Radical Sociology

By J. David Colfax; Jack L. Roach | Go to book overview

(14)
Equality: America's Racist Ideology *

SIDNEY M. WILLHELM

AMERICA has been a racist society from its very beginnings—adopting, modifying, and dispensing with tactics extending from complete acceptance of ethnic aliens in the form of acculturation and amalgamation to liquidation. Myths of racism, however, are the rationales White America creates to enhance the racist tradition. To sanctify its racist commitment, White America exhorts justifications which alter in light of changing conditions. To dispose of an unwanted race, whites avoid the pangs of compunction simply by confessing to the submission of racism in accord with the absolutes in the myths of racism.

Initially, whites perceived the Indian and Negro in terms of the Christian myth; the two peoples were heathens. Both were repugnant to whites, and Christianity legitimized the repugnancy so that Negroes and Indians were viewed as nonhumans at best and beasts at worst. As heathens, Indians could be murderously slaughtered and Negroes mercilessly enslaved for beasts of burden. Extermination for the former and subjugation for the latter were acts of civilization progressing over soulless creatures. White men could follow the spirit and letter of Christian theology without fear of contradiction. The God of Salvation is

____________________
*
The perspective presented here is based upon my own analysis of race relations between black and white in America encompassing the last 350 years. As a composite for presentation considerable elaboration and substantiation could not be undertaken. For fuller accounts the reader is invited to works already published: Sidney M. Willhelm and Elwin H. Powell, "Who Needs the Negro?" Trans-Action (September-October 1964): 3-6; also reprinted in Judson R. Landis, ed., Current Perspectives on Social Problems (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co.), 1st ed., 1966, 2nd ed., 1969; and in Jeffrey K. Hadden, Louis H. Masotti, and Calvin J. Larson, eds., Metropolis in Crisis: Social and Political Perspectives (Itasca, Illinois: F. E. Peacock Publishers, 1967); Sidney M. Willhelm, "Red Man, Black Man and White America: The Constitutional Approach to Genocide," Catalyst (Spring 1969): 1-62; Sidney M. Willhelm, Who Needs the Negro? (Cambridge: Schenkman Publishing Co., 1970).

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