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Ethnic A Racial Politics Essay Research Paper

Ethnic A Racial Politics Essay, Research Paper With democracy comes the idea of multi-ethnic societieswith freedoms such as civil liberties, expression, speechand equality. This does mean though, that thesemulti-ethnic societies are a utopia, existing withoutconflicts and war. Ethnic differences are a major factorfor tensions among people of a common land.

Ethnic A Racial Politics Essay, Research Paper

With democracy comes the idea of multi-ethnic societieswith freedoms such as civil liberties, expression, speechand equality. This does mean though, that thesemulti-ethnic societies are a utopia, existing withoutconflicts and war. Ethnic differences are a major factorfor tensions among people of a common land. Kosovo is arecent reminder to this very point. Kinship to the land isnot as strong as ethnic differences, even in a democracy. Looking at two points of view from authors Cynthia Enloe,and Donald Horowitz, one will learn to realize thatdemocracy is not always what one expects. While not directly discussing the relationship betweendemocracy and ethnic conflicts or war, Cynthia Enloe goesinto detail about ethnic differences leading to conflict. She also goes on to discuss the inferiority of ethnic groupsleading to military servitude in order to advance theirsocial or class status. One thing that she points out isthat groups have also been stereotyped into being prone tosoldiering . These people have been labeled as Martialraces. An interesting point that she makes about Martialraces is that they have traditionally been set on theregional peripheries of a state. This makes it seem as though the only reason for their being allowed toremain part of the state is to protect it from outside invaders. With this kind of covered seclusion breedscontempt, both from the main stream people of the stateas well as the martial races forced outside theframework of society for their differences. Thesepeople are looked upon as expendable, not needed forhigher levels of society. The united States,supposedly the greatest democracy in the world, has hada long history of using expendable peoples for theirprotection. The African Americans during W.W.II, wereused in great numbers to fight the Nazi threat ofGermany, but when it came time to come home, they weresent back to their segregated communities, not honoredfor their great courage in battle. What was seriouslytroubling for African Americans is that they servedtheir country in the hopes to advance their socialstanding. This of course did not happen. It took abattle of sorts called the Civil Rights Movement inorder for blacks to gain the same rights as whites. This example only strengthens the point that Enloemakes that democracy leads to ethnic conflicts, in thatwhen people are given some freedom it is inevitablethat they want more, and when one group gets more thenanother turmoil is likely to follow. Harowits moves away from the soldiering aspect ofethnic conflicts to a more symbolic conflict. He talksabout the tensions that arise from different ethnic classes on the bases of symbols, such as names of

towns, anthems, color of flags and the identity ofstate officials. He gives some examples of places thathave had major conflicts over these types of issues. One such example involves the election of the principleof the University of Nairobi. The position was eithergoing to go to a Kikuyu or to a Luo. The ethnicity ofthe principle seemed, at least to the people ofNairobi, to signal the superiority of one group overthe other. Horowits calls this Symbolic Politics andEthnic Status. What is meant by this is summed upbest by a man studying the temperance movement in theUnited States, Joseph R. Gusfield. He states that Theorigins of such a movement is found in the propensityof groups to derive prestige and self-respect from theharmony between their norms and those which achievedominance in the society. It is a constant tug of warbetween ethnic classes to gain an equal share of rightsand privileges. The problem is that one group alwayswants more then the other to feel superior. Horowits goes on to discuss the importance ofsymbolism in a society. He states that it is effectivein ethnic conflict, because it clothes ethnic claims inideas and associations that have acknowledged moralforce beyond the particular conflict, thereby maskingsomething that would otherwise be controversial. Hisclaim is that symbolism is a necessity in that itallows for other groups to shield their views and goalsof superiority. Even though these two authors do not explicitlytalk about democracy and ethnic conflict, the signs areall there. People are used as puppets in all societiesand democracies are no exception to this. People aremore likely to take advantage of others for their owngains when one is given some leeway to begin with. Thefreedoms associated with a democracy are many timestaken as inherent rights that can not be taken awayfrom what is associated as the superior group. Inorder for the supposed superior group to hold on tothese inherent rights , the lower ethnos of the stateare manipulated in order to maintain a sense of socialdominance. Enloe used the martial state as an example,where lower peoples are used only for the protection of the upper class, because those people are given a senseof false hope in that they will rise in social status. Horowitz uses the idea that symbolic politics andethnic status are linked by a kind of manipulativemorality. Ideas of equality are masks for a group tohide their true intentions of domination. When ademocracy is formed, people flood in, all trying togain a piece of that democracy. Even though theintentions may be to split the democracy equally amongall, it rarely happens. One can look at a democracy asthe breeding ground for contempt all stemming from thefight for equal say and rights. Soldiering &Symbolism Nick NonnemacherEthnic and Racial Politics3/30/99

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