by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“For the Mormon American multimillionaire, human destiny and divine will are revealed in macroeconomic data.” But Mitt Romney’s assertion that Palestinian underdevelopment is proof of Israeli cultural superiority is no more racist than the usual celebrations of western wealth, power and so-called “civilization.” In the U.S., most whites view economic disparities between races “as more a natural phenomenon than evidence of cumulative injustice.”
Romney and the “Culture” of White Supremacy
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“Obama also fights for the same empire that sees its roots in the natural (or divinely ordained) rise of ‘western civilization.’”
White supremacy is Mitt Romney’s religion, although I’d be willing to bet he has not uttered the epithet “nigger” since reaching adulthood. For Romney and his ilk, it is axiomatic that God’s blessings are manifest in the world through the distribution of wealth. Had God not favored Europeans, He would never have allowed them to expropriate the vast bulk of the Earth’s bounty. They have prospered because their ways are righteous – or, in more modern, secular terms, they possess a superior “culture.”
For the Mormon American multimillionaire, human destiny and divine will are revealed in macroeconomic data. ”As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,'' Romney told a room full of other wealthy – and, therefore, blessed – people at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. The actual breakdown is $31,500 vs. $1,500, but I assume the fool misspoke. Romney recognized in those stark 20 to 1 ratios “the power of at least culture and a few other things,'' including “the hand of providence.''
Palestinian poverty flows, not from Israeli military conquest, but from the conquered people’s cultural – and, presumably, moral – inferiority, and God’s consequent disapproval. Israeli suppression of Palestinian political, economic and, yes, cultural life, is irrelevant. Two cultures have clashed in Palestine, and one has been found to be 20 times as productive as the other. Enough said.
“In the 1950s and early 60s, it was considered politically correct to describe African Americans as ‘culturally deprived.’”
White South Africa regarded its wealth as prima facie evidence of cultural superiority. The fact that the land, minerals and labor on which that wealth was built belonged to Black people simply proved that Blacks lacked a “culture” adequate to manage those resources. Moreover, White Power was in the best interest of Black South Africans who, the apartheid regime was proud to proclaim, had a higher per capita income than Blacks elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, white cultural superiority could be beneficial to nearby Blacks, under controlled conditions that did not pollute the precious European cultural environment.
In 1973, Edward Botha, information officer for the South African embassy in Washington, assured Americans that his country’s Blacks were content with their situation. “Black people in South Africa own more automobiles than the Russian people do,” said Botha – a material accomplishment that Mitt Romney would surely associate with profound cultural and moral progress. But sadly, the poor Russians, possessing so few cars, retained little culture to speak of.
White U.S. southerners also insisted, during slavery and Jim Crow, that “their” Negroes were the best off in the world because of their exposure to white folks’ religion and way of life. Left to their own devices, however, Black folks’ innate cultural inferiority – depravity! – would do them in. Blacks’ freedom of movement and expression must be contained, for their own good.
White liberals also believed in the Culture Demon. In the 1950s and early 60s, it was considered politically correct to describe African Americans as “culturally deprived” – meaning, Blacks are disadvantaged by lack of exposure to white culture. Power has nothing to do with it.
“White South Africa regarded its wealth as prima facie evidence of cultural superiority.”
The 20 to 1 disparity between Israeli and Palestinian per capita income matches the wealth gap between American Blacks and whites (app. $5,000 vs. $100,000 for median Black and white households). The fact that such numbers do not provoke general shock and calls for reparations is proof enough that most whites view the disparity as more a natural phenomenon than evidence of cumulative injustice. Daniel Patrick Moynihan spoke for white folks of the past, present and future when he posited, in 1965, that a Black “culture of poverty” is what keeps Black people poor – not pervasive white racism.
With President Obama’s election, a clear white consensus favors “race neutral” government policies – which, in practice, reject Black grievances based on past discrimination and disadvantage, and set an extremely high bar for complaints of current bias. Such dismissal of essential – and irrefutable – contemporary and historical data can only be rooted in a general white belief that African American culture is what holds Blacks back. Barack Obama either shares this white attitude, or pretends he does for political gain. His singling out of “irresponsible” Black fathers and hectoring of Black parents for feeding their kids Popeye’s chicken for breakfast was a shout-out to white folks that he shared their assessment of Black “culture.” His rejection of targeted economic policies that address deep disparities based on the historical and ongoing realities of race and racism (“A rising tide lifts all boats,” says Obama) puts him in the same “race neutral” camp as Romney and the rest of the GOP – and most of the Democrats, as well. And, of course, Obama also fights for the same empire that sees its roots in the natural (or divinely ordained) rise of “western civilization” – a euphemism for white people – to dominate every nook and cranny of the world, by force.
In truth, white supremacy is foundational to Euro- American culture, which celebrates five hundred years of relentless pillaging, extermination, mass enslavement and racist subjugation of the vast majority of humanity as the march of civilization and progress. It is the culture of a pirate’s bazaar, strewn with stolen goods and bloody booty, guts and bones. Israel is there, too, with a sword between its rotten teeth. Romney is singing “America,” and Obama is composing another lie.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.