Did Steve Bannon get this half right?

Steve Bannon is right not to beat around the bush: We are racists. Last Saturday,...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 8:30 AM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 8:30 AM

Steve Bannon is right not to beat around the bush: We are racists. Last Saturday, when speaking to France's far-right National Front, he affirmed their nationalistic platform. "Let them call you racists," he said. Speaking to those who might be feeling uncomfortable with the National Front's history and racist image, Bannon said: "Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker."

Bannon's remarks were focused on the world of politics, but it's worth noting that from a biological perspective, racism is a predisposition shared by every one of us, from hydramus baboons to human beings, historically and in the present day. But rather than wearing it as a badge of honor, we should wear it as a badge of shame. Just because an instinct is built into us is no reason not to try to resist it.

Those who rise to the top or take the top by force are often corrupt and mean, as we can see at home and abroad, but the hoi polloi always share the same urges.

What can we do about it? Should we follow Steve Bannon's example and celebrate racism as if it were a benign way of shouting, "Vive la diff-rence!" or should we try hard to resist the urge to put "the other" in a box that we can then sit on or even crush?

We can fight this vile desire to treat ourselves as superior in small ways.

For instance, Bannon and I are both white. Our ancestors largely came to America from England and, within a decade of arrival, had carried out such racist acts as burning to death - in God's name and with the church's blessing - a village of some 500 Native American men, women and children, the smell of whose burning flesh was declared "horrible."

Colonizing perpetrators performed this despicable deed to stop the native people, whom one governor described as "Adam's degenerate seed," from continuing to take part in (and reap profits from) the fur trade, which was grotesquely cruel.

This is not unique to the United States, of course. As a daughter of colonists from England, I spent my childhood in India, where the British, not satisfied with humiliating Asian Indians by occupying their lands and plundering their riches, historically took to punishing "insubordination" and "rebellion" by suffocating their "lessers," hanging them publicly, and shooting them in cold blood.

Now, lest I appear to be holding nonwhites in higher esteem than whites, let's not gloss over the fact that Indians on both continents gave as good as they got whenever they could. Asian Indians burned widows to death on funeral pyres, and Hindus slaughtered Muslim families and vice versa at the drop of a Quran or a Gita. They also sewed snakes' mouths shut, pierced bears' nostrils so they could thread ropes through them, and captured and trained infant elephants by tying them down and beating them bloody - all atrocities, some that continue in modern times.

The Native Americans were hard at it in earlier centuries, too, scalping settlers, including women, and, yes, here it comes again, the animal part: trapping wild eagles to make headdresses out of their feathers and running bison off cliffs to their deaths.

In nature, the instinct to elevate those whose "tribe" one best relates to, whether one is a baboon or a Brit, is built in. Among the animal races - which, as species-ists, we have decided excludes the human race, a biological falsehood - from chimpanzees who hunt down colobus monkeys to cuckoos who kick other birds' eggs out of their nests and cats who toy with their prey, there are turf wars, food fights, and even infanticide, something that we can also see in the news when human males retaliate over what they see as a violation of their "breeding rights," shooting a girlfriend or wife and the child(ren) she took with her when she left his bed.

For further evidence in the human population, look no further than the war atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia and Rwanda, the hatred between Irish Catholics and the Protestants, and on and on ad nauseam. Closer to home for Americans, look at what's been done by men to women, by white people to black people, by straights to homosexuals. And no one should think that the oppression of nonhumans by humans doesn't count because "everyone" does it. In earlier times, "everyone" thought women were too stupid to vote or own property, kept slaves in shackles, experimented on orphans, and institutionalized humans with disabilities.

But we can resist history, and we must.

Decide not to go along with it, to fight it with sense and sensibility and with acts of kindness to all others. Don't cut off motorists you don't know just because you can get away with it. Don't eat and wear living beings just because you have the legal right to ignore their feelings and interests. When you find yourself noticing differences between yourself and others, notice the commonalities, too. Appreciate that we all share feelings of hunger, thirst, pain, joy, grief, love for our families, and freedom. None of that depends on whether our skin is a particular color or naked or covered with fur, feathers or scales.

If there's a beating heart, let's take that as a sign that we must be respectful. Racists we may be, but we don't have to act like it. Better to wear our hearts on our sleeves than the despicable "badge of honor" Steve Bannon wishes to wear on his.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 707111

Reported Deaths: 13216
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion963501718
Lake51613944
Allen39106671
Hamilton34449405
St. Joseph33979539
Elkhart27255432
Vanderburgh22060394
Tippecanoe21765212
Porter17945298
Johnson17507374
Hendricks16786310
Clark12681190
Madison12338337
Vigo12204244
Monroe11443166
LaPorte11118204
Delaware10341184
Howard9652211
Kosciusko9114114
Hancock7964139
Bartholomew7880155
Warrick7681155
Floyd7555176
Wayne6895198
Grant6837171
Boone6541100
Morgan6390138
Dubois6079117
Marshall5779108
Dearborn569876
Cass5683102
Henry5572100
Noble540683
Jackson493069
Shelby478495
Lawrence4338118
Gibson427989
Harrison427670
Clinton418653
Montgomery417786
DeKalb409184
Huntington378680
Whitley377939
Miami372465
Knox365989
Steuben364457
Putnam352560
Jasper350146
Wabash347678
Adams337952
Ripley334568
Jefferson312980
White308154
Daviess289299
Wells286281
Decatur278792
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268533
Scott261053
Clay253244
LaGrange252470
Randolph235280
Washington230731
Spencer227631
Jennings224747
Fountain208445
Sullivan207742
Starke203952
Owen192156
Fulton191439
Jay186029
Carroll185720
Perry180236
Orange177253
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130234
Pulaski113645
Newton103534
Brown100040
Crawford97614
Benton96713
Martin82615
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1052099

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1221671356
Cuyahoga1070432069
Hamilton781801168
Montgomery50040996
Summit45383909
Lucas40122765
Butler37721570
Stark31437895
Lorain24166473
Warren23885293
Mahoning20905583
Lake20009362
Clermont19441229
Delaware18038130
Licking16124207
Fairfield15708197
Trumbull15585460
Medina14868259
Greene14668236
Clark13634293
Wood12767185
Portage12384196
Allen11328229
Richland11041198
Miami10536214
Muskingum8706127
Wayne8576209
Columbiana8546226
Pickaway8436121
Marion8377135
Tuscarawas8376240
Erie7566154
Hancock6714123
Ross6699146
Geauga6537146
Ashtabula6495165
Scioto6289101
Belmont5626158
Union557647
Lawrence5467102
Jefferson5324147
Huron5307114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5174120
Seneca5124120
Washington5076107
Athens501556
Auglaize475684
Mercer471684
Shelby456090
Knox4387108
Madison422859
Putnam421599
Ashland413188
Fulton409467
Defiance402596
Crawford3872101
Brown386455
Logan372976
Preble370398
Clinton361560
Ottawa356978
Highland347059
Williams326774
Champaign320657
Jackson308451
Guernsey306649
Perry289949
Fayette277848
Morrow275339
Hardin264264
Henry263766
Coshocton259457
Holmes253399
Van Wert239162
Gallia233346
Pike233331
Adams228552
Wyandot227253
Hocking209059
Carroll189247
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105336
Vinton81514
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 38°
Angola
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 43°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 41°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 38°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 44°
Small chances for isolated drizzle Saturday night & Sunday. Sunday morning starts cold, with the potential for frost area-wide, but warms up to where we should be this time of year.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events