Number 14 - October 17, 2002
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The writer is the founding President of the W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation,
Inc., honoring his stepfather, and a retired
Professor in Journalism and African-American Studies at the
University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The deeply embedded
color racism of the majority of Americans threatens to drive this country
into a devastating conflict in which nuclear warfare cannot be ruled
out. With the endless references to Iraq's alleged stockpile and use
of weapons of mass destruction as the justification for the attack,
have we forgotten what country dropped the first atomic bombs? and on
what country? - a country of peoples of color, Japan. That use of weapons
of mass destruction was justified by claiming it saved American lives
- never mind how many lives of the Japanese people were lost. When Iraq
is attacked and retaliates by hitting Israel with missiles, won't Ariel
Sharon justify a nuclear strike against Iraq asserting it will save
both Israeli and American lives?
In the current debate,
and indeed, since the end of the Second World War, there has been little
or no discussion of the use of the atom bombs in the war against the
axis. That is because there is no moral or ethical justification. But,
to assert this over the years has been called treasonable; a demonstration
of the absence of patriotism, and worse, no concern for the lives of
our troops! Today, in the on-going debate, there is no discussion of
the access to nuclear weapons by Israel and the likelihood that if attacked
Sharon would use them. Israel has made it clear that, unlike during
the Gulf War, if attacked it will retaliate. Has the U.S. received assurances
from Israel that it will not use nuclear weapons? If so, the world should
know. If not, why not?
the use of the atomic bomb to end the Second World War have been so
restricted, so limited, almost to have been non-existent. Those who
made the decision to drop the bombs knew that the mass of the American
people were deeply imbued with the notion that a people of color were
inherently inferior, potentially dangerous, incapable of a useful intelligence,
resentful and envious of what Americans had, purveyors of all the deadly
sins, not much removed from the savage beast. They had learned all this
from what they were told from their pulpits, taught in their schools,
colleges and universities, practiced in their clubs, societies and secret
klans, and from the little they observed of the people of color in their
midst - African-Americans.
So it is with Saddam
Hussein and the Iraqis, the peoples of the Middle East, of North and
East Africa and the colored peoples of Asia. Is America setting the
stage for and initiating that race war some have prophesied over the
years? There is a growing resistance among the masses of American people
to the how, what, when and where of war with Iraq. Just as there is
a growing rejection among the masses of the American people to the idea
of the inherent inferiority of peoples of color.
I am convinced that
resistance to color racism will grow as will the rejection of the idea
that there are inherently superior and inferior peoples on this globe.
My fear is that this may not be that moment. My hope and my conviction
is, that moment will come.