I’ve moved my old blog to this one — fortunately, there weren’t too many posts on it.
To deny the existence of racism, even among people who consciously choose to treat others with equal care and respect, is terribly naïve. Racism is instilled in an individual by upbringing, whether directly or indirectly. Before desegregation it was also evident in the structure of society, particularly in the South. A person who has been taught racism as a child will retain that teaching, even if his or her behavior does not show it.
People who later learn that racial principles are false and that it is unethical to treat others differently based on the color of their skin will alter their behavior. However, it is characteristic of human nature that fear can quickly bring racism to the forefront. When a person is afraid and the “fight, flight or freeze” reaction takes place (see previous post), the prefrontal cortex of the brain is another area that does not get as much oxygen as normal, since blood flow is pushed towards the extremities.
The prefrontal cortex is the area responsible for judgment, initiative, and cognitive control. If this area is oxygen-deficient, it seems reasonable to conclude that it may not be fully functional, and as a result, judgment and self-control are impaired.
Politicians and leaders have used this principle for a long time without having any idea why it works. All they knew at the time was that inciting fear in one group with regard to another would result in anger and hatred, powerful emotions that could be manipulated to accomplish their goals.
Let’s examine the classic example of Adolf Hitler, who successfully encouraged the entire German nation to feel violent anger and hatred against a racial minority, the Jews. Hitler vituperatively declared that Jews were responsible for Germany’s loss in World War I. He called them filthy criminals, liars, deceitful. The Treaty of Versailles, which had humiliated Germany, was the result of a Jewish conspiracy.
(It should be noted here that during the worst years of the Black Death in the 14th and 15th centuries, Europeans, particularly those in the area now known as Germany, believed that the plague was caused by wells poisoned by Jews.)
Coming back to the 21st century, we see that many sources have been stirring up racial tension in various ways. Most of the fear is projected at African-Americans and Latinos, the latter because of the common belief that illegal aliens from Mexico are taking jobs away from white workers. Muslim jihadists are against anyone who is not a Muslim. Why all this simmering racism and its accompanying fear, anger, and hatred?
Some Muslims believe that the Koran instructs them to kill any infidel who does not convert; the meaning of jihad is “holy war.” Groups of white supremacists (neo-Nazis) appear to be growing. One group declares, “Only white non-Jewish heterosexuals should be American citizens. Anyone not meeting this definition will be allowed to work here but not as a citizen.” Although these groups have existed for a long time, the election of a mixed-race President may have increased their popularity.
African-Americans, Latinos and other groups are understandably nervous about anything that looks like discrimination. Thus, they are afraid, too. Fear is dividing the U.S. into numerous splinter groups.
What will happen next? If the path we are on continues its downward trend into more fear, anger, and hatred, I believe we will begin to see riots and perhaps assassination attempts by the middle of 2011. I doubt that organized civil war will develop, because the combatants are mixed together throughout the U.S. Instead, domestic terrorism will rise on all sides. By the beginning of 2012, living in the U.S. will not be as safe as it is today.