Educational Racism

By Alden C. Mayfield – Seoul

The stubborn plague of racism refuses to die. First, Biological racism argued that the "white" race was inherently superior to all other races.

This concept of European racism justified its many years of slavery; the backbone of modern day capitalism. Without slavery there is no such thing as Western capitalism. 

Not only did this racist ideology buttress the rationale for slavery, it also justified European colonialism. It was a self-evident fact that Europeans were more rational and superior to ‘savage’ Indians in the Americas, Africans in Africa and Arabs in the Middle East. Thus, it was only natural to dispossess and murder millions of indigenous peoples in order to illegally control them and their lands. 

This is the “white” racist’s rationale: ‘White’ Europeans are (will always be) more rational than the irrational Indian “savages,” Asians, Arabs and Africans  In fact, most indigenous, Asian, African, and Arab populations were considered sub-human animals unable to reason or ask questions. Therefore, Europeans have inherent rights to control and profit from these lazy people’s lands.  

With the turn of the 20th century, this racist ideology was clearly refuted as simply racism in the guise of scientific knowledge in order to control and profit from others.  Since Westerners could no longer use this inherited racist ideology, many in the West continued to promote racism, but in the disguise of cultural racism. 

Cultural racism contra Biological racism argues that the West is best because its economies, technologies, cultures and educational system are superior to other nations.

As such individuals educated in such western educational institutions are taught, indirectly, that Western culture is superior to other cultures.

Not surprisingly, this type of reasoning follows this dubious notion of cultural racism. Its basic argument is that the West is best in terms of critical knowledge and thus more able to question authority, but Asians, Indians, and Arabs are inherently ignorant when it comes to developing their critical acumen as they NEVER question authority. 

“This belief,” insists J.M Blaut, “is the notion that European civilization – “The West” – has had some unique historical advantage, some special quality of race or culture or environment or mind or spirit, which gives this human community a permanent superiority over all other races, at all times in history and down to the preset-day (The Colonizer’s Model of the World, p.1).”

It is quite obvious that this bias view in promoting cultural racism has produced a fallacy: While it is possible for some to lack something, it is impossible for all to lack that same thing as Cultural Racists reason. This is a gross oversimplification. That same thing could be said about Americans, Canadians and so forth, but it wouldn’t be true. It would still be false reasoning based more on racial prejudice than real empirical proof. At the very least, this bias is, in particular, a real insult to the intelligence of Indians, Asians, Arabs, and Africans and, in general, to general humanity. 

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Westerners have been using this same argument of intellectual superiority with regard to Indigenous, African, Asian and Arab populations for the past few hundred years. It is a well-worn argument, but the argument is the same: the West is better than the rest. In other words, cultural racists really think that they not only know all things (including Arab, Asian, African and other things), but they also control all knowledge and how that same knowledge is learnt. “Others’” opinion is irrelevant.

These individuals claim that non-Westerners rarely question authority. Really? These individuals misunderstand history. Didn’t many question the brutal authority of European colonialism? I think there were many colonial nations who questioned and challenged the very notion of European rule. And in the face of death didn’t many indigenous Christians and Muslims refuse to worship other religions and governments?  

Also, during the many days of dictatorial regimes, didn’t these African, Asian, and Arab students and others protest on the streets despite the peril of death? Didn’t these same individuals question the authority of former dictators that resulted in the numerous massacres? Isn’t true that many dissidents risked their lives for the ideas of democracy? 

These questions cost them their lives? Didn’t these indigenous media expose all the bribery, corruption and other things within their own cultures? The list could go on and on. 

Finally, these cultural racists are right that the governments should vet alcoholics, criminals, womanizers, slackers and the like, but isn’t it equally true for these governments to prevent cultural racists from entering their borders and teaching their children? Racism is just as bad as alcoholism. It is clear that cultural racists are employing an age old colonial argument that posits the fallacious and debunked idea that “White” Europeans are more rational and thus superior than other irrational and inferior peoples. That is why cultural racists are so confident that “others” won’t question their erroneous ideas as they are slow-minded and too afraid to question their authority. If there is any such questioning, it is immediately silenced as terrorism.   

An old proverb: “What comes out of a man’s mouth is a mirror of his heart.”

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” – Samuel P. Huntington

– Alden C. Mayfield is a resident of Seoul. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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