Racism in Hannah Arendt – Does discrimination serve pluralism?

Racism and anti-Semitism are related to each other; Some consider them to be two sides of an unpredictable coin. Distinguishing between them is not easy, even for philosophers.

Hannah Arendt lived in the USA after fleeing Hitler’s Germany and considered it indispensable to solve the “racial question” in her new home: the survival of the Republic depended on him.

However some of their statements about the struggles of the civil rights movement were met with the harshest criticism, especially “Reflections on Little Rock”. In 1954, the US Supreme Court overturned the racial segregation in public schools that was enshrined in law in many states, particularly in the South.

angry crowd

Three years after the ruling, black students wanted to exercise their right to attend a school in Little Rock, the Arkansas capital, which until then had been attended only by whites. Nine of them went down in history. They were abused and threatened by white students and their parents.

The state governor also spoke out against desegregation. The President of the United States sent federal forces to Little Rock to enable black students to attend school. Soldiers remained stationed throughout the school year and the mob did not rest.

Pictures of protests spread around the world. Not only did Arendt participate in the discussions with “Reflections on Little Rock”, which was published in 1959 in Discent magazine – she also ignited the debate.

pluralism through discrimination

Arendt considers the private schools her children attend, whether they are separate or open to all Parental decision. Therefore, it is explicitly stated in Reflections, “Law-enforced inclusion (…) is no better than legally-enforced apartheid”.

What prompted the philosopher to adopt this sentence that was soon, like some others, controversial? And what did she respond, a little later, to Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man, who had so vehemently contradicted her?

Subscribe to our weekend newsletter!

The most important cultural discussions and recommendations of the week, right in your email every Friday.

Thank you for registering!

We have sent you an email with a confirmation link.

If you do not see a confirmation email of your registration in your inbox, please check your spam folder.

welcome back!

You are already registered to this newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.