Globe and mail dating racism

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It is as if the racists’ greatest sin is that they are bad thinkers: they are “essentialists”, they deviate from “classical biological racism” or they are making false empirical statements about reality that the anti-racist academics work for long hours to correct by highlighting a lot of statistical data that proves them incorrect – “No, there aren’t that many asylum seekers, no there are no ghettoes here.” This is “look at the demographic data”-type argumentation.It is because of such tendencies that recalling anti-racism is a crucial task.Most importantly, we are seeing a massive rise in virulently racist and intolerant forms of ethno-religious-nationalism, with Israel being a model form.The salience of racism was brought particularly home to me here in South Africa.This has meant, among other things, a relative increase in the importance of the function of the ideological (for example, national values, national histories) as a centripetal force securing both the practical and the ideological unity of the nation-state.Because of this centrality, the social forces that take on the task of protecting ethno-national ideologies develop an increased racist intolerance towards the plurality of ideas and identities that not long ago marked the most benign forms of multiculturalism.

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Indeed, if we are to compare racism and anti-racism as products, we can say that across history racism has been far more successfully “recalled” and made operationally suitable for a variety of socio-economic and cultural environments.

It has morphed and shown a capacity to target a variety of people, sometimes many at the same time: blacks, Asians, Arabs, Jews, Romas and Muslims.

It has been used as a tool of segregation, a tool of conditional integration and, most dramatically, a tool of extermination.

Anti-racist thinkers bear some responsibility for this ossification.

Whereas racists happily move from one form of racism to another, caring little about logical contradictions, inconsistencies and discrepancies in their argumentations, anti-racist academics spend an inordinate amount of time trying to judge racists on precisely such grounds.

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