Posts Tagged ‘AFrocentrism’

Black and Muslim YouTubers Discuss Slavery and Racism in Islam

March 30, 2022

I found this fascinating video on Sa Ra Garvey’s YouTube channel. I don’t know anything about Garvey, except that he’s probably a proud man of colour concerned with his people’s improvement and liberation. His name appears to be a reference to the Black activist and Jazz muso Sun Ra and the great Jamaican Black activist Marcus Garvey. Since the issue of slavery and reparations emerged once again in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, many, largely conservative commenters, have also been raising the issue of slavery in Islam. Slavery did not, after all, begin with Europe and the transatlantic slave trade. It has existed in various forms around the world since antiquity, and before White Europeans turned to enslaving Black Africans for the plantations in the New World, Islam had also done so. The first Black slaves imported into Europe were slaves brought into Islamic, Moorish Spain. Stephen Howe in his book Afrocentrism, states that the Arabs enslaved 5 million Black Africans, comparable to the 12 million taken by White Europeans.

In the video Black and Muslim speakers discuss the Islamic enslavement of Black Africans and the resulting legacy of racism in the Arab, Middle Eastern and south Asian worlds. One of the terms used in Arabic for Blacks is ‘abid’, which means ‘slaves’. The video also contains footage from documentaries filming the slave markets that have opened in Libya, selling Black migrants hoping to reach Europe. It also contains comments from enslaved Africans and free Blacks further south in Africa justifiably furious at the enslavement of their fellows. There are also clips from an al-Jazeera documentary on Black Iraqis. They are the descendants of enslaved Africans, and complain about the racism and marginalisation they suffer from and their political aspirations to gain power and improve their lot. One Black American contrasts the attitude of White westerners with that of the Saudis. He states that if you ask a western White about slavery, they’ll respond with remorse. The Saudis never do.

I have a few caveats about the video. Some of the material comes from Memri TV, and the video’s edited by Taqiyya Watch. These are both anti-Islam channels. ‘Taqiyya’ is an Islamic term for lying to defend Islam. It started out, I believe, as a Shi’a strategy to avoid persecution. It initially meant that a Muslim could deny he was a member of the faith in order to avoid being killed. Since then it has been expanded to the production of falsehoods to protect the faith itself. Memri TV seem to be an Israeli outfit specialising in translating material from the Islamic world which Muslims would like to hide. This is often when Middle Eastern politicians present a moderate face to the West, but present themselves as much more hard line to domestic Muslim audiences. However, the important point is that these organisations also have their overt biases against the Islamic world.

Regarding racism, Jonathan A.C. Brown discusses this in his book Slavery & Islam. He notes that the Qur’an actually condemns racism, and during the Middle Ages a series of Muslim scholars wrote books defending Blacks with titles such as The Excellence of the Negroes. He also describes the shock of one 19th century Arab visitor to France, who was shocked at how the standard of beauty was confined to White complexions, excluding the darker skin colours the Arabs preferred. The anti-Black racism is therefore against the letter and spirit of Islam, but persists nonetheless.

I am not trying to be deliberately controversial by posting this video. I find it interesting because it shows that Blacks in America and Africa are concerned about the Arab/Muslim slave trade, its legacy and resurgence. I find it particularly interesting that Afro-Iraqis are challenging racism in their country. That’s something I doubt very many people have heard about, unless they’re studying Islam or Middle Eastern politics at a post-graduate level in academia. The two speakers at the start of the video, a Black man and an Asian Muslim woman, describe how Blacks and Arabs are both minorities and so have allied with each other. But they feel that in this alliance, Blacks are very much the junior partner. They are the minorities’ minority. This is a comment on the politics of intersectional leftism, which seeks to unite a range of disparate groups, such as Blacks and ethnic minorities, gays and feminists in order to challenge conventional society. It shows that, despite right-wing attempts to present such alliances as a monolithic block, there are strains and criticisms within them. As for the re-opening of the slave markets in Libya, this is deeply offensive and troubling to the majority of severely normal Muslims around the world. In 1856, for example, the Muslim ruler of Tunis banned slavery completely within his dominions. That was 164 years ago. It is deeply repulsive and shocking that after all that time, real slavery is returning to the world.

Adolf Hitler and Black and Asian Anti-White Racists on the Extermination and Enslavement of Racial Enemies

February 13, 2022

A few days ago I put up a couple of posts showing the very close similarity between far right Labour MP Neil Coyle’s comments about Jewish Voice for Labour and the Nazis’ and British Fascists’ denunciations of ‘communist’ Jews and Jewish influence in politics. But unfortunately it’s not only White bigots who seem to share their attitudes and rhetoric. Many Black and Asian allegedly ‘anti-racist’ ideologues and activists do to.

The Black Lives Matter protests across the world were an attempt to raise awareness about the supposed greater incidence of Blacks being shot and killed by the police. Behind them was outrage and frustration at the continuing material poverty, high unemployment, lack of educational achievement, crime and drugs in the Black community. BLM groups, such as those in Bristol, were keen to present themselves not as racists trying to cause division, but as sincere anti-racists trying to draw people together. The organisation’s Bristol branch put up posters that included the statement that they weren’t trying to start a race war. They were trying to stop one. But unfortunately the protests were accompanied by highly racist, genocidal statements and attitudes from high profile members of the Black and Asian communities. A Black American academic, Britney Cooper, caused outrage when she appeared on the Black American internet show, The Root, declaring that Whites were dying out, and ‘may be we should help them along’. An Asian academic at a New York university, who specialised in the psychology of racism, stated she fantasised about shooting Whites. A recent video put up by the New Culture Forum also contained a selection of tweets from angry Black activists. One of these stated that the poster looked forward to destroying White prosperity and livelihoods, and forcing Whites to endure the same poverty as BAME people. The tweeter’s name is blurred, but it looks like Priyamvada Gopal, the professor of Colonial and Postcolonial literature at Cambridge.

These comments are almost exactly like those of the Nazis, and particularly their attitude to Poles and Slavs. In 1942 Martin Bormann wrote

‘The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Slav fertility is undesirable. They may possess contraceptives or abort, the more the better. Education is dangerous. We shall leave them religion as a means of diversion. They will receive only the absolutely necessary provisions. We are the masters, we come first.’

Joachim C. Fest, The Face of the Third Reich, page 204.

In fact there has been a strain of viciously anti-White racism present in Black political culture for a very long time. Afrocentrism holds that Blacks are intellectually and spiritually superior to other peoples, especially Whites, who are supposed to be more stupid, less spiritual, intuitive and cruel. These attitudes are reinforced by Post-Colonial and Critical Race Theory, which see Whites, even when they are opposed to racism, as deeply racist and embedded in and part of a culture which privileges them. A year or so ago right-wing videos on the Net showed a clip of one lecturer, Angela Shackleford, telling a White class that they were not born into humanity, cannot change, and that they were ‘devils’ to her.

And some Black rhetoric and activism has crossed the line into overt Fascism. Marcus Garvey, who held paramilitary parades in New York, once declared that Hitler and Mussolini learned everything from him. In the 1970s his son announced, during the Jamaican celebrations of the great man’s birth, that Garveyism must become Black National Socialism, for Africa also needed its Lebensraum. Before she was shot by a criminal gang, Black activist Sasha Johnson demanded a Black militia to safeguard Blacks against the police, whom she accused of being like the Klan. She duly appeared on platforms with them, dressed alike in stab vests. Johnson fancied herself as ‘the British Black panther’, but her parade violated British legislation going back to the 1930s against political paramilitary uniforms aimed squarely at Fascist organisations like Mosley’s BUF.

And Black British politicians have encouraged and extended a welcome to deeply racist Black American activists. Back in the 1980s ‘Black radical’ Labour politician Bernie Grant invited over here Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam demands a Black-only state. Now more or less a science fictional space cult, it believes that Whites were created by an evil Mekkan scientist, Shaitan, to destroy the purity of the Black race. It is also very definitely opposed to the welfare state. If this had been a White politician, he would have been denounced as Fascist and his visit accompanied with protests from the Left. But Grant excused him, saying he didn’t agree with everything he said, but regarded him as an elder statesman.

The Left tends to turn a blind eye to such racism. It is fixated on the real threat of White racism and fascism, to the extent that it ignores anti-White racism and refuses to accept it. Matthew Collins, the author of the Demonisation of the White Working Class, in an interview on the New Culture Forum YouTube channel, remarked that when his book came out it was bitterly criticised as itself racist by the left-wing press because of its discussion of Whites forced out of Black majority areas due to anti-White racism. The publication of Ed Hussein’s book, Among the Mosques, about Muslim anti-White hatred, was also greeted with accusations of racism and Islamophobia by the left.

This attitude is itself profoundly racist and a mistake, because anti-White racism in the past has at times reached and exceeded the same extent as White racist crimes against people of colour. In 2006 the Independent report that the racist murder of Whites was almost at the same level as the racist murders of Blacks. And back in the 1990s the newspaper also covered a report, published by the then Committee for Racial Equality, written by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, that racist attacks on Whites now amounted to 60 per cent of the total number of such incidents. This was the first time it had done so. Since then I’ve no doubt that it’s been overtaken by assaults against people of colour, especially Muslims after 9/11. But the threat of a revived, violent anti-White racism is still there in my opinion, especially as it could be encouraged by the anti-White rhetoric and ideologies of Post-Colonial and Critical Race Theory and its adherents.

I don’t believe that the extent of these pernicious ideologies should be exaggerated. Such people don’t speak for all Blacks or Asians by any means, just as the real Nazis never represented the vast majority of Whites. But these attitudes and ideologies do need to be fought. They should not be indulged in or promoted by the left because they come from the left and are supposed to be about defending and promoting persecuted, marginalised peoples. Rather the left needs to unite against them. There needs to be left-led anti-racist marches, with both Blacks, Asians and Whites, against Muslim grooming gangs. There needs to be a no-platform on campus against Post-Colonial and Critical Race Theory racists, just as there are for White supremacists and Fascists. But there isn’t. And so such issues are left to the right and genuine racists like the Islamophobic Tommy Robinson.

This needs to be stopped and radically changed now. Racism and Fascism can appear in all peoples and colours, including Black and Asians. And it needs to be fought be all races together.

Black and White, unite and fight!

Are British Schools Really Teaching Children that Medieval British Rulers Were Black?

February 9, 2022

A day or so ago Simon Webb of History Debunked put up a video discussing the book, Negro Rulers of Medieval Scotland and England, by a Black American writer, Johnson. This claims that various British monarchs in the Middle Ages and early modern periods were really Black, including James I. He believed that this was a product of the prevalence of conspiracy theories in Black American and also Dutch Muslim culture. Conspiracy theories aren’t unique to either of these peoples. He stated that they were the reaction of people, who believe they are powerless. This seems to me to be about right, especially as they are most common in peoples where there is a strong distrust of the government. Black Americans generally suffer more from poverty, crime, unemployment, drugs and alienation than other demographic groups, and have been subject to overt oppression and exploitation. It’s therefore almost to be expected that conspiracy theories should be far more widespread amongst them than in the White population. Way back in the ’90s folklorists documented various rumours and urban legends in the Black community. Some of these erroneously claimed that named fashion designers and clothing firms wouldn’t market their brands to Black. Another was that Coca-Cola was putting chemicals in the water to sterilise young Black men. This was also very much not true, but given their history and treatment, you can well understand how some people could believe it. Webb considered that it was because of this conspiracy culture that some Black Americans were inclined to believe that some medieval British kings were Black. He compared this to an episode in the 1938 Evelyn Waugh novel, Scoop, in which the hero tries to arrange a visa to enter Ethiopia in order to cover the war there. He is told by an official that just about every major historical incident and invention, from the discovery of the circulation of the blood to the defeat of the Germans in the First World War, was due to Africans. Unfortunately, Webb stated, we can no longer laugh at such historical appropriations. White liberals were taking them seriously, and so books like Johnson’s were being taught in schools. This was also the reason why a Black woman had been cast by Channel 5 to play Anne Boleyn.

Now Johnson’s book clearly exists, as Webb showed its cover in his thumbnail and provided a link to its Amazon page. It seems to be the product of the same brand of Afrocentrism that drew on Gerald Massey’s 1881 Book of the Beginnings and David Macritchie’s 1884 Ancient and Modern Britons to claim that the inhabitants of the British Isles were originally Black. And it seems to me quite credible that some schools are teaching Johnson’s book. According to Stephen Howe’s book, Afrocentrism, there were 350 private, ‘afrocentric academies’, teaching 50,000 children in America in 1991. American public schools also have afrocentric curricula and even whole Afrocentric schools in the Black majority districts in Detroit, Baltimore and Milwaukee (see page 3). But I do wonder how many schools over here are teaching it. I don’t doubt that there are many Black activists and teachers that would like to. Last year during Black History Month the local BBC News for Bristol, Points West, discussed calls for Black history to be taught in schools. If I remember correctly, some were already supposed to have done so. But Britain also has a National Curriculum, which I would have thought would have prevented much Afrocentric material, at least of the extreme type, from being taught.

I also don’t know if books like Johnson’s were behind Channel 5’s decision to have Boleyn played by a Black thesp. It seemed far more likely to me that it came from the theatre, where Black actors have been cast in traditional White roles for a long time. I also think it was influenced by Armando Iannucci’s colour-blind film of Dickens that came out a few years ago. The Tudors are a part of the National Curriculum and have been a staple of British historical programming. Producers are always looking for a way to put a fresh angle on something, and following the BLM riots the TV companies were falling over themselves to promote, or be seen to promote, Black talent. Black History Month was set up partly as a way to motivate Black children at school and raise their academic performance. There may therefore be no other explanation for the broadcaster’s choice of actor than an intention to find a way to appeal to a Black audience as well. The only sure way of proving that the decision was based on books like Johnson’s would be if a document emerges from Channel 5 stating this is the case, or, failing that, they were working with a Black group that took the view that Boleyn and other members of the British 16th century nobility were Black. But Webb doesn’t produce any such evidence.

Some Black Americans may therefore be erroneously taught that Anne Boleyn and the rest were Black, but I see no evidence that such counter-knowledge is being taught in British schools just yet.

Andrew Laurence Mocks Brighton and Hove for Introducing Racial Guilt for White Pupils in Schools

January 30, 2022

Andrew Laurence is a right-wing YouTuber, whom I normally wouldn’t bother with. He posts videos satirising the Left in the character of an extremely ‘woke’ academic. I largely don’t find them either funny or witty. They’re mostly just the usual trite Tory talking points about the loony Left, Corbyn and so on. But this time he has a point. His rant, in the guise of the woke professor Dr Gideon Micropenis, attacks Brighton and Hove council for having introduced Critical Race Theory into its schools. This seems to be based on an article in today’s Telegraph, which reports that children are being taught that if they’re White, they’re at the top of a racial hierarchy, and at the bottom if they’re Black. The council’s currently governed by the Greens, who seem responsible for this material. Laurence slams it as teaching White kids to feel guilty about the slave trade, for which they personally aren’t responsible and have absolutely nothing to do with. Here’s the video

The Torygraph article by Ewan Somerville, on which his rant is based, ‘Children aged seven to be taught that they are not ‘racially innocent”, begins

‘Children as young as seven are to be told they are not “racially innocent” because they view “white at the top of the hierarchy” as part of diversity training for teachers.

Brighton and Hove City Council has been accused of “indoctrinating” children through its five-year plan for an anti-racist education system, which endorses critical race theory and white privilege – contentious ideologies that have sparked protests.

The council states that all teachers require the training, which will inform “specific racial literacy-focused lessons” for pupils. The Green-controlled authority is in a row with parents opposed to the classes and one has launched a petition to have the training scrapped, which has attracted 4,000 signatures.

Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, has previously told the Commons that schools teaching white privilege as an uncontested fact are breaking the law.

The Telegraph has obtained recordings, PowerPoint slides and reading lists that form the “Racial Literacy 101” sessions. Teachers began the training in the autumn term, and 300 have undertaken it so far. 

Brighton is the first British authority to roll out such training, and the hour-long session covers the history of the slave trade and racism in contemporary society.’

The article also reports that a petition against it has been started by a man, Adrian Hart, whose son is at sixth form college in the town, with the campaign group Don’t Divide Us.

While I really don’t have much time for Laurence and his right-wing humour, this time I think he’s absolutely right. Critical Race Theory is a nasty postmodern doctrine that rejects class as the instrument of social oppression and replaces it with race. All Whites are held to be privileged, while Blacks are held to be oppressed. It also rejects claims that racism has improved, holding instead that it has simply become better hidden. Furthermore, its adherents bitterly oppose the civil rights legislation introduced following the heroic protests and demonstrations by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X because these have had the effect of incorporating Black people into bourgeois society. Critical Race Theory began as a radical movement within American Marxist lawyers, and it believes that the only way a true anti-racist society can be created is through revolution. It aims to increase racial consciousness and agitation to that end, rather than bring people together. See the relevant chapter on CRT in James Lindsay’s and Helen Pluckrose’s Cynical Theories (London: Swift 2021). And it is indeed venomously anti-White. There are clips on the web of a young Black woman, Angela Shackleford, telling a class room of Whites that they were not born into a humanity and are devils to her. It does absolutely nothing to solve the problem of racism, bring Whites and Blacks together or really improve conditions for Blacks. It just seems to me that it merely increases racial resentment on the one hand and racial guilt on the other.

As for the Greens, in Bristol Cleo Lake, the Green councillor for Cotham, introduced a motion in the local council last year, that reparations for slavery should be paid to ‘all Afrikans’ in the city. This would actually take the form of increased grants and funding to Black organisations to create prosperous, self-sustaining Black communities. It was seconded by Asher Craig, the head of Equalities at the council and the deputy mayor, and passed by all the parties except the Conservatives. And unfortunately, I think this time the Tories were right.

I don’t have a problem with increased funding for Bristol’s Black communities, as there are problems with unemployment, drugs, and crime, along with feelings of marginalisation. But it shouldn’t be connected to the slave trade, at least, not for all ‘Afrikans’. It makes Britain assume responsibility for African peoples we didn’t enslaves, and who themselves actively participated in the trade as well as practised it within their own states. It also does what CRT does, and divide people into virtuous, enslaved Blacks and evil White oppressors.

It further looks to me from Lake’s statement about ‘all Afrikans’ that she’s an Afrocentrist. This is a pseudo-discipline that holds that the Egyptians were Black and created the roots of modern, western civilisation, which the Greeks and Romans stole. It also claims that they created a unified culture in Africa after colonising them. It claims that every achievement of African culture and civilisation is therefore due to the ancient Egyptians, and where this is mixed by practices viewed as barbaric, such as human sacrifice, it is due to racial degeneration. It further holds that there is a single African psychology and philosophy held by both western Blacks and Black Africans. Blacks are held to be less logical, but more emotional, intuitive and communal in organisation compared to Whites. Who are supposed to be competitive, aggressive and exploitative, among a number of other unpleasant features. Some Afrocentrist writers have described Whites as ‘albinistic mutants’. I don’t know if Lake holds these extreme views, but it seems very much to me that she holds at least some Afrocentric views. To me, this makes her entirely unsuitable for formulating a genuinely workable racial policy or for teaching an objective history of Africa and its relations with the outside world.

Critical Race Theory and Afrocentrism have nothing positive to say or add to real discussions of race and Black history and should be banned.

Class Bias and Elitism in Afrocentrism

January 28, 2022

Howe’s book Afrocentrism also discusses the arguments of the movement’s Black critics that its values represent those of the Black middle class and ignores the different needs of the classes below them. He writes

In the eyes of some critics the4 patriarchal bias is closely linked to a class-based one. Ransby and Matthew make this point in passing, seeing Afrocentric rhetoric as implicitly invoking classic stereotypes of the dysfunctional Black ‘underclass’. The argument is more central, however, in polemics like that of the prolific black socialist scholar Manning Marable, who sees the real origins of Afrocentrism like this:

‘The black-nationalist-oriented intelligentsia, tied to elements of the new African-American upper-middle-class by income, social position and cultural outlook, began to search for ways of expressing itself through the ‘permanent’ prism of race, while rationalising its relatively privileged class position.’

Asante’s theories, in Marable’s view, represent the more scholarly and philosophically coherent version of such elite self-rationalization. More ‘vulgar’ Afrocentrists – among whom Marable includes Leonard Jeffries – not only espouse a cruder, more dogmatic racial essentialism shot through with anti-Semitic rhetoric, but express their elite biases more nakedly:

‘Vulgar Afrocentrists deliberately ignored or obscured the historical reality of social class stratification within the African diaspora. They essentially argued that the interests of all black people – from… Colin Powell… (and) Clarence Thomas, to the Black unemployed, homeless and hungry of America’s decaying urban ghettoes – were philosophically, culturally, and racially the same… As such, vulgar Afrocentrism was the perfect social theory for the upwardly mobile black petty bourgeoisie. It gave them a vague, hard, critical study of historical realities… It was, in short, only the latest theoretical construct of a politics of racial identity, a worldview designed to discuss the world, but never really to change it.” (281)

Howe agrees, stating

‘Given the evidence of wildly unscholarly statements from writers like Asante that we have documented, one may think that Marable is overstating a distinction between ‘scholarly’ and ‘vulgar’ Afrocentrists, but his overall judgement has considerable weight.’ (281).

I think the same criticism could be levelled at Critical Race Theory, which rejects class in favour of race and specifically ‘whiteness’ as the main instrument of oppression in western society. It therefore sees all Blacks as equally disenfranchised, even if they are extremely wealthy, and all Whites uniquely privileged even if they are poor.

Afrocentrism Avoids Discussion of the Real Issues Affecting Africa and the African Diaspora

January 28, 2022

Howe in his book on Afrocentrism powerfully states that, rather than actually confronting and tackling the real issues besetting Africa and Black Americans, it actually avoids them. He writes

In the end, indeed, I believe that most of the arguments about the racialisation of scholarship, proposed in recent years from a wide range of perspectives, are an evasion or distraction from serious political issues in relation to Africa and its diaspora, as much as for anywhere else. To observe that scholarly perspectives on Africa and diasporic societies have been massively influenced by racial ideology is one thing, and is obviously true. To analyses these histories of racialized scholarship and to trace the ways in which writers’ own ethnic origins have influenced their views, are important and fascinating tasks. But it is quite another thing to believe that such analyses offer significant aid in solving contemporary political or economic problems – let alone to think that the erection of counter-myths about African racial superiority or unitary, transhistorical ‘black perspective’ does so. At the height of the bitter battles in the American African Studies Association (battles which play a walk-on part in the story told here) Pierre L. van den Berghe pointed out – overgeneralizing in his anger, but with, I believe, an essential powerful truth – that

‘The African peasant does not care one whit whether his oppressor is white or black. Rightly,, he does not consider ‘race’ relevant. It should be a matter of deepest shame to us ‘intellectuals’ that we still talk as if it were relevant.’

If anything, that is even more true today than it was over twenty-five years ago.’ (Afrocentrism, 6).

I don’t think this is quite so true as Afrocentrism has been linked and superseded by the equally racist Critical Race Theory and demands for affirmative action, but Critical Race Theory in its turn will not criticise traditional forms of oppression non-Western societies, as it’s only interested in White colonial oppression.

And so ignores some of the genuine problems of Africa and its peoples, and Black Americans in the US.

Cheikh Anta Diop, the Victorians and Adolf Hitler on the Fundamental Importance of Race

January 28, 2022

Yesterday I put up review of Stephen Howe’s excellent Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes, which traces the history of the movement and examines its ideas and the major figures within the movement. Afrocentrism considers that the ancient Egyptians were Black, and that their civilisation was the basis for western culture, which Whites stole. They also believe that there are major psychological differences between Whites and Blacks. Africans are also believed to have a single philosophy, and to have been able to make great advances in science, religion and politics through their distinct racial constitution. Race is held to be of fundamental importance affecting all aspects of life, culture and civilisation. Cheikh Anta Diop, one of the major figures in the movement and one whom Howe respects, despite his views, stated

‘All of humanity’s historical and social relations, from the beginnings of time right up to the nineteenth century, were ethnic relations, founded in phenotype…. humanity has been governed essentially in its development by these ethnic confrontations.’ (171).

Howe makes the point that Afrocentrism is strongly influenced by 19th century views of ancient Egypt and Africans. These were themselves the products of colonial administrators and anthropologists steeped in 19th century anti-Black racism. It’s just that they reverse this racism so that Blacks, instead of Whites, are the superior race. He points out that much Afrocentric writing has a curiously old-fashioned ring. Diop’s statement above is an example of this, as it is very much in line with the attitudes of 19th century White imperialists. For example, Benjamin Disraeli said ‘No man will treat with indifference the principle of race. It is the key to history’. ( Peter Vansittart, Voices 1870-1914 (Jonathan Cape 1984) 81).

Hitler believed that all civilisation and culture had been created by White ‘Aryans’. He therefore stated in Mein Kampf that ‘It is the duty of the national State to see to it that a History of the World is eventually written, in which the question of Race occupies a prominent position’. (Adolf Hitler, My Struggle (London: The Paternoster Library 1933) 166).

As for the exaggerated and grotesquely distorted claims made by the Afrocentrists and other Black activists about the importance and achievements of Black scientists, these are also comparable to Hitler’s own ideas about science and race. He also wrote in Mein Kampf

‘The national State will look upon science as a means for increasing national pride. Not only world-history, but also the history of civilisation, must be taught from this point of view. An inventor should appear great not merely as an inventor, but even more so as a fellow-countryman. Admiration of any great deed must be combined with pride because the fortunate doer of it is a member of our own nation. We must extract the greatest from the mass of great names in German history and place them before the youth in so impressive a fashion that they may become the pillars of an unshakable nationalist sentiment.’ (168)

Thus a movement that has the laudable ambition of challenging racism merely becomes another form of it.

A Thorough Critique of Afrocentric Pseudo-History, Psychology, and Science

January 27, 2022

Stephen Howe, Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (London: Verso 1998)

This is another excellent book I’ve been reading lately. I first came across in it an excellent review by the Black British writer, Caryl Phillips in the Financial Times at the time it was published, though it’s only now I’ve actually got round to ordering a copy and reading it. Afrocentrism is a set of inter-related, pseudo-academic disciplines based on the claim that the ancient Egyptians were Black and are the unacknowledged source of White western culture, which was stolen from them. Not only were the Egyptians themselves Black, but they may also have derived their culture and achievements in turn from the peoples further to the south, the Nubians and Ethiopians. Some Afrocentrists claim that Greece, Rome and Carthage were originally Black ancient Egyptian colonies and that the original peoples of the British isles were also Black. Some push this claim of Black African primacy even further, claiming that ancient Egyptians travelled to the Americas before Columbus, where they founded the Olmec culture. The ancient peoples of Asia too, the Indians, Thais, Chinese and Japanese were also Black. At the same time ancient Egypt expanded to colonise Africa, where it was also responsible for the major cultural, artistic and architectural achievements. Where these coexisted with alleged brutality and barbarism, as in West Africa, which had a highly sophisticated art alongside human sacrifice, this was due to biological degeneration from the original Egyptian herrenvolk.

Black Americans are held to be part of a single Black race and culture with Black Africans, and Afrocentric scholars are active trying to trace authentic African survivals in the speech, culture and psychology of Black America. There is supposed to be a single Black character and psychology and a distinct Black philosophy. At the same time, ,Afrocentric scholars believe that the Egyptians were masters of political theory and science, which can similarly be grotesquely exaggerated. Some of them claim that the ancient Egyptians knew about quantum physics and gravity and that the Tanzanians had semi-conductors. At the same time they are active researching and promoting various Blacks figures they believe were great scientists. Again, these figures, who could, like Benjamin Banneker, be genuinely impressive in their real lives, and their achievements are often wildly exaggerated.

Unsurprisingly there’s much racism mixed up with this. There’s a bitter hatred of Whites, as well as, Jews and Arabs. One Afrocentric writers claims the latter has been attempting to destroy African civilisation and enslave its peoples for 5,000 years. Which is quite incredible, considering that I think the Muslim Arabs only conquered north Africa in the 7th/8th century AD. There’s also a bitter hatred of homosexuality and strong rejection of feminism. In the early 1960s one Afrocentric group insisted that female members should show their submissiveness by crossing their arms and lowering their heads when one of the men passed them. There’s also an insistence on traditional family structures. At the same time, some believe that Blacks are intellectually and emotionally superior to Whites because of the greater amount of the melanin pigment in their brains.

At their heart, this is an attempt to compensate for the massive racial oppression and disparagement Blacks and their civilisations have suffered over the centuries, far more than any other ethnic group. Yet much Afrocentric scholarship is based on the severely dated writings of 19th and early 20th century European colonial officials and anthropologists, as well as other White writers, who definitely believed that Blacks were inferior. For example, Afrocentric scholars assert that, while Whites and Europeans are logical and rational, Blacks are emotional and intuitive. Which is very much like the old imperialist claim that Blacks were inferior because they weren’t rational and logical. The claim that ancient Egyptians were responsible for the colonisation of Africa and every advance made by the peoples of the continent also derives from 19th and early 20th century White sources. The only difference is that those writers believed that the Egyptians were part of a superior, ‘Hamitic’, White civilisation. And also mixed up with it are various occult, Masonic and New Age ideas. Some of these derive from Albert Churchward, a freemason, who believed that there was a war going on between freemasonry and socialism, and only the former could defend civilisation from the Red Menace. Other figures in the New Age part of the Afrocentric movement include Credo Mutwa, a genuine Zulu shaman, honest guv, and apologist for the South African apartheid state.

Howe’s book traces the history of these ideas, some of which have been around for longer than I thought. I was aware that the claim that the ancient Egyptians were Black and therefore equal to or superior to White civilisation began in the 19th century. I was surprised, however, to find that Black Americans, largely clergymen, were making the claims as early as the 1820s. He carefully distinguishes between those writers, like the Senegalese mathematician and nuclear physicist Cheikh Anta Diop, who, while wrong, nevertheless were diligent researchers and produced significant insights, and others who were far less impressive. Some of the latter can only be described as cranks, like the female Afrocentrist who claims that nearly everything, including Christmas trees, are representations of the Black male genitals. Some of the most virulently anti-White racist material comes from White writers, such as the assertion that Whites are inferior because we’re all descended from the Neanderthals, who are given a whole series of unpleasant traits. Some Afrocentrists seem to have set up their own Stalinist ‘cult of personality’. Molefi Asante, for example, has his own academic department and institute, who members and scholars always pay generous tribute to him for guiding them on their intellectual quest, and largely don’t say anything that wasn’t already said by the master. Quite a number give themselves impressive African names, meaning things like ‘Bearer of Enlightenment’, and a number have also claimed to have been African princes or holy men. Their real identities and backgrounds, however, tend to be much more prosaic. He also notes the connection and major differences with other major figures in Black scholarship and anti-racist campaigning, like Franz Fanon and W.E.B. DuBois, and the French Caribbean Negritude movement.

There are some significant difference between the scholars discussed here. Cheikh Anta Diop believed that ancient Egypt was the source of western culture and I think he wanted Greek and Latin replaced as languages by ancient Egyptian. But while his thinking was highly racialised, he wasn’t a racist. He wanted Blacks to join the global community of peoples as equals. He also believed that civilisation was cyclical, and that as Europeans supposedly took their ideas from Africa, so Africans should now learn from Europeans. Others were definitely racist, such as the speaker at the first Black History Month in 1986 who seemed to advocate shooting Whites, although he couldn’t tell his audience when, where and whom. In the case of Marcus Garvey’s son, this went into pure Black Nazism. When Jamaica celebrated Garvey’s birth in the 1970s, his son called for Garvey’s movement to become a Black National Socialism, because Africa also needs its lebensraum.

Among the researchers and writers examined and critiqued is Martin Bernal, the White author of Black Athena. This caused a major stir when it was published in the 1980s, possibly because, as Bernal himself suggested, he was White. Bernal was able to assemble a massive amount of information and was extensively criticised at the time. But he was also controversial because he believed that ancient Greece was also strongly influenced by the Semitic peoples, specifically the Phoenicians and the Jews. This was in fact based on contemporary Israeli scholarship, and was itself highly controversial. As a result, some of the criticisms of him and his work have a very nasty element of anti-Semitism.

The book is a thorough examination and demolition of Afrocentric scholarship with considerable sympathy for the genuine achievements of Black scholars, some of whom have made very trenchant criticisms. One Ghanaian or Nigerian philosopher lampooned the claim that there is a single, African philosophy based around a transcendent life force. In a spoof article he argued that the English, and therefore all westerners, venerated the mystic force ING, because English verbs often ended in ‘ing’, like ‘doing’ or ‘being’. In fact the claim that there is a single African philosophy comes from Tempels, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, who only researched a single Bantu tribe, and the anthropologist Griaule and his Dogon informant, Ogotommeli. The latter two have become notorious because of their books’ claim that the Dogon had an advanced knowledge of astronomy. They knew that the planets circled the Sun in ellipses, and that Sirius had an invisible companion star. For R.K.G. Temple in the 1970s, it was because they’d been visited by aliens. For the Melanists, it was because they had intuitive knowledge of it through their pineal gland. Howe suggests that Ogotommeli probably knew about it from visiting colonial officials with an interest in the subject, and made the claim that all this was known to the Dogon as a way of pulling this arrogant colonial anthropologist’s leg.

The book also argues that Afrocentric views of Africa are themselves also damaging. They present the continent as a static, unfied culture, which has never suffered war and conflict between its peoples before the advent of Europeans. In fact it’s a continent of many different peoples and cultures. There’s no evidence that it was ever colonised by the ancient Egyptians. Only six ancient Egyptian artefacts have been found outside Egypt and Nubia. And rather than the ancient Egyptians introducing agriculture to the rest of Africa, there is evidence that it was independently discovered in six different places on the continent. As for the assertion that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are the source for various African writing systems, such as the Vai of Liberia, some of these are known to have been invented by specific individuals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some African peoples are happy to promote the idea that they are descendants of the ancient Egyptians, while others very definitely are not. The problem here is that Afrocentrist claims of Egyptian primacy are obscuring the real achievements of Africa and its peoples.

As for the question of the racial origins of the ancient Egyptians, the book notes that this is a subject of near to Zero interest to professional, mainstream Egyptologists. A number of academics books and journals he surveys make no mention of it. When one does, it is simply to say that it is a distraction from the real issues Egyptologists want to examine. Genetic and craniological examination, however, suggest that the ancient Egyptians were racially identical to other peoples in that part of Africa. They show genetic links to the peoples of Neolithic Europe, the Middle East and India, and lesser genetic connections to the peoples further south. The Egyptian scholars themselves, however, see themselves as racially mixed and there was an argument at a conference in Cairo when the Black Americans insisted that they were Black. I also find some of the Afro-centrists’ concern to establish the racial identity of the Nubians rather odd. One Afrocentric writer hoped that one day science would be able to reconstruct the features of the Nubian pharaoh Taharqa from its skull fragments, and that these would show he was Black. I found this quite puzzling, as I’ve always assumed that the Nubians were Black. In fact I’ve never seen anything said to the contrary. When TV documentaries refer to Egypt’s Black pharaohs, they usually refer to the period when the country was conquered and ruled by Nubian kings. I honestly don’t know who these people are that assert that the Nubians were White, unless it’s some of the White writers the Afro-centrists have discovered in their search for suitable sources.

This pseudo-scholarship is spreading massively. The book notes the large number of university departments teaching it, as well as college and private schools and the torrent of books published, some of them also aimed at schools. It’s alarming that such pseudo-scholarship has become so widespread. And rather than liberating, as Afrocentric scholars believe, he makes the point that the subject is deeply racist, drawing on the same sources as White racists.

But rather than be angered by it, he finds it immensely sad.

Stephen Howe’s Refutation of Nation of Islam Book on Jews and the Slave Trade

January 26, 2022

Stephen Howe’s book Afrocentrism also includes discussion and refutation of the vicious anti-Semitism in parts of the movement. This anti-Jewish prejudice is particularly notorious in the case of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan’s assertion that Jews were responsible for the transatlantic slave trade. Howe attacks and refutes this assertion as it appears in the Nation of Islam’s anonymously published boo, The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews. Howe writes

‘The book is credited to the ‘Nation of Islam Historical Research Department’, an entity which has had no traceable existence or publications apart from this work. Under the guise of a scholarly treatise, and utilizing (though often misquoting or otherwise abusing) a very wide range of sources, this is in reality a violently anti-Jewish tract. It massively exaggerates the role of various Atlantic Jewish communities in slavery – a role which was in reality minuscule, with the partial exception of Jewish investors in the Dutch West India Company (Jewish investment here having been estimated at different times between 0.5 per cent and 10 per cent of the total, while the company itself controlled, at its peak, a maximum 16 per cent of the Atlantic slave trade, a handful of Jewish plantation owners in Surinam (Dutch Guiana), and a not precisely quantifiable number of Portuguese Marranos (Christians of actual, alleged or partial Jewish ancestry, who formed a significant portion of Portugal’s and her colonies’ populations after the Inquisition).

More revealing still of the book’s real nature is the repeated suggestion that Jewish involvement in slavery (no less and no more blameworthy than the far greater Christian and Muslim embroilment, and hugely overstated by mis-citation and innuendo) stems from some uniquely evil racial-religious characteristic, and has subsequently been concealed by all the all-too-predictable conspiracy of media and financial power. Yet The Secret Relationship is afar cleverer work of propaganda than its critics seem to assume. An impressive amount of research – albeit almost entirely in secondary sources – has gone into its compilation, however egregiously the results are then misused. It does not directly claim, as responses from the Anti-Defamation League and elsewhere asserted, that Jews are ‘genetically predisposed towards the exploitation of blacks; though the unwary reader might easily draw such a conclusion from it, and that, no doubt, was the anonymous author’s intention. It draws attention dozens of times to instances across the centuries and the continents when Jews were accused of rapacious and dishonest business dealings. It never quite directly says that such accusations were true, or that they reflect a noxious, invariant pattern of Jewish racial behaviour. Nor, of course, does it say that they were not true. It just leaves the reader to conclude that such multifarious and insistent charges must be solidly based.’ (276-7)

This is a good point, as unfortunately not all Fascists are clowns, and anti-Semites, whether White, Black or whatever, can dress their poisonous assertions up to make them apparently rational and historically grounded. You have to be careful not to be caught by such rhetoric.

In footnote 3 to that chapter, Howe recommends the following books giving scholarly overviews of Jewish participation in the slave trade. These are David Brion Davis’ ‘ The Slave Trade and the Jews’, published in the New York Review of Books, 22nd December 1994; Seymour Drescher, ‘The Role of Jews in the Transatlantic Slave Trade’, Immigrants and Minorities 12, 1993; and Harold Brackman’s Farrakhan’s Reign of Historical Error: The Truth behind The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews (Los Angeles 1992). Howe describes this last book a polemical with a touch of ethnocentrism itself.

I thought it worth posting Howe’s passage demolishing Farrakhan’s nasty little book, as I think these poisonous assertions are still being made. The sensitivity over this issue has also been used by the witch-hunters to smear entirely respectable historians and academics like Jackie Walker as genuine anti-Semites. Walker’s real crime in the eyes of groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is that she opposes the Israeli state’s persecution of the Palestinians and the system of apartheid it has erected to keep them very securely as second-class citizens. However, they smeared her as an anti-Semite with a comment with two colleagues discussing Jewish involvement in the slave trade, in which she stated clearly that the Jews were ‘her people’. As a Jewish woman of colour, whose father was a Russian Jew, practises the religion herself, and whose partner is Jewish and whose daughter attended a Jewish school, there should be no doubt that Walker is not any kind of anti-Semite. But because of some ill-guarded words in her post, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism were able to smear her as such.

Did Farrakhan Get His Ideas about White Origins from Fu Manchu Novels?

January 23, 2022

I’ve also been reading Stephen Howe’s history and critique of Afrocentrism, Afrocentrism – Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (London: Verso 1998). Afrocentrism is a pseudo-historical movement that claims that the ancient Egyptians were really Black, and that their ideas are really at the centre of European civilisation as they were passed on or appropriated by the Greeks and Romans. The book shows that it began in the early 19th century, and different Afro-centrists had different views of this glorious imagined past. Some believed that the real, great civilisation had been the ancient Ethiopians, who colonised ancient Egypt. Others claimed that the original ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the Carthaginians, had been Black, civilising the White European savages. And there was considerable difference of opinion about the ancient Egyptian’s Blackness. Some Afrocentrists considered that the Egyptians were a mixture of Black African, White and Semitic races, and so while not White, and would have suffered under the segregation legislation, weren’t exactly purely negro either. This seems about right to me. They clearly depicted themselves as darker than the Europeans they were in contact with. Ancient Egyptian art commonly portrays Egyptian men as having reddish-brown skin, and women as yellow. The Minoans, however, are painted pink, while the darker-skinned people further south are portrayed as Black. And the rock paintings of Tassili n-Ajjer in the Sahara show that, thousands of years ago when the desert was green, groups of Blacks and Whites crossed and lived in it. It would be perfectly natural for these groups to have mixed and intermarried.

But the most bizarre ideas about racial origins seem to come from Louis Farrakhan’s branch of the Nation Islam. This holds that Black people were the original human race, and came originally from the Moon via Mecca. They also believe that White people are the creation of an evil Meccan scientist, Shaitan, to destroy the purity of the White race. Howe, in one of his footnotes, states that this idea is remarkably similar to one of Saxe Romer’s infamous Fu Manchu novels, The Island of Fu Manchu. Which leaves you wondering about Farrakhan’s choice of reading matter.