Temple Chima UbochiWednesday, August 16, 2017
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Bonn, Germany


Racism springs from ignorance (Mario Balotelli)

Racism, unfortunately, is part of the fabric of America's society (David Scott)

Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike (Ban Ki-moon)

Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome (Rosa Parks)

Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It's a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated (Alveda King)

acism has been part and parcel of America, right from its beginning; and that's not surprising, because, the largest ancestry of American Whites are German Americans, and according to Voanews, America is a melting pot of immigrants from across the globe and people of German ancestry make up the biggest chunk of that mix. There are more than 49 million people with German ancestry in the United States, a number that accounts for 16 percent of the whole American population.

I must admit it that German-Americans contributed a lot to make America great. According to Business insider, at a figure of 49,206,934, the largest wave of Germans came to America during the middle of the 19th century, facing civil unrest and high unemployment at home. Today, the majority of German-Americans can be found in the non-coastal states, with the largest number in Maricopa County, Arizona. Famous Americans of German descent include Sandra Bullock, John Steinbeck, Ben Affleck, Jessica Biel, Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman, David Letterman, Walt Disney, Henry J. Heinz, and Oscar Mayer etc.

President Eisenhower was of German descent, and so is the former speaker of the House of Reps, John A. Boehner. German-Americans have continued to make a mark on the country, from Neil Armstrong, the astronaut, to Robert B. Zoellick, a former president of the World Bank. Steinway pianos were first made by a German immigrant named Heinrich Steinweg (who became Henry Steinway). Chrysler was established by Walter P. Chrysler, whose family was of German descent, and Boeing was founded by William E. Boeing, the son of a German immigrant (NYT). Also, many of those who helped in making the United States military the most powerful in the world today, were people of German ancestry.

Even President Trump's grandfather was also a German who immigrated to the United States. The Daily Mail wrote that Donald trump has been less vocal about the root of his success: a chain of seedy brothels and restaurants setup by his immigrant grandfather Friedrich Drumpf (He later changed his surname to Trump). Born in Germany, Friedrich took a boat to New York City at the age of 16 in 1885 to join his older sister and find work. The move sent him on a wild journey across America into the brothel industry of the Wild West, making him a fortune - and allowing him to dodge army service and taxes back home in Germany. In fact, he even tried to return home to Kallstadt, in Germany, to marry his neighbor sweetheart and settle down with his wealth, according to German history books. But he was refused repatriation and was forced back to New York to start a family

Again, it was alleged that in 1795 a proposal to make German the official language of the United States of America was defeated in Congress by one vote. According to Spiegel Online, the legend has persisted for 200 years: German lost by a hair to be the official language of the USA, when a bill was defeated by one vote. The man who cast the deciding vote for English is said to have been of German descent.

We all know what the Germans did during the First and Second World wars with Hitler as their leader. They wanted to purge the world of all other races, which they termed as being inferior to their own Aryan race (superiority complex). Also, another philosophy that fuelled the Germans' move to take over the world, during the World wars, was their belief that Germany occupies the center of the world, and who's in the center should be controlling all the other parts. They wanted to clear Africa of all its human inhabitants, and then use the continent for agriculture purposes due to its tropical weather. If you look at the map of the world, you will notice that Germany is at the center of the world, and that influenced their thought and actions then. Thank God they failed!

The German website, laptopsandlederhosen.com, in writing that The Center of the World Is Germany, noted: "Germany. Just the name itself is enough to form an opinion. Perhaps no other country in Western Europe conjures up so many diverse and divergent opinions of what this land is. It is unquestionably, and has been for centuries, the center of Europe. And it may just very well be the center of the world".

Racism runs through German blood, and those who immigrated to the United States in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries exported racism over there. It doesn't mean that the other whites: the Irish, English, Italian, French, Dutch, Russian people etc, who immigrated to the United States during those periods didn't have racial prejudices ingrained in their blood, but the Germans exhibited those characteristics above others.

At this point I must say that not all Germans or German-Americans are racists: There were, and there are still, good and bad people in Germany, just like everywhere else. Germany has changed a lot since after the World Wars, and infact, what happened in Charlottesville will never happen in Germany of today. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, once said that "Hatred, racism, and extremism have no place in this country (Germany)". The racists in Charlottesville were waving Nazi flag openly in the streets. That will never happen in Germany. Soon after the end of World War II, the Germans banned swastikas and other Nazi emblems, and the German people, not to mention the police, do not tend to react well when the symbols of that era are put on display. The MSN wrote that hours before the clashing demonstrations started in Charlottesville, on Saturday, an American tourist in the German city of Dresden got punched in the face by a local for drunkenly throwing the Hitler salute. Less than two weeks earlier, two Chinese tourists in Berlin made the same gesture while taking a photo in front of the Reichstag; they were promptly arrested and could face a fine or up to three years in prison.

That's not to say Germany has fully rid itself of homegrown fascism; according to research by the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based advocacy group for civil rights, some 16% of Germans are still "infected with extensive anti-Semitism," and slightly more than half of them believe that Jews talk about the Holocaust too much. But as a nation, Germany has reckoned with the evils (and the symbols) of its past much more honestly and thoroughly than the U.S. has done with the history of slavery, for instance, or the atrocities committed against Native Americans.

It's funny that immigrants are marching, trying to reclaim America! My Facebook friend, Ms. Robin George, from Texas, put it succinctly, that "The only people who have a right to march and say they want their country back is Native Americans. Everyone else needs to stfu".

You must have heard it that on Saturday, August 12, chaos erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, when largest group of white nationalists - neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members - descended on the city to "take America back" by rallying against plans to remove a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee. According to the AP, hundreds came to protest against the racism. The two sides engaged in bloody brawls on the street.

The day turned deadly when a car plowed into a crowd of peaceful anti-racism protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and wounding about 19 others. James Alex Fields, 20, a white nationalist from Ohio, was the driver of the car that rammed into that crowd of counter-protesters. Also, Virginia State Police helicopter, deployed in a large-scale response to the violence, then crashed into the woods outside of town, and both troopers on board died.

May I digress a bit here, and use this opportunity to condemn what happened in a church in Ozubulu, Anambra State of Nigeria. Many read about the bloody Sunday in Anambra State, on August 6, as unidentified gunmen invaded St Philip's Catholic Church, Ozubulu, killing no fewer than 35 worshippers and injuring scores of others. The number of must have increased by now. It was alleged to be a drug war that spilled into a church. After the incident, I posted this in my Facebook Page:

"If people are not safe in a church, where else can they be? How can the Catholic Church accept a church building from a 36 year old man without asking him the source of his income? The churches today in Nigeria have lost their bearings and are only worshiping money. Tufiakwa (God forbids)!"

Many people then commented on my post, but one of them, Lawrence Agha, made an outstanding point, when he wrote: "It is not just the churches alone, but the society at large. Men and women who do not own any recognisable business, yet, spend billions in whichever currency, are celebrated and conferred with titles and honours meant for those who had made positive achievements, either in their chosen profession or to humanity. This mentality is not about to change anytime soon".

What happened to those days in Igbo land when villagers used to ask the source of unexplained wealth, and will be avoiding, like the plague, any rich man without a well known legal source of income? Elders those days, used to reject monetary or material gifts from such people. Those days, there were moral standards, unlike today where there's loss of the moral fabric of the society.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences should be with the families of the victims in Ozubulu, Nigeria, and, in Charlottesville, United States. May those who lost their lives, rest in peace!

Since Donald Trump was elected the president, palpable fear and pandemonium have enveloped the United States. The violence that occurred in Charlottesville, had been building for months during a series of confrontations between members of the "alt-right" - a loose collection of white nationalists, racists and anti-immigration populists - and people who oppose them. And paraphrasing the AP, it began the very day Trump put his hand on a Bible and took the oath of office. Skirmishes broke out at his inauguration between his supporters, some of them white nationalists, and those against him. More than 200 were arrested.

Days later, after Trump's inauguration, anti-fascists hurled smoke bombs, broke windows and ignited a massive bonfire at the University of California at Berkeley to protest a planned speech by right-wing provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos. Violent clashes have piled up since: 11 arrested after fights broke out at New York University, when the founder of a right-wing men's organization was scheduled to speak; clashes outside one of Richard Spencer's appearances at Auburn University ( Spencer is among the nation's foremost white nationalists); a shouting match between the two sides in Pikeville, Kentucky; confrontations in New Orleans when the city moved to remove a confederate monument; police opening fire with stun grenades and arresting more than a dozen during conflicts in Portland.

Many agree on the general narrative of how the widening racial and ideological divide took root: Some white Americans began feeling left behind by progress. The decline of the white working class coincided with drastic cultural changes, like quickly diversifying demographics and the election of the nation's first black president.

Steven Hahn, a history professor at New York University, said: "With the election of Barack Obama, there was so much talk about being this post-racial moment, and on some levels it was extraordinary. But it didn't take long for the really vicious racism to surface. It turned out to be an instigator of an enormous amount of rage, and I think Trump both fanned it and inherited it."

Trump was long among the prominent members of the birther movement - those who questioned Obama's citizenship and his legitimacy as president. His campaign was launched with racially-tinged rhetoric about the dangers of immigrants, which has continued into his presidency, said Hahn, who watched videos of Saturday's clashes and saw in them reflections of the Ku Klux Klan movement of the 1920s.

Now, white supremacist groups are actively trying to move into the mainstream. The Daily Stormer, a popular alt-right website, published a story in the run-up to the Charlottesville gathering, calling on followers to leave white hoods or Nazi costumes at home, and go for fitted shirts and suits instead, to attract recruits. They needed to look sexy, the author wrote.

Trump quickly came under fire for his response. He said "we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides."

The "on many sides" emphasized at the ending drew the ire of his critics, who pushed back on his statement as failing to specifically denounce racism and equating the white supremacists with those who came to protest their hate.

"The bottom line is if it weren't for a bunch of neo-Nazis marching around, it would have been a regular peaceful day in Charlottesville," said Kyle Kondik, with the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "Whether he likes it or not, the president, the person that holds that office, is supposed to act as the person setting a moral standard for the country, and I think he's been falling far short in that regard."

He pointed to other Republican leaders who took a strong stand against the racists who descended on Charlottesville on Saturday.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, for example, tweeted: "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

Kondik worries about how quickly the nation's toxic political divides will continue seeping into all parts of American life, if the president doesn't realign the country's moral compass.

"It's been an ugly couple of days, and you just wonder if we're backsliding in terms of race relations," he said. "It's an unpleasant thing to think about, but something we have to think about as a country."

Although racial tension was very pronounced during president Obama's tenure, but Trump, right from the campaign time, emboldened those hate groups, and his election, gave the groups the ammunition they needed.

Kevin Boyle, an American history professor at Northwestern University, whose teaching focuses on the history of racial violence and civil rights, watched it unfold, and the feeling in his gut were both horror and a sense that the racial tension bubbling for years had finally, almost inevitably, begun boiling over. In his words:

"Given our political moment, I'm not surprised that we've come to this point. I'm terribly depressed we've come to this point, but I'm not surprised. It didn't come out of nowhere." Historians and political scientists have been warning that American politics had become a pressure cooker, full of racial tension building once again to the point of a deadly clash, like the one in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, that claimed three lives. White supremacy has always lurked in America's shadow. President Donald Trump was elected and emboldened their hate. Donald Trump gave them permission to come out into the real world. As long as they were existing in this kind of sad little shadow world where they were just talking to each other, it was disturbing, but it's not as profoundly dangerous as when they feel they can take the public square."

Trump can't claim to be innocent here. He was endorsed by KKK, during the campaign, and he didn't reject the endorsement, even when he was called to do so. And after Trump was criticized for his vague worded condemnation of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, he turned around, after two days of foot dragging, to be blunter in his condemnation of the neo-Nazi, KKK and other extremist white groups for the violence. According to Huffington Post, lawmakers, from both parties, had called Trump out for not specifically denouncing hate groups in the wake of a white nationalist rally that left three people dead, including two state troopers, and at least 19 injured. Some white supremacist organizations, such as the Daily Stormer, praised Trump's vague weekend statement. David Duke, a former KKK leader, on that Saturday, warned the president against calling out white nationalists, a group that has largely embraced Trump. Duke said that the rally would help fulfill Trump's "promises." In Dukes's word, "This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."

To be continued!