White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites. White supremacy, as with racial supremacism in general, is rooted in ethnocentrism and a desire for hegemony. White supremacy has frequently resulted in anti-black and antisemitic violence. Different forms of white supremacy have different conceptions of who is considered white, and not all white supremacist organizations agree on who is their greatest enemy.
White supremacist groups can be found in most countries and regions with a significant white population, including North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Latin America. The militant approach taken by white supremacist groups has caused them to be watched closely by law enforcement officials. Some European countries have laws forbidding hate speech, as well as other laws that ban or restrict some white supremacist organizations.
Systemic white supremacy[edit | edit source]
White supremacy was dominant in the United States before the American Civil War and for decades after Reconstruction. In large areas of the United States, this included the holding of non-whites (specifically African Americans) in chattel slavery. The outbreak of the Civil War saw the desire to uphold white supremacy cited as a cause for state secession and the formation of the Confederate States of America.
In some parts of the United States, many people who were considered non-white were disenfranchised, barred from government office, and prevented from holding most government jobs well into the second half of the twentieth century. Many U.S. states banned interracial marriage through anti-miscegenation laws until 1967, when these laws were declared unconstitutional. White leaders often viewed Native Americans as obstacles to economic and political progress, rather than as settlers in their own right.
White supremacy was also dominant in South Africa under apartheid and in parts of Europe at various time periods; most notably under Nazi Germany's Third Reich. Governments of many European-settled countries bordering the Pacific Ocean limited immigration and naturalization from the Asian Pacific countries, usually on a cultural basis. South Africa maintained its white supremacist apartheid system until the early 1990s.
Ideologies and movements[edit | edit source]
Supporters of Nordicism and Germanism consider Nordic people (Scandinavians, Germans, British and Dutch) to be superior, shunning those of Southern and Eastern Europe (who may have darker features and different cultures), including mostly Spanish, Italians, the Irish, Portuguese, white Latin Americans, Lusophone white Africans, and Russians, along with anyone whose ethnic heritage is not European. By the early-19th century White supremacy was attached to emerging theories of racial hierarchy. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer attributed civilisational primacy to the White race:
The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste or race is fairer in colour than the rest and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmans, the Incas, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want and misery, which in their many forms were brought about by the climate.
The eugenicist Madison Grant argued the Nordic race had been responsible for most of humanity's great achievements, and that admixture was "race suicide". Calvin Coolidge (who later became president of the United States) agreed, stating "Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides." In Grant's 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, Europeans who were not of Germanic origin, but who had Nordic characteristics such as blonde/red hair and blue/green/gray eyes were considered to be a Nordic admixture and suitable for Aryanization.
In the United States, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is the group most associated with the white supremacist movement. Many white supremacist groups are based on the concept of preserving genetic purity, and do not focus solely on discrimination by skin color. The KKK's reasons for supporting racial segregation are not primarily based on religious ideals, but some Klan groups are openly Protestant. The KKK and other white supremacist groups like Aryan Nations, The Order and the White Patriot Party are considered Anti-Semitic.
Christian Identity is another movement closely tied to white supremacy. Some white supremacists identify themselves as Odinists, although many Odinists reject white supremacy. Some white supremacist groups, such as the South African Boeremag, conflate elements of Christianity and Odinism. The World Church of the Creator (now called the Creativity Movement), believes that a person's race is his religion. Aside from this, its ideology is similar to many Christian Identity groups, in their belief that there is a Jewish conspiracy in control of governments, the banking industry and the media. Matthew F. Hale, founder of the World Church of the Creator has published articles claiming that all races other than white are "mud races". His movement claims that a Racial Holy War is destined to happen, which would eliminate Jews and "mud races" from the planet.
The white supremacist ideology has become associated with a racist faction of the skinhead subculture, despite the fact that when the skinhead culture first developed in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s, it was heavily influenced by black fashions and music, especially Jamaican reggae and ska, and African American soul music By the 1980s, a sizeable and vocal white power skinhead faction had formed.
White supremacist recruitment tactics are primarily on a grassroots level and on the Internet. Widespread access to the Internet has led to a dramatic increase in white supremacist websites. The Internet provides a venue to openly express white supremacist ideas at little social cost, because people who post the information are able to remain anonymous.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Black supremacy
- The Good Citizen
- Hate Group
- Heroes of the Fiery Cross
- Institutional racism
- Jim Crow laws
- Master race
- Race and intelligence
- South Africa under apartheid
- The White Man's Burden
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- Wildman, Stephanie M. (1996). Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America. NYU Press. p. 87. ISBN 0814793037.
- Mistry, Reena (1999). Can Gramsci's theory of hegemony help us to understand the representation of ethnic minorities in western television and cinema? Institute of Communications Studies, Leeds University
- Flint, Colin (2004). Spaces of Hate: Geographies of Discrimination and Intolerance in the U.S.A.. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 0415935865. "Although white racist activists must adopt a political identity of whiteness, the flimsy definition of whiteness in modern culture poses special challenges for them. In both mainstream and white supremacist discourse, to be white is to be distinct from those marked as nonwhite, yet the placement of the distinguishing line has varied significantly in different times and places."
- Fredrickson, George (1981). White Supremacy. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 162. ISBN 0195030427.
- A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union: "We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable. That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states."
- The "Cornerstone Speech", Alexander H. Stephens (Vice President of the Confederate States), March 21, 1861, Savannah, Georgia: "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery--subordination to the superior race--is his natural and normal condition."
- Schopenhauer, Arthur (1851). Parerga and Paralipomena. Vol. 2, Section 92.
- Grant, Madison (1916). The Passing of the Great Race. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
- http://law.jrank.org/pages/11302/White-Supremacy-Groups.html White Supremacy Groups
- Smiling Smash: An Interview with Cathal Smyth, a.k.a Chas Smash, of Madness
- Special Articles
- Old Skool Jim. Trojan Skinhead Reggae Box Set liner notes. London: Trojan Records. TJETD169.
- Adams, Josh, and Vincent J. Roscigno "White Supremacists, Oppositional Culture and the World Wide Web." University on North Carolina Press 84 (2005): 759-788. JSTOR. Web. 20 Nov. 2009.<http://www.jstor.org/stable/3598477>.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Dobratz, Betty A. and Shanks-Meile, Stephanie. "White power, white pride!": The white separatist movement in the United States (JHU Press, 2000) ISBN 978-0-8018-6537-4
- Lincoln Rockwell, George. White Power (John McLaughlin, 1996)
- MacCann, Ronnarae. White Supremacy in Children's Literature (Routledge, 2000)
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- Heart of Whiteness documentary film about what it means to be white in South Africa
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