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.