America's race obsession

The sudden appearance of nooses in the US is just the most blatant representation of the hostility many whites still have for blacks.

Lionel McPherson
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October 30, 2007 6:00 PM | Printable version In its American heyday, which ended around 1930, nooses inspired grave fear. The noose meant lynching, and not the "high tech" kind US supreme court justice Clarence Thomas continues in self-delusion to lament. Lynching functioned as a "ritual of blood", the sociologist Orlando Patterson has argued, communally directed by whites mainly against black men in response to the South's forced transition from a slave society. Billie Holiday gave voice to this terror through the haunting song Strange Fruit: "Southern trees bear strange fruit. Blood on the leaves and blood at the root. Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze. Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees." Those words are made concrete in lynching postcards that proudly display suspended corpses at the centre of local spectacles. The noose was no idle threat and certainly no joke. So what to make of the recent outbreak of noose incidents, the knotted ropes without the bodies? Nooses were hung from a purported whites-only tree at a high school in Jena, Louisiana after a black student asked whether he could sit under the tree. The principal had replied that students could sit where they wanted. Predictably, the letter of the law did not serve black students well. The decisively white school board, the white district attorney, and an all-white jury could not have been expected to treat bullying violence by white students and retaliatory schoolyard violence by black students in an evenhanded manner. At Columbia University in New York, a noose was hung from the office door of an African-American professor, sparking a protest rally and swift condemnation from the campus community. Her response to the noose: "It felt very personal and very degrading."

The Jena and Columbia incidents are only the most publicized. Nooses have lately made appearances in Maryland, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Long Island, in a police station locker room. The US justice department claims to be investigating - the incidents might violate federal and state laws - though no arrests have been made anywhere. This same justice department found no evidence of unfair prosecution of the six black teenagers in Jena originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. None of these nooses was brutally put to use. Lynchings - of James Byrd Jr in 1998 and Michael Donald in 1981 stand out in contemporary America because they are rare. Perhaps this helps explain why some observers underestimate the significance of the noose today. Lawyer and social critic Wendy Kaminer believes that "hanging a noose is expressive conduct" and, "hateful or not," on a par with "swastikas and burning crosses." Kaminer transforms the noose into a hobbyhorse, namely, opposition to hate crime statutes that she supposes leave "all of us ... less free." Such first amendment righteousness lacks sympathy and imagination. The noose, at least a functional one, is not simply among various symbols of hate when left incongruously and deliberately in the presence of African-Americans. We are well aware the device was a common means for committing terroristic, racially-motivated murders. Here's a scenario. Outside your home, at your workplace or in a public space, you find what appears to be a gun hung next to a hateful scrawling directed at people of your kind. Surely you could understand - even if you were broadly skeptical about hate crime statutes - that this act might well be intimidating or threatening along the lines of assault, whether the target was you in particular or unspecified members of your group. No doubt, the noose also is a symbol. These incidents represent a deep, lingering antipathy that more than a few Americans have for blacks. Nooses can replace the epithet "nigger" as an expression of racial contempt and privilege. "Nigger" doesn't fly any longer. Its use by non-blacks mostly succeeds in conveying plain racism or ignorance amid an officially multiracial public that rejects such use. By contrast, the noose often gets explained as a prank - insensitive yet inconclusively indicative of a racist attitude or environment. The joke presumably works like this: You can't lynch black folks these days, but you probably can get away with aggressively tweaking their tender sensibilities. Not amused? Oh well - lighten up, or appreciate the burdens of living in a free society. The current hostility toward African-Americans is more routinely evident in ongoing obsessions with affirmative action, IQ, rap music's "thug" culture and OJ Simpson, along with the increasingly mainstream strategy of shouting down black grievances by accusing blacks of playing the race card or indulging in victimology. We're now told that other Americans don't care much about race and that radically disparate outcomes by race don't bear much relation to racial injustice. Against this background, the noose fad is hardly shocking. The country will revert soon enough to its less blatant anti-black sensibilities.

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Saeed

Comment No. 896704

October 30 18:25 ZAF

Lionel I think you'll find that many people, who are concerned or disturbed by racism, remain inactive because to do anything might impact on their comfort zone. We looked at this with regard to the Holocaust and Apartheid http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/traps/2007/10/13/apartheid-impact-patriotism-is-the-virtue-of-the-vicious/ Action takes courage and most people would rather pay lip service or act dumb than face the consequences of standing up and being counted. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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ComicalSpook
Comment No. 896719

October 30 18:33 GBR

Amazes me how black people keep their composure given the crap they have to put up with - and let's face it, white society has had long enough to put things right. If anything, seems to me the plight of black people has been put out of mind and out of sight in a post 9-11 world. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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halgeel84

Comment No. 896720

October 30 18:34 CAN

--Lionel McPherson

Peace to you. I would like to point ou that`American whites, which I suppose you do mean the middle and upper class Americans, hate the poor, no matter of the colour of their skin. Thus you do know American white middleupper classes hate socalled 'white trash' as much as they hate poor blacks. I am from Africa[Somalia]. Now we are being recolonised by the America's corporate/military complex using Black Africans as their 'native' conduits. So, we do really need a serious semoitic reading of what theses nooses may or may not say about America's race relations. I do would what you think about Condi' Race, Jendi Frazer and other dagerous native informents who are bring death and destruction to my people- In Somalia before we can discuss the symbolic meaning what these nooses may mean for black Americans Best, helgeel 84 [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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MrPikeBishop
Comment No. 896742

October 30 18:49 GBR

Aw Cif you dissapoint me... surely a cracking headline was waiting here No noose is good news... etc I'll get my hood. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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BarkingBird
Comment No. 896778

October 30 19:08 USA

I think an important point about this issue that has been overlooked is the class angle. The disgusting incident at Columbia U. was more deeply disturbing because Americans tend to believe that racism lingers only among the white poor and working class and mainly in the rural South. But Columbia showed that racism remains rife throughout all America, all income, all regions, and all class levels. It highlights why affirmative action in some form remains necessary and why Americans need to work harder at integration and historical understanding. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]

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TheEarlofSuave
Comment No. 896789

October 30 19:16 GBR

I think nooses hanging around are quite terrifying. However, let's not blow things out of proportion. There are hardly any racists to march against anymore. Surely it's better to treat it as a serious crime, then engage in the theatrics of marches and all the other hubub. I mean what's worse, people killing people, or a noose on a tree. I think black people have more to worry about, such as the *deadly* crime in their own neighbourhoods that people tend to accept. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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GreenLake
Comment No. 896794

October 30 19:20 USA

halgeel84: "I would like to point ou that`American whites, which I suppose you do mean the middle and upper class Americans, hate the poor, no matter of the colour of their skin." This kind of obscene generalisation is deemed perfectly acceptable, I presume, because it maligns Americans rather than any other race in the world. Disgusting. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Klashnekoff
Comment No. 896796

October 30 19:20

"The joke presumably works like this: You can't lynch black folks these days, but you probably can get away with aggressively tweaking their tender sensibilities. Not amused? Oh well - lighten up, or appreciate the burdens of living in a free society." Could not have put it better myself?

It is precisely these mechanics that are in operation today in the UK concerning ethnic minorities, their systematic denigration within the context of a faux political correctness / immigration debate on limits to free speech in liberal democracies all whilst clearly supporting a dangerous far right agenda. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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halgeel84

Comment No. 896816

October 30 19:36 CAN

---GreenLake I will not return your insulting terms but indeed the literature is think on how American middle and upper classes hate the poor. Evidenc: why all the all the talk of progressivistic discourse there is no universal healthcare and unversal education in the US. here is a good title for you to read. 'White Trash: Race and Class in America' eds. Matt Wray and Annalee Newitz (1997} Routledge Thus according to the editors of this collection [supported by evidence] " Americans love to hate the poor. Lately, it seems there is no group of poor folks they hate more than than white trash' (p.1). And yes, these black Americans are now working for the US corporare/military imperial complex in the recolonising project of Africa. Thus your insults misplaced. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RichardAdams
Comment No. 896819

October 30 19:39

MrPikeBishop - "Cif you dissapoint me... surely a cracking headline was waiting here." MPB, we did consider a few alternatives, but none could beat this magnificent example in poor taste from the awful Management Today magazine:

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/usa/2007/10/wall_street_blues.html

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GreenLake
Comment No. 896842

October 30 19:54 USA

halgeel84: You have a strange grasp of what constitutes an "insult". You'll notice, on reflection, that I said nothing about you personally - I don't not know you - but commented only on the ugly, sweeping generalisation you made. On the other hand, your comment, to the effect that all middle and upper class Americans, without qualification or exception, hate poor people is a grave insult to many of the people I love most in the world and some of the finest human beings I've ever met. I expect some Americans hate poor people - although i suspect they're more liekly to be contemptuous of them, ambivalent about tham or just not give a damn one way or another about them. Others, though, love and care for and about them, work with and for them, champion their cause and make tremendous sacrifices on their behalf. Fine, decent and loving people exist in all nations, in all classes and all walks of life. It is depressing that such a simple and obvious truth needs to be spelled out on these pages. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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ToothlessHooligan
Comment No. 896851

October 30 20:01 USA

Deleted by Cif moderator. Other posts repeating this post have also been deleted. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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bannedbycastro
Comment No. 896855

October 30 20:03 USA

I hope the author supports Hate crime legislation and in doing so he will be glad that it is applied to the case where six people of one race, attack an innocent member of anther race; because of the victims race. Looks like an open-and-shut case to me. If you wish to punish racial attacks the law should apply to six black guys kicking the crap out of a white guy, jast as you would if six wite guys kicked the crap out of a black guy. I look forward to your reply. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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arg907149
Comment No. 896874

October 30 20:15 USA

In response to Halgeel84, I think you're close to the target when you say that better-off Americans hate the poor, but I think it is more fear than hatred. Hatred and fear are very close emotions. I'm white and grew up in North Carolina. My family was very poor. I was beaten every day that I went to school. Not by black folks, but by the better off white kids who lived in town. Who knows why I was the target? Maybe because I simply looked poor, and people fear poverty and don't want it near them. best, arg [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Generic109
Comment No. 896881

October 30 20:18 USA

bannedbycastro, Please look further into the matter before commenting. The Jena incident was about equal protection under the law. Read further. You'll change your mind.

Halgeel, I have to disagree with you. In some places, such as the south, race trumps everything. Poor whites hate blacks as well. Race and class always have to be looked at together, but they have their own separate explanations. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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ComicalSpook
Comment No. 896898

October 30 20:32 GBR

Let me tell you something - people always go on about integration and social cohesion and all this crap, but in my experience, the problem is 'white flight' - you look at any area where there is a high proportion of ethnic minorities and you will find every race under the sun living perfectly happily with each other, but noticeably the whites have moved out - whether that's to do with them not wanting to live in a poor area or not wanting to live in a ghetto, you tell me. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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JohnLilburne
Comment No. 896900

October 30 20:33 USA

A widespread response among Americans is to point to those cases of nooses and other threats that have turned out to be fakes. This outbreak of reported cases is dismissed as a fad rather as evidence that people, both black and white, have been emboldened to complain. In fact, if one looks at legal cases concerning hostile work environments, nooses seem startlingly common. Management always tries to claim that it had no idea that nooses were perceived as hostile. Such cases are so difficult and stressful to bring, that we may assume there is a large unseen iceberg. Although there may be some copycat cases, one good result of this publicity is that claims of ignorance can no longer be made. Although the point about racism continuing to lurk in many social environments is well taken, it is nevertheless the case that life is harder for any visible minority in small communities, where there is far less diversity. Stereotypical assumptions can be startlingly naked in towns where there is no substantial black middle class. However, the position of many Hispanic Americans, even if legal immigrants or established in the US for generations, can be at least as bad, depending on the region. They are not only assumed to be ill-educated criminals, but they are believed to be stealing jobs and breeding too rapidly so that they threaten English-speaking

Protestant culture. Such prejudices are to be found even in the work of respectable academics in major universities. The extent to which conservative opinion denies the continuing influence of socio-economic disadvantage and prejudice is extraordinary. Many conservatives claim that racism survives only among liberals and ethnic minorities. The Bush administration censored half of a report on racism within the Department of Justice, cut references to disadvantange and inequality from a Department of Health and Human Affairs report on healthcare gaps, and most recently cut out discussion of the disproportionate effect on the health of ethnic minorities that climate change will cause, from the report of the Director of the CDC. In part, this reflects the longstanding American refusal to consider the possibility that widespread social phenomena are brought about by social causes rather than just individual choices. However, it also reflects a rejection of the social interventionism of LBJ's Great Society, FDR's New Deal, and even the regulation of big business of the Progressive Era. Opposition to environmentalism and international organizations is part and parcel of this. Consequently, the lack of educational opportunities in the inner city cannot be acknowledged as proceeding from either white flight or the inter-generational effect of the economic distance put between black and white Americans brought about by the heavily biased administration of the GI Bill and by the Jim Crow laws. The heavy pollution of areas occupied by ethnic minorities cannot be acknowledged to have any connection with the biased exemptions from environmental controls provided to corporate campaign donors by politicians such as the former Governor of Texas. The largely unexamined category of whiteness remains the basis for American identity and the privileges that accrue from full status, even if it has been extended to include European Catholics and Jews. Some affluent or conservative black Americans and Hispanic Americans have been granted the status of "honorary whites", but the promise of social coherence that broke out after 9/11 now seems only a flash in the pan. Of course there are many poor whites who have been left out by the absence of social provision and by the failure to use parental poverty as a category for affirmative action. However, a single generation of higher education will suffice for their descendants to escape prejudice. Their lack of full American status is not written on their faces. The educated or newly affluent children of poor whites are not going to be made the target of racial profiling every time they buy a new car, even by black police officers. They will not be assumed to have gained access to a good university only because they got a sports scholarship. They will not be instant suspects when they shop in a department store, even for black store detectives. Extra hurdles will not be placed in their way every time they try to take out a loan, even if the bank manager is black. They will not be refused a job interview just because their given name indicates that they are members of an ethnic minority. All of the above obstacles have been well documented in the case of black Americans. Most white Americans are absolutely unaware of these phenomena, even if they are participating in them.

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bannedbycastro
Comment No. 896904

October 30 20:36 USA

Deleted by Cif moderator [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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europeanstudent
Comment No. 896923

October 30 20:50 NLD

@Lionel McPherson Saddening. It reminds me of an little incident in my own life last year. I was following a course (part of an MA-programme in English Literature) on James Joyce's works, and some of the students in this course were also enrolled in another course on some novels by William Faulkner. At one point during a discussion some of the other Dutch students, the professor and I started discussing - mind you, in an academic setting, and not on the street - the usages of and controversies surrounding the word 'nigger'. We weren't hurling the word at anyone. We were in the Netherlands, and we were discussing the word 'nigger' as we would discuss the word 'Untermensch' in the context of a course on the Third Reich. Suddenly, this American student started attacking us for the simple fact of having uttered the word 'nigger'. I tried to tell her that I felt that if we were to stop discussing the (different) usages of such words in history, culture, literature and politics - and in the history of literature, culture and politics - we would be fooling ourselves: you'll end up erasing the memory of the Ku Klux Klan, and the entire history and the context from which the most hateful use of the word 'nigger' emerged. I pointed out that, for example, in the USSR it was very normal to erase the images of people who had fallen out of favour with Stalin or other Party Big Shots from the history books. How convenient it seems for some people to stop talking about the most painful issues surrounding the word 'nigger'! Certainly, these Dutch students and I would also have discussed the history of Dutch colonialism and the slave trade, etc, on another moment, - and I certainly have done that - but we were having a discussion in the context of a course on Literature written by means of the ENGLISH language.

The strange thing was that this young American woman assumed, completely out of the blue, that we Dutch students were all some kind of pro-Apartheid nazi Aryan fanatics simply because we were DUTCH students trying to figure out what's up with all the different sides to the 'n-word'-controversy. The young lady was from New York. With regard to the incarceration rates of African Americans, the state of New York is one of the worst in the USA, which I mentioned to her..in vain. I tried to confront her at a later stage with her unwillingness to discuss the horrible treatment of a large percentage of African-Americans in present-day USA, but she did not wish to react. Then I tried to confront her with the way it struck me as rather odd that she was so passionate when it came to trying to censor ANY kind of discussion of the historical use of the word 'nigger', while simultaneously she was unwilling to engage in a discussion about the present-day injustices in American society. I refrain from calling the young American lady 'White'. I am myself a white-looking, Portuguese-Dutch person, yet my mother and all of the family from my mother's side look quite Mediterranean, North-African, sometimes they look like 'typical' Arabs, and two aunts of mine have Black African-type hair. Both my parents are Portuguese, and my father is of Germanic, Celtic, Latin and Sephardic Jewish descent. 'Whiteness' and 'Blackness' often are realities that are 'socially experienced' by individual subjects, yet these categories are very fluid for some people. Often, it has much to do with specific contexts, psychology and the functions of human cognition. A friend of my wife's is Lebanese-Equadorian, and in Equador she is regarded as being white, because she is as white as the Hispanic Equadorians are. For some years, though, the same woman was living in Belgium, and in Belgium she was regarded as being a brown person. She is from a Roman Catholic (Maronite) background, yet in Belgium it was often assumed she had a stereotypical orthodox-Muslim background, which was funny because the lady is a belly dancer, as well as a professional contemporary dancer, who did not dress conservatively and whose parents were not especially conservative. Strange world, huh? The way those nooses are used seem like death threats to me. I wonder, were the members of the Cosa Nostra simply expressing their modest opinions when they sent broken pencils to folks? Please do not think that I believe that the European Union countries are utterly civilised compared to the USA. I am reacting to what Mister McPherson wrote, but if the topic were Dutch politics from 2001 AD onward I'd be writing about some unpleasant matters as well. The extent to which xenophobia has almost ruled the Netherlands in the last six years is unbelievable. Luckily, there are also many other Dutch people who have done their best to fight the worst ideas and policies, and in most cases these people have succeeded. The treatment of asylum seekers in particular has at times been really atrocious, even though there is some improvement with the latest government's policies. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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0ILthieves
Comment No. 896927

October 30 20:53 GBR

Lionel if you show a US passport to british customs they'll roll out the red carpet - but if it's a british passport they'll lock you up. now for the solution to this problem: this isn't primarily a race problem - it's a bullying problem - race is the fog which confuses solution e.g. In the US & in most of Europe bullying is not a crime - it's a fact of life, so .. a minority of the majority obsess about hurting minorities & a majority of the majority turn a blind eye to their lack of subtlety in other words - minorities daily face a boxing match where the crowd is hostile & the bookies have written-off their chances against an overwhelmingly advantaged majority opponent there are 2 types of minorities 1) the no-hopers they see a noose & it affects their blood pressure, they learn the contest is rigged & the judge bribed they waste emotional energy fighting lost causes they enter the ring exhausted demotivated & get battered - the majority jump for joy, 3 cheers 4 status quo 2) the contenders they ignore the nooses, the crooked judges, the free drugs, drinks & whores - instead they train they enter the ring - not aiming to win - but to hit ther opponent hard enough to knock them out they achieve - leaving the crooked judges helpless the racist majority storm home in a huff - to reassess what went wrong you have to make choices - where you channel your energies if you want to beat (racist) bullies - you have to focus on the knock-out if you don't - focus on the nooses [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Henrysixpack

Comment No. 896929

October 30 20:56 USA

Like swastikas on synagogues, most of these incidents are likely the work of bored suburban teenagers looking to stir things up. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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ConBuster
Comment No. 896933

October 30 21:01 USA

Greenlake, I agree with Hageel84. He is of course generalizing, but I think it's a fair generalization. You are right when you say that on a basic level people are people, and people are good, wherever they live. But cultures differ, sometimes radically, and people who are born good (or at least 'neutral') can be corrupted to some extent by their surroundings. You could call it peer pressure on a national, historical level. In a conservative, proto-fascist country like America there is definitely a tendency for the so-called strong (read wealthy) to despise the so-called weak (read poor). There is also a tendency for the wealthy to see themselves as somehow naturally superior to the poor (the lowest of the low being seen as the former slave class, the blacks). I still see this overt celebration of the wealthy and utter disgust for the poor everywhere I look in modern day America. There seems to be an almost superstitious belief in the so-called 'natural order', among the upper middle class. It rarely gets spoken about because it's so taken for granted, but you can see it in the way they treat employees etc. The original crime of blacks in the south was not that they were black, but that they didn't know their place (i.e. they didn't always fall in with the notion that there was indeed a natural order, and that they should obey their 'superiors'). This kind of nonsense doesn't disappear in a couple of generations, the most that can be hoped for is a gradual dilution over time in the river of reason. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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cornelius47
Comment No. 896934

October 30 21:02 GBR

Has anybody considered that there might just be a lot of previously tethered giraffes on the loose? [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Popvulture
Comment No. 896937

October 30 21:05 GBR

Henrysixpack, if it were 'bored teenagers', it wouldn't make any difference to the sentiment or the psychological effect such actions bring. [Edited by Cif moderator] [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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ComicalSpook
Comment No. 896960

October 30 21:22 GBR

Probably was just bored kids, but what surprises me is that a lot of people can't see what the big deal is. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Ndege

Comment No. 896966

October 30 21:27 NGA

One wonders exactly what penalties would be exacted on the perpetrators of these 'noose' incidents by the proponents of 'hate crime'. I have no doubt that they would be as out of proportion as their views. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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halgeel84

Comment No. 896995

October 30 21:46 CAN

-Hell-GreenLake do you consider 'disgusting' a mild comment? The US middle class do indeed hate the poor more than other any other indistrialised country. facts speak for themselves in terms of economic gap between the poor and the rich in the US. I think class is important indicator of racial tension than just a colour of one's skin in the US. Thus in the US, it holds true that Fanon's famous saying that 'you are white because you are rich; you are rich because white'. Even though Fanon was speaking about colonial relations of another context, his ideas aptly discribe the current class tension in the US. But because class analysis flouts classless fanstasy of "American dream", class relation of power often assume racial hue in the US.

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CheeseCommando
Comment No. 896998

October 30 21:47 GBR

Quite possibly Lionel. Although I can think of another obsession thats closer to home. The Guardian has an obsession with articles that portray the United States in a negative light. Yes, the correct word is OBSESSION. Maybe the editors like blowing the dog whistle to appease the knuckle dragging core constituency, 'would like to point ou that`American whites, which I suppose you do mean the middle and upper class Americans, hate the poor, no matter of the colour of their skin.' Naughty boy halgeel84. You know very well you wouldn't get away with this on CiF regarding any other nationality or ethnic group, except 'zionists' perhaps. Can't blame you for using the wriggle room though. Here's to liberal hypocrisy and death to the Little and Great Satans! [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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LabanTall
Comment No. 897012

October 30 21:55 GBR

Great Guardian sub-editing. Lionel McPherson : "These incidents represent a deep, lingering antipathy that more than a few Americans have for blacks. " Sub-editor : "The sudden appearance of nooses in the US is just the most blatant representation of the hostility many whites still have for blacks."

Given the enormous disproportion between the number of whites killed by blacks and vice-versa in the States, the piece is still a tad dishonest. Why can't the Guardian get John McWhorter or Thomas Sowell on CiF ? Professor McPherson is right about "more than a few Americans" though. It's not WASPs who are shooting black people in LA. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-firestone18oct18,0,3595559,full.story?coll=la-home-center "It used to be that innocent bystanders were not targeted, said Chris Le Grande, pastor of Great Hope Fellowship in Faith, one of Florence-Firestone's largest black churches. "Now it's deliberate. 'I'm deliberately shooting you because of your color.' " On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney's office announced a sweeping indictment against more than 60 members of Florencia 13, accusing the Latino gang of waging a violent campaign to drive out African American rivals. Once primarily black, the working class community of 60,000 today is mostly Latino." [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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scruffy

Comment No. 897045

October 30 22:13 USA

"These incidents represent a deep, lingering antipathy that more than a few Americans have for blacks."

Mr. McPherson-What a convenient, meaningless statement to make. The rest of the last paragraph reads more like parody thatn reality. This is the kind of opinion piece that can come only from an academic. The best examples you can come up with of "widespread antipathy" of Americans for blacks is Americans' obsession with "affirmative action, IQ, rap music's 'thug' culture and OJ Simpson,..."? I'll bet the blacks being slaughtered and raped in Darfur are happy they don't live in such a brutal environment as the US. (I apologize for the sarcasm of that statement, but I hope the shock value makes a point.) Are you waiting for the day when you can't find "more than a few Americans" who have antipathy for blacks? Then you'll be waiting and unhappy for a long, long time, while the rest of us have (including blacks) have gone on to lead productive lives. And by the way, Jews, Asians, Muslims, Hispanics, and every other American minority group will not have found it either. The world ain't perfect. Without minimizing the very real issues of urban poverty and ignorance of which you speak, race relations (and specifically, opportunities for blacks) in the US are light years ahead of where they were a mere 40 years ago. Considering that the US allowed slavery only 150 years ago, I'd say the progress has been near miraculous. Reading every pathetic "copycat" racial incident as proof of an underlying hate conspiracy against blacks is a willfully pessimistic and ignorant reading of social trends. So Mr. McPherson, please do us a favor. Research attitudes about American "hostility" to blacks by interviewing as many recent *African* immigrants to the US (and their children) that you can find. Ask them how oppressive and hostile America is to them and their families. I guarantee you'll get an answer that will reveal your opinion piece for what it is--another academic exercise at "indulging in victimology" (to use your phrase). [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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stevejones123
Comment No. 897068

October 30 22:29

It seems much more a question of copycat crimes. And wasn't the noose on the tree originally a Halloween joke in bad taste? [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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halgeel84

Comment No. 897076

October 30 22:32 CAN

--arg907149 I do agree with you fear and hate are close emotions. And do agree with you also hate of the poor has to do with fear of the better-off to slide back to the bottom. Michael Moore is one of the people who tries to wriet about America's class dynanmics. in fact race talk stands to weaken class solidarity among the poor in the US. I am not here to deny reality of racism; but that race and class are linked. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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cristobal

Comment No. 897103

October 30 22:50

Good of Mr. McPherson to bring the black hating issue to the fore because in hypocritical America it has never gone away across classes including he ruling class. I am surprised that he forgot to mention the case of the now infamous ex senator from Virginia George Allen who was an avowed racist calling Indians "macacas" , who once stuck a severed deer head into a Black's family's mailbox and who was proud of exhibiting a hanging noose right on the wall behind his office's desk. Amazing.In addition he was anti-semitic. When it was revealed that his mother was Jewish he denied it. Come to think about it, until very recently he was a leading Repug Presidential contender.Most likely he'd lead the field right now had he not lost the Senate election in Virginia (a very racist state). He still lost just for a couple of thousand votes. The US racism has always been there and now is scalating under tha alibi of "illegal immigration " . The target are the Mexicans together with any Arab.Very ugly times lie ahead as the Congres approved wall and electric fence together with land mines are places along the frontier and the National Guard is authorized to shoot the crossers. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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cardinal

Comment No. 897126

October 30 23:09 USA

"The strange thing was that this young American woman assumed, completely out of the blue, that we Dutch students were all some kind of pro-Apartheid nazi Aryan fanatics simply because we were DUTCH students trying to figure out what's up with all the different sides to the 'n-word'-controversy."

In defense of the American student, I don't think it is possible for Europeans to understand the visceral reaction that Americans have to the "n word". And to hear a group of Dutch students, who are probably all white, or mostly white, throwing the word around freely was likely quite disconcerting to her. I understand the word "Paki" is considered derogatory in the UK, and if the term were tossed around in an American literature class, it might cause a UK-based student great discomfort. But it means absolutely nothing in the US. "I tried to confront her at a later stage with her unwillingness to discuss the horrible treatment of a large percentage of African-Americans in present-day USA, but she did not wish to react. " She probably considered that a personal attack. Why didn't you discuss the Dutch origins of the white South Africans who put the apartheid system in place, or the apparent discontent of some Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands? It makes as much sense. "White trash" is also a volatile term, as is "redneck". When UK posters call Americans rednecks, they mean it as a nasty putdown. No enlightened concern for the poor in that. Of course not all rednecks or white trash are poor. The comedienne Roseanne used to say that she and her husband were America's worst nightmare - white trash with money. Certainly when Americans use the related term "Euro-trash", they aren't talking about poor people. Some of the wealthiest people in the US today came from very difficult circumstances. I think it was Dick Gregory who said that his mother did not allow her children to call themselves "poor". She said "we're broke, not poor". "Broke" is a temporary circumstance; "poor" has the air of permanence. Americans don't want to be poor, and we don't romanticize poverty. We fear it. That's not the same thing as hating the poor. As for the copycat nooses, they are a form of intimidation. Racism is a constant, which means it must constantly be battled. The difference between now and the past is that the power of the law is on the side of racial equality.

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sdsultzer

Comment No. 897131

October 30 23:11 USA

Let me make sure I am getting this right. A few idiots toss up some nooses, and on that basis, all of America is painted as racist. That sounds a lot to me like . . . playing the race card. And it is a card that has lost most of its lustre. Last year, near where I live, five African Americans car jacked two white teenagers then spent the next five days raping and torturing them prior to ultimately murdering them. What does that say about all African-Americans?

Absolutely nothing, of course. It does say that those 5 individuals were criminals who are deserving of the death penalty. To criticize the "thug" culture and affirmative action does not make one a racist. The thug culture, with its debasement of women and glorificaiton of criminality, is abhorrent. After 50 years, there is a lot of data on affirmative action that suggests it is not functioning as desired. That does not mean that it should be scrapped, but it should certainly be subject to debate. Add to that the problem with African Americans as a group lagging behind the rest of America economically and educationally. The question is how to address all those problems. It becomes difficult to say the least when people like Mr. McPherson claim any criticism equates to racism. And it is pure bull. If you wish to read anything intelligent on race in America, I suggest that you start with the African American economist, Thomas Sowell. You will find years of columns, many dealing with race and race relations. http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/archive.shtml

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RogerINtheUSA
Comment No. 897147

October 30 23:24 USA

Be glad that you don't live in the UK, where they love to lock up Black people. While only 2 percent of the population is Black, 17 percent of the prison population is Black. Also, don't forget that back when the US was integrating its schools the UK government was busy murdering between 13,000 and 100,000 Kenyans because of the color of their skin. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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HarryTheHorse
Comment No. 897149

October 30 23:25 GBR

[Let me make sure I am getting this right. A few idiots toss up some nooses, and on that basis, all of America is painted as racist. That sounds a lot to me like . . . playing the race card. And it is a card that has lost most of its lustre]

Given that several Americans have already posted here to downplay such incidents, or even to excuse them, by citing incidents of blacks attacking whites, it would appear that either such attitudes are more common than you would admit or the lowest scum of American society choose to post here. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RedRosita
Comment No. 897162

October 30 23:38 GBR

Lionel, I agree with much of your article. The nooses are disgraceful and should be totally condemned for not just their unacceptable racism, but also for their cowardice. You say "The current hostility toward African-Americans is more routinely evident in ongoing obsessions with affirmative action, IQ, rap music's "thug" culture and OJ Simpson" I have to disagree with you there, rap music does contain disgraceful language and sentiments which are contemptible. Condemnation of many pieces of rap music are a matter of basic decency and the music industry needs to get its act together and clean up. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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sweetheart
Comment No. 897165

October 30 23:40 GBR

Are you concerned about sensibilities - how about race-based incarceration as national policy: http://www.prisonersofthecensus.org/images/race_us_prison.jpg The nooses are just a leak on the surface betraying the deep ugly truth of ongoing american racism in american culture. This is sustained by hollywood stereotypes and a known way of enforcing the drugs war so that blacks come out short handed. http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/usa/incarceration/images/figure1.2.gif http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/usa/incarceration/images/figure1.1.gif

But hey, britain loves to pretend american racism is not state policy, and that they're not importing it with the drugs war as a way to incarcerate their own nonwhite races. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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bannedbycastro
Comment No. 897182

October 31 0:02 USA

The current hostility toward African-Americans is more routinely evident in ongoing obsessions with affirmative action, IQ, rap music's "thug" culture and OJ Simpson" In my case professional jealousy. Princeton University, AB, Philosophy, summa cum laude, 1990 Harvard University, PhD, Philosophy, 1999 Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Faculty Fellow, Tufts University, 2003-05. Ford Predoctoral Fellowship for Minorities, honorary, 1992. Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, Harvard University, 1992-94, 1997. Graduate Prize Fellowship, Harvard University, 1994-96. Summer Stipend Award, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2002. Harvard University Center for Ethics and the Professions, Faculty Fellow, 2002-03. Faculty Research Award, Tufts University, Summer 2004. Tufts University, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, 2006-present Tufts University, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, 1999-2006 So 9 years to do a Ph.D. and snapped up as an Assistant Professor, promoted to Associate Professor after 7 years having published 9 publications. Obviously no affirmative action at work here. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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keepithuman
Comment No. 897211

October 31 0:45 USA

@Henrysixpack Like swastikas on synagogues, most of these incidents are likely the work of bored suburban teenagers looking to

stir things up. Maybe, but I don't think so. Putting a swastika on a synagogue is a statement by someone who wants to maliciously frighten jewish people by reminding them that six million human beings of the jewish religion were murdered and don't forget it. It is a racist threat. Putting a noose anywhere near a black person is a statement by someone who wants to maliciously frighten black people by reminding them of a time when untold numbers of black people were enslaved and were someone's 'property' to do with what they wanted, even murder them horrifically and don't forget it. It is a racist threat. Both forms of racism are still rampant in the USA. With regard to black people, you only have to look at the ranting of Michael Richards, a well known 'comic', who screamed about lynching some people who heckled him. Right now President Bush and Governor Terminator are both boasting and bragging about the amazing response of FEMA to the tragic fires in San Diego. Needless to say, San Diego is a rich, white middle class area. The response was quite a bit different when Hurricane Katrina struck the poor blacks of New Orleans who were basically left to fend for themselves. So cut the crap about bored teenagers, this sickness permeates all the way to the top. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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canadave

Comment No. 897235

October 31 1:44 CAN

Wazzpy's statistics are an indictment of something but perhaps not what he thinks. Doesn't the appalling overincarceration of Native Americans in both Canada and the US suggest that social factors of abuse, oppression and prejudice may possibly be involved? How about similarly broken down figures for deaths in custody? From what I know about my own province of British Columbia they should tell a tale. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RameshN

Comment No. 897237

October 31 1:51 NZL

I notice this article uses the terms 'black' and 'African-American'. In paragraph three, it's 'black students', but 'African-American professor'. Is there a difference in terms of usage between 'black' and 'African-American', or are they interchangeable? [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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stevenlmeyer
Comment No. 897259

October 31 2:33 AUS

Well, what do wazzpy's statistics indicate? If White racism is a factor why are Asian incarceration rates so low? Is it that Whites are only racist when it comes to Blacks? Then why are Hispanic incarceration rates so high? Could it be that incarceration rates simply reflect the propensity of each group to commit imprisonable offences and that White racism is not a factor? Or not a major factor? None of this of course excuses displaying nooses which is exactly comparable to daubing synagogues with swastikas. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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emmanuelgoldstein
Comment No. 897271

October 31 2:47 GBR

Lionel,

I read, disagreed with, and greatly enjoyed, your article with Tommie Shelby. The facts and your interpretation of them here, aren't seriously in dispute. This may explain the ugliness of some of the responses: bannedbycastro's innumerate ad hominem and LabanTall's confused and confusing attempt to justify noose-hanging *and* shift responsibility for anti-black attitudes to Hispanics are grimly amusing examples. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Jeff54

Comment No. 897283

October 31 3:15 USA

@halgeel84: "The US middle class do indeed hate the poor more than other any other indistrialised country. facts speak for themselves in terms of economic gap between the poor and the rich in the US." By that logic 30 years ago when the income gap in the US was much less the wealthier people of the US like poor people more. Face it in spite of your "facts speaking for themselves" statement you have given no facts that prove your point or even suggest it. That being said there is still a great deal of prejudice in the USA just as there is in most of the world. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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sursum

Comment No. 897288

October 31 3:21 CAN

It may not be colour that discriminates but poverty. There are studies indicating that where the very rich and very poor exist in a society, crime and racism is higher. Rich enclaves have litte racism , as do very poor societies. It's the mix that breeds contempt and the origins in the US is African slaves plus the the original peoples, as in any land settled by Europeans. Therefore, is race better handled where taxation policies plays a bigger role in the distribution of the national wealth? Canada, with it's taxation policies bent to-wards a tight safety net has perhaps generated a more tolerant mode than the US, forcing the American NAACP to hold it's first meetings in Canada. Has the accomodation of all immigrants (54% of Toronto is now not European in origin) actually worked by reason of distribution of national wealth? The US congress apparently feels our system does nothing but allow terrorism to flourish, but nonetheless maybe sharing the wealth works to retard racism.

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RedScot

Comment No. 897289

October 31 3:22

The noose is a symbol sure but not just of past atrocities. For today's white americans,especially those fed a diet of Fox, redneck christianity and the need for american kapital to sustain a 'reserve army' of the unemployed - in order to keep wages and conditions at the lowest levels possible - the use of noose is a symbol of present day fears which feed on their conditioned sense of superiority. Fears of the black other, the impoverished other, the criminalised other; one whose very existence gives justification to the authoritarian repressive state into which the USA has evolved. As a servant of the corporatist vision of kapital, the various governments of the USA, federal and state, conspire together to lock up no less than 2,245,000 of its citizens (July 2006 figures) of whom fully 37% are black men. Citizens, moreover, who are being locked up at a rate (4.8%) more than twice that of Hispanic males (1.9%) and nearly seven times that of white males (0.7). Here is the truth behind the 'noose' and all the other modern manifestations of 'manufactured fear' which so haunt most white people in present day USA. A truth which, ironically, denies these people the freedom to embrace real equality and real democracy and leaves them to 'spend' their lives as mere puppets of corporate consumerism; alienated from their true selves and lost in the wilderness of isolation and envy.

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9milerancher
Comment No. 897299

October 31 3:50 USA

For starters, referring to the N word: "Its use by non-blacks mostly succeeds in conveying plain racism or ignorance amid an officially multiracial public that rejects such use". If I may, the use of the N word by blacks highlights the existence of a double standard. When addressing racial issues, it would be helpful if double standards were rejected by all. Would it not be more helpful to emphasize common ground and then expand the dialogue, rather than establishing that some actions are okay for some but not for others? Secondly, the Jena affair is not as cut and dried as Mr. McPherson seems to assert. http://www.kansascity.com/sports/columnists/jason_whitlock/story/284511.html Mr. Whitlock's take on the situation is in apparent contrast to McPherson's. Racism is ugly and despicable. Utilizing a noose to intimidate probably crosses the line between free speech and hate speech. Over-generalizing the situation in the US with statements such as, "The current hostility toward African-Americans is more routinely evident in ongoing obsessions with affirmative action, IQ, rap music's "thug" culture and OJ Simpson" is counterproductive. To assume, because one finds the thug culture distasteful or one has a disdain for OJ, that automatically that one is racist is insulting. Mr. McPherson, if this article is the best argument you can posit that there exists a "deep, lingering antipathy that more than a few Americans have for blacks" - then your argument fails, and fails all the more miserably considering you are a college professor who is expected to reach or exceed the standards to which one would hold a student taking an essay test. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Jeff54

Comment No. 897308

October 31 4:01 USA

RedScot @ "As a servant of the corporatist vision of kapital, the various governments of the USA, federal and state, conspire together to lock up no less than 2,245,000 of its citizens" The Soviets had 7 million in gullags at one time Red. The prison population of the US is ridiculously high but adopting a failed economic system isn't the answer. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RedScot

Comment No. 897343

October 31 5:04 AUS

Jeff54. Yes you are right. The Soviets locked up (and judicially murdered) millions more people than has the USA, and, as a Marxist, I have always maintained an anti-Soviet position for this very reason (when it mattered which thankfully it doesnt anymore tho' the consequences live on). The Soviet Union since its inception was one big gulag for the working people and their symbolic 'noose' was the image of the 'saboteur'. Fantasy figures, who, like black American citizens today, were rendered as the other, to be impoverished and criminalised. That the Soviet Union was a failed economic system cannot be doubted but just how does that suggest and support the idea that somehow the USA is a successful one? Is it because the USA 'won'the Cold War? Or because the USA dominates world markets? I don't think so. Whatever the factors you use in your analysis, the fact remains that, as you rightly point out, "the prison population of the US is ridiculously high.." Nay, obscenely high and that is the nub of the problem which no historical comparison can eliminate. The time is now, and the black citizens of the USA are suffering disproportionate imprisonment and, generally, a denial of their basic rights as human beings and citizens of the wealthiest 'democracy' on the planet. It is time for deep and fundamental change in the matter of US race relations, regardless of what pertains in the rest of the world. In this matter the US is unique and given its' supposed founding on the equality of all, it is a change way beyond its due time. Anyway thanks for taking the time to read my comments and sharing your thoughts with me. bon regard. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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canadave

Comment No. 897372

October 31 6:18 CAN

StephenLMeyer - "Could it be that incarceration rates simply reflect the propensity of each group to commit imprisonable offences and that white racism is not a factor?"

Writing from Australia you may like to reconsider your implication in relation to the history and present condition of the Aboriginal people, which most people would regard as being to this day among the most terrible examples of racist inhumanity known to mankind. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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easyandy

Comment No. 897388

October 31 6:47 THA

What you're really complaining about is the power differential, because the fact is blacks are far more racist than whites. Compare the minute number of whites who belong to white power organisations with the number of blacks who support the likes of Farrakhan - a virulent antisemite. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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lovewarnotbabies
Comment No. 897422

October 31 7:32 DNK

A quick aside, not excusing Gulag, Stalin, Lenin, anybody, but I'll take issue with the Soviet Union being a failed economic system. The SU took Russia virtually from an agrarian society and pulled it screaming and bleeding into the industrial age in a few short years. Up until the fifties at least, the reason people in the West were worried about the SU, was that they suspected their economic system might be better than capitalism, witness the miraculous industrial rebirth that allowed them to beat Nazi Germany after having been all but wiped out five years earlier. SU did not transfer well (or at all) from industrialism to information society, but it did very well with factories, tractors and conveyor belts. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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attempt

Comment No. 897443

October 31 7:56

GBR

Yes, all good points. In a flipside of this trend, the mayor of New Orleans says the city must remain majority nonwhite, and the coach of the NY Knicks says he doesn't give a s*** about "those white folks" who hold season tickets. Now that blacks have significant power in the US, they too need to stop being racist, and to criticize those among them who are. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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cesard

Comment No. 897467

October 31 8:16 GBR

RogerintheUSA - you mean stuff like this? http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/1/newsid_2538000/2538169.stm Mobs of Americans calling for blood because a black man had the talent to go to university? Even today there is police brutality towards blacks in the US, last year the NYPD shot an unarmed blackman on his stag night. Hows the war on the muslim people, I mean terror going? [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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ComicalSpook
Comment No. 897481

October 31 8:32 GBR

I don't think there's much correlation between race and class. The fact that there are many poor white people is clearly a real situation, but it is based on lack of money, oppurtunity, education, etc and not as the result of irrational prejudices and cultural stereotyping. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Keynes

Comment No. 897539

October 31 9:09 GBR

I think halgeel is basically right. "Ethnic tensions" and the "far right" are rising in Europe too. Globalised addiction to Weimar policies: balance budgets at any cost to the poor. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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hallelujah

Comment No. 897557

October 31 9:22 IRL

Good comment. For the same reasons, all flags and territorial markings should be removed from all public places in N. Ireland. The intention of the markings may be political but the message is clearly "Beware - criminals on the rampage here" [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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jackoba

Comment No. 897568

October 31 9:30 GBR

jeez I'm bored of america can we have some articles about uhm places closer to home, or do I have to read the german papers to find news about the UK again noose's bad racism bad america diverse people with 300m different viewpoints [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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europeanstudent
Comment No. 897589

October 31 9:39 NLD

@cardinal "She probably considered that a personal attack. Why didn't you discuss the Dutch origins of the white South Africans who put the apartheid system in place, or the apparent discontent of some Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands? It makes as much sense." Thank you for your reply. I read it with interest. Of course I realised that for this young lady to be suddenly confronted with an environment in which the use of the word 'nigger' is discussed without the sensitivities that are at work in a US environment must have been disconcerting. As to your question why we "didn't [...] discuss the Dutch origins of the white South Africans who put the apartheid system in place, or the apparent discontent of some Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands?" Well, we were discussing some issues in the context of an MA-programme on English/American Literature. Sometimes we would indeed compare some of experiences in works of literature with recent events in the Netherlands, yet we could not do that all the time: Dutch present-day society was not our main focus. Most students in the Joyce class also were attending to the William Faulkner course, so some talk of Louisiana, the KKK, the American Civil War, etc, was unavoidable, you see? Of course, James Joyce's work refers to the treatment of the Irish by Anglocentric fanatics, and in *Ulysses* by James Joyce, for example, there is a rather striking reference to lynching, in chapter 12 (*Cyclops*). Look up the word 'electrocute' in an online electronic text-version of the book. The Irish were also depicted by both the UK as well as the US press as 'African', monkey-like creatures (these are bot my associations, yet they are the associations that were at play in the minds of the propagandists and their audience). An example of anti-Irish propaganda from the USA: http://historyproject.ucdavis.edu/imageapp.php?Major=IM&Minor=F&SlideNum=82.00 An example from the UK: http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/90.1/images/kenny_fig05a.jpg It was in the discussiom of matters such as these that a discussion of the significances of the usages of the word 'nigger' came up, in an academic context, because some of us felt it was relevant to the issues at hand. Personally, I spend much more time trying to study the colonial past of the Dutch with regard to the former Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) and the colonial wars in the 1940's than most Dutch people do. Ther's a minority of people here who want more discussion about such matters, and this minority has produced books, studies, documentaries on the subject. There are also 100,000's of people of Indonesian, Surinamese or Dutch Carribean origin in the Netherlands and there are many people - lawyers, talk show hosts, intellectuals, etc. - whose 'roots' lie in the former colonies who are prominently present in Dutch society. As I mentioned in my previous post there has been quite a bit of xenophobia in the Netherlands in the last six years especially, and Muslims have taken the brunt of the negative vibes. Several things are taking place

simaultaneously, though, because Muslims in the Netherlands are, of course, very different from each other. Many 'Muslims' simply have an Islamic background yet do not practise, yet they are regarded by a part of the Dutch population as being nothing but Muslims. At the same time a very noisy minority of Morrocan Dutch young men has been displaying some quite problematic behaviour. One could say that much of the behaviour of some ofthese young Morrocan-Dutch men is pretty racist, yet we do not hear or read people saying or writing about racist attacks by Morrocan-Dutch young folks. Also, almost all the energy of the Dutch security apparatus has for almost six years been spent on the tracking of a couple of hundreds of Islamists, some of whom actually are fanatics, and some of whom probably got mistakenly caught up in the net. Neo-nazi groups in the Netherlands have 'profited' from this situation, because there has been little attention to the danger they could pose. It is a very complicated situation, and everything I have just written or would write in a span of 5000 characters is bound to raise questions or lead to misunderstandings. As to South Africa: the relationship between the N'lands and the history of Afrikaners in South Africa has mostly been very indirect, except for the very specific ties between on one hand the tiny minority of Orthodox Calvinists in the N'lands and on the other the brethren of these Calvinist in S.A. 'Afrikaans', the language, was initially - in the 17th century - written down by means of the Arabic alphabet in Malaysia, which gives you a clue to the complexity of the history. The apartheid regime was horrible, it arose in a country outside of Dutch jurisdiction. By the way, the Afrikaners were traumatised by the post-Boer War camps, which can be compared with the experience of some of the Jews in Israel and part of the Serbs in ex-Y'slavia. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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Waltz

Comment No. 897732

October 31 10:50 GBR

@ Halgeel - "Peace to you. I would like to point ou that`American whites, which I suppose you do mean the middle and upper class Americans, hate the poor, no matter of the colour of their skin." Unlike in Britain, of course, where the middle and upper classes embrace the poor and never, ever denigrate them as chavs. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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BigYank76
Comment No. 898625

October 31 16:32 USA

LionelI don't buy your line of reasoning that America is racist. Yes we do have racist people but they come in all colors and sizes. If what you were saying is true then we would see thousands of white folk demonstrating for the "racists" and their right to be racist, we don't see that happening anywhere in the States, we usually see the opposite, in fact. It also seems that as of late several of these so called racial incidents were designed and perpetrated by black people themselves in the hope of causing trouble for someone else, the Tawana Brawley case comes to mind. I would think your time would be better spent working on the racism in the black community rather than accussing others. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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FLYSWATTER
Comment No. 898785

October 31 17:45 USA

The issue of race in the U.S. is a complex matter and to decipher it would require nor only the tools of the historican but also those of the cultural anthropologist. Thus concepts like caste, hypodescent, taboo, totems, ritual expiation, Freudian fears, dominant male vs. subordinate male conflict, racial myth, racial pollution, psychic envy, miscegenation, biological racial superiority, institutional reifiation of cultural artifcats, etc. would have to be appealed to for any adequate analysis. In any analysis of black-white antipodal conflict in the U.S. would also require a historical perspective that tells us that officially blacks from Africa were introduced to British American colonies in 1619--others argue that the first Africans came to the U.S. in the mid-late 1500s--as indentured persons[temporary enslavement], and that permanent slavery ensued then lasted for 246 years. That period was then follwed up by approximately 100 years of oppressive racial segregation with blatant economic and social inequalities. Only in 1965 that the U.S. culture was legally--though not socially--transformed to confer paper equality to both blacks and whites. So it is evident that it is only for some 12% of the time that they have been in the U.S. that legal equality and equal rights have been conferred on U.S. blacks. Given that historical cultures seek to perpetuate themselves the sociological paradigm that shaped U.S. cultural life for 90% of its existence is still much in existence at the psychological level. It's only the existence of the post-1965 laws that serves as a partial brake on the expression of such long-standing cultural attitudes. The incarceration and death penalty statistics demonstrate that at the psychic level U.S. society has not fully embraced the idea of extending to blacks full and equal life-opportunities and rights. There is an instinctive and often subjectively imperceptible negative reaction to the "black phenotype" as demonstrated by Malcolm Gladwell in his text "Blink".

Societies are complex organisms that are usually founded on totem and taboo considerations--which set the boundaries for social behaviour. On one extreme there's the taboo of incest and at the other extreme there's the fear of exogamy beyond caste boundaries. See Gunnar Myrdal's classic "The American Dilemma" for a discussion of the intimate fears and discomforts of whites on racial matters reavealed to him when he interveiwed thousands of whites on the issue of race--for his text on American sociology. There are those who argue that given its historical past the U.S. just cannot psychically absorb the African in his/her full phenotypical configuration--and therefore must resort to substitutes for the planation--such as prisons, urban segregation, abortions and the substitution of one artifical minority for another(the so-called "Hispanics") as a way of settling the issue. The U.S. President Lincoln--ironically referred to as "the Great Emancipator"--once suggested that the best solution for the U.S. "race problem" was for the Africans to be returned to Africa as a way of solving the issue once they were released from the onerous confines of the plantations to which they were tethered. That solution yielded only Liberia and its relatively few returnees. Eventually, in situ solutions were considered more cost effective and manageable. The nooses that Mc Pherson writes about are merely symbolic reminders that deep in the psyche of the U.S. the vision of the ritual lynching like a dormant virus suddenly reappears. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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cardinal

Comment No. 898864

October 31 18:48 USA

RameshN "Is there a difference in terms of usage between 'black' and 'African-American', or are they interchangeable?" They are interchangeable. Although both Charlize Theron and Teresa Heinz Kerry have jokingly pointed out that, since they were born in Africa, and now live in the US, they are African-American, too. And on Nightline, John McCain's wife said that their adopted Bangladeshi daughter wanted to know if people hated her because she is black. (This was in response to the disgraceful South Carolina primary in 2000, when the Bush camp spread the rumor that John McCain had an illegitimate black daughter - a very believable story, considering southern US history.) Generally in the US, if you look black, you are black. People sometimes refer to Vijay Singh as a 'black' golfer. But you can look white and be black, too. Here's a picture of the current head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

http://butterfield.house.gov You can seem black, even if you aren't, like singers Phoebe Snow and Norah Jones, and pianist Keith Jarrett. Music is one field where blackness can be considered an asset. Or you can be black part-time, like actor Wentworth Miller - white on television series Prison Break, black in the film The Human Stain. As FLYSWATTER pointed out, race in the US is complex. european student - I appreciate your sincere post. I mentioned apartheid and the Dutch, and problems with Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands only in a rhetorical sense. It's as if you were at university in the US, and an American student in a mathematics class "confronted" you about those issues. It would have nothing to do with the subject at hand, and would be unfair to you as an individual. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RameshN

Comment No. 898988

October 31 20:23 NZL

@cardinal. Thanks- I was mainly referring to the social etiquette. I usually refer to black Americans as 'blacks', purely as 'African-Americans' is too unwieldy. I realize that due to historical associations, 'negro' is to be avoided. But when visiting New York, I'd refer to 'blacks', and both a Jewish and WASP lady I became acquainted with both stated,'you can call them 'blacks' to me, but you must call them 'African-Americans' in public'. But this was puzzling, since when I attended some seminars at Columbia University, the term 'black' was used. This seems to be quite different to the US media, where whites will say far more frequently, 'African-Americans'- especially so by journalists of any colour and white politicians. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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cardinal

Comment No. 899138

October 31 22:33 USA

RameshN - as a matter of etiquette, IMO it's fine to use 'black' as an adjective, i.e. "the black population", "the black perspective". But used as a noun, i.e. "when we look at the blacks", "blacks do this", it seems crude and impolite.

Am I right in thinking that the term is quite acceptable in New Zealand as regards the Maori population? Isn't there a rugby team called the All Blacks? Cliff Curtis is probably the most successful New Zealand actor in the US - if you don't count Russell Crowe - but in American films, he always plays Arabs or Hispanics. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RameshN

Comment No. 899194

October 31 23:21 NZL

@Cardinal. Thanks. It would seem that one has to live in America for awhile to pick up the accepted usages-- which is impossible to do with watching TV due to the mediums own unspoken rules. REgarding Maori and Pasifika [ the Pacific Islanders ], 'brown' would be more accurate. In a fascinating display of cultural absorption, Maori and Pasifika youth have identified strongly with US black youth culture- especially music such as rap and hip hop. Older black music, eg jazz and blues hasn't the same degree of identification with the nonwhite young-- jazz is more 'white' music downunder. Brown youth will call each other 'bro'; and they also call me 'bro' quite often as I don't look too old. We enjoy Cliff Curtis's 'nonspecifically brown' Hollywood roles-- him playing a Colombian drug lord got plenty of laughs-- As well as Temuera Morrison in a Star Wars episode. The 'All Blacks' were named as such when the team was actually all white with one exception. A British article commented that the team played 'like they were all backs' [ agile, like the running backs in Gridiron ], but due to a typo, it came out as, 'they played like they were all blacks'. The country found the typo so hilarious that the name was officially adopted later! [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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stevejones123
Comment No. 901570

November 2 1:55 SAU

----"Also, don't forget that back when the US was integrating its schools the UK government was busy murdering between 13,000 and 100,000 Kenyans because of the color of their skin."-----Nothing to do with the fact that there was an armed insurrection at the time, was it. Perhaps you could now explain why the Americans killed millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians. Because of their dietary preferences?

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cardinal

Comment No. 901577

November 2 2:03 USA

RameshN - thanks for the explanation of the All Blacks. Very funny! As for actors, how could I forget Sam Neill? And Academy Award Winner Anna Paquin, who was born in Canada, but grew up in New Zealand. And Oscarnominated Keisha Castle-Hughes (to an American, a very "black" - sounding name!). But Cliff Curtis seems to pop up more often; he was totally convincing as a Mexican gang leader in Training Day, very scary. Temuera Morrison in Once Were Warriors, a great performance in a great film. And interesting to Americans, as we have been led to believe that there is "no color bar" in New Zealand, and that there is no difference between the white and Maori populations. But Once Were Warriors indicates that that might not be entirely true. In fact, Americans tend to believe that our racial problems are the worst in the world. That's probably not true, either. But if we got a report card, it would probably say "Must try harder". [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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RameshN

Comment No. 901678

November 2 6:22 NZL

@cardinal. Wow, you're a real film buff! I was such a klutz that after I saw 'Training Day', I asked my brother who was the 'scary gang leader'- he had to tell me that it was Cliff Curtis! Is it Keisha or Castle which sounds 'black'? There seems to be a tradition of brown NZ actors impersonating Mexicans in comedic roles- I'm not sure why. There's plenty of racial prejudice in NZ, but as I haven't lived in the US, I haven't been able to compare the two. Although one would like to characterise discrimination as mainly rising from a lack of education, from my personal experiences it is just as prevalent in the professional classes. Maori comprise about 10-15% of the population, and it would appear that at least half of all marriages/ unions are mixed- between Maori and non-Maori. Hence, this is not what one would expect in a totally fluid society. I'm not sure what the percentage of black American- nonblack marriage is. However, there is much wealth inequality. These are the net worth figures in NZ$ in 2001 : white $87000, Asians 21000, Maori 18000, Pasifika $7000. If one takes the proposition that someone is more likely to marry someone of

similar social class, the approx 1 : 1 ratio of brown-brown to brown-nonbrown marriage would be closer to what one would expect without colour bars. [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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riziki

Comment No. 902379

November 2 12:38 GBR

stevejones123: So, Nazi's invade France and when the French fight back it's a(legitimate) "resistance", British resistance is also to be lauded but how dare those pesky Africans rise up to defend their land and freedom, hey! [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]
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http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/lionel_mcpherson/2007/10/americas_race_obsession.html

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