The Dark Side of ‘Protecting’ White Society

Artwork: 'Aborigines and White Settlers in Battle' Samuel Calvert, 1867

Step back to 1892, where in Memphis America, an armed mob swarm a jail cell and lynch three black men who were awaiting trial. The officers  make no real effort to protect the black men that they were guarding.

Snap to 1920. A town in Western Australia forcibly rounds up every aboriginal they can find and herd them into the desert like sheep at gunpoint, leaving them to die with no food or shelter.

A blatant and abusive violation of human rights? By modern standards, most definitely. But around the turn of the 20C, these appalling acts were frighteningly common in some parts of Australia and America, because the legal system failed to recognize Indigenous Australians and African Americans as human beings. To Australian Colonialists, they were vermin that needed to be ‘exterminated’ and to Americans, particularly in the South, they were threats to society that needed to be ruthlessly re-subordinated (the majority of blacks being former slaves in the Post-Reconstruction Era).

White society was obsessed with maintaining the racial hierarchy. Why? Because being white ensured more money, a higher social status and  a good marriage partner. Social beliefs were influenced by Eugenics which justified inhumane practices towards blacks in everyday society and the legal system.

During this time, blacks were subject to legal discrimination, social exclusion and had no human rights whatsoever, meaning the Government could choose when to feed them, where to move them and to do absolutely nothing if they were murdered. It’s obvious in hindsight, that the White Governments asserted tyrannical control over all blacks under the guise of protecting ‘civilization’ and ‘humanity.’ In reality, protecting white society was their goal.

Extralegal violence such as lynchings of negroes and hunting parties for aboriginals were common to many sectors of Australian and American society. [See: http://withoutsanctuary.org/]  David Garland documented in ‘Penal Excess and Surplus Meaning: Public Torture Lynchings in the Twentieth-Century,’ that lynching mobs even took home body parts and clothing as souvenirs. Shooting parties in Australia, particularly in Queensland would make daily rides ‘armed to the teeth’ and kill aborigines for sport.

A policy of ‘Dole and Control’ was put in place for Indigenous Australians, with no land, no money and no food, most of the indigenous were resigned to a life of scrounging in tiny patches of bush or working for food on pastoral stations.  Government policy claimed to be ‘protecting’ the supposed ‘dying race’ through these methods. It’s obvious now that Policy was aimed to privilege the White Man; the welfare of the indigenous was an afterthought, only because of  pressure from a minority of humanitarians.

White men were free to rape black women in both Australia and America with little to no fear of reprisals. Australia’s shearing sheds even had ‘stud gins’ sheds of kidnapped Aboriginal girls for shearers to rape. Black woman had little to no protection from sexual abuse, the common perception of society and the law was that blacks can’t be raped.

Interracial sex and ‘protecting the white woman’ was at the forefront of racial policy in both countries, hence the majority of  the American South passing Miscegenation Laws.  The hypersexual nature of the ‘black savage’ was inflated to a huge degree.

Black men raping or stealing white women away from a virtuous moral life with a white husband was a common fear in America. Ida B. Wells wrote in ‘Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All its Phases’  that although rape was the justification for lynching, in a majority of cases the relationship was consensual. Relationships and Marriage, seen as a ‘cornerstone of civilization’ were denied to blacks. They implied equality and humanity and this notion was discouraged. Heavily. Sometimes with a noose or a shotgun.

After all, blacks weren’t civilized – they were the degenerate hungry beasts lurking after your women, trying to pull society backwards with their immorality and stupidity. Such was the nature of popular thought, thanks to racial literature and eugenics.

A century later, the legalization of racism, vigilante killings and derogatory racial prejudice is mostly just a shameful blot in the past. Contemporary reflection on how the Australian Aborigines and African Americans were treated is perplexing to many people. Why was so much blatant discrimination, murder, injustice and everyday social exclusion directed towards blacks when they did nothing (apart from being dark skinned) to deserve it?

It was a different society around the turn of the twentieth century. One that believed in the power and superiority of the Aryan race, and the inherent savagery of blacks. Australia and America subordinated blacks under white control in the name of ‘protecting white society,’ to make sure whites would have the best pick of marriage partners, more money than blacks and be higher in social status.

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9 comments on “The Dark Side of ‘Protecting’ White Society

  1. Your blog has highlighted some interesting and also very disturbing points. Its absolutely horrible how poorly black people were treated even through the early 20th century. The justification that white society as you point out needed ‘protection’ was ridiculous. The fact that a black woman had no protection from rape, because ‘blacks could not be raped’ is abhorrent, especially when a white women could accuse a black man of rape, by even a look and he could be lynched, its just horrific. It is also ironic that the idea of Eugenics was widely believed in at this time, when not long after the Americans were fighting against Nazi Germany in the second world war, who had a great belief in Eugenics and ‘preserving’ the Aryan race. This was a really fascinating read, and has again reminded me of how bad Europeans have treated people who are different to themselves.

    Hamish

    • amandalee3 says:

      I had originally planned to explore the hypothesis that America could have been the Holocaust site, since their beliefs about eugenics and white supremacy were so strong. The amount of legislation and official documents that said they were protecting civilisation and the nation was really infuriating after a while, in both America and Australia. From a contemporary viewpoint the use of ‘protection’ as a pretext is really obvious. Thank you for your comment.

  2. pmcdermott6025 says:

    I have to say, reading this post really brought some chilling thoughts to mind about how people have treated their fellow human over the years. Just to comment further, when studying MHIS302 last year I was pretty shocked to learn that Australia actually had a policy in place that was designed to “whiten” the Australian Aboriginal population of Australia by breeding them out. This shocked me the most because this was basically genocide under the Geneva Convention that was written only a decade later. The Australian Aborigines would also continue to suffer at the hands of the Australian government, who refused to even recognise them as citizens until the 1960s. I do believe Australians cannot forget that this barbaric chapter was part of their history. However I also believe Australia has come a long way as a nation since the 1960s. The White Australia policy was removed in the 1970s and Australian citizens backgrounds now come from more than 200 countries. Australians actually now embrace Indigenous culture, it is now part of the school curriculum and is also celebrated especially in sports where they have indigenous weeks in some sports such as AFL and Rugby League. We cannot forget the past mistreatment of the Indigenous Australians, but I believe we are doing everything possible to move forward as a complete nation.

    • amandalee3 says:

      I agree with you about how far Australia has come in regards to their racial policies in the past, considering the standard treatment of the indigenous for the past century or so. While doing the research for this assignment I’ve decided that I believe that Australia implemented a genocidal policy in the midst of colonialization and continued it thereafter refining it in biological, social and cultural terms. It’s important to remember the darker side of Australia’s past as both homage to the victims as well as reflection on Australia’s progress as a nation. Thanks for your comment

  3. lukebanks1 says:

    This post was a horrific read but I mean this in no disrespect to your post. I was truly amazed that white men were free to rape black women, what a horrible period to live in. I was impressed how you have managed to keep such an interesting read with the word limit we were given I personally struggled to cut 3200 words away, but reading your post made me wish I could read your original paper, so well done. The beginning of your paper really engaged your readers which was very useful in a blog site like this one, again a really good read.

    Luke Banks

    • amandalee3 says:

      There was a lot of horrific material to sift through, did you look at the withoutsanctuary website i included? That was the less affronting material. I think in all the material I found in Australia, only one white man was charged for raping an aboriginal girl and that was because she was either 8 or 13, I forget which. All the rape cases in America weren’t very consistent across the states, but there were some black women who were able to prosecute their white rapists but it was usually a really mild sentence, or they were charged with something other than rape. My original paper was actually all over the place because I included too much information and not enough argument lol but thanks for your comment.

  4. kastley41469526 says:

    Your blog reveals a dark stage of history where injustice was part of everyday life for Indigenous peoples. The policies and government action you addressed highlighted for me that fact that this sector of history reflects a ‘grand’ history in that the powerful and elite dictated history and life during the context and shows a highly blood thirsty society which accepted murder as a method for progress. From your blog I realized the importance of recognizing legally that all races are human beings and no culture is superior to another. I loved your opening sentence ‘step back to 1892’ as it meant that you included the reader in your blog making it informative and enjoyable.

    • amandalee3 says:

      The contributing factors to the idea of perfect white society are difficult to outline, especially in this tiny word limit, I’ve only included the main and most ‘popular’ aspects of my paper here. Funnily enough my original paper didn’t focus on human rights and the legal recognition of all races of people as human beings. In hindsight i wished I’d changed my focus. Thanks for your comment

  5. I did sometihng similar for my major essay last semester in American History on What does it mean to be American? Being or acting white was a major theme in my essay. Interesting focus on how the white people (more specifically white men) were trying to ensure and their own benefits by justifying it as the black man’s fault and lack of intelligence and decency. I personally feel alot of these attitudes arise out of fear and insecurity. I was particularly interested in this post because i can see particular attitudes towards other cultures and races today in our questions of Immigration and multi-culturalism. Your article is well written, the opening para graphs create a good imagery and starting point and i was dran and and could predict where the blog was going, well done, the arguments were clear and i was curious to know more.

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