Racism in America and Who Wants a Race War in America
Seven years after the majority voted for Obama as president, America seems more racially divided than ever. Riots broke out across the nation last year and have continued through the spring and summer of this year. The level of social unrest in America is higher than it has been in over half a century.
Yet, when a white killed 9 blacks at a black church in Charleston, riots didn’t occur as blacks took to the streets. Rather, multiracial demonstrations took place peacefully and families of the victims told the person accused of killing them that they forgave him.
There is little doubt that if this murder spree had taken place in Ferguson, Baltimore, or New York City, that massive rioting and looting would have taken place.
Why the difference in reactions? The answer is that as you travel across America you see culturally and ethnically different societies. And, how these differing parts of the country react is frequently quite different.
Take Charleston. The Reverend Norvel Goff told the packed, multiracial congregation of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, on Sunday, “Lots of folks expected us to do something strange and break out in a riot. Well, they just don’t know us.” This was before tens of thousands of South Carolinians, white and black, marched in unity across the Ravenel Bridge on Sunday night.
It’s also important to remember that South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is a black – the only one in the US Senate – hardly the mark of rampant racism.
While the northern US says it is more racially diverse and prides itself on winning the Civil War and eliminating slavery, the recent rioting show that the greatest civil unrest is in the “Old North.”
Meanwhile, in the “Old South,” the ugly face of racism has disappeared from reoccuring to a great extent. Demographer Joel Kotkin found that 13 of the 15 best cities in the country for African Americans to live in are now in the South. Over the last decade, millions of Black Americans have been reversing the Great Migration of a century ago to live in the south. A big part of that story is economic, as Southern states have encouraged more business development. But it’s also cultural.
Although Blacks and Whites live in separate neighborhoods by choice but based on economic and historical imperative – the Whites in suburbs and the Blacks in urban settings, the local culture is quite different that in the north. Christianity is still a strong influence in the region and the killings in a church during Bible Study shocked White Christians as much as it did Blacks.
In Baltimore, however, an attempt by Black pastors to stop the rioting generally fell on deaf ears. This reflects a weaker Christian influence in Baltimore.
Is America Racist?
Most counties have racist tendencies and America is no different, even though it has a reputation as a “melting pot.” However, Americans have strived to rid themselves of any racism. In fact, one reason many voted for Obama was to prove that racism had disappeared from America.
However, there are more types of racism than merely White versus Black. Socioeconomic issues and politics have created many more divides in the US.
While there are very few Blacks in the American Southwest, there are still racial issues – White Versus Hispanic. As the percentage of Hispanics has grown, there is a growing racial tension between traditional Euro-American culture and Hispanic culture. This had led to the growth of the La Raza movement. La Raza, “The Race” — seen most prominently in the National Council of La Raza, an ethnic lobbying organization.
The phrase La Raza is just as racially charged as anything white supremacists use. La Raza goes beyond a common language or country of origin and is more akin to the German word “Volk” which used frequently by Hitler. And in Spanish, La Raza means much more that the neutral word “puebla.”
The use of the phrase La Raza reflects its troubling modern origins. It came into popular currency during the 1930s in Spain, when the Fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco wished to promote a new Iberian identity that went well beyond the commonality of Spanish citizenship and fluency in the Spanish language. Franco expropriated La Raza to promote the racist idea that the Spanish were a superior people by birth.
Raza was deliberately reintroduced in the 1960s to promote a racially superior identity of indigenous peoples and mestizos born in the Spanish-speaking countries of the New World. That is why the National Council of La Raza once had a close affinity with MEChA, the infamous racialist U.S. student group that advocates a new Hispanic nation created out of the American Southwest.
There is also considerable racial tension between American minorities. The most noticeable is that between Blacks and Hispanics. Blacks were once the largest American minority. However, as Hispanics have grown into the largest American minority, they have gained considerable political power. Today, politicians are more concerned about winning the Hispanic vote than the Black vote.
There is also a growing economic tension as Hispanics have generally moved up the economic ladder much faster than Blacks. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, in writing about the killings in Charleston last week said, “We made the country rich, so when you came, you could find your American dream on our nightmare.”
There is also a growing tension between Blacks and Asian minorities. Asians are the most likely immigrant sector to economically flourish. In many cases, they own many of the small stores in Black communities, which create tensions and leads to many Asian stores being looted during riots. On the other side, Asians don’t like university quotas that allow less qualified blacks to go to college rather than better qualified Asians.
Who is Pushing these Racial Tensions?
Historically, there are those who use racial tensions to their own advantage. Who are they and what are their goals?
White, Black, Hispanic Separatists or Nationalists
While the vast majority of Americans want racial peace, there are many who see the racial tension and overall civil unrest in America as an opportunity.
Since the 1960s, Black nationalists have advocated for an independent black nation in America. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has called at one time for a black nation. In a Meet the Press interview he said, “If we cannot get along in peace after giving America 400 years of our service and sweat and labor, then, of course, separation would be the solution to our race problem.”
On the Nation of Islam website, Final Call, a commentary posted June 10th says, “We need land wherein we can build our own society free from the tension, hatred and violence that have accompanied our race relationship with the white race of America.”
Other groups like the New Black Panthers have argued for Black separatism. Some were actively involved in the rioting in the past year and many think their involvement in the civil unrest is designed to create the type of events that might lead to a separate Black nation. In fact, Malik Zulu Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice said to move forward and change things there must be a “stirring of the pot” against what he called a conspiracy to keep White supremacy in control of Black people. Shabazz played a prominent role in the Baltimore and Ferguson riots.
Shabazz went on to castigate Charleston Blacks for not rioting. He said there is “collaboration between the power structure and a certain class of Blacks who have agreed to cooperate with the power structure.” He continued by saying there is a strong grip on the local clergy in South Carolina that must be broken. They are dedicated to keeping the Black population “quiet and obedient” and the people need a lifeline they can’t get from local leadership that has “cut a dirty deal with the devil.”
With agitation like that, it’s easy to see why riots break out in cities where there is a strong Black separatist presence.
Dylann Root, the suspected Charleston murderer has shown a light on White Supremacists in America. Although Root has no known relationship with any White Supremacist group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Root did say he wanted to start a race war. He also credited the Council of Conservative Citizens for developing his racist views.
White Supremacist groups have maintained a lower profile than the KKK did half a century ago, although they shouldn’t be seen as any less threatening. They are trying to rid themselves of the “redneck” image and are trying to present a more appealing image. For instance, the National Policy Institute is working to create an intellectual class of white separatists. The organization’s editorial unit publishes “scientifically-based” books like “Race Differences in Intelligence” and “The Perils of Diversity.”” Institute president Richard Spencer prefers a more professorial approach of publishing books and organizing conferences. “Our goal is to form an intellectual community around European nationalism,” he wrote.
There are also Hispanic nationalists who advocate a separate Hispanic nation, frequently called Aztlan. A prominent advocate of Aztlán is Professor Charles Truxillo of the University of New Mexico, who envisions a sovereign Hispanic nation called the República del Norte (Republic of the North) that would encompass the Northern Mexico, Baja California, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and southern Colorado.
One group that advocates Hispanic nationalism is MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán). They eschew the name “Hispanic” and prefer the name Chicano. A passage from MEChA’s national website reads: “As Chicanas and Chicanos of Aztlán, we are a nationalist movement of Indigenous Gente that lay claim to the land that is ours by birthright. As a nationalist movement we seek to free our people from the exploitation of an oppressive society that occupies our land. Thus, the principle of nationalism serves to preserve the cultural traditions of La Familia de La Raza and promotes our identity as a Chicana/Chicano Gente.”
The Political Factor in American Racism
Needless to say, there are many racists of differing ethnic backgrounds that seek civil unrest in America. However, their radical form of racism appeals to few and in the end, it seems that politicians are more likely to use racism to either gain power or to be reelected.
From the end of the Civil War to the 1950s, the GOP used its Black voter base and the issue of the Civil War and slavery to win elections. That changed with the Civil Rights Act, which switched Black voters to Democrat. Since then, the Democratic Party has used racial issues to boost Black votes.
The key to winning elections in America is turnout – making sure your voters vote in greater numbers than the opposing party’s voters. Race is frequently used to boost percentages.
The power of race can be seen in the 2012 presidential election. A 2013 Census Bureau report showed a higher percentage of African-Americans than whites voted in a presidential election for the first time in history during the matchup between Obama and Romney.
The report found that more than 66% of eligible blacks voted in the presidential contest. Only 64.1% of whites turned out to vote. Clearly a Black president helps Black turnout.
No wonder the GOP has two Hispanic presidential candidates for 2016.
But, this is not the end. Minorities are a growing part of the American electorate. The number of Asian and Hispanic voters grew from 2008 to 2012. Hispanics added 1.4 million people and Asians added over 500,000. Between 1996 and 2012, blacks, Asians and Hispanics all saw their percentage of the voting population increase.
Over the last five presidential elections, the share of voters who were racial or ethnic minorities rose from just over one in six in 1996 to more than one in four in 2012,” said Thom File, the Census Bureau report’s author.
The highest turnout of blacks, in addition to the growing number of Hispanics and Asians, also explain Obama’s success in defeating Romney. According to CNN exit polls, 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama over Romney.
But, what of the growing Hispanic bloc? The Census Bureau data showed that the Hispanic turnout rate was far below that of blacks and whites – only 48% of the Latino population turned out, which was nearly two percentage points below the 2008 rate. While the Latino population in the country increased by about 1.4 million to 11.2 million from 2008 to last year, the number of Hispanics who were eligible to vote but didn’t grew by 2.3 million to 12.1 million.
No doubt politicians in both the Republican and Democratic Parties are trying to figure out how to boost Hispanic turnout. And no doubt, they will find some racial issues to use in the 2016 election.
Undoubtedly, this means that racism will continue to be an issue. Minorities are a growing political force, and how they vote and the percentage they turnout on election day is the key to victory in future American elections. That means that American politicians will continue to exploit racial tensions and even make racial feelings rawer in the future.
Iraq and Syria: The Problem of Strategy
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
June 19, 2015
The United States has now been actively at war with terrorism movements since 2001. Throughout that time, it has struggled to find ways to develop some form of meaningful strategy, measure its progress, and give that progress some degree of transparency and credibility to the Congress, the American people and our strategic partners, and the media. So far, its success has been erratic at best. On most occasions, the U.S. has issued policy statements that set broad goals, but did not really amount to a strategy. There was no real assessment of the situation and the reasons for selecting a given course of action, there was no real plan and set of milestones to measure progress by, there were no real details as to the required resources, and any supporting measures of effectiveness have often added up to little more than political justification and spin.
Iran to Iraq: Forget the United States, stick with us
By J. Matthew McInnis
American Enterprise Institute
June 24, 2015
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s visit to Tehran last week was quite the diplomatic show. Along with meetings with President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkani, and prominent Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Abadi had a well-publicized audience with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Their number one agenda item was, unsurprisingly, the flagging effort against ISIS. Khamenei promised Iran will help root out terrorists in Iraq and drilled home two notable themes. First, the Supreme Leader wanted to make one thing clear: Iran is with you and the Americans are not.
Crumbling States: Security Sector Reform in Libya and Yemen
By Yezid Sayigh
June 18, 2015
Already-weak states in Libya and Yemen crumbled as struggles for control over their security sectors became central to transitional politics after the popular uprisings of 2011. Instead of being reformed and upgraded to enhance the fragile legitimacy of interim governments, the security sectors collapsed by 2014. Libya and Yemen are now caught in a vicious circle: rebuilding effective central states and cohesive national identities requires a new consensus on the purpose and governance of security sectors, but reaching this agreement depends on resolving the deep political divisions and social fractures that led to civil war in both countries.
Why Iran’s Past Nuclear Actions Matter
By Ilan Berman
American Foreign Policy Council
June 23, 2015
The National Interest
It would be fair to say that the past year-and-a-half of nuclear talks with Iran has not been America’s finest negotiating hour. But even by the comparatively low standards of U.S. diplomacy to date, the collapse of the American position in recent days has been nothing short of breathtaking. Roughly a week ago, the White House began walking back the dog on the issue of PMDs: the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear effort that have been carried out so far by the regime in Tehran. That topic has been hotly debated for years, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has identified nearly a dozen potential PMD activities – ranging from bomb designs to the development of nuclear detonators – that Iran needs to explain fully. So far, however, the Islamic Republic has done nothing of the sort, as the IAEA itself complained publicly back in March. Until very recently, this lapse was considered a very big deal. Just this spring, Secretary of State John Kerry was still insisting that Iran’s disclosure of its past military-related atomic activities was an ironclad requirement for any sort of agreement with Tehran. Now, however, America’s chief diplomat is singing a decidedly different tune.
ISIL Revenues: Grow or Die
By Frank R. Gunter
Foreign Policy Research Institute
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is the ultimate predatory state. It has been able to obtain vast amounts of financial and other resources in a relatively short period of time by theft or extortion. However, its revenues are mostly unsustainable. As a result, like other extreme predatory states, it must either rapidly expand or slowly die. Coordinated activities by the anti-ISIL coalition can accelerate this loss of revenues and substantially weaken the ISIL proto-state. As has been reported by the Financial Action Task Force (February 2015), the Combating Terrorism Center (December 2014), and a wide range of news outlets including the Economist (June 4, 2015), and the Wall Street Journal (March 23, 2015), ISIL has obtained large financial and other resources from a variety of sources. A rough summary of ISIL financial revenues in 2014 is given below although it should be noted that this list is not exhaustive. There are other sources of ISIL revenues including funds brought in by foreign fighters, financial support raised through social media such as twitter, donations by some non-profits, etc.
ISIS Loses Libyan Stronghold
Institute for the Study of War
June 24, 2015
ISIS lost control of its primary Libyan stronghold in the eastern city of Derna on June 12. Local Islamist groups expelled ISIS from the city following ISIS’s assassination of a local leader. The loss of Derna is unlikely to affect ISIS’s military strategy in Libya, as the organization controls other cities along the central coast. However, it suggests that ISIS may struggle to maintain social control in cities outside of Iraq and Syria, as the organization ultimately seeks to do across the Middle East and North Africa.
Turkey’s Political Scene Post-Election (Part 1, 2, and 3)
By Soner Cagaptay
June 22, 2015
On June 10, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Deniz Baykal, former chair of the country’s main opposition, leftist Republican People’s Party (CHP), to discuss Turkish politics in the aftermath of the June 7 elections, in which Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its thirteen-year legislative majority. Turkish analysts report that, during the meeting, Erdogan and Baykal discussed a potential AKP-CHP coalition government. Indeed, many other coalition options are now being discussed in Ankara, including one between the AKP and similarly right-wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP), an apparently more plausible option (the MHP scenario is discussed in Part 2 of this PolicyWatch; Part 3 discusses scenarios involving the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP). But the AKP-CHP option deserves analysis as an intriguing case because it would bring the country’s two largest parties together, potentially ending a protracted era of political polarization, as well as align Turkey’s Syria policy closer with that of the United States. Here are some possible developments under this unusual partnership.