January 29, 2007

Rascist? No, I Just Hate THEM!

One of the unfortunate holdovers from very early in the evolution of humans is "Racism."
But what is racism, and why is it?
In order to successfully breed, all animals must find mates that are similar to themselves. Antelopes must breed with antelopes. Cats must mate with cats. Fish with fish. The alternative is to risk failing in that most important of activities: perpetuation of one's genetic pattern. This is natural, this is proper. No one argues that skunks should mate with hippos (thank the deity).
The problem with racism arises because humans have a very narrow view of what constitutes "human." Unlike dogs, who seem to recognize any mammal (or even inanimate object of sufficient size and composition, for that matter) as a potential mate (which may explain the incredible range of breeds), humans are very specific in their choice of mates, and growing more so as our civilization becomes more sophisticated.
These days, it is not only physical characteristics, but cultural and even subcultural characteristics that determine the "fitness" of a mate. Perhaps there is an evolutionary end to such specialization ... or perhaps it is just the perversity of human society, but the result is that humans have ever more narrow definitions of what constitutes "one of us."
Since the drive to reproduce is the primary function of any organism (human beings included), and since the dominance of one's progeny is the ultimate goal, and since (for whatever reasons) those who are perceived as "different" are not "one of us" and therefor are not potential mates, but rather competitors for the same pool of resources, the result is racism.
This is not to say that it is right or appropriate, merely an explanation for why it is there. Racism is, in its root causes, a "green monkey syndrome" - a fear of the different and a love of consistency.
There is a counter to "racism" as a social ill, one which was arrived at rather early in our history, but which many have forgotten ... that is to "assimilate." Mimicry (initially) of the culture into which one inserts oneself is an important survival tool, a lesson our ancestors (almost without exception) learned and ultimately mastered. Whether the mimicry ultimately becomes true assimilation (like for the Irish-Americans or the Gotho-Romans) or remains merely persistent and effective camouflage, is of no matter. But it is vital.
For a person, or a people, to fail to assimilate, to fail to "become" the same as the host culture, is to become an invader, and to meet with hostility that we term "racism", but which may just be a manifestation of primal reproductive instinct.


muninn said...

"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt

Aethelred said...

Yeah, Teddy was a peach, weren't he?