Prologue: I was recently having a personal message conversation with a friend of another race. My friend was complaining about increasing amounts of racism in the country since Trump took office. Which got me thinking. And writing. Below is a version of my response to my friend edited for a general audience.
America and every other country have always had problems. As some of them change or disappear, others arise. Racism has been a common one of the problems throughout history, but it’s hardly the only one. Many of the problems can be traced back to the human desire to be identified as part of a group… and the consequent tendency to view OTHER groups as “bad.”
Over the last 30 years or so, I have played sports with and against people of different races, creeds, and religions from all over the world. I’ve gotten along with the vast majority of them – regardless of race, religion, creed, income bracket, or any other difference. The few that I haven’t gotten along with have often been of the same race, religion, and creed as I am (church leagues are notorious for being filled with people who have terrible attitudes – often worse than non-church leagues). I’m sure that most readers have a similar experience in their personal lives, whether that be in athletic activities, the workplace, or other places where people come in contact with one another. Yet even in these “enlightened” times, we still see GROUPS of people expressing hate towards THE OTHER based on difference in skin color, religion, creed, political party, etc…
It appears that diversity works fine on a personal/individual level, but when people start thinking of themselves as groups and viewing THE OTHERS as groups, then diversity becomes a serious problem.
While individuals of different races/subgroups can AND DO often get along just fine, there doesn’t appear to be much hope that people identifying primarily AS GROUPS will ever get along fine. As long as people continue to identify primarily with their group and not primarily as individuals, there’s little evidence in history that it has happened and little evidence that it will happen. One of the worst and most obvious examples is people identifying by their political party. We really only have two political parties here in the United States, but the irony is this: The two parties agree on more than they disagree on – yet the powers that be divide the people by focusing on a few disagreements between the parties and telling their supporters that THE OTHERS are evil. Yet, laying aside the extreme elements in both parties, the average person is just trying to get along and DOES, in fact, usually get along with even those in THE OTHER party. Right up until the next election and the manipulations and machinations of the parties and the powers that be.
And these sorts of group identity issues aren’t just in the US and they’re not just in the last 5, 10, 100, or 1000 years. It’s been going on forever and everywhere. Zimbabwe and South Africa have both had whites running the show and abusing blacks, then more recently blacks running the show and abusing whites. Nigeria has the Muslim Boko Haram Nigerians abusing the non-Muslim Nigerians very badly. Muslim immigrants are causing serious upheaval in countries like Sweden and Germany and the UK, which is resulting in nationalist movements rising there (if there was little to no forced immigration in the EU, there wouldn’t be right wing nationalist movements rising. Regardless of who is “right” or “wrong” on the immigration/refuge issue morally speaking, there are consequences when substantial changes occur in society). Serbians and Bosnians look pretty similar – I doubt most readers could tell one from the other merely by looking – but those two GROUPS have no difficulty finding ways to really hate each other.
Before whites immigrated to America, many of the American Indian tribes were often warring with and killing each other. Before the whites got involved in the African slave trade, the Barbary Arabs/Muslims were running the African slave trade for around 500 years – and the Barbary slavers apparently also took more than 1 million Europeans as slaves. Africans from one tribe were capturing and selling other Africans to the Arabs and then to the whites. What free blacks there were in the pre-Civil War south sometimes owned slaves – and apparently at higher rates per capita than whites did. Before the English got involved in the African slave trade, they enslaved 100s of thousands of Irish (also white) – including women and children. The Israelites and Canaanites could never get along. The Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews for 400 years.
The Soviet government killed more than 20 million of its own citizens who didn’t agree with the government. The Cambodian government killed a couple million Cambodians who disagreed. The Chinese and Japanese have hated each other seemingly forever. India and Pakistan cannot and will not get along. Certain factions in the US and Russian governments always seem intent on making sure that Russia and the US are constantly threatening one another – and the political parties here keep riling up their supporters to hate THE OTHER in Russia.
And on it goes.
Even more ridiculously and on a smaller scale, we sometimes see violence at sporting events here in the US or in Europe – just because one GROUP of fans identifies as “MY TEAM” and considers the other GROUP of fans as the “OTHER TEAM.” And those people fighting are often people who are of the same race and who would otherwise get along, if not for identifying too strongly with one GROUP. Sometimes people have been killed in these disputes.
It is almost as if people cannot survive without identifying with a group of people with similar traits/beliefs. They believe their own personal identity is not sufficient. They MUST find their primary identity as a member of a GROUP, whether that GROUP be Republican or Democrat. Straight or LBGTQ. Black or White or Hispanic or Asian. Christian or Muslim.
On an individual scale, being any one of those things isn’t usually an issue – most people I know don’t really care what party an individual person they meet belongs to, what religion they are, what color their skin is. I’ve seen people have serious political differences, argue them out, continue to disagree, and still be friends. Hell, most people I know really couldn’t care less what an individuals sexual “orientation” is – even if a number of those people I know consider the LGBTQ practices to be morally wrong – as long as it isn’t rubbed in their face. The Westboro Baptist types are – thankfully – an extreme and very small minority of “Christianity.”
But it’s an entirely different story when GROUPS of “x” individuals start gathering and stirring one another up about how awful THE OTHERS are. That’s how Westboro Baptists and Antifa and BLM and Neo-Nazis develop.
And what most people miss is that politicians and political parties know that the MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to manipulate people is to divide them into groups and get them hating one another BECAUSE THEY’RE FROM THE OTHER GROUP.
The fact is that people AS A GROUP are assholes. Or as the Bible would put it:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19)
“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)
Hatred of “THE OTHER” is a serious problem that doesn’t appear to have a solution historically. National/county/local borders developed over the centuries/millennia for a reason. As a rule, history shows us that increasing diversity in a given geographical area eventually leads to conflict. Which, I suppose, is why – when people voluntarily choose where to live – we still see primarily white neighborhoods and primarily black neighborhoods and primarily Hispanic neighborhoods. Very few minorities choose to live in rural areas. The larger Washington D.C. area is basically split down the middle with blacks choosing to live in east DC and whites choosing to live in west DC. People seem to prefer to be with those similar to them (and that’s certainly not limited to race – in fact, if people are similar in most other ways, race becomes of minimal or zero importance to them).
As a result of voluntary segregation, according to the FBI/DOJ statistics, crime is almost entirely intra-racial/intra-group. Most crime committed by whites is committed against other whites and most crime committed by blacks is committed against other blacks and most crimes committed by Hispanics is committed against other Hispanics. But where the races/groups start to mix closely in significant numbers, the focus shifts to “the others” – whether that “other” is another group based on race or on religion or income bracket, or whatever. And inter-racial crime occurs.
Again, people are often (or even usually) assholes – especially when they start primarily identifying as groups. Which is why the left pushing identity/group politics was never a good or productive idea. The end result was always that the people the left didn’t approve of and who didn’t primarily identify by their groups would start identifying by their groups. And in this country, those people have most of the guns. It’s a recipe concocted by the left that has been warming on the stove for a number of years, and we’re starting to see it come to a boil.
MLK’s quote, “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,” is about getting away from identity politics and judging individuals for their own personal character. Yet here we are with EVERYONE asserting their group identity – and, frankly, it’s not at all surprising that when every other group has asserted identify as a political tool, then some whites have started doing the same.
I live in Appalachia – an area that has a relatively large number of whites and a relatively small number of minorities. It is not difficult for me to understand why a large percentage of the mostly white areas around here would recoil from constant accusations from leftists and big media that they have “white privilege.” Regardless of their race, the people around here are mostly poor to lower middle class, and the mostly white population has gotten tired of being told they’re privileged when they or their family members are unemployed, living on welfare, dealing with black lung disease in the family, dealing with a prescription drug epidemic that is killing their family members and friends, etc…
It’s not a coincidence that these areas went largely Trump. It’s not that everyone here hates minorities – sure, there’s racism… just as there is everywhere in the world to some degree or other, but that’s not the primary issue. The primary issue is that the left has been beating on them for decades and has been pushing regulations that destroyed many of their jobs and much of what economy there was.
To be clear, what we see in Antifa and BLM and White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis are – THANKFULLY – the extreme left and the extreme right… and they are a small minority of both the left and right. But in the last several years, they have both begun organizing and forming into GROUPS. And unfortunately, the manipulation of information and news by big media – if it continues as it has for quite some time – is going to result in numbers being added to both extreme GROUPS.
In short, the extreme left didn’t think this all through before throwing around accusations towards the right and whites for the last few years. And what we’re seeing is the response from the extreme right. That response is fueled by the fact that repeated leftist assaults of people on the right for the last two years by the Antifa and BLM types have largely been ignored by the media. Even in the recent events at Charlottesville, most of big media has focused almost solely on the evils of the extreme right while ignoring the evils of the extreme left. I suppose media is hoping to demonize the right so much that they just go away. But it’s obvious that the result will be the opposite.
It’s not looking good for the near future.
It is quite obvious that people – for whatever reasons and basically throughout history – seem to have a NEED to identify with a GROUP. And that when people identify more strongly with their GROUP than they do as individuals, then they tend to start hating THE OTHERS. And then when Group A and Group B come into contact, things get violent. Or turn to slavery. Or genocide. Or riots at sporting events.
What is the solution to that problem?