Racism and it’s various manifestations such as eugenics is a Janus Faced monster of human society. One side speaks to people’s fear and hate, and is social and political. It speaks a sermon to the angry and downtrodden who love to hear that their “race” is superior, or to the social managers and engineers who benefit from a handy excuse to explain the results of repression and economic inequality as the natural outcome of history and circumstance beyond our control and thus not the fault of those self same social managers and engineers.
The other face is the biological one, the scientific description of “race” itself, and the scientific explanation for racial differences.
Each of these aspects of modern racism can act independently and to some extent have different histories, but by and large they are two parts of the same trend. Prior to Eugenics, the biological side of this monster was not scientific, and was in fact typically religious. When European Christians needed to explain the people of the New World (how the heck did they get there, and who were they, really?) or the “savages” of Africa, they turned to the bible … and there found the basis for (more…)