I will be back on Friday with some reflections on how this racist ideology – which in the form of ethnic nationalism, and frequently under the cover of the protection of “minority rights”, is making a significant comeback in Europe – might also infiltrate American politics. If you are able to find the racist, you will have a clue as to where I think the threat lies.

So, in the meanwhile: find the racist!


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal....
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

- Martin Luther King, Jr., the “I Have a Dream” speech,
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., 1963


J'aimerais qu'on oublie leur couleur pour qu'ils espèrent
Beaucoup de sentiments de race qui font qu'ils désespèrent
Je veux les portes grandements ouvertes
Des amis pour parler de leur peine, de leur joie
Pour qu'ils leur filent des infos qui ne divisent pas

[I’d like us to lose our color, so that we can hope
Feelings of race that make one lose hope
I want the doors to be wide open
Friends to speak of their pain, of their joy
Let them spread news that does not divide]

And when a child is born into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin is living in.

- Youssou N'Dour, “7 Seconds”


Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character? If we don’t take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves.

- Hillary Clinton, the “Then We Are Kidding Ourselves” speech,
Trinity Baptist Church, the Bronx, 2003
(source: The New York Sun, 21 January 2003)