This is part of my series of opinion pieces. As I’ve written, it is not meant to be supported by evidence or data – unless I link to evidence. Then it is. On the other hand, my opinions are based on tons of reading and data, so there’s that. Besides, racism sucks – obviously.
Racism or xenophobia has probably been around since humans first evolved 200,000 years ago. I’m sure Grunting Human 1 hated Grunting Human 2, because 2 had funny looking ears. Or something.
I’m sure some evolutionary biologist can explain why racism exists. It probably was a biologically favored behavioral strategy to protect one’s own group, because of access to resources. Or something like that.
But that still does not preclude the fact that racism sucks – it is dangerous, simple-minded thinking.
Of course, racism has grown in leaps and bounds for the past 8-10 years, at least in the USA, for lots of reasons. One seems to be nascent racist attacks on President Barack Obama. It’s almost become institutionalized in some groups in the USA.
But America does not have some monopoly on awful racism. Anti-semitism is rife in Europe, including France, the target of some religious terrorists. Anecdotally, I have experienced anti-Semitism in business dealings in Europe for decades.
As if it could get worse, it has. President Obama wants to allow refugees from the religious hatred in Syria to be allowed into the USA. But that’s been met with religious and racial hatred amongst the bigots in the Republican Party.
The racism of most Republican governors, who really have no constitutional ability to prevent anyone from moving anywhere in the USA, should be called what it is – unabashed racism to cynically get votes from their base. That’s it.
David Bowers, racist mayor
But the official Racist Award Winner of the week, and there were so many candidates, must go to David Bowers, the dumbass racist Mayor of Roanoke, VA. So, what did Mayor Bowers, ignorant jackass, say?
Well he claimed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) “sequestered” Japanese “foreign nationals.”
Mayor Bowers apparently flunked, ignored, or was stoned during American History classes. Or Virginia teaches the historical denial version of American History. Maybe that’s the level of American History that’s taught in that backwater, white privileged town of Roanoke, VA.
In fact, Japanese-Americans, almost all citizens of the United States of America, were interned involuntarily into prison camps, mostly scattered in the Western USA. Their property, land, money and lives were stolen by FDR’s bigotry.
Oh, you think that they were a danger to the country? Why weren’t German Americans interned? Is it because they are white, so somehow more superior in their loyalty to the USA. Well, the German-American Nazis who were quite popular in America prior to WWII, and there wasn’t an equivalent movement among Japanese Americans.
And that nagging little fact that many Japanese Americans volunteered for the US Army and served with honor in the European theater saving Europeans from their own bigotry and hatred.
See those beds? Yeah, those are the cots that the Army forced families to use in buildings that were no better than you’d find in a prison. Because, it was a prison.
See that land? That’s Manzanar, the internment camp for Japanese Americans in the middle of a desolate desert in Eastern California.
See that sign? That’s what you’re doing, except replacing “Japs” with “brown people from the middle east.”
David Bowers, you’re nothing more than a vile, uneducated racist.
The science of race
Racism has no basis in biology, that is, human “race” is a social construct. Yes, there biologists use race, but in a biological way to distinguish isolated populations from one another. It never is used to indicate some sort of superiority between the races, unless there’s some evolutionary advantage.
So let’s look at the biology of human “race.”
First of all, the current hypothesis, supported by a growing body of evidence, is that humans arose in Africa between 200 and 60 thousand years ago. Called the “recent African origin of modern humans,” it states that all humans in existence today have their origins in East Africa. Let that sink into the racists, but I know most of them deny evolution.
The visual differences between humans result from phenotypes being expressed from around 20-25 thousand protein encoding genes, consisting of over 3 billion DNA base pairs. Across all humans, there’s less than 0.1% genetic variability, though, to be fair, we share 50% of our genes with bananas, so 0.1% variability is fairly high.
From these 20-25 thousand proteins, there is a range of expressed phenotypes (that is, what you can observe visually or in other ways) that vary rather dramatically in some cases.
There is a gradual variation of any phenotype over distance (and time). Traditionally, people have used skin tone to distinguish race, but there is no line drawn on some geographic boundary that separates one skin color to another. And, with so many invasions and a migrations, there sometimes isn’t any correlation between skin color and a particular location. There are blonde haired blue eyed Arabs, and their are olive skinned, brown-eyed Europeans.
Furthermore, and most importantly, physical traits expressed by genes have never been correlated to other traits. There is no correlation between skin color and intelligence. Hair color and athleticism. Nothing like that.
Yes, there are many phenotypes that may distinguish one subpopulation from another, but there is no correlation between those phenotypes and other traits like violent crime or intellect. Within one skin color phenotype there are ranges of the of other phenotypes expressed by all the other 24,999 genes.
A biologist from another alien civilization would look at humans and classify them in one species (which we are), and determine that the phenotype differences is nothing more than natural variation in a species.
We could probably find enough genes to distinguish a Scandinavian from an Italian or a Sub-Saharan African, but that’s just physical appearance, not anything substantial. We all have the same genes for blood, neurons, eyesight, and thousands of other traits.
Racism is simply not based on science, though many have tried. And as we migrate and intermingle, even the physical appearances will slowly disappear, maybe over a few dozen generations.
I once read that in the future, all humans will look a bit like Olivia Munn. Well, that’s a positive look on the future.
Racism sucks – it has no basis in science, and it has no use except to foster hatred.