Is overt racism really a “political” topic?

I’m specifically writing this in response to Doctor Who S11E02, which premiered yesterday. They must be doing something right, because everyone I know watching the show is talking about it this morning, quite positively.

Depending on how much you care, this post may or may not contain spoilers, so proceed at your own risk. It’s also written from a rather american perspective, so your mileage may vary.

I’ll admit, this week’s episode has some unusual properties. The one everyone is talking about is how it’s “political” which is odd for the show. I’ll admit that the show doesn’t typically deal with contemporary issues this directly. This sort of material is usually buried under layers like “these aliens are racist against those aliens” or “this ‘pure human’ piece of leather is racist again the genetically impure humans.”

This episode, featuring the likeness of Rosa Parks and MLK charge directly into a much more contemporary human problem. The white on black racism of 20th century US. They give a slight nod to other races as well, but it was really only a couple of times.

The thing is though, is this really a “political” message? It’s a pretty safe bet, as messages go. The type of overt racism seen in the episode is horrifying by today’s standards. The general public would treat you like a dangerous lunatic if you did this stuff in the open, and that’s living in the South. Yeah, it exists, it’s still there, and sometimes closer to the surface than I’d like, but the real strong “your kind don’t belong here” sort of stuff stays in the woods for the most part.

Part of the immigration issue, I think, is that it’s become a safe way for people to express this sort of opinion. People don’t want to hear you talk bad about ol’ Joe, they know him and he never did anything wrong and he’s black. ‘Those allegedly black gangsters over there or those “illegal” mexicans though, obviously dangerous people.’ I’m having a hard time expressing my opinion of that statement in a polite manner.

Familiarity seems to be a large part of it, and it’s not just racism but any sort of stereotyping or prejudice. It seems to be a natural function of the human brain to divide people into “us” and “them.” We then proceed to dehumanize “them” so we don’t have to feel bad about the things we do or allow to be done.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t consider this to have been an overly political episode. This is a super safe topic that even in the theoretical heart of US racism is a really safe statement. The truth is, this sentiment hides out nationwide. It’s easier to hold on to in the rural areas that don’t have as much diversity. The town I grew up in had, and has, very little of it. We had a potential state representative going around several months ago with a “deportation bus” saying he was going to round up illegal immigrants and take them back to the border himself. I realize that political campaigns are all PR and popularity anyway, but how low can we go?

Okay, I’m just ranting at this point, y’all have a good day, evening, whatever. Stay safe, watch out for those racists from the 76th century and whatnot.

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