Most Americans, it seems, don’t realize the extent to which Hitler drew on the “American model” of eugenics to enact the very laws and policies most liberals now look back on in horror.Mainstream historical narratives around the rise of Nazism tend to reinforce the idea that Nazi ideology—a form of fascism based on scientific racism and a belief in the superiority of the Aryan race—was a foreign (i.e. un-American) concept. According to these narratives, Nazism was developed by Adolf Hitler and his followers in Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s, and was only put to an end when heroic American military forces liberated the Jewish people from their oppressors in 1945. With Neo-Nazism again on the rise in the United States (especially since the emergence of the so-called Alt-Right and the election of Donald Trump), it is important to understand where Nazi ideology actually comes from. The idea of separating races into better and worse “types,” with the goal of eventually creating a “perfect Aryan race,” was actually not an idea that suddenly emerged with the election of Adolf Hitler. Instead, it had its origins in the American Eugenics Movement, which gained widespread credence in the United States during the 1920’s, the period preceding the rise of Nazi Germany. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu ("good" or "well") and the suffix -genēs ("born"), and was invented by Francis Galton, known as the “father of Eugenics,” around 1883. Galton, a distant cousin of Charles Darwin, popularized the idea that if people with so-called “superior genes” (i.e. blond haired, blue-eyed, able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual people) reproduced with other people possessing “superior genes,” then the gene pool of a particular society would eventually improve at a collective level. Just as plant and animal species could be directly improved through cross-breeding, thought Galton, so could humans.
The attacks on Berkeley by white supremacists are just one part of a larger trend in which fascism is gradually gaining a foothold into many of our institutions.
Berkeley is primed for another wave of white supremacist attacks next week with the inception of a series of talks euphemistically referred to as “Free Speech Week,” which will feature a full line-up of talks and presentations by alt-right media pundits (including Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon, among others).
Partly in retaliation for the dramatic shut-down of Milo Yiannopoulos’s scheduled talk there last January by anti-fascist protestors—in which Yiannopoulos had planned to exercise his “free speech” rights to publicly reveal the names of undocumented students at UC Berkeley—the Berkeley College Republicans, with the financial backing of wealthy conservatives tied to the state of Israel, has invited a plethora of reactionary speakers to openly present their bigoted views on campus.
Although the content of these talks (which will include explicitly anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-trans hate speech targeted at vulnerable student populations) clearly violates the rights of students to work and study in an environment free of harassment (also known as Title IX), the university administration refuses to cancel these talks. This is because, according to them, they are a public university and are thus legally bound to uphold the First Amendment rights of all students (including those students who espouse extreme right-wing views) to invite speakers of their choice to campus.
Jemele Hill had every right to express her disdain for Trump.ESPN has apparently accepted Jemele Hill’s apology — an apology she was strong-armed into giving after tweeting her personal opinion on Donald Trump. Acknowledging the white supremacy in his rhetoric and practices, she referred to him as "bigot," a "threat," and "the most ignorant, offensive president of [her] lifetime." Considering Trump's comments following the display of white terrorism in Charlottesville, Hill’s tweets are indeed biting and true. Donald Trump is a white supremacist. He has proven his racism (misogyny, xenophobia, nationalism, etc.) many times over: through his role in the Central Park Five case, his obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate, his ungrounded accusations that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, his unconstitutional pardoning of former Arizona Sheriff Arpaio, and his extensive ties to and unironic retweeting of white supremacists and the hate groups who boldly support him, and much more. His own father was an active member of the KKK. Hill had every right to express her disdain for Trump, his words and actions, and his administration; especially as a Black woman who knows all too well the violence of the white supremacy that Trump and his followers embrace.
There is real damage being done to Black people on Facebook, and removing eight white supremacist groups while still allowing this racist abuse to go on is nothing more than performative allyship.Following the display of white terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, many sites began to drop known white supremacist hate groups from their services. Facebook was among those entities. Over the years, I and many others have reported a number of white supremacist and white nationalist groups to Facebook. None of them were removed even though, per the “Dangerous Organizations” section of their Community Standards, these groups should not have had a place on the social media platform to begin with. But now, among public and passionate social critique of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Facebook finally removed eight of them. Eight. There are over one hundred more. This feels very much like when Facebook hung a Black Lives Matter manner at its headquarters two years ago. Many people commended Zuckerberg for this display and took it as a sign of allyship with Black people, but some of us knew better. Almost immediately, the banner was defaced by its employees, because Facebook employs racists. These Public Displays of Allyship do absolutely nothing to help anyone, especially when Facebook is still fundamentally racist and anti-Black.
Related: HEY, WHITE ALLIES? IT’S GAME TIME.