Institutional prejudice – is it always racism?

An employer chooses not to employ a physically handicapped applicant who is able to do the job: is that racism? An applicant for a job who has a ‘foreign’ (ie. non-Anglo) name has, as has been known for some time, reduced chances of getting even an acknowledgement in the Western world: is that racism or just prejudice? What kind of prejudice – tribal? A coloured employee in a workplace is assumed by white visitors to be a low-level worker, frequently: this is obviously a culturally-conditioned perception. Does it reflect prejudice? Not necessarily. Is it institutional racism, since the trigger is skin colour?

Australia’s Racial Discrimination legislation, under Section 18(c), accepts that words can ‘hurt and humiliate’ a complainant. The legislation deems such words as discrimination as well, although no act disadvantaging the complainant in any way was involved. Is this trivialising the concept of discrimination?

Worse still, the oral abuse may have been triggered by the headgear (a turban, skull cap, or hijab), or other apparel, which identifies the wearer as different from the abuser’s people. Is this not religious or cultural prejudice?

Hitherto, it has been the residue (dregs?) of the White Australia supremacists who have sought to defend ‘white space’ (physical or cultural) from those not like them. However, it may not be long before Australia’s multicultural society produces non-white or non-Christian residents publicly responding to the yobbos who abuse them.

The term racism, misused as it has been to cover a wide range of prejudices, will proceed from being confusing to being ridiculous. The concept of races was coined by European colonisers, mainly the British. The white race was posited against all others. This mythical race was claimed to be genetically (innately) superior to the coloured races. Its weaponry was more powerful, and its greed excelled anything previously seen in the history of mankind. The buccaneers who sought to over-run and exploit other peoples would not have known about the cultural and religious advances of some of these other peoples.

Those who create legislation in the English-speaking nations of the world are now probably conditioned to the misuse of the terms race and racial. They may experience some difficulty in splitting prejudice into its correctly-defined categories.

One can only hope that the terms race and racial will follow that wondrous bird, the dodo. There have been no races on Earth.

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Perspectives of colour

The majority of black people are grateful for what the government is doing to uplift them.” James Kruger, South African police and justice minister 1978

Coloured people only want three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit,” Earl Butz. Forced to resign. 1976

“I wanted to know how women reacted under various circumstances. It was like cutting through red tape. I was very concerned to see how deep the rejection of blacks by whites would go.” Eldridge Cleaver, former Black Panther leader. Jailed. 1980

Racism and tribalism (2)

Tribalism is easy to understand. What is racism? Traditionally, race seems to have been synonymous with tribe. Yet, the term race could not possibly have been applied rationally in the unending confrontations between the tribes, later, the nations of Europe; these people are too much alike in appearance through significant cross-breeding. That is, over a long period of time, many of the tribes of Europe moved into the temporarily traditional terrain of others of that stock, thereby creating a blended variety of European of white appearance. Yet, there are significant pockets of Europeans displaying visibly divergent appearances in cranial structures and facial features.
A similar pattern of long-term blending, with significant pockets of facially divergent peoples to be found – going from East to West – in the lands of China (excluding its occupied territories), the southern coast of Asia and islands south and east occupied primarily by the people known as Malays, the Indian sub-continent, Central Asia (including China’s occupied territories), Western Asia, Arabia and adjacent terrain, North Africa, Central and South Africa (excluding the settlers from Europe), the Americas before it was invaded by Europeans, and the diverse peoples of the Pacific.
Within each of these huge areas, there are fine gradations of skin colour, reflecting earlier incursions and intermixing. Yet, there are visible similarities in body shape, cranial structures and facial appearances which can separate the bulk of the people in each major geographical category (as defined above) from the others. The categorisation set up above is obviously not a fine cut, but a broad-brush canvas with tolerable credibility.
It is not surprising that an attempt was once made to identify only 3 categories of humans – white, black and yellow. The success of European colonisation had led to the claim that white people were at the top of the totem pole of inborn abilities. A major problem was that the white people were described as Caucasian, which also includes my ancestral people. We are apparently Caucasian too! And many of my family are quite light in colour, implying that there is a North Indian or even a Central Asian strand within my genetic inheritance. For instance, the son of a nephew has green eyes. And I have been taken to be a North Indian by North Indians, while the Tamils have no trouble in identifying me as one of them. Back to the drawing board!
A more difficult problem is that skin colour, shape of cranium, and facial features aside, we humans are too alike. ‘What a bummer’ said my pink-faced Eurasian friend, whose Malay grandmother’s genes having been totally submerged by the genes of a single European ancestor.
It is my belief that the term race was conceived by the colonising ‘supermen’ to apply to inferior coloured people. I thus argue that ‘race’ is a construct of colonialism, which asserted then that white people are inherently (that is, genetically) superior to all other people. There was nothing new in this sort of claim. The Chinese just know that they are a superior people. So do the Indians. My mother was not far behind in making a similar claim.
Indeed, this pride in our ancestry enabled the early Asian student entrants like me to ignore those Australians who had cloaked themselves (without cause) in the garb of superior colonial Christian whites. I found it fascinating to observe common-garden Aussies behaving in this way.
The rulers of this superior species residing in Europe then fragmented the diverse non-whites into a number of races, the categorisation varying with the definer. All discriminatory policies and practices (apart from those of religion) referred to an implicitly inferior ‘race.’

 

(The above are extracts from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’)

 

Continuity with pre-history

Progress in science (the god of the pathway to learning in the Western world in recent times) is generally triggered by the speculative thinkers in each of the academic disciplines. These are the lamp-lighters for those who want to know about our Universe (even a multi-verse Cosmos) and why it is all so; as well as our place in it , and what we seem to be (apart from stardust).

Since the capacity to speculate freely is unlimited, by time, space and even theology (in both religion and the prevailing explanatory paradigms of the various disciplines of knowledge-seeking), a range of possible doorways to knowledge can be theorised; these may lead to pathways of probable relevance.

However, is there a man-made constraint about accepting continuity through historical time? I instance the continuity of learning; and thereby to the apparent continuity of civilisational features through time – through now extinct civilisations.

In the light of the precise geometry of construction and the accuracy of the geodesic placements of the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians, it would be fatuous to believe that late-arrival Greeks discovered geometry. Earth’s positions against the constellations of the zodiac at a particular period of time, and the alignment of our planets in that period as evidenced, or linked in ancient mythology, may assist in dating the construction of the Pyramids and the Sphinx more accurately; as well as certain events mentioned in the Veda’s of Hinduism.

The history of mankind seems to go far beyond 3,000 BC, long before the cultural ancestors of Europeans (Greece) and their religious ancestors (the Israelites) could make any kind of impact.

Our current civilisation seems to date from about 13,000 BC, after the abatement of the Universal Deluge, with its almost total destruction of everything on Earth. That Quetzalcoatl and Viracocha should arrive in oar-less boats in Central and South America suggests the survival of pockets of an earlier (pre-Flood) civilisation of high achievements.

Let us not try to sound clever by muttering ‘Where’s the evidence?’ Modern day speculative cosmologists like Einstein do not seem to have been challenged about their lack of evidence.

So-called Caucasians in Central Asia in an early historical period; skeletons of tall (up to an estimated 12 feet) humans in North America; ‘African’ heads in Central America; ‘black’ people in China; clearly brown people in Taiwan (now in Polynesia); constructions such as Nan Madol and other massive stone buildings in various parts of the globe, components of which cannot be moved by modern equipment; mind-over-body, and other psychic phenomena, exhibited in diverse parts of the globe; ‘thumbnail’ and other psychic or spiritual healers; artefacts displaying high technology having been dug up from great depths; and so on! There is so much we cannot explain.

Are we then in a position to deny the probability of the existence of advanced civilisations on Earth in so-called pre-history? Nature, in conjunction with huge space-objects and powerful electromagnetic flows of cosmic rays and particles is able to bury or drown whole human civilisations now and then. Large segments of the continents, such as Fennoscandia, are now under water.

Just as reincarnation can enable the continuity of souls through time, via a succession of Earthly lives, so the memories contained in mythology and some artefacts of humanity may indicate the continuity of human civilisations over vast swathes of time.

Sufi jokes (2)

Sufi jokes (2)

(From Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi’s blog)

When I was in the desert,” said Nasruddin one day, “I caused an entire tribe of horrible and bloodthirsty  Bedouins to run.” “However did you do it?” “Easy. I just ran, and they ran after me.”

Once, when Mullah Nasruddin was visiting a Western town, he was invited to attend a fashion show. He went, and afterwards he was asked how he liked it. “It’s a complete swindle!” he exclaimed indignantly. “Whatever do you mean?” he was asked. “They show you the women – and then try to sell you the clothes!”

One day, one of Mullah Nasruddin’s friend came over and wanted to borrow his donkey for a day or two. Mullah, knowing his friend, was not kindly inclined to the request, and came up with the excuse that someone had already borrowed his donkey. Just as Mullah uttered these words, his donkey started braying in his backyard. Hearing the sound, his friend gave him an accusing look, to which Mullah replied: “I refuse to have any further dealings with you since you take a donkey’s word over  mine.”
A certain man claimed to be God and was brought before the Caliph, who said to him, “Last year someone here claimed to be a prophet and he was put to death!” The man replied, “It was well that you did so, for I did not send him.” (9th century joke)

 

(“An aeronautical engineer by force, an activist by mind, a wanderer by soul and lover by heart. Founder – Pakistan Youth Alliance”)

On religion – a belief based on free will

“What of those of us who hold beliefs which range from the religious to the psychic? My dialogue with the spirit of my uncle (we did have a three-way exchange) led me somewhat reluctantly to an acceptance of the spirit world. Why reluctant? Because it did not fit into my then understanding of reality. Since then I have had other exposures to the spirit world. I now have reason to believe that I have benefited from the involve­ment of this domain in my life. Proof? None! It is, however, not so much a gut-feeling as a subconscious intellectual awareness. Otherwise I remain as rational as humanly possible.

This belief in the reality of the world of souls supports what I was taught to believe in my youth, enhanced by my recent understanding of Hinduism. This understanding was obtained late in life through my reading of the Upanishads. These writings represent, to me, the highest level of meta­physics of any religion. A succinct summary of my beliefs follows. I have been reading about religion and society since I was about 24.

At death, I would join the souls of my predecessors (except those who have been reincarnated). After a period of learning in whatever dimension I find myself, I would be reincarnated on Earth. Let me make clear that I was never taught to believe in a spirit domain from which the soul of a former relative or, for that matter, the soul of perhaps a guru, could enter my life and offer me advice. Or that those in this domain might be able to influence the direction of my life at some significant point – as has apparently happened more than once!

Moving on – each Earthly life would involve me paying for the sins of my past lives while being offered opportunities to learn to better myself morally, possibly spiritually. After many, many rebirths, I might be permitted to return to that Ocean of Consciousness from which, it is said, we had origi­nally arisen. The ultimate objective of this extended process? To improve the stock of human souls? So, is there meaning and purpose in human existence?

The above belief would give meaning where none exists for the unbeliever. It would give more meaning than the claim that human existence has meaning but only for each Earthly existence. A concept embodying continuity through lifetimes, of opportunities to move up some moral scale, life by life, and of exercising free will rather than being carried blindly through time on Earth, is enticing, because it offers a path of purpose, and of hope – with free will.”

These extracts are from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’.

On religion – achieving control

Institutional religions of the Western kind (the ‘desert’ religions) are authoritative; they involve control, unlike Hinduism and its derivative offshoots (the ‘forest’ religions). The following are extracts from my book ‘Musings at Death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’.

“What could have been more persuasive? The creation of a hierarchy of gods, angels and other heavenly (or even satanic) intercessionists? A claimed devolution of heav­enly (that is, godly) authority, leading to god-kings or their authoritarian priestly equivalents? A created theology seem­ingly made available to the chosen by a process of revelation from on-high? Inherited authority allied to control of knowl­edge would have enabled the exercise of power, enforced over time by the use of force by some. So says the history of reli­gious institutions.

Were fragments of the faithful, the fearful, then hived off by the cleverer, the more power-hungry, priests through their creation of theological schisms? Did then come the schis­matic wars, some overt by fighting and killing in the name of some god, or by forced conversion? Did the priests insidi­ously and persistently proselytise in order to claim a relative strength of their faith through numerical size? Even today, there are ordinary Christians continuing to collect souls for Christ in Africa and Asia. To what end?

Later, did not many gods, most local or regional, give way to one god, resulting in supremacy sought by priesthoods on a wider geographical front? Did some priesthoods subse­quently develop into a hierarchy, a tower of authority com­posed entirely of men, enabling a lifestyle of considerable quality, while their flocks survived as best they could? What grandeur these priests must have portrayed, with a pageantry normally associated with god-kings! Indeed, some of them still do. Yet, there were other priesthoods which displayed a simpler lifestyle.

Is this not how religious institutions achieved control and began to mislead the people, even while purporting to guide, lead and comfort? Is this not why the more independent-minded people withdraw from participatory religious events and practices, to the extent that some go to the extreme stance of atheism?”