Racism: a Short History Essay example

1347 Words 6 Pages
Racism: a Short History

George Fredrickson makes an argument ultimately against the dichotomy between civilization and savagery, specifically the resurgence of ethnoreligious bigotry that, according to him, replaces 20th century race theory in order to justify continued inequities and sociopolitical oppression worldwide in Racism: A Brief History. His book delineates the rise of modern race theory, beginning in Medieval Europe and synthesizing an explanation for the existence and success of the overtly racist regimes, the United States, South Africa, and Nazi Germany. Fredrickson cautions, however, that racism can easily become interchangeable with religious bigotry when facing corporatism that aims to alienate, marginalize, and
…show more content…
The genocide of Native American peoples initiated by the Spanish in the Caribbean and ultimately propelled and most fiercely executed by English colonials in North America, has fallen victim to a collective amnesia that Fredrickson seems to suggest is only a natural consequence of the religious indoctrination that is inherently vital to the American identity. Though not the main thrust of his work, there are several passages that aptly make this point.

He argues that the rise of Christianity ushered in a polarity between itself and Judaism, "Anti-Judaism was endemic to Christianity from the beginning" noting one of the earliest persecutions of Jewish people began in 1096 during the First Crusade (18). Because of their differing interpretations of the bible, Jews became associated with the Devil, inherently evil and irredeemable. Anti-Semitism is thus a deeply fundamental, European tradition that predates pre-Darwinian racism. This bigotry, he suggests, laid foundations for the "us vs. them" theme that would become key to Western thought. With the dominance of Christianity well in place and the ushering in of Enlightenment thought, science and biology played a crucial role to the maintenance of hierarchal structures in 18th century Europe. French ethnological discourse gave rise to biological determinism, an ideology that would find its way to the Caribbean and North America as maritime…