Liberal Racism and Africa

Back in London’s bad old racist days of the 70s, many council estates were National Front strongholds, and dangerous places for blacks and Asians to go. London’s middle classes, of course, abhorred the crude violence of the working class NF supporters. We fast-forward into the 90s, and the picture had changed drastically. London’s working class areas were now becoming racially mixed, and were producing ever greater numbers of mixed-race kids. Working class Londoners were creating new, mixed cultures, cutting-edge music and were transcending race.

Meanwhile those middle-class neighbourhoods that had scorned the National Front were as white as ever. White liberal London was almost untouched by the explosion of racial mixing, or the new cultures and musical forms it was generating. It seemed that the liberal aversion to racism didn’t extend as far as actually mixing with racial minorities. London developed two distinct cultures: a multiracial one formed of immigrants and their offspring mixing with white working class Londoners; and one of the middle/upper classes that avoided mixing at all costs – either with immigrants or the poor. Ironically, the children of the fascist gang members of the 1970s were far more likely to grow up having non-white friends and sexual partners than the kids of NF-hating liberals.

Liberal racism is far more effectively veiled than the more crude types, but being better disguised, it’s also far harder to identify and tackle. In Uganda, parliament seems set to pass a draconian anti-gay law this week; this was originally drafted to include the death penalty for “aggravated” offences, but as it currently stands, looks set to be passed but without the death penalty. It’s almost impossible to discuss this subject with liberal-minded white people without someone pointing out the role of Westerners in this law. You’ll be told that existing homophobic laws are a hangover from British rule, and that American evangelists are backing supporters of the law. Both of these things are true, but the implicit assumption in this “liberal” thinking is a colonial one: that Africans couldn’t possibly have invented homophobia without our help. That these simple people have been corrupted by our influence. It assumes that African minds are so supple, so easily corrupted, that Westerners can make them believe anything.

This argument is dishonest, flawed and fundamentally racist. Yes, anti-gay laws were exported by European powers to their African colonies; but so were entire legal systems. It can be noted that while Europeans have scrapped homophobic legislation since African independence, most African states haven’t. Perhaps Africans can think for themselves after all… perhaps homophobia is a factor of African society, rather than something “we made them do”. Perhaps African culture even goes back further than European colonialism? Well yes – Africa has the oldest and most socially developed human cultures on Earth. African language, music and social customs are often far more advanced than the equivalents anywhere else. Yet still, the liberal racist can’t grasp that African actions – such as viciously anti-gay laws – are the creations of Africans themselves, not us.

One of the most blatantly racist articles I can remember reading in the mainstream media was (surprise?) in the Guardian. Film-maker Tim Samuels wrote in 2009 about Western-made porn reaching Africa. He starts the article with:

I used to think porn was tremendously good fun. The adolescent thrill of sneaking a copy of Fiesta home inside the Manchester Evening News. Crowding around a PC at university as a smutty picture revealed itself pixel by pixel…

and goes on later to say:

The moment porn truly stopped being fun came in a remote Ghanaian village – mud huts, barefoot kids, no electricity … but that doesn’t stop a generator from being wheeled in, turning a mud hut into an impromptu porn cinema – and turning some young men into rapists…

So you see, Tim Samuels and his uni pals can look at porn and not become rapists. But Ghanaian men are obviously made of something different. What could the difference be? Samuels doesn’t explain, but the implication is clear. The old stereotype of the over-sexed, out-of-control African male is alive and well in 21st century Guardianista-land.

If Samuels had provided evidence, the article may have been of some value. But the only evidence he provides comes in the form of a few anecdotes from locals. There are no stats provided to show an increase in rape since the arrival of porn videos – just a smug “it stands to reason” attitude. The Guardian editor accepted and published this racist article – an article that blatantly brands black men as potential rapists – because it is sold on the liberal pretext of protecting women. Bizarrely, this is very similar to the thinking that saw black men lynched for rape in the Deep South. They can’t help themselves, you know? We have to do something about it. Incidentally, the same thinking was part of the justification for banning marijuana in the US – it was said to turn blacks and Mexicans into rapists, which of course was sufficiently frightening to get whites behind prohibition.

In fact, in the West, there is evidence of a correlation between increased sexual openness (including access to porn) and a decline in sexual violence. This is backed by scientific evidence, such as the paper Porn Up, Rape Down, as well as much other research. Samuels doesn’t explain how the Democratic Republican of Congo simultaneously has the world’s worst rape statistics, coupled with among the world’s lowest levels of Internet access. But evidence matters little to those who have a doctrine to sell, whichever part of the political spectrum they come from.

The most overt and vicious racism still comes predictably from the right, and the left has done a huge amount to tackle racism in society. But white middle-class liberal society hides a racist core, and in its infinite belief in its own superiority, it doesn’t even seem to notice.

8 thoughts on “Liberal Racism and Africa”

  1. I agreed with everything in your article except for this: “The most overt and vicious racism still comes predictably from the right, and the left has done a huge amount to tackle racism in society.”

    Hitler’s Nazi’ism (National Socialism – which is a variation Marxism, therefore left-wing) and the various communist governments have been very racist throughout time and continues today. Stalin hated blacks, chinese and middle eastern (and purged his country with millions of deaths from them). Pol Pot hated anyone not “his own”; same with Mao and non-Chinese, especially Japanese and whites. Peron hated whites not born from his country. The Castro brothers hate(d) anyone non-Cuban in the traditional sense, especially hating the blacks claiming to be Cuban. And many more…

    I believe TRUE right-wing philosophies of government cannot allow racism to become vast or widespread b/c right-wing philosophies LIMIT the government and it’s power.

    I guess I should define “true” right-wing philosophy: that is, a republic with very specific powers given to government; NOT an all encompassing, all-powerful government that can do anything it pleases; but has a very strict “check-and-balance” system. It’s not perfect, but when followed by both government and society, it’s a much better system than big-government, big-bureaucracy like communist, fascist, socialist (including national socialist [NAZI]) governments.
    Far-right is of course anarchy in the sense of NO government whatsoever (no state, no police, no city council, no court-room, etc.) This is ofcourse a complete failure and will never exist b/c someone with the money, power & resources will always try to implement his or her own “government”.

    Some people point to the slavery issue during the 1800’s within the U.S. as a reason why (real) republics are bad. Yet, slavery existed during the “progressive” and “equality” of USSR, China and North Korea today, Cuba, Argentina, all throughout Africa (still today, under communism/socialism through most parts), etc. When one looks at the trend of slavery in the U.S., slavery was actually declining BEFORE the American Civil War b/c the free-market AND popular opinion were making slavery 1) unpopular and 2) not profitable (since slaves were very expensive and farm equipment/machines were being mass produced and cheaper [i.e. making it more profitable to free slaves and buy a till and tractor instead])

    Anyhoo, good article. Just wanted to input my 2 cents!

  2. You said that, “Africa has the oldest and most socially developed human cultures on Earth”. You’re way off on this. They are older but no way more advanced than European or Asian cultures and have contributed far less to the world. In fact, African societies south of the Sahara that had not had contact either with Europeans or with Middle Eastern traders showed no signs of modern development. No pre-contact African society had devised a written language or had discovered the wheel. None had a calendar, or built multi-story buildings. No African had learned how to domesticate animals. The smelting of iron was widespread, as was fire-hardened pottery, but the continent did not produce anything that could be called a mechanical device.

    Africans had no concept of the biological origins of disease, and attributed personal misfortunes to the work of evil spirits. Slavery was widely practiced, and deeply rooted in Africa long before the arrival of Europeans. There is no reason to think that, left to themselves, Africans would have risen from the primitive conditions in which Europeans found them.

    The European slave trade, though unquestionably harmful to Africa, was hardly the depopulating scourge it is often made out to be. When the 15th century Portuguese began sailing down the coast, they met long-established slave traders keen to sell off surpluses. Europeans almost never went on slaving expeditions into the interior. They bought slaves from dealers, which means that slaves taken from Africa were first enslaved by other Africans.

    At the same time, Europeans introduced two New World staples that could be stored — cassava and corn — revolutionizing the African food supply. The sudden increase in population more than made up for losses to the European slave trade which, in any case, ended by the middle of the 19th century. It was trade with Europeans that introduced modernity to iron-age Africa. Far from hobbling and holding the continent back, colonization laid the foundations for whatever evidence of economic progress can now be found in Africa. It was Europeans who built roads and rail lines, introduced piped water, schools and telecommunications, and built national administrations. Nothing suggests that Africans would have achieved any of this on their own.

    There is no question but that life for Africans improved steadily under colonization. By the 1960s, when most of Africa became independent, the region exported food. Now, it devours billions a year in Western food aid, and thousands still starve.

    It is possible to argue that Africans might have been better off if they had been left entirely alone. This is to take a romantic view of the disease, tribal warfare, slavery, and ignorance that were widespread on the continent. Moreover, no African group that has glimpsed the possibilities of Western progress has opted to return to purely African primitivism. This suggests that Africans themselves would rather have the benefits of Western technology than do without them. Given that people naturally yearn for medical advance and material progress, colonization was an obvious and striking benefit to Africa.

  3. Yes but:

    A) The gay-persecuting laws, eg Uganda’s, *were* introduced by the British. I read a recent article in the Pink Paper detailing this.

    B) If homophobia was “natural” to Africans… Why would gayness also have been indigenous, and it still is… Why would there have been African kings with gay catamites? Why would there be gay/hermaphroditic African GODS… (can’t rattle off the top of my head which ones they are, but I know it is true of some of the lwa, that’s “voodoo” gods… See ALL Pagan/non-monotheistic societies have these. .. And I should know! )

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