What does Ferber mean when she writes that “the history of racial categorization is intertwined with the history of racism?”
From the time of Linnaeus categorizing all living things by his biblical, mono-genetical world view so that some things are superior and some things are inferior, simply by the nature of their creation—until today, where that idea of race (the falsity of race, more accurately) is used consistently as both a political and social wedge, the categorization of people by ‘race’ has been used to create a collective disdain for the ‘other’ borne from not knowing, misunderstanding and fear…enforced and encouraged through law or social hierarchy. One example is noted xenophobe Charles Murray and his ‘Bell Curve” (1994), which used flawed science to make a case that “non-whites’ had lower IQ, because, you know…
Buffon too, was a mono-geneticist, and created the popular notion of race as if white were the true color of humanity, and from his findings we created a world where the less white one was, the less favored by the law they would be. His ‘five races’ theory greased the skids for further abuse of non( very particular)-Whites under the guise of religious supremacy, and the practice of unquestionable doctrine.
I find it incredibly important to mention that the Bible says not one word about how HORRIBLE slavery is, but there are numerous verses about how to treat slaves and how slaves should be obedient. The history of categorization is intertwined with the Biblical narrative, which is knotted firmly to the history of racism.
The author makes the cogent point that ‘racist beliefs have been built upon’ flawed science and the linking of certain physical or cultural traits to ‘supposed genetic differences.” I not only agree with this and the other concepts put forth, I learned something (Linnaeus, Buffon, Blumenbach). In reflection, I was flabbergasted to hear group-mates in the class discussion insist that the Bible is a literal, inerrant document (in not so many words), and not make the connection between being scientifically classified as a sub-human, and that this science was used to justify the Biblical story ( a priori assumption), which has been and is still used to classify people as ‘worthy’ or, oh, I dunno, ‘evil’.
This may have been a slightly dense article, but it was not outside my wheelhouse; I enjoy the digging. It makes perfect sense to me that the vestiges of a white-supremacist, Christian-centric nation can be found where one goes looking for them. But this is true for things that are not true, which is why just looking for something is not enough. Ferber nails it by saying that “accounts that label the contemporary white supremacist movement as fringe and extremist often has the consequence of rendering this history invisible.” In my studies of Political Science, I have focused on the Christian Right and their rise to power through the Tea Party, but these studies have led me backwards to the Dominionist Rousas John Rushdoony, influential conservative Paul Weyrich, Christian Revisionist ‘scholar’ David Barton and many more ideologically-related individuals who profit from their white privilege and the biblical story that entrenched it.
My fear is not that people will believe what they believe. That’s fine. But when your biblical beliefs get mixed up in science and law and the everyday social life of one who has made the choice to NOT believe, what I am feeling is that same sort of oppression that ‘non-whites’ have long experienced under Biblically-inspired laws. Take the three men I mentioned above as examples… Rushdoony believed Deuteronomy and Leviticus should replace the Constitution, Weyrich created the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) of Voter ID and Stand Your Ground fame, and David Barton, as a former head of the Texas GOP and a member of both the California and Texas School Boards for more than twenty years, bent the ear of publishers to slowly create a new generation of kids who truly BELIEVE that America is a Christian Nation meant to be occupied by Christians, ruled by God’s law…that democracy is of the devil, as is evolution and the mere acknowledgement of global warming….the minimum wage, any but the first ten ‘ordained and inspired’ amendments…
disappointed I was in the lack of awareness, even an acquaintance
with the facts re: the Bible and the long history of it being used to
justify atrocious and ghastly acts, from my classmates, given that
this WAS the assigned reading.
(Planting The Seed: The Invention of Race....Abby L. Ferber)