Sunday, October 13, 2013

Of Persian snake charmers: Racism and global hegemony

Al Jazeera
Murtaza Hussain
October 10, 2013. 

The author, citing recent remarks about Persians, bemoans the fact that racism is alive and well in diplomacy.
As much as it did during the time of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the prime impulse behind military imperialism (in addition to seemingly insatiable greed) has always been a barely concealed racism towards the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Liberal Western thinkers have at certain points in history succeeded in checking the most heinous and self-destructive impulses of the hawks who feed off of endless war, but they persist in their machinations nonetheless. As the Iraq War demonstrated, such actors can still exert their will onto the world when circumstances are right.

While we like to believe the polite fiction that our policymakers are generally intelligent, reasoned and rational, at certain moments the mask slips and we learn that of the crude bigotry and arrogance which informs much war advocacy. We discover that the reason war is apparently both necessary and desirable is due to the deficient DNA of foreigners; to their incurable Oriental untrustworthiness and their fanatic desire to assert their own national sovereignty.

While in many ways civilisation has matured, the racist impulse - so clearly articulated by Roosevelt and Wilson - to subjugate and destroy the disobedient peoples of far flung lands has not dissipated in some quarters. It would be prudent to recognise it today for what it is, lest the horrendous crimes of the recent past be repeated.
Read the rest here.
Comment: This is a well meaning article in its intent to confront diplomacy and racism.  It should, however, be noted that any assumption that racism is not the bedrock of Western interaction in global affairs is somewhat naive.

That black and brown life is expendable in the way of progress (read whiteness) is a given fact illustrated by a sordid history of racism that grew steadily as the concept of a nation amalgamated into a nation-state system.

The West has fancy ideological positions on equality and justice but their mainstay actions always return to the default racism of devaluing black and brown life.

I do not wish to give the impression that black and brown life is encapsulated by like thinking individuals who are uniformly oppressed.  Life is, of course, more complicated than binary oppositions.

Nonetheless, my point is that when the US uses drones to kill whom they describe as "enemy combatants" or "militants" they do so not caring about the casualties who are mere innocents.  Those black and brown lives hardly warrant a mention in the West's collective consciousness (especially its official structures).

Dead children lying in a row after a drone bombing of a funeral or wedding is a matter of Western regret not to be outweighed by the imperative of killing the militants before they grow.

The world is structured by racism and racism persists as a value system whether it is recognized in the West or not.

Racism is the software that runs global politics from the pulpits of power in the West.

Nothing has changed.


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