Racism has been a major part of human interaction for all of human history. Ever since the first differences among us were noted, they have been used as indicators of something ominous. Those differences were & are the justification for wars, genocide, slavery, & countless other examples of man's inhumanity to man.
As Western civilization expanded in Europe, the roots of racism were found in the institutions of the day: The Religious hierarchy & the ruling class. The belief that God burdened the white race with 'managing' the heathen was the majority opinion. It was called 'Manifest Destiny' in America. Most of the institutions taught & believed that God created all things. But they believed in a hierarchy, with the 'civilized' white man at the top. That was the justification of European imperialism for centuries, as they sought to bring order to the world, through their world view. Christianity had brought order & Law to Europe, & the ruling elite saw themselves as tools of God bringing structure, order, & enlightenment to inferior societies. 'Might makes right' has always been the final arbiter of truth in human disputes, & the European conquests proved to them that they were right.
Slavery was not always about race. It was (and still is, in some places) a normal part of human existence. Both Plato & Aristotle saw slavery as a natural part of human culture. Some early Christian theologians saw slavery as a necessary evil.
And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life. Aristotle
The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow -- that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offense. Augustine
But as the influence of Christianity, & especially reformation theology grew, slavery became a great evil in mankind. Even in the American declaration of independence, the roots of human equality & dignity were laid out as a basis for the new nation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The new nation was unable to implement these revolutionary concepts completely, due to the old vestiges of imperialism & human domination that was still the status quo of the day. But the debate raged on, & within a fairly short time, a national civil war was fought to settle the issue.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. ~Abraham Lincoln
But the abolition of slavery was not about racism. Lincoln was a racist, by today's standards. He did not believe in the 'equality of man' that some of the abolitionists preached.
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.. ~Abraham Lincoln
Abolitionists held to the more 'enlightened' view, but they were a minority.
"The slave-holder's rule contradicts this fundamental truth of God's word, that 'God has made of one blood all the nations of men,' and if of one blood, they are of equal blood." ~Jonathan Blanchard
Ultimately, the minority opinion of the abolitionists became the mainstream view. Human equality was an act of the Creator. All men are equal, stated the philosophical standard of the day: The Bible. That & reformation theology brought this sense of enlightened civilization. Of course, not everyone acted upon the teachings, & many of the old vestiges of the 'white man's burden' carried over into the 20th century.
But then a new ideology began to gain momentum, based on the writings of a naturalist. It was not really new, but it provided a logical sounding basis for the intelligentsia to escape the shackles of morality that the concept of a Creator brought. Darwin's 'Origin of Species' brought a new possibility to the view of origins. Perhaps man was not created in the image of God, but was an accident of nature, & was merely evolving along with all the other animals. This was the basis for a great many ideologies, that saw social engineering as a tool for the advanced ruling elite. There was an actual justification now, to BE the elite. They were further along on the evolutionary scale, & felt a duty to promote the 'best' traits for humanity. That was the basis for National Socialism in Germany, which was one expression of the eugenics movement. This movement was very popular early in the 20th century, & was mandated into policy in many western nations. It was an attempt to build a better Man, through controlled breeding. Its goal was the concept of a perfect, evolving man, who could be engineered by the ruling elite.
'The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883, drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin. Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.' (wikipedia)
But the major institutions of the day, at least in America, were not immediately impressed by this new 'theory'. There was a gradual embracing of this concept of origins, illustrated by the 'Scopes Monkey trial' of 1925, when a public school teacher was put on trial for teaching something contrary to the status quo: evolution From this point, evolution grew to become the mainstream view of origins, until today it is almost universally taught as fact in every human institution.
Unfortunately, along with this new found liberty from a pesky God, the unruly companion of this ideology is a naturalistic view of man as merely an evolving animal. If superior animals can eat, domesticate, & own inferior animals, where does one draw the line? Perhaps some people are also inferior. Perhaps those 'less advanced' should not be afforded the same rights & privileges as the superior specimens.
I see 2 examples of this ideology today.
1. Overt white supremacists.
2. Liberal welfare state proponents.
The rest of the western world is functioning in a post christian moral memory. Their morality no longer has a basis in their beliefs, but they keep going out of habit.
The white supremacists see the 'lower' races as inferior, & not as advanced on the evolutionary scale. The liberal nanny staters see the 'lower' races as inferior, too, & unable to cope in the world without their assistance. They have built a 'democratic plantation'.. a gulag of welfare dependency, where the soft bigotry of low expectations dominates their view of the inferior classes. They see themselves as champions of the downtrodden, in much the same way the ruling elite in times past saw themselves as bringing civilization & enlightenment to the heathen, as part of the 'white mans' burden'. They do not build human dignity, self respect, or equality, but grievance & division. They trap people in the same ideology that the white supremacists have for their basis, which is the spring from which their world view originates: Darwinian evolution. They either reject God completely, or minimize Him as a distant, uninvolved Watcher, with evolution as the real god.. the 'system' that actually formed us. Every American institution indoctrinates the citizens into this world view from an early age. The further you advance in the education system, the more intense the indoctrination, but it is hammered hard early on. Evolution has become the new religion, flavoring our world views, & providing the basis for our policies, justice systems, & culture. What about the 'subjects' of this indoctrinated world view? Just as the morals of the nation are being torn down, so has crime, lies, hatred, & racism increased. It is a logical consequence to the root ideology.
The core ideology is the basis from which the rest of a world view emanates. The dignity of man, equality, morality, & natural rights are based in the concept of a Divine Creator, attributing those conditions to mankind. The view of man as an animal; insignificant, immoral, & pointless comes from the naturalistic view. He has no soul, no purpose, & is merely an accident of nature. Those who gain power rule by their own authority, & mandate whatever rules they wish.. they do not answer to a Higher Power.
America was founded in the first world view.. that we are endowed by our CREATOR with unalienable rights.. that ALL men are CREATED equal. But as the basis has been undermined, so have the moral outworkings. We are in a post christian culture, driven by naturalistic views, with only the memory & slowing momentum of morality providing the ever dwindling stability that the nation of self rule once had. Unless there is an awakening, all vestiges of morality will be completely forgotten, all basis lost, we will be unable to live among ourselves, & we will require (and deserve) despotism.