Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Well, it isn't racism. It may be xenophobic and nativist but it's not racist. I'm not going to defend his comments, but I would like us to use the English language in the same way
Racism is understood too narrowly in present-day common usage. To truly understand the word, 'racism,' you have to understand what is meant by the word, 'race.' In present-day culture, race is commonly associated with skin color, but that is just one possible physical attribute that can be used to construe the idea that humans are, can, or should be subdivided in sub-species, i.e. 'races.'
Sometimes the term, 'human race' is used to convey the idea that all humans are part of the same 'race,' but that is technically wrong because humans are a species. Individuals within a species are capable of having babies, which is why it's possible to cross-breed dogs. Dog breeds are essentially, 'races,' i.e. sub-species that are bred as isolated gene groups to achieve certain gene expressions and avoid others. In a sense, you could call dog-breeding 'racist,' because it is in the most technical sense of the term, but it wouldn't make sense in common usage to say that, i.e. because people would think you mean that breeding dogs is a way of hating people of color and favoring white people.
If you really want to understand what racism is as a more general phenomenon, Ayn Rand's explanation of it as a specific form of collectivism is most useful:
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.
Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.
By understanding collectivism first, and the way individuals use collective identities to gain and exercise power in various ways, you can then get a better grasp on why/how the idea of a biological/genetic/birthright collective can be used for power.
Basically, the power of racism is to say, "it doesn't matter what you think or do as an individual, because you will always just be a member of your race and nothing more." This is the same with birthright nationalism because the assumption is that if you're not born a citizen of a given nation, then it doesn't matter what you do, you will never be a true citizen of that nation. The meaning of 'naturalization' is lost on birthright nationalists throughout the world because, in their common sense, an individual cannot ever be anything except an expression of the nation they were born to. In short, they view nations as transgenerational collectives, not communities that can be joined through a process of 'naturalization,' whatever is understood to be meant by that term.