A Short History

Book - 2002
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Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2002
ISBN: 9780691008998
Branch Call Number: 305.8009 Fre
Characteristics: 207 p


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Oct 18, 2019

Thorough account on racism's development from late middle ages to the most racist political systems of the twentieth century: nazi germany, jim crow American south and apartheid south africa.
Jewish people in Medieval Europe had been singled out in early Christian history with Jesus' death (Matt 27:25)... Anti-semitism arises out of rejection and death of Jesus. Shortly after the doctrine of Transubstantiation was codified, Jewish people were accused of Host Desecration (look this up, it is extremely bizarre). During the Crusades, the assault on Jewish communities (especially in Germanic regions) were well documented. During Black Plague, Jews were commonly blamed for its spread. In short, a view of Jewish people as untrustworthy, unsavory and murderous was never far from medieval Christendom.
Christians in Middle Ages were banned from owning other Christians as slaves... those on periphery were now desirable as slaves (including pagan slavs).
As Europeans conquered and settled periphery, racist laws were established. For example, as germanic people expanded into Osteidlung, laws were made that only germanic people could hold office, join guilds and intermarriage with slaves (non-christians) were banned. When Ireland was conquered by English, Irish were banned from joining guilds and intermarriage was prohibited (this was often ignored and went unpunished).
In Spain and Portugal, after the reconquest, concepts of pure Christian blood became prevalent. Required for secular and ecclesiastical office. Conversos and Moriscas (jews and muslim converts to Chrisitianity) were held suspect and were not believed to be genuinely Christian but to have falsified their confessions....this allowed an identification of blood descent to establish who was of genuine Christian blood... eventually the Conversos and Moriscas were expelled by Spain.
In New World, at the same time, newly encountered peoples were regarded as either naive innocents in need of Spanish/Portugese direction or as being subhuman. Laws were established that gave sweeping powers to the colonizers over the peoples of the new world to conquer, convert and enslave and were supported by Catholic Church (i.e. Romanus Pontifex).
Many ideas of other peoples were beginning to take the form of race as we understand it today. Many of these ideas were echos or Aristotle's concept of people too uncivilized and were incapable of becoming so; therefore, it was justifiable to enslave them as this was all they could ever be (natural slavery)... although ancient Greeks saw this relating mainly to language and barbarians lack of civilized language.
Concepts of biological difference proliferated in 17th and 18th centuries (including many "enlightenment" thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant. Concepts of origins of people developed from the children of Noah (Canaan, son of Ham was cursed to be servant of Shem).... much speculation as to where Noah's children populated (goes back to even Flavius Josephus who postulated Ham settled Africa and adjoining parts of Asia).
Concepts developed of degenerated people... including Arthur de Gobineau blood hierarchy and blood degeneracy theories which influenced Richard Wagner and ultimately Hitler and Nazis.
Author identifies dangers to minorities when they are identified with national humiliations.... German Jewish people were blamed for the "stab in the back" rumors after World War I, blacks were viewed with hostility after American Civil War and blacks in South Africa were accused of aiding British during the Boer War.
Accusations of sexual crimes are prevalent in racist attitudes.... lynchings in early 20th century America, accusations by Hitler of Jews and blaming Jews for bringing "Negros" to Rhineland in the 1920s (the French brought in troops from colonies to enforce a military occupation when Germany fell behind in reparations payments).


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