The first novel to traffic stereotypes of race as a divisive idea was James Cooper’s ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ (1826). The extinction of the Mohicans was conveyed in the novel as a consequence of European settlement. In the novel, there is no Apocalypse, since only one race ends; there is also no suggestion of redemption in the ending. The Last of the Mohicans was the first novel to tackle the tragedy of extinction. Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu has said that Israel is ‘not a state of all its citizens’. In comments on Instagram, he went on to say that all citizens, including Arabs, had equal rights, but he referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel to be a nation state of the Jewish people. Prompted by the stunning Israeli actress, Rotem Sela, Bibi said, ‘According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it’.
Mark Collins of the anti-immigration party in Kramfors on Sweden’s Baltic coast said that he believes that attracting enterprising immigrants was vital to halting the city’s decline. To save Kramfors, the Swedish right-wing MP proposed the building of a Mosque and Muslim Centre. Kramfors has 6,000 people. It has been losing around 100 residents a year. His hope is that Muslims would breathe new life into the area. Swedish Democrats strongly reject multiculturalism and advocate a major overhaul of their country’s refugee and immigration policy.
Quentin Tarantino’s film ‘Django Unchained’ is a serious treatment of race that uses the frame of a spaghetti Western to depict the nihilistic and dehumanizing violence that undoubtedly characterized chattel slavery. The film mirrors the silence around the continuing crisis of structural racism. In a similar vein Steve McQueen’s ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ reproduces the strategic silence and guilt consuming ongoing discussions about slavery, present day human trafficking and racism. Mc Queen’s fascination with British Slavery did not come from textbooks at school in London, but from personal visits to the West Indies. His father is Grenadian and his mother was born in Trinidad.
Today, slavery and indentureship have become invisible- relegated to the pre-history of the Flat World. Capitalism was shaped by its brutality but the banks and speculators who benefited and expanded the triangular trade have been able to project their activity as unsullied by a racist system that was as systematic as it was functional. Today, neoliberals contest that racism is no longer an obstacle either to individual success or to collective self-actualization and that race is a useful boundary that partitions our past and possible futures.
Here racism is presented as anachronistic – nothing more than a flimsy impediment to the machinery of colourless managerial meritocracy. Residual effects of past plantation inequalities are effectively privatised and are visible only as trace elements. If you cannot succeed in contemporary conditions, that failure can only be attributed to your own shortcomings. The new multicultural workspace cannot be bucked; and slavery and indentureship though not yet quite forgotten, are entirely overshadowed by the heroic story of abolition and the cessation of bonded labour by the morally charged forces of economic globalization.
Perhaps the past remains unfinished and the rate of change in racial matters is slower than liquid capitalism would have us believe. The assumptions of racial solidarity are ‘broken-windows’ and the old lessons are hard to learn. Rather than fade away, racism – rooted in past injury – has proved to be both durable and potent in what we have been told are today’s post-racial conditions. How does the narrative of any ‘Arrival’ uncouple itself from the old sequences and representations that run deep inside the texts that are read by those who remain stubbornly segregated? Dreadful violence is on the rise fuelled by xenophobic, ethno-nationalistic and anti-immigrant sentiments.
In an interconnected, internet-enabled globe, brutal ideas migrate instantly from one continent to another allowing the brazen attack at the Masajids in Christchurch, New Zealand to be announced on social media and Live Streamed subsequently on Facebook.
Domestic terrorism is now fanned by growing economic anxiety, rising inequality and narratives that suggest to some groups that these problems are driven by immigrants and ‘other’ people in the society. Under the objectionable material laws, corporations can be fined up to NZ$200,000 (US$173,000) for sharing the video of the massacre or any related content. New Zealand’s Internet Service Providers rushed to ban websites suspected of sharing materials since the tragedy and a host of websites have been blocked. The authorities have already charged an 18-year-old man for sharing the video who now faces up to ten years in prison. Police have meanwhile issued an overt threat to anyone else looking for the video: ‘Do not download it. Do not share it. If you are found to have a copy of the video or to have shared it, you face fines & potential imprisonment.’
Trolls and memers attempting to access footage on BitChute and 4chan were greeted by an INTERPOL Notice. Kevin Hart’s decision to Instagram images of a Cowboy and Indian themed birthday party for his son Kenzo attracted a barrage of attacks that described the revelry as an ‘anti-indigenous’ celebration of genocide. The Hart debacle suggest that posts of a game of ‘Chinese Chequers’ on Christmas morning may soon be labelled as ‘racially insensitive’.