Following yet another mass shooting in the United States, @DanielTorday quotes Hannah Arendt on the purpose of racism.
Hannah Arendt: “Racism has proved to be the the most ingenious device for preparing civil war that has ever been invented.”— Daniel Torday (@DanielTorday) May 15, 2022
Racism is not a mental illness.
Racism is a long-developed plan to destroy a culture from within. pic.twitter.com/FyZ6IXfcoG
Arendt's legacy on the question of racism is complex and disputed, and there is much commentary on a controversial article she wrote in 1959, criticising some of the measures enacted by the Eisenhower administration to protect black students attending a white school in Little Rock, Arkensas, and affirming the right of white parents to send their children to all-white schools.
However, if we can overlook her naive and wrong-headed opinions about American racism, there is still a valid question about what kinds of anti-racist measures might be most effective in defusing the situation and reducing the risk of civil war. While I completely reject the argument that the victims of oppression should be encouraged to keep their heads down and avoid provoking their oppressors, there is still an important question about how best to achieve and maintain racial justice and social harmony, and how to challenge racist rhetoric without causing its supporters to double-down.
Meanwhile this is how news media presents the perpetrator of the Buffalo shooting.
Noting that in AP copy, 18-year-old Michael Brown was an “18-year old Black man,” while 18-year-old Payton Gendron is a “white teenager.” pic.twitter.com/53Jt1vWuqf— Dr. Thrasher (@thrasherxy) May 15, 2022
Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Little Rock (Dissent, 1959)
Connor Grubaugh, Hannah Arendt on Anti-Racism as a Totalitarian Ideology (Tablet, 18 November 2021)
It was by design: Black residents try to come to terms with horror of shooting (Guardian, 15 May 2022)
Julian Honkasalo, Hannah Arendt on the origins and consequences of ideological racism (Kone Foundation, 16 March 2017)
Kevin Miles, Anti-Black Racism in Arendt, and Philosophy’s Dangerous Commitment to Purity (APA Blog, 7 July 2016)
David Smith, Little Rock Nine: the day young students shattered racial segregation (Guardian, 24 September 2017)
Jason Stanley, Buffalo shooting: how white replacement theory keeps inspiring mass murder (Guardian, 15 May 2022)
Lynne Tirrell, Words matter. Trump bears a responsibility for El Paso (Guardian, 10 August 2019)
Michael Tomasky, The Buffalo Shooting Is the Latest White Rage Backlash, Brought to You by the GOP (New Republic, 16 May 2022)