Race has at times been a powerful force in modern economics and history. Race seems to be a more important factor i the modern world than was the case in earlier eras. We are not sure precisely why this was, but surely improved communications and mixing of peoples is a factor. Race has played a relatively minor role in modern European history, although the economics of the slave trade was a major factor in the growing wealth of pre-industrial Europe. It also colored European colonial policies and was an important element of European Fascism. Race has been a major factor in American hisyory during the 19th and 20th centuries. Most Americans fail to appreciate the importance of race in American history. The importance of race in Amerucan appears to be subsiding, but it is still a powerful force. . Race may be more of a factor in Europe in the 21st century as populations of Middle Eastern and Arican peoples grow in importance. One important factor to note is that racism is not a white or European phenomenon. There are many instances of racism in Asia and Africa. European and American racism is perhaps best studied because it was in Europe that powerful countries developed which established colonial empires. America was a major importer of African slaves.
Race has been a major factor in American history. The importance an ramificaions of race are factors still not fully appreciated by many Americans. The overiding issue has been slavery. Slavery in America was limited to blacks, in part because theIndians proved impossible to enslave. There were Whites subjected to indentured servitude. It took the Civil War to end slavry, but the impact of slavery continue to affect America. America is a multi-ethnic society. A series of immigrant waves from Europe have left their imprint on th United States. The prominence of the Civil Rights Movement in America gave many the impression that racism was an American phenomenon. The Movement suceeded in ending state-sponsored rascism, but thelingering impact of racism continues. Blacks have been the largest ethnic minority in america. Vlacks have now been replaced by Hispanics as the largest minority. The immigration in the 19th and early 20th century was largely from Europe. This changes with new immigration laws in the 1960s. Immigration now occurs from all over the world and this is changing thecracial makep of the United States.t
Germany was one of the European countries most affected by racism in the late 19th century. In the German case racism was mixed with a volitile blend of nationalism and folk culture. In the German case the groups most promitely identified as the outside or threatening group were the Jews and the Slavs. After World War I, the Frnch U.S. of African troops to occupy the Rhineland resulted in mixed-race babies which necame a target of German racism. When the NAZIs took power, racism became overt and a matter of state policy (1933). Hitler saw history as a stark, brutal struggle between races. A racist outlook was aggressively promoted in both the schools and Hitler Youth. Many observers see race and ant-semitism as side light of Hitler's march toward war. In fact it was central in Hitler's world view. Hitler wrote, "Without the clearest knowledge of the racial problem and hence the Jewish problem there will never be a resurrection of the Geman nation. The racial question gives the only key not only to world history, but to all human culture." [Hitler, p. 339.]
This obsession of coursebecame deadly, leading directly to the Holocaust. After the War, German ethnicity became a feature of ctizenship. German ethnics from allmover Europe could claim citzenship while the descendents of Turkish "guest" wokers who had been born and raised in Germany could not. Many Germans today continue to look askance of non-ethnic Germans.
We note, however, that racism has played a prominent role in non-Western counties as well. The impact of racism has varied. There are a range of ethnic groups on the Indian sub-continent. Race is very important in India. Newspaprs carry personal ads with men seeking light-colored brides. The Untouchable caste is largely compsed of dark-completioned Indians.
Some countries have extremely homogeneous populations. The Japanese with there very insular history are extremely race conscious and marriage with non-Japanese is frowned on. Korea was for four decaded a part of the Japanese Empire. As a reult, Koreans are the largest ethnic minority in Korea and they face discrimination. Interesting there is a group of Japanese looked dpwn on. They are not a destinct ethnic group, but rather the descendents of Japanese who had low-status occupations like tanning.
Holland never had segregationist laws, at least not the home country. The situation was different in the Dutch East Indies. Public opinion after 1945 has been strongly antiracist and political culture is almost neurotically focused on countering racism and discrimination. Yet the past 5 or 6 years have seen an extremely rapid spontaneous segregation of schools in our inner cities. By far the majority are now either "black" or "white" whereby blacks include Moroccans and Turks that would probably be labeled white in the United States. The government are much concerned about this and the Left would rather implement forced re-integration if they could. However the very same Constitution that emphatically forbids discrimination also guarant! ees freedom of education. The political Right on the other hand are experiencing backfiring on a different if related matter. The constitutional right to organize education along denominational lines -heritage of a period when Protestants and Catholics had to settle for an equilibrium of sorts - is now invoked by Muhammedan fundamentalist groups that foster segragation for very different reasons.It is fun to see politicians of all sides tack between officially
accepted attitudes and the realities of a desintegrating social fabric, thereby trying to reconciliate politically correct thinking and the gut feelings of their constuency.
Spain may have developed less rascist attitudes than other European countries. Over the 700 years Moorish presence in Iberia, there was much intermariage, leaving a Moorish imprint on the Spanish people. With the Spanish conquests in the Americas a debate raged as to weather the Indians were human.
Pan-slavism has been an important current in Russian history. The Slavs were a people targeted by the NAZIs in World War II. Today many Russians are still influenced by Pan-Slavism. Many people in neighboring countries (especially Poland and the Ukraine), however see Pan-Slavism as a tool of Russian imperialism. Russian serfdom which evolved into a condition little different than slavery did not have racial connotations. Serfs were ethnic Russians. The Rusians are known for strong ant-Semitism. Tsarist and Cossock pogroms drove many Russian and Polish Jews to emmigrate to Western Europe and America. During the Soviet era students from Africa were given scholarships. Communist idelogy promoted internationalism. They portrayed America as a rascist state and claimed that rascicm did not exist in the Soviet Union. The African students in the Soviet Union were often unpopular, but overt acts were rare because of the potential legal consequences. After the disolution of the Soviet Union, the Affrican students stranded there were often the targets of rasist attacks.
Switzeland is a country that has been divided along national and linguistic groups, but not racial grounds. Switzerland has an enviable record in English of avoiding some of the linguistic, national, and religious conflicts that have plagued other European countries. There have not been racial problems in Switzerland because the population of racial minorities has been very small. This has begun to change in recent years. Nowadays with more than 20 percent of the Swiss population made up of foreigners, a certain kind of mistrust against foreigners is undoubtedly developing. This mistrust is a disguised kind of racism, stronger against other skin colors than against white foreigners, stronger also against those that that either refuse integration or where the various differences at same time of language, culture, religion, dressing habits etc do make such integration a slow and difficult process.
Hitler, Adolf. Trans. Ralph Manheim, Mein Kampf (Mariner-HoughtonMifflin: New York, 1999),
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