Re: Ch. 5 - “Gone With The Wind”: The Invisibility of Racism In American Textbooks
Chapter 5: Gone With the Wind
I think that's a fascinating question. I was led to comment because I recently finished this chapter, then was greeted on "Fresh Air" by an interview of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. about his book making essentially the same point. https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/70946243 ... nstruction
I think it is somewhat overstated to assert that White Supremacy was born of the reaction to Reconstruction. It may have taken more deliberate and modern form, but it was certainly present before the Civil War. Nevertheless it is interesting to follow how all ideals of legitimacy were consciously subverted and by-passed when it came to race. Similar things are happening in Poland and Hungary in reaction against immigrants (particularly ironic given that Polish immigrants were behind a lot of the UKIP agitation that led to Brexit.)
I was particularly intrigued by the evidence in this book that the Reconstruction governments tried to elevate the general level of life in the South, with infrastructure and schools, (the original motivation behind the Republican Party formation from the pro-infrastructure Whigs) but the racists were more concerned with re-establishing dominance than with uplift for the common man in general. Gates puts this down to the need to keep a labor force for cotton, and I think there is something to that. One thesis even holds that the Great Migration to the north, and the Civil Rights revolution, were only permitted when the mechanization of cotton cultivation began. I find that too much of a stretch, but it should not be considered totally irrelevant.
Does that tell us anything useful about the current tension between nationalism and globalism? Well, the Brits are learning the hard way that starry-eyed nationalism is a recipe for so much fog one drives over the cliff. I think the end of the Syrian Civil War will allow the agitation to subside for now, but Southern Europe has not yet finished sorting out its shafting by the German policy on the Euro. We went through a serious time of economic dislocation with the coincidence of a stupid Great Recession and a stronger-than-expected surge by China. Those times tend to make people anxious and open to paranoia and general anxiety. I would not rule out more rounds of self-sabotaging populist rebellion, but I think it more likely that things now settle down and people focus on getting normal back.
Yes, Gunnar Myrdal's recognition that the "Negro Problem" was a white problem was a turning point in the long and sordid history of U.S. race relations. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out what a person, or nation, is steadfastly refusing to see (ref. Joe Biden and his overfamiliarity). I tend to think the others in the question are also problems created mainly by oppressive structures, but in the case of Islamophobia the violent road taken by jihadists has not made it any easier to get a clear view of that.
I remember listening to someone from the current Administration explaining what deeper vetting of immigrants would look like, and he said they should ask, "Do you believe that apostates should be killed?" which is a good marker for the distinction between the wanton violence of extreme Islam and the far more prevalent version of Islam that takes a moderate view. Aside from the practical problem that any jihadist with any determination would simply lie in answer to the question, I considered it a good idea. And it is worth something to exclude extremists who feel honor-bound to stand by their extremism.
There are some deep contradictions in the literalism of Islam combined with the long practice of using the sword to establish religious conformity. Christianity only got past the same problem after some enormously bloody internal wars of religion. Islam has made much progress, seeded by the more open approach to truth taken by the Sufi branch. Nevertheless, a person dedicated to human rights has to be a little careful.