Are the USA respected in Europe?

Racism in the US is not the same as racism in Europe

The American discussion of racism gets lost in the historical, ideological and impractical. Don't imitate!

Everyone is against racism. How to get rid of him is a quarrel between the university elite of France and the United States. In France there is hardly any research into the differences between people of different origins or skin color and no statistics are kept on them. Anyone living in the hexagon is French, with equal duties and rights. Voilà.

From the Parisian point of view, racial studies and identity politics promote the fragmentation of society - while American thinkers accuse their backward (“so yesterday”) colleagues of wiping the unfortunate colonial era and their own racism under their desks.

USA: Blacks in a kind of apartheid

American racism mainly served to keep the indigenous people and slaves small and as an immigration limiter for Asians. Most European settlers did not regard the indigenous peoples of North America as full human beings because they needed a reason to deport them to reservations. The black slaves freed in 1865, almost all of them illiterate, who moved from plantations in the south to urban poor settlements, were reminded by the Jim Crow laws that they too were not fully-fledged Americans.

For five generations, blacks lived in a kind of apartheid, with separate schools, racial mixing, a biased judicial system and no right to vote until 1964. The frustration of African Americans today has a lot to do with those hundred years of Jim Crow segregation. The Chinese Exclusion Act - extended to Japanese in the early 20th century - denied civil rights to Asian immigrants until 1952.

After the election of John F. Kennedy, the Democratic Party, which in the southern states long stood for the maintenance of slavery and then racial segregation, made a U-turn. President Johnson's Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 put all "races" - at least on paper - on an equal footing with the white majority. Because all minorities could now vote, the 18 percent «Hispanic», the 12 percent «Black» and the 6 percent «Asian» became interesting for election campaigns.

Since then, sociologists, political scientists and psychologists have been studying their voting behavior - and using social problems, poverty, school failure and crime as arguments against the stingy Republicans. Inadvertently, this continues what one wanted to eliminate: thinking in terms of "races". What has also spurred some careers: Barack Obama, son of a European mother and a student from Kenya, became the first “black” president. According to the same logic, my children (with a Japanese-American mother) would be “Asians” or “Swiss of Color”.

The promotion of individuals through “affirmative action” makes you forget what the root of today's American “racism” is: Despite model models - athletes, rappers, TV stars and police commanders - there has been a neglected lower class there for fifty years, often gun owners, sometimes in Drug trafficking, the majority of which is black or "of color". It is kept in check by police corps, for whose incompetence and brutality a governor apparently never has to answer for. I remember UN colleagues from African countries who spared no effort in Manhattan not to make themselves and their children appear as American blacks.

Europe: the melting pot

European racism mainly served to portray the colonial conquests overseas as good deeds. The cheek of the great powers of the 19th century to conquer China, the Dutch East Indies, India and all of sub-Saharan Africa needed a justification. That is why theories spread in the age of imperialism which equated skin colors with certain properties, such as educational ability, character, morality.

The institutional racism of Europe (with the exception of National Socialism) was not directed against ethnic minorities at home, but primarily against people of different colors far away. That doesn't make him morally better, but differently than in the USA. With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, racist literature disappeared from ordinary households. Young people are little aware that the past seventy years in Western Europe (exception: Northern Ireland) have been a time without ethnically motivated violence. The ethnically or religiously listed wars took place elsewhere, in India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The left-wing permanent management of white colonial debt (actually capitalism is meant by it) is doing the dismantling of south-north racism a disservice. Real racist tones did not start in Europe until 2015, with the influx of refugees from Syria, the financing of Salafism through the Islamic World League and the terrorist attacks. That is regrettable, but can be limited by the rule of law. Even though it has been multiethnic for a thousand years, Western Europe - provided that immigration is controlled and those arriving respect the constitutions - certainly have the potential for a modern melting pot.

Racism Reduction

In the USA there is hardly a topic that is so intensively researched, published and disputed as “race”, a term from farm animal breeding that is almost only used in American English to refer to people. American textbooks ignore the fact that there are no "races" from a biological point of view. All racial theories from Aristotle to Houston Stewart Chamberlain can be forgotten. Nothing proves that skin color and face shape have anything to do with intelligence, striving for power or speaking talent. Whether we look like Einstein, Mao or Kofi Annan is inherited; the personality is shaped by the environment.

Racial studies are not offered by biologists, but by social and human sciences. With the critical racial theory of the 1970s, which has been back in fashion since George Floyd, they are looking for systemic oppression that should explain why the legal equality of the "races" of 1968 was not followed by the material rise. It is reminiscent of the search for “structural poverty” in development policy discussions. Hundreds of studies on this did not work because they did not offer the willing individual any options for action.

All that Racial Studies has achieved so far is a hypersensitivity to the abuse word "racist", which makes it impossible for American teachers to criticize minorities in the slightest. Don't imitate! The habit of European “progressives” to simply copy what is in the “New York Times” is a mistake here. Carrying posters with “Black Lives Matter” through Swiss cities offends the professional police officers and judges.

Personal racism must be fought practically by every individual in bringing up children, in school lessons, in personnel recruiting. It cannot be completely exterminated. Man's own defense against the foreign, which exists in all cultures, can only be limited with persistent attention.

Nevertheless, there are also bright spots in the often humorless and always highly dramatic discussion about racism: Mixed couples have become normal in Europe. After a short time, married people of different origins are no longer the first to notice the different colored skin of their counterpart. Parents with adopted children from Asia or Africa quickly perceive them as their own. And not a few examples show that people of different colors can master university and careers in the second generation even without a diversity bonus.

Toni Stadler studied colonial history and biology. He worked for 25 years in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the USA for international organizations such as ICRC, UN, OECD, EDA (SDC).