I pointed out earlier that segregation is a necessary and moral response to xenophobic populism in Europe. Now that more is clear about the motives of the Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, we can see clear parallels with ‘racist’ attitudes in Europe.
‘Racist’ is in quotes, because it is a disputed and confusing term. Dylann Roof is a racist in the classic sense: he believes that Africans are inherently inferior.
Negroes have lower Iqs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels in generals. These three things alone are a recipe for violent behavior.
The right-wing ‘Council of Conservative Citizens’, which influenced Roof, also promotes classic racist theories, accompanied by the claim of imminent threat. Roof allegedly said to his victims “You rape our women”. Anders Behring Breivik said the same in more detail: over 100 pages of his manifesto talk of immigrant / Muslim rape. Strictly speaking, however, hostility to Muslims is not ‘racism’, because Islam is not a race. And Breivik choose to attack the government and ‘the left’ – rather than a mosque, an Islamic school, or a place where immigrants gather. There are similarities and differences, and ‘racism’ as an umbrella term is insufficient at best.
The mainstream responses to violent incidents of this kind are also similar, in Europe and the United States – calls for social unity, tolerance, and the defeat or elimination of racism. It is time to move on from this approach, which clearly does not work.
Whatever the appropriate terminology, it is clear that some individuals hold negative and hostile attitudes, to groups within the population. One platitude which surfaced in the wake of the Charleston shootings is that “no-one is born a racist”. Now quite probably most ‘racists’ are indeed born that way, with innate hostility to people outside their own group. Biological explanations for xenophobia are also disputed. However it does not really matter, in terms of public and state response to violent incidents targeting minorities.
The important thing is that neither the government nor civil society can ‘unmake racism’. There is no tolerance pill, which can cure an individual’s negative and hostile attitudes to specific groups. Anders Breivik and Dylann Roof are here to stay. So is hostility to specific minorities, and aggressive expression of that hostility. So are the fanboys: some people will continue to admire Breivik and Roof, and to see their actions as justified.
We can not make people be nice to each other. Despite all its surveillance powers, the United States government can’t stop them killing each other either. Nor can European governments, even though the killing may be less frequent, and take a different form.
People hate other people. People want to kill other people. They say so openly. Social media made it possible for each individual to broadcast their attitudes to the world, and the result was a flood of hate and death threats.
What the state can do, is keep them apart. Paradoxically, the fact that individuals hate groups more than other single individuals, makes it easier to separate them. If a white person hates blacks, the state can keep that person away from blacks. If a Christian hates gays, the state can keep that person away from gays. If a feminist hates men, the state can keep her away from men. And it works both ways: if a gay man hates homophobes, the state can keep that person away from homophobes.
Widespread segregation is not a panacea. Some racist and/or xenophobic individuals will reject it on grounds of scale, as Dylann Roof rejected the idea of a white nationalist homeland in the United States:
Here I would also like to touch on the idea of a Norhtwest Front. I think this idea is beyond stupid. Why should I for example, give up the beauty and history of my state to go to the Norhthwest?
More to the point, the political elite and the media abhor the idea of segregation, in both Europe and the United States. For legal reasons, I can not make any policy proposals here for the United States, and I don’t want to. The United States must solve its own problems, and preferably also the problems it brings to the rest of the world. This blog is about what happens in Europe, and any state policy advocated here is intended for, at most, the territory of the European Union.
However, I see in American reactions to the Charleston shootings, a mirror of Europe’s own inability to confront the issue of hatred and hostility. I see platitude after platitude, but a general unwillingness to analyse society and politics. I see millions of reactions, but apparently none of them innovative. Everyone says roughly what you would expect them to say, and they will say it again, after the next racially motivated mass shooting. Americans are walking in circles around the elephant in the room, and in that they are just like Europeans.