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Synopses of Other Important Works The Racial Mind: Raphael S. Ezekiel and Martin Luther King, II. In addition to the authors represented in this part, two other distinguished commentators, Raphael S. Ezekiel and Martin Luther King, Jr., have addressed the white mind-set. In his book The Racist Mind (1995), Ezekiel, a professor at the University of Michigan, reports on his studies of and interviews with American neo-Nazis and Klansmen . He begins with a query: "Who am I? How do I fit in the world?" This is a question that "[w]e ask ... of ourselves, each of us, including the Klansmen and the Nazi. For these people, the answer is race: 'I am a member of the white race. My people built this civilization ....'" Ezekiel goes on to address that prideful mind-set. After examining white supremacist literature, attending meetings, and talking with members of Klan and Nazi groups, Ezekiel offers some tentative explanations for the far-right worldview. A common feature is essentialism, the idea that race identifies a single, defining quality and that the white race is superior to others. Most Americans subscribe to this belief to one degree or another; white supremacists hold it to an extreme extent. Neo-Nazis and Klan members also consider race as a "biologically meaningful description of reality." For that reason it is a sensible and fundamental way to categorize our fellow human beings. This idea, too, is held by most Americans, if only to a slightly lesser extent. Supremacists also see the world in terms of power and legitimate authority. In our society , one sees that white people hold most positions of power. Klansmen infer that this is because whites (and men) are superior in nature and that this superiority grants them the power of command. As our economy worsens and immigration increases, Ezekiel predicts, these beliefs will only gain greater currency, both among more moderate Americans and among the extreme right. The author cites statistics from groups like the Center for Democratic Renewal and the Southern Poverty Law Center holding that the militant white racist movement counts between 23,000 and 25,000 members; had 150,000 sympathizers who buy movement literature, send money, or attend rallies; and includes another 450,000 people who do not buy the literature but read it. He describes the militant movement as a "loose confederation of small groups," whose "[c]oordination comes from the constant circuit riding of the leaders." Membership is fluid, joiners cycling in and out of organizations. To his surprise, Professor Ezekiel discovered that economic fears were not central for the white supremacists he talked with; rather, "the agreement on basic ideas is the glue that holds the movement together.. The white racist movement is about an idea." The contents of that idea include white specialness, the biological fixedness of race, and the-special place of power in human relations, race being an aspect of deservingness to wield this power. Copyrighted Material 134 Issues and Comments Martin luther King, Jr., in a collection entitled Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community? (1967) highlights a different dimension of white supremacist thought and ideology. While Professor Ezekiel concentrates on their most recent manifestations, the Nobel laureate and civil rights leader draws attention to their origin in early elite colonial circles. King remarks: Generally, we think of white supremacist views as having their origins with the unlettered, underprivileged , poor-class whites. But the social obstetricians who presided at the birth of racist views in our country were from the aristocracy: rich merchants, influential clergymen, men of medical science, historians and political scientists from some of the leading universities of the nation. With such a distinguished company . what was there to inspire poor, illiterate, unskilled whi te farmers to think otherwise? Early in our history, then, the doctrine of white supremacy was incorporated into textbooks, sermons, and other cultural expressions, becoming over time part of the country's cultural structure. The Supreme Court ratified it in the Dred Scott decision, which held that black people had no rights that whites were bound to respect. King points out that practically "all of the Founding Fathers. ., even those who rose to the heights of the Presidency, those whom we cherish as our authentic heroes, were so enmeshed in the ethos of slavery and white supremacy that not one ... emerged with a clear, unambiguous stand on Negro rights." King points out that George Washington was a slaveholder who only allowed Negroes to enter the Continental...


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