From Yahoo News, an opinion piece:
Jennifer Ho, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of Colorado Boulder
Thu, April 8, 2021, 5:02 AM·4 min read
White people are the main perpetrators of anti-Asian racism. But in February 2021, a Black person pushed an elderly Asian man to the ground in San Francisco; the man later died from his injuries. In another video, from New York City on March 29, 2021, a Black person pushes and beats an Asian American woman on the sidewalk in front of a doorway while onlookers observe the attack, then close their door on the woman without intervening or providing aid.
As the current president of the Association for Asian American Studies and as an ethnic studies and critical race studies professor who specializes in Asian American culture, I wanted to address the climate of anti-Asian racism I was seeing at the start of the pandemic. So in April 2020, I created a PowerPoint slide deck about anti-Asian racism that my employer, the University of Colorado Boulder, turned into a website. That led to approximately 50 interviews, workshops, talks and panel presentations that I’ve done on anti-Asian racism, specifically in the time of COVID-19.
The point I’ve made through all of those experiences is that anti-Asian racism has the same source as anti-Black racism: white supremacy. So when a Black person attacks an Asian person, the encounter is fueled perhaps by racism, but very specifically by white supremacy. White supremacy does not require a white person to perpetuate it.
White supremacy is an ideology, a pattern of values and beliefs that are ingrained in nearly every system and institution in the U.S. It is a belief that to be white is to be human and invested with inalienable universal rights and that to be not-white means you are less than human – a disposable object for others to abuse and misuse.
The dehumanization of Asian people by U.S. society is driven by white supremacy and not by any Black person who may or may not hate Asians.… White supremacy as the root of racism can be seen in the Latino man in Texas stabbing a Burmese family in March 2020, claiming he did so because they were Chinese and bringing the coronavirus into the U.S. Though the suspect may have mental health problems, his belief that this family posed a threat is driven by the white supremacist ideas of Chinese people being to blame for COVID-19.. …
But underlying all these incidents is white supremacy, just as white supremacy is responsible for Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes: White supremacy made Floyd into a Black male threat rather than a human being.
Understanding the depth and reach of this ideology of racism can be challenging, but doing so brings each person, and the nation as a whole, closer to addressing systemic inequity. It’s not Black people whom Asian Americans need to fear. It’s white supremacy.
This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Jennifer Ho, University of Colorado Boulder.
Meanwhile, from the New York Times news section:
A new campaign called #ItStartedWithWords features short videos from Holocaust survivors on the origins of World War II and offers a timely message amid an outbreak of anti-Asian hate.
By Johnny Diaz
April 8, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ET
… “The Holocaust didn’t come out of nowhere,” said Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, the nonprofit dedicated to securing compensation for Holocaust survivors worldwide that created the campaign. “It literally started with words.”
The announcement by the campaign on Thursday coincides with a week that President Biden recently designated as Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust.
A conspiracy theorist might seem to notice evidence of coordination between the Biden Administration and the New York Times:
“We are seeing racism rearing its head, against the Asian community most recently,” Mr. Taylor said on Thursday. “This is the moment in time to get this message across.”
… According to organizers, the campaign is not about the Holocaust itself but about the rhetoric and hateful words used against the Jewish community leading up to the start of World War II. …
One of the first is from Abraham H. Foxman, who was born in Eastern Europe in 1940 and was saved from the Holocaust by a Catholic nanny. He immigrated to the United States in 1950, and joined the Anti-Defamation League the day after he passed the bar exam. He retired from the organization in 2015.
In his video for the campaign, he talks about the beginnings of the Holocaust.“The crematoria, gas chambers in Auschwitz and elsewhere did not begin with bricks, it began with words — evil words, hateful words, anti-Semitic words, words of prejudice,” Mr. Foxman, 81, says. “And they were permitted to proceed to violence because of the absence of words, because of silence.”
Meanwhile, a New York Times TV review:
Raoul Peck’s four-hour documentary for HBO is a dizzying retelling of the course of colonialism, slavery and genocide.
By Mike Hale
April 6, 2021, 12:37 p.m. ET
“The very existence of this film is a miracle,” Raoul Peck says in “Exterminate All the Brutes,” a documentary he wrote, directed and narrated.
I reviewed the Haitian director’s biopic “The Young Marx” in 2018.
He’s referring to the existence of a film that retells the history of colonialism and slavery from a nonwhite, non-Western viewpoint, though in 2021 that may seem less like a miracle than an expectation.
Mike Hale’s review of Exterminate All the Brutes is rather brave by 2021 NYT newsroom standards.
What’s more miraculous is that Peck found a home on mainstream American television —yes, it’s HBO, but still — for a supremely personal, impressionistic yet intellectualized, four-hour cascade of images, ruminations and historical aperçus. (The busy editor was Alexandra Strauss.) That would be an impressive achievement on any subject, let alone genocide.
The title “Exterminate All the Brutes,” with its combination of blunt force and literary flourish (and its suggestion that history has misidentified the real brutes), is appropriate to a project that elaborates on and aestheticizes feelings of outrage, disbelief and despair. (It was taken from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and from a 1996 book by the historian Sven Lindqvist that is one of several scholarly sources Peck drew on.)
And from Hunter S. Thompson’s advice on what to do about the Hell’s Angels.
So, the title of this HBO documentary isn’t exactly a call for genocide of whites. Instead, the show is about who are the real brutes. What then happens to white people after they are exposed as the real brutes is of no concern to the filmmaker or to HBO, presumably.
The film, whose four chapters premiere Wednesday and Thursday nights, is unrelenting in its critique, but it’s also more muted in tone than that title might suggest. Peck’s slightly droning narration contributes to that effect, as does an approach that’s more free-associative than truly essayistic. There’s also, unfortunately, the documentary’s tendency to cycle through and circle around a relatively small set of ideas that would have had more force in a shorter film.
If “Exterminate All the Brutes” is never boring, it’s less because Peck — whose James Baldwin documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” was an Oscar nominee in 2017 — always gives you something new to think about than because he always gives you something new to look at.
In addition to the expected archival images from centuries of colonial depredation, the film incorporates animated historical recreations; snazzy graphics; copious clips from Hollywood depictions of non-Western populations; photos and home movies from Peck’s childhood in Haiti, Africa and New York City; and fictional scenes featuring Josh Hartnett as the stolid face of white supremacy, in various times and places. (All colonialists look alike.)
Peck’s story focuses on the entwined threads of the genocide of North America’s Indigenous people and the enslavement of Africans, and on the links he finds between those horrors and other genocides and oppressions, particularly the Holocaust. There are things in his account that will probably be new for many viewers, like the discussion of the Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas and his role in the fates of both Indigenous people in the Americas and African slaves, or the way Peck restores the Haitian revolution to its rightful stature alongside the American and French revolutions.
Chris Rock’s movie Top Five didn’t really work, but it had a pretty funny premise: Rock plays a black star who, as part of getting in touch with his racial roots, is doing a media tour to promote his movie celebrating the Haitian Revolution (including the 1804 genocide of whites, except for Poles). But the African Americans he talks to have never heard of the Haitian Revolution, and the only character who has is the white lefty bad guy.
But much of the material in “Exterminate All the Brutes” is familiar; it has been known all along, a circumstance that Peck acknowledges and that fuels his anger.
“The educated general public has always largely known what atrocities have been committed and are being committed in the name of progress, civilization, socialism, democracy and the market,” he says. The question is why they have been ignored, obfuscated and whitewashed in popular culture.
Peck’s broad assertions and arguments aren’t likely to generate a lot of controversy, though his repeated linking of the histories of the American West and African colonialism to the Holocaust (allowing for a lot of Hitler footage) might strike some as facile or insensitive.
In his attempt to replace the traditional narratives about Indigenous and other oppressed peoples with his own storytelling, though, some strategies are less successful than others. The fictional sequences may be Peck’s most direct attempt to redress history — Hartnett enacts shooting a Seminole woman in the head in one scene, and in another is bathed by an African woman near a grouping of lynched corpses — but their art-house staginess and solemnity serve only to distance us from what we’re seeing. (It’s also noticeable that women are not often seen or heard from in the film, except as silent victims.)
A work that “Exterminate All the Brutes” calls to mind, and which seems almost certain to have been an inspiration for it — in both theme and technique — is Chris Marker’s great film essay “Sans Soleil,” from 1983. But Peck’s documentary is more polemical and less poetic than Marker’s; it constantly makes connections, but it feels more didactic than complex, more academic than allusive.
(The rush of often violent or disturbing imagery sometimes calls to mind a very different film, the 1962 Italian shock-doc “Mondo Cane.”)
The sequel documentary Africa Addio included aerial footage of the massacre of nonblacks in Zanzibar during the 1964 Black Power uprising, in which the young Parsi Freddie Mercury would have been murdered if his family hadn’t fled shortly before.
Peck sprinkles the four hours with images of and references to recent American presidents, and in the final chapter he lands full force in the present day, comparing Donald Trump and other heads of state with the white, Western overlords of the colonial era.
But throughout “Exterminate All the Brutes,” the specific drifts into the general and the historical into the personal without, perhaps, the effect that Peck is hoping for. He closes with a reproving phrase that echoes through the film: “It’s not knowledge we lack.” But he declines to say what it is we lack — compassion? Willpower? If there is something we possess that could have made history different, either he doesn’t know or he’s not telling.
Maybe “Exterminate All the Brutes” isn’t about the past as much as it reflects hopes for the future?