Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

15. Racism in Theory and Practice

15. Racism in Theory and Practice

One of the more perplexing characteristics of liberal society has been its tendency to exercise bias against some of its members. In a society that professes egalitarianism at its foundation, any degree of preferential treatment or subjugation of individuals or groups would seem contradictory to the aims of the society. In this program, Professor James Sheehan shows how all cultures have exhibited exclusionary tendencies, many of which were based on biological distinctions that in the broadest sense could be termed "racism." Sheehan points out that by the mid 1800s, "optimistic hopes about the progress of humanity began to dim" in Europe, and certain segments of the population were being viewed as inimical to the progress of society. European scientists sought to identify biological factors within populations that would distinguish those so-called "inferior" and potentially destructive elements from the rest of the society, with clearly eugenic, though disturbingly in-egalitarian motives. One manifestation of this Darwinian impetus was Nazi Germany's heinous extermination campaign. Sheehan concludes this program by reminding viewers of the perverse juxtaposition of liberalism and racism in purportedly egalitarian societies, where "racial thinking of any sort ought to be deeply antithetical to the fundamental principles of liberalism...and ought to make racial stereotypes impossible." 99/10DE SCA 50 min.

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