A Battle Between Orwell and Kipling…
In 2019

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This Spanish-American also wrote, “To covet truth is a very distinguished passion.” This is precisely where we are today. We need to remember lessons that we learned from the past and the pursuing of needed changes is invaluable. Before I broach the pursuit of truth, let’s start at learning from the past.

In 1922, Eric Arthur Blair, better known to us as George Orwell, joined the Indian Imperial Police Force in Burma. At that time, Burma was a British colony. Orwell lived there for five years until he went back to England. It was there that he made a name for himself as a writer. Interestingly, Burma or what is now called Myanmar, had a profound effect upon him as it has with me.

In Burmese Days, he railed against the British attitude toward the people in Burma. He wrote that the British viewed the locals as less than the Brits. Orwell wrote that the British colonial power viewed the Burmese as “after all, natives were natives—interesting, no doubt, but finally...an inferior people.” Essentially, Orwell dealt with racism toward anyone that wasn’t British, in this case the Burmese. Orwell was left of center politically. For him, the British were “jingo imperialist” or what we would call racist or, more to the point, white supremacists.

Burmese Days

On the far right of the political spectrum was Rudyard Kipling. He was the polar opposite of Orwell. Kipling was a self-righteous racist. It can be seen in his poem, Mandalay. That poem was also sexist and flaunted British superiority. However, Kipling also wrote another racist poem, The White Man's Burden. This is the first of seven stanzas.

Take up the White Man's burden-
Send forth the best ye breed-
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild-
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

Kipling’s racism influenced advertisements like Pears’ Soap a century ago.

Presumptuousness of Pears' Soap

However, Pears Soap company was racist before Kipling.

While Orwell occupied the area left of center, Rudyard Kipling was way to the right politically. Orwell said that Kipling was the “prophet of British imperialism,” which was a nice way of saying that Kipling was a racist. Interestingly, both Orwell and Kipling spent time in Moulmein, which is now called Mawlamyine. I also spent time at Moulmein. It is located in the southern part of Burma, which was called Lower Burma. Moulmein was where Kipling was thought to have written Mandalay in 1890 long before Orwell arrived.

So, you now have the historical pro and con debate about racism. As I look out upon the world, I don’t see that we have moved much at all in nearly a century since the time that Orwell was in Burma. Trump has issues with people of color, especially females that challenge him like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). However, let us look at Trump’s history prior to his election as president.

The following is a summary of Donald Trump’s long history of racism, from the 1970s to 2011 from Vox.

  • 1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to black tenants and lied to black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to discriminating before.
  • 1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”
  • 1988: In a commencement speech at Lehigh University, Trump spent much of his speech accusing countries like Japan of “stripping the United States of economic dignity.” This matches much of his current rhetoric on China.
  • 1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.
  • 1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump at first denied the remarks, but later said in interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
  • 1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.
  • 1993: In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”
  • 2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”
  • 2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’”
  • 2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”
  • 2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, “Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.”
  • 2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first black president — was not born in the US. He even sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a ”carnival barker.” (The research has found a strong correlation between “birtherism,” as this conspiracy theory is called, and racism.) Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.
  • 2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”
  • https://www.vox.com/2016/7/25/12270880/donald-trump-racist-racism-history

Remember what George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Apparently, we haven’t learned from the past; Trump was elected. The following is the video of Trump explaining white supremacist and one of them running over and killing someone who was protesting them. Trump stated, “You also had some very fine people on both sides.”

Pew’s Social Trends in 2019s

So, it is obvious to anyone that we have a century after Orwell being in Burma and seeing racism there that we haven’t progressed much at all on treating each other as equals. However, Santayana also wrote, “To covet truth is a very distinguished passion.” I get that Trump is the village idiot on all issues related to treating each other equally regardless of race or sex. My question is why people in his party don’t speak out against Trump. There aren’t many in elected offices today in the Republican Party that are challenging him. That is more troubling.