This is what racism looks like

Trigger warning: This post contains several images of racist or similar messages found through history and throughout the world, including a handul from the US over the last few weeks. These are provided as documentation to go along with the text of this blog post and to inform the reader of the nature of these messages. Most of the images are from mainstream media and are regarded as genuine. If you feel any are not, indicate so in the comments if you like.

An antisemitic graffiti in Lithuania. An antisemitic graffiti in Lithuania.

I am a scientist who studies race and racism and related topics. This includes the critique and evaluation of so-called “scientific racism” and the history of racism and closely related political and social concomitants. I point this out here because some people feel that I should not be writing about this topic on a science blog. Those people are wrong for a lot of reasons, and the fact that I am a scientist who studies race and racism is only one of those reasons.

There have been many notable cases of racist, often anti-Muslim, as well as misogynistic, attacks or incidents since Donald Trump was elected, apparently carried out by Trump supporters emboldened by the presumptive election of a candidate who is a known supporter of normalizing sexual assault and whose White House promises to have close ties to the White Supremacist movement.


This is important because of this simple historically demonstrated fact: racism left unchecked eventually leads to holocaust. By “holocaust” I mean many things, and what actually happens would depend on conditions and circumstances, but generally, registration, incarceration, removal, etc. with the eventual killing of large numbers of individuals associated with a certain racial, ethnic, or religious identity.

Why does that happen? It is not true that sometimes, push comes to shove. It is not true that sometimes resources are limited, or opportunities are seen to be shaped by competitors, or success is viewed as threatened by other’s success. It is not true that sometimes these things happen. It is true that these things always, eventually, inevitably happen. If racism is unchecked, and competition continues, it eventually becomes logical, normal, convenient, and eventually imperative, that the object group of the unchecked racism be rounded up and gotten out of the way.

That is the final solution.

Rwanda Rwanda

Fortunately, racism is usually not left unchecked. But when if it is left unchecked for too long, it is very hard to stop. Since the victims of overt racism are victims even if they are not rounded up and put in a mass grave, it is imperative to recognize an increase in overt racism when it is happening and to speak out about it, to not allow if a foothold.

One way to allow racism to spread, become increasingly overt, increasingly normal, and to eventually develop into things like registries of muslims or jews, or special laws governing certain kinds of pepole, or the rounding up of this or that group, is to support those policies. To support policies of registering people of a certain religion is to enhance and speed up the rise of racism. To support policies such as rounding up people who look a certain way or come from a certain place is to enhance and speed up the rise of racism.


To vote for and in fact elect a presidential candidate who advocates these policies is to enhance and speed up the rise of racism. Then, to add to that campaign’s rhetoric by displaying grafetti, or carrying out certain acts of violence, and so on, is to enhance and speed up the rise of racism.

There is another way to enhance and speed up the rise of racism, which if sufficiently enhanced and sped up, will lead eventually to registry, ghettoization, and possibly genocide, is to tell people who are pointing out the racist rhetoric, graffiti, harassment, etc. to shut up.

This Star of David superimposed on the "corrupt Hillary" image is widely seen as an anti-Semitic hate image, used by the trump campaign. This Star of David superimposed on the "corrupt Hillary" image is widely seen as an anti-Semitic hate image, used by the trump campaign.

What does racism unchecked look like? Well, we can see it in historical contexts. We see it in the writings of Spanish academics and religious leaders, writing about the presence or absence of a soul in the Native American body, discussing whether it is better to exploit, contain, or exterminate Native Americans and how to do so in a way that is moral. We see it in the registration or labeling of Jews in Europe and the development of ghettos to put them in, and the wiping out of Jewish villages in Russia. We see it in the internment of Japanese in the US. We see it in the demonization of the other tribe in Central Africa, where the other tribe is blamed for all the ills of the dominant tribe, and considered a threat to all that is important.

That unchecked racism looks like graffiti. Unchecked racism looks like calls for registering Muslims. Unchecked racism looks like massive deportation schemes that involve rounding people up in large numbers with no clear plan as to where to actually put them. Some of these things are happening now, some are proposed.

From a NYC Subway platform.  Every racist movement needs some antisemitism, but now and then there must also be a touch of misogyn From a NYC Subway platform. Every racist movement needs some antisemitism, but now and then there must also be a touch of misogyn

The other day I posted an example of the outpouring of racism we are suddenly seeing with the election of Donald Trump. It appeared to be, and as far as we know was, a hand written note sent to three different Islamic facilities in southern California. The language was profane, the message threatening.

The incident was reported in mainstream media (NBC, etc.). Police authorities are investigating and are taking it seriously. The letter indicated that there is a “new sheriff in town” -- Donald Trump -- and Trump would do to the Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.

You can read the details here

This was a particularly poignent example, a particularly threatening example, of the current enhancement and rise of racism in the united states, not skipping a beat to go directly to the threat of extermination of Muslim people in the US.

The reaction to that posting included a handful of white men of privilege telling me, on Twitter and elsewhere, that I should not post such a thing, because it was presumably a joke, or because it was profane, or for any of a number of other reasons.

One person noted that it was inappropriate to have posted the profane letter itself as a “featured image” … the image that is at the top of the blog post. That individual had a point, since the featured image automatically goes along with the post in various social media settings, etc. Personally I think it is shocking but not inappropriate, but I can see where others may disagree. For this reason, I took the post down in order to write a more contextualized post, this one. And, to add a note about the reactions of various caucaso-andro-privilaged individuals who scolded me and told me that there was no such thing and that I needed to sit down and be quiet. Here is that image:


If I find out that this is a fake, I’ll change the image and put a link to the documentation that it is a fake. Meanwhile, it is one of many similar messages, likely none fake, that are appearing all of the US.

This is racism enhanced, racism rising.

It is imperative that we not let this happen unchecked.

One more thing. I use the term "overt racism" several times. That was very intentional. It is very important to note that we are not fighting racism in this country as much as we are fighting overt racism. Here is why we do that, and how we do that.

More like this

Great write up, Greg. Widely shared.

By Bruce Jensen (not verified) on 28 Nov 2016 #permalink

apparently carried out by Trump supporters emboldened...

I think that bit is key, and needs to be stressed: Trump's election didn't create these low-lifes and their attitudes, Trump's election was the key to unlocking them on the general public: it gave them the impression that the government is now on their side. Sadly, they're probably correct.

And once again I bork a tag when I post. No excuses, my typing sucks.

Whaddya mean, Dean? You emboldened "emboldened". Bingo!

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 28 Nov 2016 #permalink

Thanks Greg.

Nice post, Greg. Let us hope it is a fake. It is a very scary environment. Let me know if there is any way I can provide support.

By Iain Davidson (not verified) on 28 Nov 2016 #permalink

Thanks, Iain.

I doubt it is a fake, but most such things are hot air.

But for every so many hot air threats, you get a pipe bomb in a mailed package or a rampaging gun nut.

"Kill all Brits", in that context, is not a racist message and does not refer to an ethnic group. It's a statement of defiant resistance against the agents of a murderous, armed force of occupation.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 28 Nov 2016 #permalink

"Kill all the Brits" is absolutely a reference to the same kind of group that racist statements are in reference to. If you apply the same set of criteria to race terms, you find quickly that they all fall apart in one way or another. We don't get to decide that certain race terms are applicable and others are not. In this case, since the Irish are indubitably a distinct race from the British (English, mainly) and that distinction is the root of the "Irish Problem," it fits perfectly as a race term. (Remember: Race terms are all bogus to begin with.)

Having said that, I did use that one to serve as an example of punching up rather than repression, and was wondering if it would elicit comment!

DJT's coronation has given nazis all over the world to speak and act out. It's happening up here as well now

Acting out

Pakistani Muslim teen attacked with a baseball bat while walking alone after midnight

"Aslam said that since president-elect Donald Trump's win this month, her whole family has felt more racial tension and even danger while out in public."

Casual white privilege racism

"As we stood in line he turned around to face me while pointing at the front page of a newspaper (which has Trump's face filling the entire page), and said, (as he continued pointing at the paper and holding my gaze) 'I'm glad he got in. I hope he cleans up the whole of North America.'"

"I asked this 'man' to explain to me what he meant by that — to which he said, and I quote, 'You all shouldn't even be here, you're murderers and killers, you're running around killing everybody, I hope he gets rid of all of you,'" she wrote.

"There was no raised voice or finger pointing in my face. Just a white man feeling he had the licence and permission to tell me exactly what he thought of black people — then casually walk away from me without a thought or care of the impact of his words.

"I fear the normalization of this kind of racist behaviour in our community."

The frequency of such this kind of thing, or at least he reporting of it, has risen greatly here since Trump's nomination. I fear for my country now.

By Doug Alder (not verified) on 01 Dec 2016 #permalink

"I often asked myself then why are whites superior or rather better than blacks? Aren’t there more blacks than whites in the world? Then why are we blacks the oppressed ones? I mean even my younger brother knows majority wins, then why aren’t we winning? We don’t even want to win, we just want equality, since we have no hand in our skin’s color".

An innocent Muslim will always ask this question. We should try and see things from the viewpoint of a Muslim also. For better understanding visit here:…

By Parag Nandy Roy (not verified) on 26 Feb 2017 #permalink

Racism, meaning racial discrimination or treating a person or particular group of people differently, mostly less favorably than another person in a similar situation because of race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status is one of the most serious shortcomings of people and civilization.
We have to get, protect and to keep a worldwide society in which everyone enjoys and guarantees the full existence of human rights and fundamental freedoms as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, UNO, Paris, and in other international treaties.
The time in which these rights were not in existence, and or denied and or violated must be ended. We cannot afford racism, nor actions that provoke racial discrimination and racism.
Corruption and discrimination are the most severe threats of society and civilization.
As off young age I have been studying and fighting processes of racism. In 1976 my friends and I founded the first Dutch anti-racism movement (Hilversum and surroundings). It was a role model for Dutch anti-racism groups in following decades. We all have to be constantly vigilant to keep racial discrimination under control privately as well as socially.
In forming mankind discrimination played a role in protecting and or supposedly advancing one's own family or group, but in a complex society in which we are all depending of each other to save earth and mankind, we cannot organize society along division lines of race and religion.
The danger of ‘homo homini lupus’ must be a warning light in everything people do or not do.
We must accept each other as equals, as brothers and sisters within the boundaries of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We have to be our brothers and sisters keeper and vice versa in such a way that planet earth and life can survive with the help of sophisticated vigilance and no tolerance for dangerous developments in human behavior, threatening planet earth and life.
Laren NH, Monday 27th. February 2017, 20.55 PM DT.

By G. Bogaers (not verified) on 27 Feb 2017 #permalink