Correspondence

The Meaning of Racism

Letter From Zimbabwe

Racism is the issue of our time, particularly in Britain, with her legacy of colonialism, and in the United States, with her history of slavery.  Race is the ultimate taboo, and careers, such as that of Trent Lott in the United States or those of various British Conservative MPs, have been permanently ruined by one unguarded remark.  Public bodies in Britain, such as the fire brigade, rush to declare themselves “institutionally racist,” rather like 16th-century heretics admitting to blasphemy in the hope of avoiding the flames.  In America, racial discrimination has been turned on its head through “affirmative action.”

Not far beneath the surface of “anti-racism” is the racist view that the white race is the dominant one, and that all white people should have collective guilt for being white.  Being white, or being part of any historically dominant nation, is shameful.  But being nonwhite, or even part of a white-subjugated nation such as Scotland or Wales, is something of which to be proud.  Nowhere can this understanding of racism be seen more clearly than in Zimbabwe.  For there is only one thing more shameful than being white, and that is being a “white African.”

In 2000, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe introduced a policy of forcing white people out of the country.  After almost 20 years in power, his popularity was on...

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