The perennial enablers.
I found reason to start using the term 'racialist' in the 90s in Zimbabwe when I noticed a difference between my understanding of racism as an American born in 1942, and what I was experiencing in Zimbabwe. At first I thought your use of racialist in the current American contest was quite different but as I read on I realised that - despite the difference in context - meant thinking in terms of race, but without the hatred associated with racism. I'll give two examples. First I felt forced to resort to the term when I noticed after meeting a Black African manager of a large factory that a well to do White miner friend after the social function made the assertion that the manager was a 'White man in a Black skin'!! It was said in admiring tone. It clearly was not racism in the usual sense and I concluded privately that racial category was being used to explain that the man had mastered the cultural skills necessary to manage complex industrial operations. But that is just me and how I began making a distinction between racism and using race as a category of thought without rancour. The second example comes from V S Naipaul's A Turn in the South. Naipaul was from Trinidad and brown skinned the descendent of a poor Punjabi Brahmin whose grandfather migrated to Trinidad from India to cut sugar cane. While he was working in NYC he accepted an invitation from a Black American colleague to visit his family in the Carolinas. When his host's mother was showing him around the Southern town she repeatedly pointed out "Black folks live over there." White folks live over there." Since I had already felt it necessary to use the term 'racialist' from my experience in Zimbabwe I immediately saw this account as an example of racialism as opposed to racism in the American South. So your examination of Woopi's problems is quite different in detail and is consequently enriching my understanding of the term but I don't believe our understanding of it is very different. As always, I enjoy your work.
Vicariously proud that Whoopi's nutsack is still bigger and heavier than Joe Rogan's...., https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1490062529388810243
I would expect from etymology that a "racialist" is nothing more than a person who believes that races exist. 'ist' is nothing more than "person who believes in" and 'racial' is "things pertaining to race". 'ism' is "a philosophy of". As Lorenz states, 'racism' denotes an element of 'hatred' -- or, as I would put it less emphatically -- 'otherness'. But the key underlying word is 'race', and the debate topic of the day is: What is race?
We find that the term seems to be defined in what are targets of "racism". Ok, let's go there.
Whoopi made the mistake of using the ADL (Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith) definition of racism in operation up until a few days ago. The ADL previously had this definition up until 2020:
* the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person's social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics.
In 2020, that definition changed to the one Whoopi seemed to use:
* the marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges White people.
A week ago, the definition changed yet again -- to an "interim definition":
* racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity.
That change stemmed from Whoopi's comments.
So, all of this devolves on what "race" is. Is it purely physical characteristics, or does it have an ethnic component?
The ADL seems to want to have it both ways. Mr. Greenblatt, who is president of the ADL and whose family endured the Holocaust, said this: "there’s no question that the Holocaust was about race. That’s how the Nazis saw it as they perpetrated the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people across continents, across countries.”
Yet the ADL current definition seems to indicate that race is a separate component from ethnicity -- which is not how the Germans saw things. The Germans talked of racial purity in terms of religion, color of skin, color of eyes, sexual orientation, culture....
From the Holocaust Encyclopedia: "Hitler believed that a person's characteristics, attitudes, abilities, and behavior were determined by his or her so-called racial make-up. In Hitler's view, all groups, races, or peoples (he used those terms interchangeably) carried within them traits that were passed from one generation to the next. No individual could overcome the qualities of race. All of human history could be explained in terms of racial struggle."
Reference "social Darwinism"
We now live in a not-so-new world where for many otherness is hated. That's how cancel culture has flourished. I see many who would love to see Whoopi Goldberg canceled, because that would provide them the necessary schadenfreude from the left cancelling one of their own.
As for me, I enjoy a good debate, and it was sad to see The View give in to the baying wolves and cancel Whoopi for a week.
Now let's do Joe Rogan. And Patrice Cullors. Heh.
Oh, which definition do I think is the best? A: the ADL's first definition. When you can look at a person and instantly determine their values and mores, you are a racist.
This is so smart, simple and sensible that the only possible reaction from anyone invested in the zeitgeist will be to treat it like Dracula treats a cross.
The sad truth (as demonstrated by Tajfel and others) is that humans will use any possible excuse to form groups and find another group to hate and disparage. We all exist on an axis or continuum between being solo individuals and group members almost entirely molded and formed by our group and its ideas, ideals, morals etc.
and unfortunately the easiest surest way to ensure group cohesion is to define ourselves against the Other (ingroup/outgroup, there is no Us without a Them etc)...(this is also why I've always hated John Lennon's execrable anthem "Imagine"--even if there were no countries, religions etc, we'd still find a million different ways and reasons to hate each other, it's just what scared and vulnerable mortal mammals do!)
Either way, this was an excellent essay and I appreciate your work in trying to kill off that most phony and evil of all social constructs: Race.
"Can it be said that the way Hitler identified Jews was precisely the way that Jews identified themselves?"
Jews holding power and prestige thought themselves white Germans. Germans holding power and prestige and taking a page from American race codes - showed them otherwise.
"Picking up on those lessons, especially if we are to assume greater levels of power, wealth and influence are obligatory. It is better to be the king of a small hill than a prince at a higher elevation."
American Jews holding power and prestige again think themselves white, but now, both white American - and - whatever it is they call themselves doing in Israel.
Given sheer demographics, "it" doesn't end well for these endlessly aspirational white supremacists who honestly don't have a single real friend left in the world.