Am I Racist?

no blacks sign

Of course I’m not, but surely others are. Hang on, if the “other” is me twenty years ago – were the attitudes I had back then bigoted? (hmm, no comment). Or twenty years hence, will I look back at my perspectives today, and think how regressive they were?!

I’m tempted to think that I’ll always have the perfect attitudes, but I’m not so sure when I look at the views of some of the past greats like Gandhi, Lincoln, and Churchill:

  • When Gandhi was fighting for the rights of Indians in South Africa he wrote how Indians are “undoubtedly infinitely superior to the Kaffirs [native blacks]”.
  • Abraham Lincoln, surprisingly, held a similarly dim view. He spoke about how “there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality”[1]
  • Winston Churchill spoke about Jews who were not integrated into the societies they lived in. He wrote about the “schemes of the International Jews”, their “sinister confederacy” and their “worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization”[2]. He didn’t just view Jews such negatively, but also the Chinese. He thought as they “become more powerful they will get more ruthless”. To avert this  he believed “in the ultimate partition of China” and “the Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”[3].
  • Alan Turing, who cracked the Nazi code to allow the British to intercept their messages, and accelerate the Allies victory. He was also gay. After the War in 1952, he was convicted of engaging in a homosexual act. His conviction resulted into the authorities attempting to medically eradicate his homosexuality. He wrote in his diaries I am both bound over for a year and obliged to this organa-therapy for the same period. It is supposed to reduce sexual urge whilst it goes on”  and later told a friend “I’ve grown breasts!”. Shockingly, he committed suicide two years later [4]

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[1] Fourth Debate: Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858, National Park Service

[2] Churchill, W., S., February 8, 1920, “Zionism versus Bolshevism. A Struggle For The Soul Of The Jewish People”, Illustrated Sunday Herald

[3] “A Midnight Interview,1902”, Finest Hour, The Churchill Centre

[4] Hodges, A.,  2012, “Alan Turing: The Enigma”, Vintage

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