Two short comments on racism beyond Australia and how to deal with it.

 Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch []
Sent to HAfrica: Friday, July 22, 2005 8:28 AM
The issues at stake in what Peter has said about Fraser make me unsure
 about the point of arguing with him directly.

I agree with Christopher Lowe (once more!). There is a moment when it is no
use to discuss with negationnists and racialists of the same kind. There is
a moment when you have to decide (and this is not necessarily easy) what is
legal and what is out of law (racism). Therefore there is a moment when the
solution is not discussion, but trial! I discover with great surprise that
there are civilized countries where it is not illegal to discuss about the
more or less equalities between "races", as if we still were in the 19th
century, while we all know, at least I hope so, that the whole idea of
"race" as a biologized category is false and wrong. We all are (more or less
and differently, but all, absolutely all) metis. At least, this
argumentation is (theoretically) impossible in France, although we have a
lot of other defaults· Diverse associations struggling against racism go to
Court when they hear of such allegations, and usually they win·
For a little story, I remember a time, at the very beginning of the French
"negationnist" current (Faurisson etc.), in the very early 80s, when I was
asked by my institute to "discuss" with a negationnist researcher at the
CNRS,Serge Thion (he was dismissed from the university since then). He was
so stupid that at last I said him, with exasperation : "the only thing you
deserve is a "fessée déculottée". Never did I see a (then young) man more
"deconcerte"! I still believe that it was the only answer he was able to

From: kenneth harrow []
Sent to HAfrica: Thursday, July 21, 2005 6:02 PM

I agree with Chris Lowe's sentiments entirely, but find them perhaps a bit
naive. The process of foreign nationals obtaining visas to come or to study
in the states is enormously costly and difficult.  For instance, a student
who has been accepted to a graduate program, assured full financial support,
including tuition and insurance, must still produce a bank account showing
roughly $20,000 to come; and even that isn't enough. African students have
to prove they will return to Africa on completing their studies. surely
everyone on this list is aware of these extraordinarily burdensome,
discriminatory, and completely senseless requirements.

As for visa costs, I can relate that a recent trip to Nigeria requiring a
multiple entry visa cost $220; a simple one-time visa to cameroon was $88;
and to go to Senegal or Morocco requires no visa. The variants are a
function of whether the country  is trying to attract tourists, is
politically expressing its desire to have comparability in the application
of standards, or is simply profiting.

I would remind the list that Abbas Kiarostami, perhaps the world's greatest
filmmaker, did not get his visa to attend the opening of his film in the
new york film festival a year or so ago.

We live in a country whose fortress mentality is best expressed in
architectural terms. A recent visit to American embassies in Cameroon and
Tunisia was surreal. In the former, the street was shut off with
barricades; in the latter, as the embassy was out of town, the barricades
merely turned the entrance into a labyrinth. Cars are stopped, even embassy
cars, and searched thoroughly.

We believe that safety has only one face, and that face is the
fortress--both physically and psychologically; a national fortress to
protect us from the dangers of the outside world.  What is created, however,
in the construction of a fortress is a world of outsiders viewed with
suspicion, and one of insiders increasingly distanced
from the Others on the outside. Much could be said on this topic; suffice
it to say that it is not new, and that the hundreds of years of
relationships between Europeans and Africans contributed its fair share to
an understanding of the world along these lines. It won't be easy to move
beyond them.

Ken Harrow

Kenneth W. Harrow
Professor of English
Michigan State University
517 353-7243
fax 353 3755