Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Future "Brotherhood" (1976)

Carl T. Rowan wrote a piece which appeared in the July 3, 1976 Stevens Point Daily Journal (Stevens Point, WI) titled, "Sees hatred yet a century hence."

Rowan covers issues of racism, eugenics and elitism in the century leading up to the United States tricentennial. The piece appears below in its entirety.
GALAXY SPACE STATION (July 4, 2076) - At least 120 children and a spaceship driver were laser-beamed to death yesterday when Galaxians resorted to violence to try to prevent the spaceshipping of school children here from the predominantly black Stardust Space Station a few thousand miles away.

The above may strike you as a highly unlikely news story to mark the celebration of America's tricentennial. But it sums up what I see as I honor a request from Portland, Ore., that I look into my crystal ball and peek at human relations a century from now.

The people of 2076 (if any survive) will have made scientific progress so incredible that millions will have liberated themselves from Mother Earth and her finite resources such as water, food, petroleum, coal. But they will only prove that while humans get smarter they don't grow wiser.

Those who become the new pioneers, seeking a richer life on space stations beyond our polluted atmosphere, will be burdened by hatreds, prejudices and fears as old-fashioned as those that bedeviled Americans in the days of Jefferson Davis and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Racism, chauvinism, snobbery, greed will still dominate human affairs despite incredible developments in genetic engineering - plus chemicals and new surgical techniques designed to control the intellect, and modify the behavior, personality and mood of 21st century man and woman.

The truth is that, in seeking to alter genes, chromosomes and every other basic element of human life so as to create a super race - and who is superior intellectually, morally, physically. Those deemed inferior will find their families doomed to vanish in one generation. By 2076 only the elite will be permitted to procreate, and even then under carefully monitored circumstances.

Blacks wound up predominant on the Stardust Space Station, in fact, having escaped to this outer-space refuge when rumors spread that genetic engineers had ordered the extinction of all the "inferior blacks." According to the descendants of a couple of 20th century "scholars," William Shockley and Arthur Jensen, blacks and other "minorities" were pulling down the intellectual quality of the whole human race.

Remember, now, this is the crystal ball reporting.

Believe me, if I could influence the crystal ball I'd show you a 2076 society in which people ranging in color from goat's milk to double chocolate finally find mutuality of respect and a sense of love that gives them a kind of security no cruise missiles and B-1 bombers will ever provide.

But every time I shake my crystal ball and say, "Don't be absurd! Even a species as dumb as homo sapiens will find a way to free itself from bigotry in 100 years," that crystal ball flashes backwards two or three centuries to prove otherwise. I see Christians and Moslems killing each other, as now. And Germans and Frenchmen in conflict generation after generation. And Catholics and Protestants in brutal conflict that no passage of time erases in places like Northern Ireland. The Jew-haters of a millennium ago sounding just like Spiro Agnew. Racial violence in Boston in 1976 arising from passions of bigotry no less intense than those that spawned a riot in Wilmington, N.C., 78 years earlier, or in Atlanta 70 years before.

That crystal ball keeps contradicting all sorts of things that I have written. More than 24 years ago, in my preface to "South of Freedom," I wrote; "I do not believe that man was born to hate and be hated; I cannot believe that the race problem is an inevitable concomitant of democratic life."

That crystal ball flashes into 2076 and tells me that in 1951, or is it that I [now] have an old crystal ball which is disillusioned, clouded with pessimism, unable to see man's potential for rising up next to the angels?

See also:
Future Shock - Skin Color (1972)
The Tricentennial Report: Letters from America (1977)
Lisa's Picture of 2076 (1976)
Tricentennial Report Ad (Oakland Tribune, 1976)
Animals of 2076 (1977)
21st Century Eugenics (1967)


. said...

He was wrong, though. Racism has more or less been relegated to the fringes of society.

Makes you wonder if the people who claim religion will never vanish, that "we'll always find something to kill each other over" are right, or just being unreasonably cynical like this guy was.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a ray of sunshine. Bet he was a real pick-me-up in the mornings at the breakfast table.

Arkonbey said...

Those damn Galaxians! As soon as we kicked the Galagans' asses they moved in to laser-beam our children. Think of the Children!

And Bob is pretty correct, but we still have a ways to go. I think racism is much better than it was (no more 'whites only' signs and special 'colored' drinking fountains), but not as good as it could be (quick: name three sitcoms that have whites and non-whites performing together where the minority isn't just a supporting character, but part of the ensemble).

Anonymous said...

"Racism has more or less been relegated to the fringes of society"

No it hasn't. It just has better disguises.

flymorgue2 said...

Intermarriage means that racism will have no fodder to work with. This has happened between the Irish and Italians (these were considered separate races), and even the Jews are (unfortunately) dissappearing by intermarriage. So will the blacks to put the race hustlers out of business. Concern about racism (meaning putting people in categories and discriminating against them) based on intellect remain valid.

Anonymous said...

Will all respect, I think it is a bit premature to say that racism is a thing of the past. The really ugly apartheid style stuff is gone, in America, but there is still lots of social inequality and many racist assumptions that arise from the inequality.

An speaking as a biracial person, intermarriage certainly does have a strong effect - however the rates of interracial marriage are still low, around 3% in the US the last I heard. People have been saying for decades that we will all be "one color" someday - but for the time being, that is still futuristic thinking.

My big fear is that our egalitarian society may be fragile. A little social unrest may threaten to dismantle all the hard work done by civil rights activists - forget blacks for a moment, just look at the fear and anger surrounding hispanics and muslims that has erupted in the last decade.

Anonymous said...

"the people who claim religion will never vanish, that 'we'll always find something to kill each other over'"

Those are two independent propositions. I don't think religion will ever vanish, but we've already found plenty of other things to kill each other over.

Rodger Cunningham