The dangerous myth of white male exceptionalism

Image from http://www.savetherhino.org
Image from http://www.savetherhino.org

Save the rhino?

In the mid-1980s in apartheid South Africa two social trends made a strange convergence.

On the one hand it was clear that, for all the bluster and violence of the apartheid regime, the future of the “white” state was uncertain, at best.

The other trend was the growing concern of many aware people that the environment was being seriously threatened by human greed and rapacity.

Fascinating symptoms of these two trends were, as so often happens, the bumper stickers that sprouted.

The first, and most popular, was the “Save the Rhino” bumper sticker. It was seen all over, wherever the trendy set gathered. It was prolific on the backs of fashionable 4X4s doing their best to destroy the environment. School children were encouraged to take up the cause of the rhino.

At around the same time another, rather more sinister, bumper sticker began to appear, usually on the back of the pickups that in South Africa are called “bakkies”.

This sticker said, “Never mind the rhino, what about the white ou?” Now the Afrikaans word “ou” (pronounced to rhyme with rhino) means roughly, “guy”.

Insecurity

The insecurity, the existential angst , revealed in the second bumper sticker, is understandable in the context. For more than 400 years the “white ou” had reigned pretty much as the “baas” (boss) of Southern Africa, the undisputed (except for a few mad missionaries who were stupid or uninformed enough to question this rule) head honcho of a predominantly rural society. Blacks were there only on sufferance, and allowed to do menial tasks in the service of the white man. This despite the fact that they were here first, but that tends to be another heated topic of discussion.

Blacks were fine if they kept to their places and did not disturb the quiet peace of the white man, or appear to threaten the hallowed purity of white women.

World War II and the ranting of one Adolf Hitler about the “Aryan race” and his subsequent murder of some 6 million Jews, along with millions of gypsies and gays, brought about a revulsion against racism on the part of civilised people all over the world. Prejudice came to be regarded no longer as “natural” but as an evil, something to be avoided and, if possible, overcome.

At the same time in South Africa a group of people, some of whom openly and proudly supported Hitler's racial madness, came to power in the whites only elections of 1948 and began to entrench in draconian legislation the prejudices and mad racial theories that had been prevalent in the country for the previous 400 years. This went directly against the post-war trend and began to attract the attention of the newly-formed United Nations Organisation just as it started its work.

Due to the efforts of many (including many whites) the racist apartheid regime was not allowed to pursue its racist ways in peace.

But the apartheid government loudly proclaimed its sovereignty and intention to carry on with its madness. It proclaimed that all those who opposed its policies were communists and weak-kneed socialists. It even managed to persuade some leaders of the very countries that had fought so valiantly against the Nazi menace, that South Africa was their best ally in Africa against the communist juggernaut. Leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were taken in by the very sophisticated propaganda of the white supremacist state.

But by the mid- to late-1980s it was clear to anyone who cared to look that the days of white supremacy were coming to an end. And this caused many to fear the future. This was something that the apartheid proponents had said would never happen – the “white ou” would stay in a position of power over others forever, according to the propaganda.

And the “white ou” started to react with defensiveness and hate.

Not only in South Africa! Photo from http://wonkette.com/
Not only in South Africa! Photo from http://wonkette.com/
A threat to the "white ou"? Photo from James A Watkins' Hub "Black Guys with White Girls"
A threat to the "white ou"? Photo from James A Watkins' Hub "Black Guys with White Girls"
President Barack Obama. Another threat to the "white ou"? Official portrait via Wikipedia
President Barack Obama. Another threat to the "white ou"? Official portrait via Wikipedia

White exceptionalism in the 21st Century

The “white ou's” rage against the inevitability of change has taken on new ways in the new century. There are many websites devoted to showing that “apartheid was not that bad,” that blacks are incompetent, unintelligent and corrupt. That the “white ou” is threatened as never before by affirmative action, feminism and anything else that can be likened to the communism of the “good old days”.

This is the playing of a zero-sum game: any advance of any other “ethnic” group must be at the expense of the “white ou.” Any advance of women is a threat to the masculinity of the “white ou.”

Now suddenly the “white ou” is being blamed, totally unfairly, of course, for all sorts of social ills like the vast discrepancy between white and black wealth, the testosterone-fuelled wars that plague our nations. This in spite of all the wonderful things the “white ou” has done for society!

The argument goes that white men are being “emasculated” by feminism and “multiculturalism”, that somehow the achievements of white men are being ignored, that slavery, like apartheid, was “not that bad”.

The argument goes that everything, or almost everything, that represents progress in the modern world, was brought about by white men, and that therefore there is something special, exceptional, about being a white male.

So when a black man dates a white woman, it is an attack on the masculinity of the white male, a threat to the alleged purity of the race, some kind of conspiracy to destroy the white race, etc. When in fact it is just two people being attracted to each other.(And somehow it's not that bad if a white man dates or marries a black woman?)

Happens every day.

So when a black man reaches a level of leadership in any sphere, especially the Presidency of the United States, it must be because he or she has a secret agenda to undermine the greatness of the white male. He or she must have cheated or lied to get to that position, because, of course, blacks don't have the intelligence to do it on merit.

And so it goes.

Is the "white ou" going the way of this image of the rhino? Rhinocerous by Albrecht Durer (1515). Image via Wikipedia
Is the "white ou" going the way of this image of the rhino? Rhinocerous by Albrecht Durer (1515). Image via Wikipedia

Why is this a problem?

White exceptionalism is a problem, as is any form of exceptionalism. It is firstly based on lies

  1. That whites are in some way superior to other groups. There is no group, especially no ethnic group, which is in any way “better” than another group.

  2. That Western Culture and the contributions of white males are somehow exceptional. People in all cultures and of all “races” have made contributions to society.

  3. That "race" is a somehow defining characteristic of humans. The concept of “race” itself, which is the basis of this kind of exceptionalism, is a false concept with no basis in reality.

  4. That slavery and apartheid were "not that bad" - they were "that" bad, and worse. In fact whites cannot, except with a great effort of the imagination and will, even begin to know how bad they really were. The implication that these things were "not that bad" is an insult to the memories of those who suffered and died under them.

Secondly, exceptionalism promotes exclusivity and, because of its racist underpinnings, seeks to promote one race above another as a basis of society. This permanently disadvantages the “ethnic group” so excluded, a situation that can lead to violence and ultimately to the demise of the society.

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba of the University of kwaZulu-Natal has written (in the Mail and Guardian newspaper in 2005):

"Racism, a socially constructed phenomenon with no biological basis, is a complex system of symbols and meanings that continues to modify over time as a consequence of both societal structural changes and political struggles. A segment of white males continues to deny the collective body of African experiences and instead wants to monopolise and to dictate the definition and appropriate meaning to racism."

White male exceptionalism promotes the lie that the “white ou” is an endangered species. The fact is the “white ou” is a lot less endangered than the rhino. (I find it a rather delicious irony that it is the "black" rhino, Diceros bicornis, not the "white" one, Ceratotherium simum, which is more endangered!)

The fact is that change, including cultural change, is difficult and threatening. It can place those affected by it into a dependent position, which, for the once-supreme “white ou” is very difficult to handle. But it need not be so. We can grow up, we can accept others, we can let go of our privileged position and be part of a wonderful new world that I think is struggling to come into being. Perhaps I am seeing things through rose coloured spectacles, don't know.

What I do know is that continuing on the path of white male exceptionalism is a recipe for disaster, because it is a stance that will lead to the extinction of the white male – and perhaps, not a moment too soon, if that is the way white males insist on going. Because that kind of exceptionalism has led to too much death and destruction already – we don't need any more Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots. We don't need another Rwanda genocide, we don't need another 9/11, we don't need any more “ethnic cleansing”. And we certainly don't need a return to slavery or apartheid.

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2011

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Comments 94 comments

H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 5 years ago from Guwahati, India

The distinction is I suppose due to isolation. The free mixing will bring new genes in the new generation to come when all sorts of differences will minise. Thanks.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Black America built white America.;)


tamron profile image

tamron 5 years ago

We all are people we all bleed the same color blood get a life! Nice hub!


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Excellent Hub Tony. I see this attitude in my country all the time and it must be spoken out against and challenged constantly. It has increased with the election of President Obama for no reason except his color. It is nonsense. I hope it changes soon. I am hopeful but wary.


Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

Tony, interesting piece. The organization that sided with Hitler was called the Ossewa Brandwag. My maternal grandfather (a boer) was a member. WAMs (White Afrikaaner Males) were said to be the most endangered species in SA during the 90s. Possibly, the reason I grew up in an anti-apartheid environment is that my late father was a German Jew. He got kicked out of the Justice Court (he was a magistrate) on the day of the Pogroms. His second degree was in journalism and he then spent three years reporting on what was happening in Germany - until the Gestapo arrived at his door. Fortunately, he was in Switzerland at the time. His mother sent him a telegram and he went to SA. From there, he reported the emerging racism for Reuters and wrote about it extensively, drawing the parallels between emerging racism in SA and what happened in pre-war Germany.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Tony, a wonderful and inspiring hub. I have read every word with joy that someone can write so beautifully about such a bleak subject. Marked up and awesome. It should be required reading by many of my countryman and women. Thank you,

Ian


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

Show me one Right-Wing movemement that has worked without an 'outgroup' to blame society's ills on and keep people from uniting against well-monied interests.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

Tony, I do not know know your faults, which no doubt are legion, - :-))) - but your humanity as reflected in this hub (and others of the past), more than makes up for them :-)))

Brilliantly done, my friend :-)


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Tony, a great hub. We are all a product of our environment. Whether we are a good product or not is really up to us.


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago

Tony: another brilliant hub! The writing and argument is fueled with evident passion as well as cool reason, and it's all written superbly. Congratulations on another fine piece! Love and Peace, Sem


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

We had the same problems with segregation in the South. What people do not say is there was also segregation in mid-western states like Kansas with African-American kids being sent to separate schools. Actually Brown vs. The Board of Education brought and end to that in Topeka, Kansas, but the attitudes of whites towards blacks did not change much about fifty years later. I met a lady who was enraged that a street was now named after Dr. Martin Luther King, and that African-Americans had the audacity to go shopping at the mall. She praised the Mexican-American community for wanting to keep to themselves, speak their own language, and not mix with whites at the mall. I was sickened and appalled by her comments because I did not know people still felt that way in 1995, but I learned many did. This is why I know when some Americans are claiming Obama was not born in the US and needs to produce his birth certificate, that it really about his being half black. They would not do this to a white president.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Oh dear Lord.

Such ignorance comes from a sense of inferiority, I suspect. Confident people do not feel the need to put others in such places.

I love this line, "...everything, or almost everything, that represents progress in the modern world, was brought about by white men."

I wonder what their mothers would say to that?

I do like the rhino bumper sticker...

Hugs, Barb


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK

If the white 'ou' thinks he's so superior Tony, it doesn’t seem logical for him to fear extinction.

Up and useful.


jandee profile image

jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

'Leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were taken in......' Wow ! Tony this gives them a shade of innocence ! They were out and out Racists as you well know,best from jandee


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Tony, Your humanity shines through. We all have the same qualities, just different colors. President Obama launched his bid for reelection today. I hope and pray that people will look past the color and see that he wants only the best for America, of course he wants to raise his people up, why shouldn't he? The history of South Africa should teach us a lesson. Keep writing.

Love and Peace


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

A fascinating read, Tony. You caught my attention again. :)


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

This hub shows great humanity, unfortunately, it does not echo the real society, as I have seen in the news, in reality and even on Hubpages. Anytime I write concerning my fellow humans, a group, usually the same people, will try to tell me why it's not good to allow those 'not like us' to be 'slackers.' Love this hub, I just wish more people would take it to heart. Unfortunately, they will hold on to their beliefs They are somehow 'superior' for being inhumane.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

SweetiePie, Kansas has an interesting history when it comes to African Americans and the issue of freedom and human rights.

When Kansas was a territory with visions of becoming a state the question arose whether it would become a free state or a slave state. The southern slave states tried to flood Kansas with pro-slaver settlers so it would become a slave state while settlers from places such as Boston were determined it would be a free state. As you can imagine both groups clashed and Kansas became bloody Kansas. The fighting in Kansas started well before the outbreak of the American Civil War.


secularist10 profile image

secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

Tony, a passionate and thought-provoking piece.

Around half of Republican primary voters in some areas of the US think Obama was not born in America, or he is a Muslim (even if true, who cares?), or some such nonsense. Would they have such delusions if he were white with a good Anglo-Saxon name? Hmmm, I wonder...

The fascistic tendencies of segments of South Africa in the post-war period are fascinating. Perhaps the odd situation of being a minority (unusual among white populations) helps to explain South African whites' movement to embrace racism in that period, even as other white populations moved away from it.

I do think that western civilization has led the world in many areas and blazed the trail in some important respects politically (e.g. modern democracy), economically, scientifically, etc. But of course this has nothing to do with skin color or genetics, or any special ability that other peoples don't have. It can largely be traced to unique geographical and historical circumstances enjoyed by Europe in the early modern period.

The professor you quoted is incorrect on one important point--racism does indeed have a biological basis, although "race" is an invented concept. It's the same in-group/ out-group basis as all tribalism. It may be comforting to think that racism and prejudice are just inventions of backward and regressive culture, but science indicates it is not purely a cultural product. Better understanding the phenomenon is key to beating it.

One of the "final frontiers," as it were, of western racism can be seen in Israel-Palestine. It is extraordinary to learn about the oppression being perpetrated there by the Israeli government, buttressed by the same kind of self-righteous racist xenophobia and delusional victimhood.

I recently read a New York Times article on the rapidly rising occurrence of mixed-race marriages in--of all places--Mississippi. So progress is always happening.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan

Well done. Voted useful and up.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Very nicely done Tony. Thank you for for the hub and being a good friend. God bless you brother.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

HPR - thanks for that thoughtful comment. I agree that the diversification of the gene pool will help understanding in the long run! It seems to be precisely that diversification that some are unhappy about.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Bryan - thanks for the sightful (inciteful? LOL!) comment. Love it.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Tamron - indeed! Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Thank you for such an honest open look at the dangerous myth of white male exceptionalism.

As I grew up I had a sense that certain males felt they were superior to both the opposite sex and those of other races.

Did you know people of my physical characteristics are called gingers, meaning the color of our skin, hair and eyes... I bet you notice the word Ginger now... For a long time I had no idea why people called me Ginger, they still do to this day. My daughters are called Gingers in school still to date, people refer to us as gingers, funny huh?

Oh my gosh this is a sad condition for anyone to suffer from.

I see amazing qualities in all people of all kinds with good hearts. Toxic people exsist and are not fertile ground. It is my hope all the rest of us can turn the other cheek and move about embracing peace love and joy and all love has to offer.

Great read Tony, loved it and love your beautiful heart. :) Katie


ocbill profile image

ocbill 5 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

Well, it started off with saving the rhino which immediately made me think of the endangered sea-life; seals and dolphins washing ashore due to toxins in the ocean recently. And like someone pointed out, there were 100s of inventions by Black people while they were oppressed. Also, I agree with amillar's comment. Everyone's has the same blood color and 1 life.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

HS - thanks for the great comment. I appreciate your support.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Sophia - thanks so much for stopping by. I know about the OB and its madness. You late father sounds like a really interesting man. Would have liked to meet him. Thanks again for the great and interesting comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ian - thanks for the wonderful comment. You make me blush!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

TPC - thanks for that comment. Too true. There is none.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dimitris - my faults, as you so kindly point out, are legion indeed! I am grateful that you think this Hub might have made some amends for them, at least.

Thank you, kind sir!

Love and peace

Tony.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Kudos to you for having the courage and the heart to write this thought-provoking article.

voted up/useful and awesome


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Rod - we are indeed. My hope is that we can sometimes rise above the limitations that places on us. We have a choice, it is not pre-ordained!

Thanks for coming by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Sem - thanks so much for the affirmation! I appreciate your stopping by and reading.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

SweetiePie - the remarks by the lady you mention remind me of a woman I knew in Johannesburg some years back who was incensed that, as she put it, "there are now so many blacks in the city centre." I wondered if she realised that this is a country in which blacks are by far the majority group in the population. I agree with your remarks about Obama too. I think a great deal of the criticism levelled at him is actually morivated by racism.

Thanks for dropping by.

Love and peace

Tony


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 5 years ago from Northern California

FIRST rate Hub/true and no-nonsense!


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 5 years ago from Great Britain

This was an exceptional piece of work, Tony. Very informative and straight from the heart. l´m sure.

God bless

Peace and love,

Dim x


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

@Rod Mardsen

I am aware of the history of Kansas being a history major and all, but thanks for sharing. What my comments reflects on is more of modern history, and how people have not moved past perception. Anyway, if you re-read my comment, you will see that I was pointing out how people assume there is no racism in mid-western states, and only in the South. I just do not like my comments being taken out of context.

@Tony,

Sorry to rant Tony on your hub, but I really do not like when I get called out on after having made an insightful comment, so I had to address Rod.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Barbara - I think it comes not only from a sense of inferiority, though it does, but also from a feeling of envy. What got me going on this Hub was the following from a comment on a fellow-Hubbers Hub: "The three white girls walked for the door with the openly homosexual black man. These girls were walking slowly like they were about to have an orgasm just walking. Two of them stroked the black perverted sodomites back."

The comenter had in the paragraph before mentioned that the girls were "stunningly attractive southern white girls."

I have seldom seen such an open description of sexual envy. The fact that the Hub in question asked why the writer was seeing many black guys dating white women just confirmed it for me.

I have previously written a Hub about the connection between racism and sex, and this comment just made my point for me!

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Maxine - yes I do know! But being the fair sort of guy I like to think I am I don't want to be that judgemental! Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Amillar - that is so true! Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ruby - thanks so much for the lovely comment. I really appreciate it very much. I too hope that Mr Obama is re-elected.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ingenira - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad to have caught your attention.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Bobbi - I appreciate your comment very much, thank you.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Secularist - thanks for the detailed and interesting comment. I hope you are right that progress is bieng made to a less racial future.

I am intereested also to hear from you about the biological basis for races? As far as I am aware we are all, whatever the pigmentation of our skins, members of the "race" Homo sapiens sapiens.

As one scholar has written, "A 'race' is a probability statement." No "racial charactersitic", like light skin, round eyes, straight hair, is exclusice to any one "race" - such charateristics are found among all people, but the likelihood of finding them is higher in the people of the industrialised west than in Africa or the east. Genetically though, all people are of one genetic stock, and the differences between people are smaller than for example the differences between different breeds of dogs.

But if you have other info on this I would be most interested.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


secularist10 profile image

secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

A biological basis for racism, not races. It's from evolution.

It's absolutely true that "races" are simply an imaginary category. Different groups of people developed different physical and genetic characteristics in common, and we call this a "race."

But my point was that as humans evolved, we developed a tendency to favor in-group members over out-group members. Whether the groups were families, tribes, clans, larger communities, etc. Developing positive associations with people who are like me is an ingenious adaptation because it means not only are my genes more likely to be passed on, but genes like my genes are more likely to be passed on, and genes that are different from mine, less likely.

So there is definitely a real tangible basis for seeing members of "my group" as allies, friendly, safe, reasonable, and seeing members of "the other group" as dangerous, untrustworthy, or scary. It's not just down to culture and social conditioning. And to the primitive brain "my group" can easily be determined by physical characteristics like mine.

Needless to say, like many relics of our evolutionary past, this adaptation's usefulness has run its course.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Jeff - thanks for the kind comment. I appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Micky - bless you too, brother! Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Katie - thanks for that interesting information. I have not heard of "gingers" before. Any kind of prejudice though is really horrible.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Bill - thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Fay - thanks for stopping by. And for the very kind words which I deeply appreciate.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Garnet - thanks so much for that forthright and no-nonsense comment! I appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Dim - thanks for those kind words. I appreciate them indeed. It was indeed written from the heart.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

SweetiePie - you are welcome!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Secularist - thanks for clearing that up. I had mis-read your comment.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I'd rather save the rhinos than the white ou lol

Great piece of writing. Cheers!


SOBF profile image

SOBF 5 years ago from New York, NY

tmac- This is without doubt one of the most thought provoking and insightful hubs I've had the pleasure of reading on hub pages. The challenges we face as a world community are only beginning in my opinion, however people like yourself inspire hope.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Take a look around a huge city such as Chicago, which rose out of an empty prairie after 1830. Look at its skyscrapers; the layout of the streets and train tracks; the organization of the sewage systems, clean water supply, telephone lines, electrical wires, the parks system, the museums, the libraries, the huge ports for ships, the manufacturing assembly lines, and the airports; the numerous sports venues and the games that are played there; and the maps that help us get around. Imagine the amount of planning and engineering; the creativity and ingenuity; that made this all possible.

Imagine the planning and engineering it takes to fly a spaceship to the moon and land on a particular spot, such as the Sea of Tranquility. Have you ever looked at the incredible detail of the maps in a World Atlas or Rand McNally Road Atlas or a map of the heavens and wondered how it got there? Do you ever wondered how all of those airplanes in the sky know how to get where they are going? Do you wonder how it is that the United States leads the world in agricultural production?

Let's talk about the inventions that make life in America wonderful for most all of us. We have air conditioning, airplanes, anesthesia, aspirin, ATMs, automobiles, adhesive bandages, bar codes, barbed wire, batteries, bicycles, blood banks, calculators, cameras, motion picture cameras, cans, cardboard, cement, clocks, compact discs, CAT scans, computers, concrete, contact lens, credit cards, defibrillators, dentures, metal detectors, smoke detectors, dishwashers, drinking fountains, dry cleaners, dynamite, electrocardiograms, e-mail, elevators, engines, escalators, eyeglasses, fax machines, fiber optics, fiberglass, film, flashlights, frozen foods, GPS, guitars, helicopters, hypodermic syringes, insulin, the internet, lasers, lawnmowers, light bulbs, LCDs, locomotives, loudspeakers, MRIs, matches, microchips, microphones, microscopes, microwave ovens, mirrors, missiles, motors, motorcycles, neon lights, nuclear reactors, nylons, oil wells, pacemakers, paperclips, paper towels, parachutes, particle accelerators, pasteurizers, pens, pencils, penicillin, cell phones, phonographs, photographs, printing presses, radar, radios, razors, refrigerators, respirators, revolvers, rifles, robots, roller coasters, rubber bands, safety pins, satellites, seat belts, sewing machines, shoe laces, silicone, slot machines, snowmobiles, soft drinks, sonar, postage stamps, spaceships, staplers, steel, stethoscopes, stoves, straws, submarines, sunglasses, sunscreen, supermarkets, synthesizers, tampons, army tanks, teabags, Teflon, telegraphs, telephones, cell phones, telescopes, televisions, thermometers, thermostats, tires, toilet tissue, toasters, toilets, tractors, traffic lights, transistors, typewriters, ultrasound, vaccinations, vacuum cleaners, Velcro, Viagra, video games, videotape, virtual reality, vitamins, washing machines, X-rays, and zippers.

Now I ask you a question: what do all of the above have in common?


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Mr Happy - I tend to agree with you on that! Though I don't wish harm to anyone, really. It's the attitude that has to go or we will all perish as fools.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


secularist10 profile image

secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

James:

Hmm, let me guess--they were all invented/ built by white men?! WOW, James! I never realized that before!

Obviously white men did VERY well because (1) white women were put down and prevented from realizing opportunities, and (2) other races and ethnic groups were put down and prevented from realizing opportunities. If you were given a host of unfair advantages over everyone else, don't you think you'd outperform everyone else, too? Wise up.

In recent decades, as women and other races have been allowed more freedom and more opportunities to contribute to society--surprise surprise--they are doing just as well.

In the US, the majority of college grads are now women, and women earn higher incomes than men in many cities. Other groups such as East Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and South Asian Americans are doing very well and sometimes outperforming European Americans in business, science, academia, culture and others.

To paraphrase you, look at a thriving metropolis like modern Tokyo or Beijing--built by East Asian men! Wow, I guess East Asian men must be inherently superior to everyone else!

Wise up.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

SOBF - thank you kindly for that wonderful comment. I really appreciate it very much.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

James - they were mostly invented by clever people, a large number of whom were in advantageous situations in society, due mainly to the colour of their skins and their sex.

White males have done very well, as Secularist has pointed out. That does not in any way make them superior to any other colour or sex. White males have dominated for the past 400 years or so in the west. That has not always been the situation and is unlikely to continue to be the situation, and even that domination was not total.

Indeed in the fairly near future Indian and Chinese people will likely dominate the world, they are already making great strides in that direction.

How white males fare in the world of the next 50 to 100 years might very well depend on how they behave now - the levels of understanding and acceptance of others that they show now.

White male exceptionalism is a dead end and a recipe for disaster. If white males (and I write as a white male - how else could I write?) continue with this arrogance and refusal to accept change then they surely will disappear.

There is absolutely no moral imperative for the continuing dominance of the white male and in fact that kind of thinking is actually immoral, besides being impractical.

Let go of fear, let go of pride, acknowledge that white males are no more exceptional than anyone else. Holding on to these things is going to cause conflict and social disaster.

On the question of US food production - could it be that cheap labour when slaves did the work and heavy government subsidies later made that happen? Just a thought.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Secularist - thank you!

Love and peace

Tony


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Mr. Tony, you have a much more compassionate soul than I have, I think. I value the Spirit of Life be it in humans, birds, reptiles ... it is when I see one eliminating the others when I have a problem; instead of all going down the drain, I'd rather have us (humans) take the fall, I suppose. I wish onto others what they wish onto others themselves.

I value your words though. All the best.


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

Always nice to see a "Tea Brain" like James Watkins get schooled on HP.

WTG all of 'ya!


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 5 years ago from Guwahati, India

Hi My Dear James,

I am delighted with your thoughtful comment in regard to “The dangerous myth of white male exceptionalism” where you have highly narrated the planning, designing and construction activity for the creation of Chicago City to proceed to the endless discovery of electronics and electrical knowhow which is different from any other city of the world. There apparently appears to be nothing common. But My Dear Friend, if we look much deeper we could discover there too something common as the composition of blood and the flow of blood in human artery is same as for white and black creatures. The concept of Engineering might be different but the concept of knowledge of science is same. The concept of electron is same in all electrical goods although it is used differently. The concept of biological growth in agriculture is same although it is manifested differently under different environment. Thanks for sharing and giving the opportunity to participate with your thought of concept.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

TPC - thanks for the comment which I appreciate. If anyone can learn from what I write it makes the effort worth my while!

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

HP - thanks for your thoughtful and kind response to James. As you point out exceptionalism is a myth - we are all connected by our genes and the blood that flows in our arteries and veins.

As you mention the expressions might differ but the underlying principles are common to all.

Love and peace

Tony


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Great hub, Tony. One of your best. I think the comments here pretty much cover all I would have said in regards to your main theme of race (as usual, which is why I rarely leave comments.) What I'd like to discuss is one line that stuck in my head. "All those opposed to the regime were socialists or communists..." That sounds so very familiar, something I see in the US here and now. Criticize, speak your mind, disagree with certain sectors and see how quickly these names get applied to you. As for exceptionalism, it is now being applied to the entire country by some -- Bill O'Reilly claims the United States is an exceptional country, and as such it must intervene in Libya. (But somehow France, England, Canada -- the other countries involved are not exceptional.) Now whole countries are the exception. Scary thought. Very thought provoking hub, Tony. Lynda

The idea of exceptiona


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Lynda - I really appreciate your comment very much indeed. It is of course much easier to label someone with opposing views than to engage with those views. And I also find it very scary that the idea of exceptionalism gets applied to whole countries.

Thanks again

Love and peace

Tony


ixwa profile image

ixwa 5 years ago

Dumela Monghadi Tony!: I am working on an article at present delving in-depth about the issues you have addressed. I agree with your assertion that "There are many websites devoted to showing "Apartheid was really not that bad, and that Blacks are incompetent, unintelligent and corrupt," plus other nasty stuff being flung around about Obama in the United, is because what others perceive as having been done away with(racism and prejudice) is still the selfsame denial that one sees today in our days and times. Some of it has a ring of truth about them, but not all African people are all that, as you clearly show in your article above; in regards to the ANC, some of these labels fit them- that's another story for another time You remind me of Tim Wise, who addresses these issues from a White person's perspective, to the disgruntlement of his fellow white people. I respect the fact that you touched not only about the white male problem(privilege?) as it pertains to South Africa, but the fact that you point out to the international nature of the problem. That, is one of the most important lessons I culled from your articles- are the fearless and strong revolutionary ideas you espouse and disseminate to the readers of your article, reminding them that this problem is wrong, and needs forthright people to address it, that, I would take that to the bank anytime. To me, you are one of those morally strong people who call it what it is rather than twist and shape it to suit what you want it to mean. I appreciate that and am thankful there is you! Ke leboha. tony!!


ixwa profile image

ixwa 5 years ago

I meant to say in my salutation to you in Sesotho "Kea Leboha, Tony." Thank you Tony !


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago

Very well stated. Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well in the U.S. and to a certain extent among a significant minority of Hubpages participants. It's present in other countries as well, even in Brazil which is among the most racially mixed and tolerant countries.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

If your ideas are true, then when explorers first traveled to darkest Africa, Papau New Guinea, or up the Amazon in the 20th century, where they encountered people who had never met (or been oppressed by) white men, they would have found another Paris or London. But you know they didn't. In fact what they found was stone age people.

That doesn't fit into your theory that all groups of people are of equal intellectual capacities, and would have achieved modernity on their own if not oppressed by the evil white man.

In regard to your question: "On the question of US food production - could it be that cheap labour when slaves did the work"

No. The slave states grew mostly cotton and tobacco. The northern states without slavery had a GDP three times higher. In fact, slavery did not make states rich, it made them poor.


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

Ralph:

James's comments may be an example. . .


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ixwsa - kea leboha, my friend. Ndiya thet' isiXhosa nam, but I do understand a little seSotho/seTswana!

I really appreciate your comments and that you took the trouble to come by.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

Ralph - thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comment very much. Racism is alive and well in too many places. Having come out of a time when in South Africa personal prejudice was buttressed and encouraged by the legal system I am not too surprised to find it here, but very surprised at the extent it seems to be prevalent in societies with longer histories of commitment to human rights.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago

TPC, could be. ;-)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa Author

James - are you suggesting that Paris or London developed because of the white people?

You use the term "darkest Africa" and yet I wonder if you have read anything about the history of Africa? People in Africa were trading with India and China when the Europeans were still searching for the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope. There was a university established in Timbuktu in the 13th Century without any help from white people, a university at which science and theology were taught and which attracted people from the near and middle east, both as students and as teachers.

The only possibly really stone age people alive in the 20th Century were the Khoisan people of southern Africa.

I do not have any theory such as the one you have ascribed to me. If I have any "theory" at all it is that individuals are born into situations which, for sociological and historical reasons, favour their development along certain lines rather than others. It has nothing to do with the illusory concept of "race".

I also do not think that there is any valid, scientific way to compare the "intellectual capacities" of various "groups" in any meaningful way.

The apotheosis of racism was Hitler's Nazism which failed utterly as an explanation of how the world works. He too believed that blacks and Jews and gypsies and gays (among others) were sub-human, and he tried his best to put his mad theories into practice, in the process killing millions (and please don't make that ridiculous claim about Hitler doing what he did because of the theory of evolution - that is nonsense!).

People are people, some individuals are cleverer than other individuals, some achieve more than other individuals, and this is often a result of factors other than their innate abilities.

Interesting point you make about the northern states of the US. And I am interested especially in your statement that slavery made the southern states poorer - why the heck did they hang onto their slaves so tenaciously then? If slavery impoverished them I would have expected them to do all they could to end the system, not to go to war to try to keep it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


writeronline 5 years ago

I enjoyed your insightful and considered article Tony, and was enjoying browsing the equally insightful and considered comments it’s generated so far.

Then I came across James A Watkins contribution; The List of Words, and that pleasant bubble of ‘respect your fellow man’ was immediately popped. Lanced, in effect.

At first, I thought the guy was speaking in tongues. Or, perhaps his Extremely Comprehensive List of Words contained embedded codes that would somehow ignite a Pavlovian kind of white superiority gene, and we’d all realise our silliness; and life (as seen by a true white supremacist) would get back to normal.

Didn’t ring my chimes, but, as a fellow white male I persisted, because I think it’s only fair to try and see another’s point of view. You know, comprehension begets understanding, or whatever.

I have to admit that my attempted interpretation of The List was seriously hampered by a niggling aggravation, that being James’ implicit assertion that All These Things were invented in, and remain exclusive to, The United States of America. But, my humanity shone through, and I forgave James for this apparent lapse in intelligence, even as I pondered the fact that this same genetic lack is the very tenet upon which his entire ‘Black folks are Dumb’ (to put it into its non-intellectual form) argument stands – or falls. Nevertheless, I returned to my analysis....

Then suddenly, in the depths of my concentration, as I studied and studied...and studied The List of Words, determinedly searching for The Secret; the answer, like a searing revelation, leapt off the screen, and HIT me!

The answer to the Deep Question that James posed; “What do all of the above have in common?”

They’re all in alphabetical order!!!!

I bow to an intellect far better than mine. Well, whiter than mine.

I’m glad that’s settled though, I was worried I’d missed something of actual value.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

What I am working around to is your idea that to express the truth is dangerous. I believe this is the opposite of reality, and I can see the results of lying to children about the world all around me in America.

Let's say there are two planets side by side. A thousand years goes by. On the one planet, mind-boggling advancements are made in medicine and medical technologies that double life spans; other technologies are invented that add incredible comforts to life, expand intellects enormously, survey and map the planets and the heavens, make incredible leaps in thousands of technologies than benefit people in unbelievable ways that are more than can be counted. Communications are developed that are immense. Sort of like the list I provided to you earlier.

On the other planet, they invent virtually nothing. Life goes on as it was a thousand years earlier. Primitive, dangerous, short, brutish, ignorant.

The planet that has advanced by thousands of years over the other, does not hoard its marvelous inventions. It shares with with the backward planet, so its people too can have enormously better lives.

On the advanced planet, a group of people comes along that decides the reason the primitive planet has not advanced on its own is low self-esteem, caused by its obvious lack of accomplishment. They take power and begin to teach both planets a huge lie: both planets have advanced equally, but the advanced planet oppressed the primitive planet, holding it down and retarding its development.

Without this lie, people on the primitive planet would have the proper attitude: Thank you for sharing your inventions and advancements with us.

The lie is what is dangerous. By telling the primitive people this lie, you create enormous resentments among the primitives that turn into hate. They come to believe the untruth that the advancements of the now modern people have somehow come at their expense. Instead of emulating successful peoples, they are taught that their primitive culture is not only just as good as that of the folks who created the modern world they are befitting by, but probably better.

And the accomplished people's children come to feel ashamed. Ashamed! that their ancestors have brought both planets so much richer, longer, more comfortable, less painful, less disease ridden lives with worldwide travel and communications for all.

Lies are what is dangerous. The truth shall set you free.


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

James:

Keep talking, You're only helping make the point that the Author of this Hub was making.

As well as showing what lies at the heart of most right-wing movememnts.

Good work tonymac, Ralph and writeronline!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago

He sounds like a member of the KKK.


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

Ralph:

I believe he's a member or sympathizer with the "Tea Party" at the very least. . .


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Mr. James, please search for your ancestor's spirits, what do they say?

"Life goes on as it was a thousand years earlier. Primitive, dangerous, short, brutish, ignorant."

What may seem primitive to you, may be just right for someone else. All I really need is my tent (not even) and a forest. If I find one, where people like you will not come to "civilize" me, you can keep the big-screen TV, computer, and everything else.

May Wakan Tanka walk with you.

Mr. Ralph, with Native blood running through his veins, I do not think Mr. James is racist.


writeronline 5 years ago

James:

Let’s not cloud the issue by imagining, “There are two planets side by side. A thousand years goes by.”

Let’s just stick to reality. The reality that, on the only planet we have any influence over, well over a thousand years have already gone by, and for a significantly large percentage of people on the planet, life still is, to use your words, “primitive, dangerous, short, brutish, ignorant”. God knows why; according to your perception of reality, they’ve got no-one to blame but themselves.

Unless I miss the point of your ‘two worlds’ analogy, (and that’s entirely possible, I’m trying very hard to grasp it), the forces of Good and Light, ie; America and some other white pre-and-neo-colonialist countries that you don’t bother mentioning, have already “Shared with the backward planet” (I realise you’re paraphrasing, James, you mean ‘backward people’) all those “mind-boggling advancements.....that double life spans...” and “marvellous inventions”, that I won’t bother repeating, “so those people too, can have enormously better lives.”

(See, this is where I’m struggling with the piece James; I wouldn’t have thought a reasonable person could advance that belief, but I’m trying, and you are a White American Male, so I realise the problem’s likely to be mine..)

Anyway, back to The World According to James A Watkins:

Apparently, these ‘primitive people’ can’t see a Good Thing even when it’s staring them in the face. Enough isn’t enough for these dark-skinned non-achievers, so they resort to jealousy and rage-filled fantasies where they imagine it’s NOT their fault that the only value they have is the one bestowed so benevolently upon them by, (your words again, James) “...successful peoples”...”who created the modern world they are befitting by”. BTW, I think you mean ‘benefitting’ James, but hey, we all know how easy it is to miss the odd literal when your fingers are dancing so self-righteously across the keyboard, and absolute certainty guides your every thought, and the world is yours to bring to rights!! (Sorry about that....must have momentarily mistaken you for one of the more famous bigots. I do apologise).

Anyway, James, I’ve got to call time here. Although I really did want to respond to your analogy in its entirety, I can’t do justice to it all.

Because every time I read it, it makes me laugh. And cry.


lionel1 profile image

lionel1 5 years ago

The dangerous myth of white male exceptionalism was a very good read, and as I’ve already said your work is really appreciated. Thanks.


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

Katiem2:

You said, "As I grew up I had a sense that certain males felt they were superior to both the opposite sex and those of other races."

This kind of thinking divides genders of races and sends some flocking to others. Speaking of defeating one's own purpose.


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

Very intereting reading, tonymac04!


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

James:

You should have omitted credit cards and viagra. They have caused more trouble than they are worth.

What do these things you have listed have in common? Wow! Most of them were invented by non-blacks. Some were invented by blacks, and some parts of some were invented by blacks. Did I get close?


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

When people are afraid, they often make extreme, exaggerating comments. I often wonder why some people need to position others to step upon them in order to feel great. Must I be the lowly subject in order for another to feel like a king? It is a rare person who can be great without kicking someone else to the curb. Lady Di, for example, was great all by herself, in my opinion. A truly great person or race is one who can attain that without pooping on someone else.

"The fact is the “white ou” is a lot less endangered than the rhino. (I find it a rather delicious irony that it is the "black" rhino, Diceros bicornis, not the "white" one, Ceratotherium simum, which is more endangered!)"

With that said, Tonymac04, you may cause the black rhinos to get less hay than the white ones! I am merely trying on a little humor. :D

I believe with all of my heart that the truly great people in this world are the ones who love and practice righteousness. They are not evil or hateful. They are a group, but they are not a specific race. They are people of all races. They are real people. The rest are polishing Titanic in vain.

Your article is interesting and informative.


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

James:

"No. The slave states grew mostly cotton and tobacco. The northern states without slavery had a GDP three times higher. In fact, slavery did not make states rich, it made them poor."

World Book Encyclopedia disagrees that slavery made the southern states poor. Were they rich before slavery, and how did they get rich? Then, why in the world did the south bring in slaves if they had it going on already? Better yet, why did those intelligent people keep slaves in America for hundreds of years?

Now, understand that I am not saying that there were not any intelligent southerners. There certainly were many! I am just saying that there were a lot of simple ones, too.

After slavery so-called ended, tobacco and cotton did not stop growing. Slaves continued to farm the land under the names of something other than what they were still--slaves. When did someone finally tell the states they they were getting poorer and poorer? When I was a child, those crops were still plentiful, and Blacks, mostly, worked them. As a matter of fact, my state was part of the cotton belt. Cotton was king. King Cotton!

The South was still attracted to having a "Herd" of Black servants, but that has slacked since the Civil Rights Movement. Now, there seems to be more Whites in servile positions and fewer Blacks. I wonder what caused that change.


Sanctuary 2 years ago

I think its pathetic that racism even continues. Its just as bad when you witness self imposed racism. Self imposed stereo types who exclude others that basically prevents you from being neutral at the very least. If you actually get to know a person it usually breaks down this barrier, but it does nothing to help in terms of creating equality among people who do not know one another. I guess it could be a defense mechanism due to prejudice in the past but its not easy being another race. Put in simple terms its a lot easier to not be prejudice, then to assume and have to prove that you our not. We tend to be much more defensive, rather then proactive in removing the idea of difference. In reality I am quite certain that we are all just human.


brian 19 months ago

Black skin would make the white man look stronger.

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