It’s indeed a sad state of affairs in the world that the term racism (along with other words like Nazi, bigot, homophobe, etc) resembles the aftermath of a car wreck: so twisted and mangled that it barely represents what it once stood for. We’ve reached a low point in America where the term is simply a hammer used by those who are too lazy or intellectually dishonest enough to develop arguments for the causes they believe in. It’s a clever ploy since being accused of racism or bigotry is impossible to disprove and puts many of the unprepared immediately on the defensive.
I’ve had the luxury and dare I say privilege of having lived in 3 different countries in Europe over the course of a decade. Travel in Europe has brought me to places that few of my fellow Americans will ever see, and in many cases wouldn’t want to as Chisinau, Bratislava, or Minsk don’t normally rank high on TripAdvisor’s must see cities.
I bring up the subject so that I can discuss how my travels across various parts of the world have exposed me to racism, bigotry, and oppression in the more traditional sense of the terms.
Having spent considerable time outside the US, I have a unique perspective that others don’t, making my take slightly different from the norm. In this day and age this is something we badly need as discussions are rapidly ossifying into right and left silos, a development that is completely unproductive and frankly scary for the future of the republic as it seems we can agree upon nearly anything in 2020.
Before we get started, it’s helpful to define racism, at least how I was raised to understand it. Merriam Webster (for now) defines racism as: “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
My Anecdotal Experiences
To get right into it, if you want to have steam coming through your ears like a character in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, find a group of Polish guys, sit around a wooden table with a leg that wobbles and start taking vodka shots as they do in Poland. You’ll soon forget about the rickety old table as you’ll begin hearing statements make Archie Bunker sound rather reasonable. Chances are you won’t have this opportunity, especially with Covid, so I’ll save you the trouble (although Poland is sure worth visiting) and tell you that Polish men harbor incredibly racist ideas which will be sandwiched between a slavo of kurvas, the defacto curse word in Poland. Anecdotal yes, but chances are you won’t have the opportunity to witness it yourself.
Are all Polish racist? Obviously not. In fact, few act out on their beliefs, many of which are due to lack of exposure to the groups they portend to dislike and feel superior to. Nevertheless, given the bar currently set by Twitter mobs in America or the New York Times, as ironic as this will come across, the beliefs of the average Polish man no doubt bring back ghosts of the Third Reich.
On a bizarre side note, Mike Tyson has his own energy drink in Poland which is called Black Energy. I am not sure what to make of that except to say such a drink probably wouldn’t be very popular in the US right now.
Prior to the pandemic I visited Cairo, Egypt which is a must see for any travel enthusiast. Outside of the pyramids of Giza, I had my own moment of astonishment In the Cairo national museum. My fiance kept getting bothered by young girls in burkas asking for selfies. They were very shy, with an entire crowd of their peers looking on to see if they’d actually get the picture. This kept happening over and over again to the point of it becoming a nuisance. We finally came to realize that it was the first occasion in which they encountered a Western woman with her hair exposed. Once I figured this out, I tried to encourage as many photos as possible to spread the word! Later on in our trip, we were sitting outside our restaurant when a waiter approached us, making some small talk. After finding out we were soon to be married, he asked me how many camels it costs to get my fiance. This wasn’t a joke.
I took a taxi once in Kiev and was picked up by a man who obviously wasn’t a local as you’ll soon understand. It was clear enough to ask where he was from and it turns out he moved to Ukraine from Ghana around 3 years ago. He brought up politics, not me, and it turns out he was a Trump supporter. The main reason is that China has engaged in a type of economic imperialism in Africa for some time now. For example, China will loan money to a poor African city in order to build a bridge, knowing fully well local government cannot pay it back. As a result a deal is cut to to install a factory on the opposite side of the bridge and the loan is forgiven.
Taxis tend to be great places for heterodox thought apparently as I had another interesting experience, this time with an Iranian man. For the record I never bring up politics in discussions with strangers, it’s become religion to an extent and I prefer to share my thoughts to those who want to read them but never force them upon others. So it was the driver who asked me what I thought about Trump.
For sure an Iranian guy has to hate him was my thinking but it turned out he loved Trump and said he did many good things for the Iranian people and didn’t want Biden running the country in 2020.
So let’s set the record straight. It’s only 2 people in my sample size but an African man expresses his admiration for the same president who the US brands as a bigoted racist. Then an Iranian man expresses favor for a man also branded an Islamophobe. Can you perhaps see the point I’m making, that you need to exit your bubble a bit to understand the world?
The irony is that while this is happening in real time, radicals in England are trying to tear down the statue of imperialist exploiters like Cecil Rhodes for the deeds he did in the 19th century. Of course, stories like these get absolutely no attention in a press obsessed with Trump’s Twitter account, despite the fact that an oppression hungry media would seem to jump on a real oppression story but since it’s China, meh.
Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Not in Europe
Living in Europe has exposed me to the many tribal disputes and spats that have made up the history of the continent going back to antiquity. On that subject, let’s consider the old gem of yesteryear, namely Cyprus, a country I’ve visited extensively. Few realize that only the southern, Cypriot side of the country is part of the EU, the northern part, referred to by the local Cypriots as the “Occupied Area” is a true wild west of the world, only recognized formally by Turkey. You can do a lot of illegal and shady things in Northern Cyprus like set up your own bank or casino. To this day relations between Cyprus and Turkey are fraught, and even as of this writing there are now increased tensions between Greece and Turkey. I bring up Cyprus to show that the norm or status quo is for countries and regions not to get along.
Speaking of Europe as a whole, the list of grievances in even modern day times quickly becomes exhausting. Getting back to Poland, they were not welcomed with open arms when massive groups moved to UK for work opportunities nor in turn are the Polish very friendly to their Ukrainian neighbors who are doing the exact same thing in their own country. After blacks and homosexuals, the Polish generally generally rank Ukrainians 3rd on the list in terms of perceived inferiority. Of course Ukraine has been at war with Russia since 2014 which means there is no open border between countries, so plenty of animosity after 14,000 soldiers gave their life to defend Crimea. On the topic of borders, Hungary’s current president, Victor Orban, sealed the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2015 during the height of the immigration crisis in Europe, a contentious issue in a country known for its xenophobia. Heading to Western Europe we’ve had independence movements in Spain, terror attacks in London as well as Paris (Charlie Hebdo), and going a little further in time there were the ongoing tensions between Northern Ireland and England. Finally, the only time it is justified to use a term like Nazi would be to discuss the rising anti Semitism cropping up throughout Europe over the past decade.
Take any of the above examples and you’ll find plenty of disconnect between communities whether it’s Polish animosity towards Ukrainians, Ukrainian hatred of Russians, Turkish discontent with Cypriots, I can keep going but I’ll end up sounding like Willy Wonka in that pivotal final scene: “et cetera, et cetera, et cetera”. All of these tensions between groups would easily fit under the circus tent of what qualifies as “racism” these days in America.
So when I digest of all this discontent I either read about or have visibility experienced, I have to step back and marvel at how amazing it is that the groups previously named, plus a slew of others outside of Europe can set aside differences and get along in near perfect harmony in the United States. I don’t blame those who are living in America not to see this, no more than I’d blame someone who had never seen Earth from afar to recognize the globe if it was their first time viewing it. As mentioned, living outside the country affords one a unique perspective.
Understanding the Nature of Racism in America
None of what I’ve written thus far is to say that America doesn’t have problems, it does. But last time I checked women are allowed to drive automobiles and don’t have to cover their heads if they don’t want to, which are more accurate examples of patriarchy than shallow, poorly documented arguments about the gender pay gap that are used to get votes or in the case of Elizabeth Warren an excuse for losing an election (more on this at the end).
I can’t remember the last time I even heard a national debate about gay marriage in America, I think we can agree this case is now closed, yet only 7% of Nigerians, 9% of Indonesians, 14% of Russians, and 37% of Indians (South Asia) agree with the statement “homosexuality should be accepted by society”. Yes, along with some other Western nations, America is by far one of the safest, most accepting places for homosexuals in the entire world. After all, if America is so homophobic as left extremists paint it out to be, I can’t imagine it could still be as terrible as a country like Brunei where it’s perfectly legal to be stoned to death for the cime of homosexuality.
On that note, those extreme Leftists who bash anyone even daring to question elements of Islamic belief will be in for quite a shock when the migrant groups they badly wish to invite en mass to the West harbor the type of rigid religious fundamentalism they also claim to despise. We already see this situation already happening in cities like London where the LGBT community is clashing with traditional Muslims or in France where a teacher was recently beheaded for discussing the Charlie Hebdo incident in the classroom.
Interracial dating, something that not so long ago was illegal in some US states, has been a non-issue for quite some time in America. Besides some backwoods parts of the country, when is the last time anyone in America even cared if their neighbors were an interracial couple? That’s definitely not the case for the rest of the world, and even in many developed countries like Japan or China, it’s still taboo to marry outside of one’s race.
As I’ve alluded to before, not getting along is the status quo both past and present. Try applying for a loan if you are a Turk living in Cyprus, or finding someone to rent an apartment to you in Eastern Europe if you are black, let alone a residency permit. Although anti semitism is also on the rise in America, there is still not a place besides Israel itself which offers the same levels of protection and tolerance than America does for Jews.
How a Vocal Minority Are Attempting to Warp the Past and Present
The only misrepresentation and marginalization on a mass scale I see going on in America is that a small group with very large voices are trying to spread lies and disinformation about the the entire country. Their accusations have little if any truth behind them, the tactics are the same you’d find on a childhood playground, and the only antidote prescribed are asinine. Any study on revolutionary history will tell you how this will end.
My observation from afar is that both legacy media plus social media are selectively choosing to curate and amplify a handful of incidents for maximum outrage. It’s important to stress the paucity of the events that are literally causing parts of cities to burn down. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that several news cycles were swept up by Jesse Smollet’s whopper of a story, which happens to demonstrate how far we’ve come as a society for such a tall tale to even garner the attention the press gave it. After all, if a society were truly racist as it’s portrayed to be, then who would even entertain such a story let alone put it all over the news for weeks? Furthermore, why does a fake racist story even make the news if America is so systematically racist? Wouldn’t the Jessie Smollet story have gotten buried in the news with the true racist events taking center stage?
A handful, yes, handful of incidents which themselves are ambiguous as far as racial motive goes (see definition above) do not reflect a country of 350 million people spread over 4 time zones (sorry Alaska & Hawaii) no more than binge watching my 600 lb life would lead one to conclude that all Americans are morbidly obese (no pun intended). Shoutout to Dr. Nowzaradan!
In a country of 350 million people you will have all star athletes, blockbuster actors and actresses, Nobel prizes winners, tech billionaires, genius mathematicians, rocket scientists, and neurosurgeons. Unfortunately, you will also have serial killers, child molesters, anarchists, neo Nazis, racists, homophobes and bigots. As a society, we are perfectly fine with accepting the former but still have difficulty with the latter.
The Best Proof that Claims of American Racism are Very Much Hyperbole
From the many years I’ve spent overseas, whenever I’ve visited a country off the beaten path, for example in Central or Eastern Europe or in Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, etc, the locals I’ve encountered still assume I drive a convertible like Don Johnson from Miami Vice and during Christmas I have a second home the size and making of the McAllister’s. Not once have I ever been accused of being a slave driver or armchair bigot. The only flack I ever really got as an American overseas were in the more developed countries where I’d take a few jabs about Trump.
The bigger elephant in the room, the argument that basically puts this whole notion of terms like systemic racism to rest is the sheer amount of immigrants from non-European countries all over the world that still would love to make the United States their home and do quite well once they come here. Consider that each year the US government grants visa rights to 50,000 Indians (South Asia), a program officially termed the Diversity Visa Lottery. Yes, it is called a lottery, ie you’ve made it or won something big. So let that sink in, there are people on the other side of the world who would feel as if they had had won a lottery for nothing more than the right to simply live in the United States legally.
Not only do immigrants from across the globe badly wish to make America their home, they also thrive in the country. It’s no wonder Indians want to come to America when the median household income is $123,453! Taking this a step further, let’s see how the actual facts bear out the notion of white privilege we suddenly hear so much talk about. Using the same data set referenced above, taken from the US Census Bureau of 2018, we can see that white Americans earn a median income of $65,902. The following immigrant groups earn more: Indian ($123,453), Taiwanese ($102,328), South African ($90,517), Filipino ($89,109), Chinese ($80,944), Japanese ($80,036), Singapore ($79,852), Pakistani ($77,074), Israeli ($76,584), Iranian ($75,905), Lebanese ($75,337), Sri Lankan ($73,856), Indonesian ($70,851), Cambodian ($67,766), Vietnamese ($67,331).
There are a couple points about this data. First, there are a couple of groups that earn below American whites like Dutch ($63,587) and French ($63,471). From a purely cosmetic standpoint, could you even tell if you were looking at a French or Dutch immigrant if they were walking down the street? Probably not, yet insane ideas such as critical race theory will assume these groups have some advantage over other groups, what that is I’m still waiting for evidence to see. Secondly, we rarely hear about the plight of many of the groups that outperform American whites. When is the last time we’ve heard about the marginalization and struggles of Pakistanis, Japanese, or Cambodians in America? Despite passing the superficial test on skin color or appearance, these groups are conveniently left out of the discussion when it comes to the advantages that white Americans have over other groups.
I’ll once again repeat for the record that we should’t ignore cases of racism or dismiss them. If you’ve come this far in the article, I hope you can appreciate my own anecdotal experiences which show a world that is much further behind in progress compared to America. Because they are just one person’s take on the world, I also provided very clear facts to back up my viewpoint.
We should always strive for improvement, but to spread outright lies using vague, easily malleable terms like “systemic racism” or “patriarchy” is regressive in nature, only helping to stop or reverse real progress being made. Not only do the use of such terms only help to further aid in dividing the country, they also confuse younger generations who rely on adults to steer them in the proper direction.
If a recent graduate from a minority group doesn’t get hired, they can blame one of the slogans above for their own bad luck or perhaps lack of preparedness. I brought up Elizabeth Warren earlier because as a grown adult it is simply inexcusable for her to blame her own unpopularity as a candidate on “the patriarchy.” Such ideas are self defeating. Perpetual victim blaming simply is not productive for society and especially for young adults. How many of those immigrant groups mentioned above would be so successful if they grew up being told at a young age that an immutable characteristic like their skin color would prevent them from achieving their dreams? We need to stop this slow moving train of regressive ideas before they take all the progress America has made and reverse them.