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White people did not begin history

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Update on the Tutsi genotype project. Many years ago I was given the genotype of an individual who had three Tutsi grandparents and one Hutu grandparent. You can see the result above in comparison to the single Hutu and the dozen or so Tutsi. This individual is shifted toward the Kenyan Bantu groups (while the Hutu individual is on the edge of that cluster). For those curious, the “Ethiopian” samples seem to be stratified between those who are Oromo and those who are Amhara. The latter is more West Eurasian shifted than the former (the “Ethiopian Jews”, the Beta Israel, tend to cluster with the various Habesha groups).

In relation to this project, some of the reaction from the peanut gallery has been what you’d expect. Ultimately, the reason I’m doing this is that Tutsi who are making recourse to personal genomic services are coming back with results that don’t make sense in light of the narrative that the government of Rwanda, and to some extent, the media and the academy, put out there. That is, that the Tutsi-Hutu categories can be chalked up to the machinations of the Belgians. White people. A social construction having to do with wealth and modes of production.

To be frank, I’m more interested in what the Tutsi correspondents have to say than the online white saviors (one of the Tutsi individuals had second thoughts about involvement, and their genotype is no longer in the project).

The big questions that loom over this sort of analysis are simple. Did the Belgians create these ethnocultural categories? Did the Belgian act set in motion the events of the Rwandan genocide?

It is quite common in various parts of the educated set to assert that nationalism and ethnicity and identity have shallow roots. The academic view can often be distilled down to Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (apparently this is the most assigned book among undergraduates, explaining its influence). Though Anderson’s thesis is not quite as general as people make it out to be, I do think it leads one toward the conclusion that national, ethnic, and communal identity is shallow, superficial, recent, and, of European causal origin.

If one takes these as a given then the essential, necessary, and causal role of the Belgians in fomenting conflict in Ruanda-Urundi is perhaps warranted. As it happens, I reject the generality of Anderson’s thesis. Rather, I believe that Azar Gat’s argument in Nations: The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and Nationalism is much more persuasive. Gat is not saying that the French nation originated with Vercingetorix. But, he does argue that the elements of national identity which crystallized and converged with the French Revolution were deep and longstanding.

The same is clearly true of many non-European ethnicities and nationalities. They existed long before the arrival of European colonialism and political ideology.

Just as with Anderson’s Imagined Communities, I believe that Edward Said’s Orientalism has elements of truth, but that its insights are over-generalized. For example, it seems clear that the British did have some ideological interests in mind when interpreting the history and ethnography of the Indian subcontinent. But they did not invent the categories of Muslim and Hindu in any substantive fashion. Nor did they invent the ethnolinguistic diversity of the subcontinent which resulted in imperfect integration of the culture of the far southern states, which speak Dravidian languages, with the Hindi “cow-belt.” This diversity preexisted the arrival of the British.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think that the Great Divergence occurred. I do think Europe for various reasons developed on a separate and distinct path. But, I do not think European history and European experience is so sui generis that the cultures and societies of the world today must be, and can only be, understood in light of their post-colonial experiences with Europe. The colonial experiences were impactful, but history did not begin with the colonial period. More crassly, non-white peoples existed with form and texture before they were observed and shaped by white people. White peoples’ agency is not the predominant element in non-European social identity.

In relation to the causal agency of white Europeans in relation to non-white peoples, imagine if the general consensus was that the massive death tolls of the Thirty Years War were due to the malevolent choice of certain Protestant princes in the prior century to align and foster religious reform. The reality is most people would argue that the causes of the war were complex, multifaceted, and somewhat contingent. The same sort of framework applies to situations outside of Europe. Instead, what we get are reductive explanations of the form “because white colonialists!”

So what’s going to explain the pattern of reducing non-European societies to bit-parts in a drama of European history? The cognitive anthropologist Pascal Boyer contends that theories give you “information for free.” Postcolonial theory then is a cheap and easy way to understand causal processes in history without having to read and know any history. There are no details necessary. Just apply the theory and produce results!

But why now? For a few years now the grad student Zach Goldberg has been writing about the “Great Awokening”. This refers to the radicalization of many white progressives on racial issues since ~2015. Zach’s plot above shows that The New York Times mentions of “racism” shot up over the last few years. The same with a host of other variables.

Before 2015 I might have agreed I was “socially liberal.” Today I wouldn’t say that, because I disagree with the utility of assertions of the form “all white people are racist” and “all men are sexist.” I have no idea honestly what I’m agreeing to if I say I align with social liberals since the revolution in views is moving so fast.

But there is another wrinkle which I think is important to acknowledge about the Great Awokening: it hasn’t been associated with a massive change in behavior by white liberals from what I can see. Arguably, most of my friends are white liberals, so I’ve been able to observe them over many years. Their rhetoric is different (or more precisely more frequent). But their behavior is very similar.

I will give two anecdotes to illustrate what I’m talking about. After 2016 many of my white academic friends began to post incessantly on Facebook about the recent upsurge in racism, and how frightening it was to be a racial minority. Curiously, I noticed that many of the Facebook threads were populated exclusively by white people talking about how horrible racism was. The American population is 63% non-Hispanic white. And a much lower fraction among younger cohorts. This was not a random sampling of the population.

At one point I actually decided to speak to an experience of racism on a thread, and how much it has declined since the 1980s and 1990s. So many of the people talking seem to be speaking of abstractions since they were non-Hispanic white and seemed to be friends overwhelmingly with only non-Hispanic whites. They were totally unaware that the extent of casual racism had declined radically since the 1980s because they themselves knew very few nonwhites intimately from what I can tell.

The second anecdote occurred in a city that happens to be a bit under 50% non-Hispanic white. I was having a casual dinner at a friend’s house. This friend is a sincere white progressive and academic. In the middle of eating their elementary-age child interrupted and asked bashfully why my “skin is brown like that.” Basically, this child had not experienced nonwhite people in preschool or school, and from what I could tell I was one of the few nonwhite friends of this academic.  The reason that this is notable is that it reflects the high level of racial segregation in their lives that white progressives in racially diverse urban areas often choose. This is not surprising in light of the fact that the most diverse counties are the most assortative in mating (this is presumably due to larger numbers of ethnic minorities who can find mates).

These facts are open secrets. Just look at where more progressive-than-thou white liberals actually live (around people just like them), and who populates their Facebook friends list (again, people just like them). Since this is so universal there isn’t a great shame in this sort of behavior. As they say, hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

But the abstract nature of white progressive concern with racism and inequality causes serious problems in their understanding of the world around them. They begin to see everything around them as the playing out in history of “white supremacy,” as if it’s the ground of all being. It is a metaphysical abstraction. This problem is more serious for millennials and zoomers, who have been educated more recently.

The new regnant ideology has changed the way I write historically inflected pieces. When I wrote The Blood On Brown Hands Is A Legacy Of All Of History, it came in at 5,000 words. I consciously loaded it with erudition to make it clear to white progressive readers that I actually have forgotten more history than they’ve ever known. On some level, I will accept that most white progressives are sincerely anti-racist, but my experience as a non-white person who disagrees with their “sacred values” on race is that unless I come to the table “with receipts” (as they’d say) they will dismiss me as an ignorant rube who has been brainwashed (non-whites tend to lack independent agency in their ontology unless they express the views that they believe non-whites should express; I won’t question their motives, but I’ve experienced this way too often to not anticipate it).

They know because they are white. They are the agents of all history. They will redeem the evil which they have wrought by their sacrifice of copious internet virtue signaling.

Addendum: I will make one note: the quality of conversations about racial discrimination and racism is quite different when one is talking to a woke white person who is married to a nonwhite person. Probably the cause here is that racism and racial diversity are concrete, rather than abstract. There’s something to actually grapple onto that’s beyond someone’s imagination and beliefs. It’s not just a theoretical debate.


29 thoughts on “White people did not begin history

  1. ::St. Alphonsus De Liguori’s Conclusion to a Short Treatise on Prayer::

    “Let us pray, then, and let us always be asking for grace, if we wish to be saved. Let prayer be our most delightful occupation; let prayer be the exercise of our whole life. And when we are asking for particular graces, let us always pray for the grace to continue to pray for the future; because if we leave off praying we shall be lost. There is nothing easier than prayer. What does it cost us to say, Lord, stand by me! Lord, help me! give me Thy love! and the like? What can be easier than this? But if we do not do so, we cannot be saved. Let us pray, then, and let us always shelter ourselves behind the intercession of Mary: “Let us seek for grace, and let us seek it through Mary,” says St. Bernard. And when we recommend ourselves to Mary, let us be sure that she hears us and obtains for us whatever we want. She cannot lack either the power or the will to help us, as the same saint says: “Neither means nor will can be wanting to her.” And St. Augustine addresses her: “Remember, O most pious Lady, that it has never been heard that any one who fled to thy protection was forsaken.” Remember that the case has never occurred of a person having recourse to thee, and having been abandoned. Ah, no, says St. Bonaventure, he who invokes Mary, finds salvation; and therefore he calls her “the salvation of those who invoke her.” Let us, then, in our prayers always invoke Jesus and Mary; and let us never neglect to pray.

    I have done. But before concluding, I cannot help saying how grieved I feel when I see that though the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers so often recommend the practice of prayer, yet so few other religious writers, or confessors, or preachers, ever speak of it; or if they do speak of it, just touch upon it in a cursory way, and leave it. But I, seeing the necessity of prayer, say, that the great lesson which all spiritual books should inculcate on their readers, all preachers on their hearers, and all confessors on their penitents, is this, to pray always; thus they should admonish them to pray; pray, and never give up praying. If you pray, you will be certainly saved; if you do not pray, you will be certainly damned.”

  2. I am Tutsi from D.R.Congo and can assure you that many things Razib discusses here resonate with me. From personal experience, white people should stop taking the burden of what their ancestors did( u may even find that some that behave like that, maybe their ancestor did nothing) . Just have love and compassion!! That should make u a better human being.

    However, as soon as you start trying to rewrite history your ancestor wrote, begin thinking of what’s right for, let’s say, Africans. You are no different from those colonialists we had in Africa.
    I say this because of what I’ve been reading/watching for quite a while.

    We approach Razib and ask him to analyze our genome because something is off and you decide to attack him. Seriously??!!! The guy is just helping us. In fact, I took a DNA test just because as soon as I read papers about Tutsi genetics, I disagreed and wanted to have tangible proof of my claim. Yet, here we are! Proof is here.

    Razib thinks he is the only one that got backlashes. When we posted our results, some were surprised, others excited, others in denial of what we found out. I can see where they were coming from. Because, beginning with haplogroups, sharp contradiction to academics, autosomal, Tutsis are different from neighboring Bantu. Unfortunately/fortunately, facts are facts and truth eventually win.

  3. from what i can tell white woke ppl are angry about the racism of the belgians. they should be.


    nonwhite ppl exist, independently from the invidious experiences with whites (and sometimes non-invidious, look at the religion dominant among the rwandans).

  4. To put your 30 Years War metaphor one further: it is clear the Ottoman Sultan lent money to the (generally) Protestant side to keep Europe fighting. It was smart from his point of view.

    Do we now blame the entirety of the Thirty Years War on the Turks and hold them eternally guilty and alien? Please. Was Protestantism just another form of Islam in that sense? One would have to be a maximal lumper – every non-Christian monotheism alike.

  5. @Razib:
    “Did the Belgians create these ethnocultural categories?
    Did the Belgian act set in motion the events of the Rwandan genocide?”

    These are two different and distinct questions actually. Belgians didn’t create the ethnosocial difference, but they abused the existing differences and helped to create the conflict.

    First they used the existing order to stabilise their rule, and when the Tutsi elite didn’t obeyed as they wanted and, largely at the same time, in Europe Marxist and Cultural Marxist ideas became dominant, even in the Catholic church, the Belgians used the very same social units to turn everything upside down and get new Hutu partners in Rwanda.

    So they caused the Rwandan genocide by spreading an ideology of hate “of the suppressed” in a Marxist sense and attacking the old social order at least too fast, too radical. By creating a new and inexperienced Hutu elite which was full of ambition, envy and hate, while at the same time disempowering, alienating and scaring the old Tutsi partners. They made them enemies by taking one side something away and making the other side dependent from their support.

    It was the Belgian colonial policy, especially the quick and radical policy change, which lighted up the conflict. Similar to the USA today favouring this or that party in a country, depending on who seems to be easier to control and more docile. A view which can change from one year to the next (Saddam Hussein!).

    The Belgians really mishandled and abused the situation, two times. That’s what they did. But that had zero, exactly zero to do with “inventing” social or even ethnoracial categories. If you come to a country, try to form a colony and giving one side more social power and weapons than the other, you don’t create the sides necessarily, but you take up what’s there already. You change the balance of power and might cause or at least accelerate a conflict.

    The French speaking Europeans were even guilty during the genocide: They helped the Rwandan government to defeat the RPF once and when the genocide started and was at its climax, the French soldiers which came in were initially rather coming to defend the genocidal government, than stopping the killings. They just came too late to prevent the RPF’s success and the genocide was too large and gruesome, covered by the Western media already, to ignore it. So the RPF was the only party to really save its people in this conflict, at that time, because the “Colonial party” (then the French) didn’t wanted a “regime change”.
    This shows, like in similar cases around the world, what a “Colonial guilt” really means = concrete actions, always more than ideological singsang. Because there were colonies which were formed by “racists” which treated their subjects better than colonies created by self-proclaimed “liberators”. It depends on a lot of circumstances.

    All of this has exactly zero to do with recognising ethnic and racial differences per se, but with exploiting them in some sort of power game. Be it from the point of view of classic European colonial concepts of the 19th century or Marxist-Liberal ideas of the 20th century. Both were abused to secure geostrategical interests for a state’s elite, without caring too much about the “outcome on the ground” when it comes to the crunch.
    Like today in Yemen, Lybia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo and so on.

    If postcolonial studies can’t even differentiate on these matters, they are more worthless and harmful than they are anyway. Such false conclusions might actually be used to justify another colonial intervention in another helpless country and ruin those people’s life “on the ground” again. You can always find a justification for Colonialism and interventions, if you really want to. From any ideological perspective and starting point. Even Marxists found reasons for suppressing their colonial people (beside their own), they just didn’t call it that way…

  6. obs, belgians/europeans were clearly proximate causes. but i think there were deep structural problems with the rwanda-burundi society as it was organized that were going to have issues as we proceed to modernization. this is not a specific story, but a general one. consider the situation of biafra, which differed in many details, but had a similar range of death toll.

    similarly, the details of the death during indian partition were due to british decisions. but i think there was going to be a major structural tension that occurred with the emergence of a modern indian nation-state and the muslim vs non-muslim divide.

  7. @Obs
    Well said. Exploitation of existing ethnic groups imo is undisputed. The worst thing they( mostly Belgians and Germans) did and no one saw it coming, was alienating Tutsis. “Tutsi invaders of Ethiopid race”, things like “migrants”, “conquerors” were and still are used by EDUCATED Bantu extremists to justify violence on Tutsis. Especially in Congo where that ghost of “Tutsi invaders” still looms. As we speak, Banyamulenge are under siege almost all their cattle killed/raided, 80% of their homeland completely destroyed and no one seem to care. Because, “They are strangers”. Link for the last sentence is below.

    I think that theory of ‘Tutsi invaders’ have to be re-examined. From what I’ve learned the past few years, Tutsis have been in the Great Lakes longer than Bantus, and this flips everything upside down.

    Lastly, if anyone is to blame for all that happened, as H.E Paul Kagame said it’s Rwandans first, then Belgians. Otherwise, we end up re-affirming “WHITE GOD” thing. And reduce ourselves into children that still need time to grow and has to wait for “WHITE SAVIOR” to come to our rescue all the time. Partly, we created the “WHITE GODS”.

  8. @Razib: I generally agree, but the Belgians and French handled the situation particularly bad. Also: The French-Belgian interest group never really left Rwanda and could have intervened in different manners to calm the situation down. They did not, because they wanted the RPF out.

    Besides, what you describe are the costs of modernisation and homogenisation. What a lot of people constantly forget about is that the European states and people had, almost always, as much or even more painful developments before they reached a modern, stable and developed status. Its just in the past and to a large degree it was a self- or inner colonisaton, so people forgot it in the recent political debate.

    Western states too were never completely friction-free, as history has proven and might fall back to an even more “complex state” because of the current migratory, demographic, economomic and political developments. Social disciplination and homogenisation is a long and painful process, and what it’s worth for, some might realise only when its gone.

    Coming from one state of development to the next might never be easy and friction-free. There will be always victims, scapegoats, losers and winners in this process. Even more so if there is no helping hand, but rather a pusher who goes for its very own interests before any other consideration. A modern state development needs a plan and authority, especially if the people didn’t went through to the “school of development” on their own before (which was one of the justifications of European Colonialism).

    People can try a different way, but it won’t work out without a good plan. Just modernising here and there, letting people do their business with foreign powers: It never worked out and where it did, just because the real developmental centres were abroad and completely stable sources. Because you need the social diciplination and homogenisation first, not necessarily complete, but for the areas where it matters. If you don’t do that, in a multi-ethnic/religious, tribalist society, you can wait another 500 years until they have fought it out and one group eliminated all competitors.

    One of the problems with Globalisation is, that this process is the next developmental phase beyond a state border control.

    Either there is a peaceful plan for a global settlement, or we fight it out until there is just one dominant group or none at all left.
    Now we have big corporate-states competing for global dominance, while there are still tribalist units fighting on the ground for regional ethnosocial dominance. These different levels of competition and conflict make things even more complicated. One level can always escalate the situation on the other.

    @Espoir: That external powers had influence on your state and people has nothing to do with race per se, because always and everywhere there were outside interventions in greater conflicts. Be it in Germany, Latin America or Asia. If there is a booty, raiders come – since ancient times. Read Julius Caesar, its not specific to Europeans in Africa, or Europeans and Africans…

  9. This is an awesome post.

    because, people can’t accuse you of being an “Uncle Tom” South Asian, because while you reject the idea which leftist push that white racists are at the center of all your problems. You’re also asserting this is because we have our own history, we have our own stuff going, white people aren’t at the center of everything we do.

  10. @Razib

    “Espoir, don’t worry. white savior knows best.” Lol! White savior has this in common with colonial master. White savior need to MOVE ON, what’s past is gone. Past mistakes teach us not to repeat them, otherwise…

    “…Spread of first herders…” paper is good evidence to origins of Tutsis. It’s amazing how those archeological sites are not far from where Tutsis live today( west shores of lake Victoria). We almost certain Tutsis have been in the Great Lakes region for >4000 years. I have two Tutsi friends that had their Y-DNA sequenced(both have M293 marker) and show MRCA 4000 y.a. What strikes more is samples of Tutsis(from commercial companies) show the same haplogroup marker M293 at ~41% (n=54)

  11. “It is quite common in various parts of the educated set to assert that nationalism and ethnicity and identity have shallow roots.”

    The reason, this view is popular in academia is not because of facts/evidence but because of ideology.

    The definition of ethnicity which ‘common people’ accept is not accepted by academia. Academia has taken out the part about common ancestry. I’ve read in many history books when they explicitly define ethnicity they explicitly cut out common ancestry as one of the features. This has been intentionally done.

    In some cases it is true. In some cases, ethnic groups aren’t a race. For example, the new ancient DNA paper on ancient Rome brings up a lot of questions about what was going on ethnically speaking in Imperial-era Rome. Obviously, early Romans were Latins, Italians not mixed. But, Imperial Romans were all extremly mixed. Was everyone ancestrally mixed? And did they even have an ethnic identity? Or did they just identify as “Roman, Latin-speaker.”

    But, in most cases ethnic groups are bound by common ancestry as the Hutsi & Tutsi data you just showed demonstrates.

    Academia is denying the fact gender/sex is and always has been defined as a biological thing not by the way someone behaves, they also deny that ethnicity usually includes common ancestry.

    But this view of ethnicity probably won’t last for long. Because the ancient DNA revolution and the rise of DNA in general, will quickly show in most cases in history ethnic groups were tied by common ancestry and that most modern ethnic groups are. Ancient DNA from Europe has already up-ended the mantra held by European archaeologists: pots=/=people. In most cases pots=people. This pots=/=people thing in archaeology originated from the same ideology as ethnicity=/=common ancestry.

    Once again, I have to say their view of ethnicity is not held by most people just as their view of gender isn’t. This is why so many people take DNA tests, they want to know genetically speaking what ethnicity they are.

  12. “That external powers had influence on your state and people has nothing to do with race per se, because always and everywhere there were outside interventions in greater conflicts. Be it in Germany, Latin America or Asia. If there is a booty, raiders come – since ancient times. Read Julius Caesar, its not specific to Europeans in Africa, or Europeans and Africans…”

    My opinion is, yes Belgians had something to do with it. They took advantage of diversity of Africa and exploited it for their evil intentions, in particular Rwanda.
    However, let me give this scenario. King of Rwanda Mutara Rudahigwa abolished ubuhake(serfdom?) because he figured it divides Rwandans. That was a good choice among many choices he made that unfortunately led to his unpopularity to the colonial masters. It cost him his life. The king was most likely murdered by Belgians( it’s said it was a heart attack but many disagree) and that’s when they abolished the kingdom and “the referendum” gave educated Hutus powers. If they had made similar choices like those made by the last king for the sake of nation building and unity, I don’t see how all that mess would have happened. Instead, they decided to follow what Belgians told them which is “Tutsi invaders” conquered you(no proof for this) and ruled over you “autochthones”. These Hutu elites knew well that they have lived side by side with Tutsis for sooo many centuries.
    Unfortunately, they decided to teach the next generation that these fellow are strangers/invaders.
    Keep in mind that as soon as the king was ordained, he was no longer a Tutsi, He became umwami(king) with no ethnic affiliation whatsoever. This is how the three ethnic groups resided side by side prior to european . I’m not saying everything was perfect but I’m in the context of national unity.
    With all that being said, I don’t see why the blame can go only to Europeans. Unless u saying what the WHITE GODS say which is absurd,( poor africans),

  13. I wouldn’t say Belgians had just bad intentions at all, they just didnt foresee that outcome and maneuvered themselves in a bad spot. A chain of bad decision making. The end results very different from the original intentions.
    But like so often, we always know better – afterwards. Yet we do stupid things now, most will know better in hundred years if there is still someone to think about it freely.

    One thing to add for Africa are scenarios without European intervention: Things would have gone quite different, Islam spread faster, slavery still a reality, no rapid population growth, higher mortality, different wars – just different, not just better or worse. The mistakes Europeans made are more special because of their complete documentation and self-accusations.
    Not that others would be generally more humane in war and when expanding, colonising. Not at all.
    This is human and life history.

  14. Is the distinction between progressive and white progressive important here?

    most ideological social liberals in the dem party are white last i checked. so perhaps not.

  15. Tutsis have been in the Great Lakes longer than Bantus, and this flips everything upside down
    it’s a pretty scary way to use ancient DNA. So now that we know that a population A has a stronger claim to autochthonous status, it shall turn tables against the population B which traditionally derided the population A as “less native”?
    I’m glad the Tutsi got a scientific basis for refuting one of the tenets of xenophobia against them, although I’m afraid that in the grand schema of things, it won’t make the hatreds any less severe or dangerous.
    But I am also afraid that by parading the DNA evidence of their being “the original stewards of the land”, we may all make the hatreds even worse 🙁

    Perhaps the anti-genetic stance of the social sciences with its “purely social constructs” and “lack of ancestral differences between the ethnic groups” is dong something good when it’s used near a powder keg?

  16. @DX

    One thing I hope for is that, people learn the truth and find a way to co-exist. That thing of “autochthonous” to a region has done great damage than most people perceive. I don’t see why we can now use that card with all the consequences it brought to our region.

    This is still happening today btw! We experience severe persecution just because of our morphology. In Congo, you find a journalist ask a minister or senator if he is really Congolese just because “he doesn’t look Congolese”. I believe if that person was more educated, he/she would not ask such kind of question. If the journalist knows the history of movements of people within Africa, he can ask a better question. So, ancient DNA is part of the solution.

    “Perhaps the anti-genetic stance of the social sciences with its “purely social constructs” and “lack of ancestral differences between the ethnic groups” is dong something good when it’s used near a powder keg?”
    Unlike some countries, in Congo, people speak different languages, have different traditions, look very different.
    I think you would understand better what I say if you come from that region.
    People don’t take the social construct thing seriously. They know they are different. Pushing down their throat that narrative is not gonna help( I think they may fake it). We need to remind ourselves that these different tribes co-existed for millennia acknowledging the diversity. Conflicts have always happened and I’m very optimistic that the future is better.

  17. I’ve seen on a few competition shows more recently sometimes contestants will bring up racism when they are harshly judged, but now the judging panels are usually diverse enough that one of the judges will be of the same race as the person pulling the race card that the judge can shut it down when the contestants are blowing smoke. It’s kind of refreshing and gives me hope for the future.

  18. The problem of the Tutsi is that they are a physically recognisable, numerically small minority in a very violent and dangerous place, with a lot of negative feelings between different groups of people. The way the catastrophe happened was to a certain degree the fault of European interventions, especially Belgian and French Colonial and Neocolonial policy, but the problem as such is more fundamental. If you say somebody in the region “its a social construct, made up by European Colonialism”, they just have to open up their eyes, its not like you can hide it anyway. Social constructs which are just decades old don’t change physical types like that, its idiotic.

    The positive flipside is, that its indeed a social construction insofar, as people never needed obvious physical differences to hate and kill each other. It might make it easier at times, but it was never necessary. Some of the most brutal wars in all of human history happened between people which looked pretty much the same – most of the time. Simply because its more likely to get into a heated conflict with your neighbour than with a distant foreigner for most of human history. Its globalisation now and major migrations in the past which changed that (sometimes).

    The best thing Americans, Europeans, Israelis and Asians, especially Chinese, could do, would be to support a stable governmental strategy with a solid concept for the region.
    The problem of the region is, among other things and beside ethnic tensions, of course overpopulation, lack of functional states and resource management. These problems are solvable, but not from one day to the next or by the local states on their own.

    But since its about geostrategical interests and very important resources in this part of Africa, high stakes are in the game for all participating parties, even globally, not just regionally. And the major global and regional African (!) powers and corporations are not just there to improve the situation for the people on the ground, they are there for making business and taking what they can get for their own side.
    At the same time local warlords can finance their private armies by just controlling some mines and pieces of the country. A difficult situation, and like in the Near East, I hope the best, but doubt it will get that much better any time soon. Too many interest groups which are hard to get on the table for a good and lasting compromise. Some brutal provocateurs in between (even extreme Jihadists, that was new to me). And the whole region depends on the stability of its neighbours. As long as the (Eastern) Congo is not pacified, it destabilises the whole macroregion like a smouldering fire.

  19. @Obs
    Well said, more so in the first line of the first paragraph.
    Stable and autonomous governments can provide an answer to those conflicts.

  20. @Espoir:
    The resources are a boon and bane. I once saw a documentary in which Joseph Kabila was interviewed. During the interview he had to communicate with an important Israeli businessmen who demanded his support and permission. It was not like he was talking to a powerful statesman, not even to a business partner at eye level. He threatened him! So what could he do? And if he complied, the next visitor might have the same wish for his company and threatening him again for making the deal with the wrong party!

    And thats another perspective on corruption in Africa. If the politicians are not corrupt, they get threatened, and if they are corrupt, they might get threatened by those which didn’t pay enough. And if one foreign side was able to buy or otherwise make the government comply, the other side might be angry and support a rebel group instead which conquers the region and sells the rights once more.
    You see, especially in the Congo, this has a lot to do with international business and rules. Obviously the global powers need those resources, so there is no way they can let it go. But unless they make a compromise and agree on basic, civilised ways to sort it out and distribute it, in an ordered way, you have a big, a huge problem.

    And I’m not just talking about states, but rich businesspeople and corporations which can, with or without the help of their secret service and military, influence a lot. Giving a small warlord a huge sum of money and the mission to conquer region X is a real thing. It happened all the time since the end of Belgian Colonialism.

    One thing was even better with late European Colonialism: People knew who was responsible and could be made accountable. Now, many interest groups play their game in secrecy, money is coming in and out of the country, networks being used. A lot more things happen “in the dark” now. Its even hard to know who is the svengali, let alone proving his guilt and bringing him to justice (where, on what accusation?).

    The Eastern Congo can’t be pacified as long as it is not in the interest of all major parties.

  21. I found an entry about the businessman I talked about and which was so influential in the DRC:

    “The United States Department of the Treasury specifically named Dan Gertler in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) financial sanctions list for serious human rights abuse and corruption, under the Magnitsky Act and blocked his US-based assets.”

    So in the meantime “something” happened, at least something. But the damage being done and millions to billions gone for the local people, they disappeared in dubious channels. And its not just about politicians in Africa and their tendency towards corruption, there are real cases of very bad blackmailing and threats. Still, like in the Colonial and Post-Colonial era and sometimes worse, because there is little accountability and if one is gone, the next broker enters the scene.

  22. @Obs
    Ugly enough, that’s reality!
    Imo, accountability still goes to governments. Then we can blame those outsiders with interests I strong believe that every choice you make has consequences. If you betray everything you believe in because someone threatened you, then you are a coward. Personally, i think I would choose death over betraying what I am. Which makes me think that usually that’s how those leaders are. It’s not about threats or whatever.

    I don’t think there is any other group that experienced those issues discussed above than Congolese Tutsis. Some victimize us( of course we are victims) purely for their personal interests. Others demonising us for their personal interests and GAMES get played that way. We found ourselves in situations we don’t understand who started them and don’t know the end goal.

  23. Post-colonial theory isn’t completely wrong just exaggerated (except on the idea that European created in-country ethnic groups, which is crazy).

    My prediction is that the exaggeration will diminish over time as post-colonial countries become less dominated in academic discourse over their own histories. Academics from those countries will be less ignorant, for one thing. Equally important given human nature, they will have other ideological axes to grind besides going after a colonial power from many generations ago, and that will be reflected in the updated battle of ideas.

    Speaking as one of those white kind-of progressives that Razib’s talking about….

  24. In all fairness, the genocide of the Tutsis was not considered a genocide but a tribal war by the UN and the USA. So not only the Rwandan government but the USA, the Western world that didn‘t intervene to stop the genocide of the Tutsis were also promoting the narrative that Tutsis and Hutus were the different tribes of the same ethnicity. The Western media also blamed the Belgians for the Tutsi genocide by accusing them to have had pitting Tutus and Hutus against each other in the divide and conquer manner. There was a population genetic study on the Tutsis on Wikipedia several years ago that suggested based on genetic tests that Tutsis and Hutus are genetically extremely closely related and basically the same people. According to this study, Tutsis were closer related to Bantus in general and not very closely related to the Massai who looked similar to them. I‘m not sure whether Wikipedia updated this study though. However, I always found this study to be strange and not trustworthy. Therefore several years ago, I had lots of debates with white liberals, Afro-Americans and Afrocentrists who used this study as proof that Bantus or any pure black African can have Caucasiod features without any West Asian or European admixture. Hence they argued that Horner people were pure Africans and not admixed people and that blacks come in different shades and looks. However, by using my common sense, I realized that this study was fishy and something was off. For me, it was clear that Hutus that are typically extremely short, stocky with a short neck and usually with broader facial features can‘t be genetically closely related to the extremely tall Tutsis. The typical Tutsis are long-legged people with a very slender body and they resemble Somali or Massai people. Phenotype is mostly determined by genes. Hence people that are closely related look very similar and can’t look so distinct from each other like the typical Tutsi does from the typical Hutu. The notion genotype doesn‘t equal phenotype was brought up to explain the distinct physical appearance of Tutsis and Hutus. We all have to keep in mind that studies on genetics can be flawed, misleading or distorted for political or ideological reasons. This genetic study on Tutsi from some years ago either tested and used Hutus that identified as Tutsis or Hutus that had some Tutsi admixture instead of real Tutsis. So with flawed methods, you can make DNA tests that show Tutsis and Hutus being closely related.

  25. Besides, there was a documentary on al Jazeera about Rwandan history and genocide where local historians from Rwanda also denied Tutsis and Hutus being different ethnic groups. According to them Tutsis and Hutus that speak the same language, eat the same food were the same people living in harmony before the white colonial masters showed up and caused division and hatred among them. What these historians left out is the process of assimilation where a minority adopts the culture and language of the majority. The Tutsis, unlike the Hutus, were a minority and they were Bantus by culture and assimilation mostly and not by origin. The point is since 90% of the Tutsis, especially those who preserved most of the Cushitic genetical makeup are gone due to the genocide; things will be more blurred I would say. Besides the Hutus used to refer to the Tutsis as “Ethiopians” and “invaders” in the past.

    Unfortunately, anthropology and the science of human genetics are pressed into the corset of political correctness.

  26. White liberals love to put Non-whites in a box where they have to think and act the way white liberals want them to think and act. According to them Non-whites can’t think for themselves as individuals but have to think and conduct as a collective. Hence a black or brown person that votes for conservative parties, has conservative values or believes that race is real, is considered a pariah that is unworthy of their protection, by white liberals. Non-whites who don’t think, feel or behave based on the notion and instruction of the progressive left are white supremacists with Non-white face. Actually many white liberals have a very patronizing attitude towards Non- whites. Hence they always feel offended or outraged for the so-called people of color when they think white people are being culturally inappropriate or offending.

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