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The Lesson of Versailles: Why is Racist Confusion a Climate Justice Problem?

The European Union makes over 125 million Euros a year just from Visa denials! The majority of those denials are from Sub-Saharan African countries!

A century ago, a new world order began. The Treaty of Versailles concluded the war to end all wars. Constructed through diplomacy, a fragile peace replaced global bloodshed. The treaty's proclamations are now iconic: that nations should have the right to self-determine, that a war's victors should negotiate how to move forward, that the defeated powers should be held responsible for the damage. Yet the treaty, negotiated by the key players in World War I — notably France, Great Britain, Italy and the United States — was deeply flawed and could not fend off the rise of fascism, the Nazi party and, eventually, World War II all because Europeans seemingly can afford to compromise on everything except give up racism!

Versailles' mixed legacy is even further complicated by a little-known attempt by Japan, one of the emerging players at the table, to move the world forward on the issue of racial equality. Japan asked for, and nearly got approved, a clause in the treaty that would have affirmed the equality of all nations, regardless of race. The primary opposition to the racial equality clause came from Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who saw it as a threat to Australia's White Australia Policy. The U.S. and Britain abstained.

During the early 1920s, the Germans dealt with the reparations demanded within the Treaty of Versailles by printing money, which ultimately brought on hyperinflation, wiping out the savings of the German middle class. Contemporaneously, in 1922, Japan’s 20-year-old alliance with Britain was scrapped at the Washington Naval Conference. The British consented to American demands for its non-renewal under pressure from Commonwealth nations and in order to establish closer ties with the then overtly racist United States. The impact of negation was a racial realignment that was interpreted as such by the Japanese. It furthered their sense of isolation and greatly wounded Japan’s pride.

Wilson's capstone point calling for a world organization that would provide some system of collective security was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles. This organization would later be known as the League of Nations.Haiti, Liberia, and Ethiopia were the only independent black states at the League of Nations. Their inclusion was a point of international pride among black groups, but their existence was precarious. Each state faced a crisis in the interwar years that undermined their sovereignty and discredited the League.

The League of Nations was the first worldwide intergovernmental organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace by establishing a bond of solidarity between Member States, the League is considered the first attempt to build a system of collective security. This principle relied on a simple idea: an aggressor against any Member State should be considered an aggressor against all the other Member States.

Haiti, Liberia, and Ethiopia were the only independent black states at the League of Nations. Their inclusion was a point of international pride among black groups, but their existence was precarious. Each state faced a crisis in the interwar years that undermined their sovereignty and discredited the League. Costa Rica left the League in 1922 because of fears of Guatemala. Historically since the late 1800's Costa Rica, (whose population was among the smallest of the

five member nations of the confederation ) Had a fear of the smaller states that they would be dominated by the overwhelming indigenous populace of Guatemala. At that time 85% of the population was indigenous. Currently 60% of the population is Indigenous including 41.66% Mayan, 3% Xinca, and 14% Garifuna (Mixed African and indigenous).

In a December 19, 1944 opinion poll, it was found that 13% of the U.S. public were in favor of the extermination of all Japanese, as well as 50% of American GI's. Dower suggests the racial hatred of the front-lines in the war rubbed off onto the American public, through media representation of Japanese and propaganda in much the same way it is used against other racial groups today such as ethnic Arabs, Mexicans, Pakistani's, Chinese, and Palestinians.

Race also had a role. To a greater degree than the second world war in Europe, the Pacific war was characterized by racial stereotyping and demonization of the enemy. The war exposed racial pride, prejudices, and anger. Propaganda on both sides reflected a strong strain of racial hatred

as well as fervent patriotism, fear of the enemy, and the desire for revenge. Deeply rooted views of Asians as inferior framed the enemy threat in racial terms in the United States and other Western countries. Even before the war began.

The problem white supremacists are having is that with their demographic decline and the need to add members from some of these ethnic and cultural backgrounds to bolster their numbers convolutes who is able to annex and access the construct of whiteness. Which Asians are the acceptable ones? Which black people can we hire? Which brown people can we trust to drive our kids? Which Jews can come to play golf at the club? So a sense of paranoia arises as one finds it difficult within the system of white supremacy to remember who the enemy is, that is, if you accept former non whites into the fold.? As Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote and Nigerian Author Chinua Achebe paraphrased "the center cannot hold..." It means chaos is descending upon the world; the forces that should bring order are failing to do so.

America's adherence to racism is its greatest weakness and its proponents. its scared, terrified, immature and weakest (although simultaneously paranoid and murderous) link! Modern Japan after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was deeply affected by xenophobia and like the West which culture it has embraced finds a nationalized fear and racism has one of Japan's gravest social problems. Racist groups have attacked an overstaying Filipino family, a Thai pupil and hundreds of "Others" and add to that an immigration control system which labels all ethnic minorities, including those born in Japan during and following imperial conquest, as ‘foreign’.

"Since 2009, ultra-right groups, especially the Zaitokukai, have spread popular racism on the internet and attacked people on the streets. In 2013, they began demonstrations in major cities. Activists, politicians and academics, who are worried about the growing racism, have launched counter movements and demanded that new legislation regarding hate speech should be passed. However, because of the way the problem is generally being framed in relation to the rights and status of foreigners in Japan, the authorities underestimate the seriousness of the situation and its historical genesis." (Sara Park, January 12,2017)

“Climate justice seeks historical accountability from nations and entities responsible for climate change and calls for a radical transformation of the contemporary systems that shape the relationship between humans and the rest of the planet. The status quo is that global and national systems distribute the suffering associated with the global ecological crisis on a racially discriminatory basis,” said Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in her report to the General Assembly.

Data collected through public records requests show that in 2022, half of the students from African countries who applied for a student visa to the EU were denied. In 2023, the trend continued. Ethiopian students had a 78% denial rate, followed by Nigeria at 75%, Kenya at 74%, Congo at 69%, Ghana at 63%, Zimbabwe at 47%, and South Africa at 17%. Nearly a third of Africans applying for any type of visa to Europe’s Schengen area are rejected — the highest refusal rate of any region, according to a new 2024 report by migration consultancy firm Henley & Partners.

“The ongoing destruction of our planet affects everyone. But what experts also make clear is that race, ethnicity and national origin continue to result in the unjust enrichment of some, and the utter exploitation, abuse and even death of others on account of the discrimination at the core of environmental and climate injustice.” (Our nations pick and choose who they feel is expendable based on race not realizing what happens to one will happen to all in due time. The current global decline of people without melanin through cancers and low births is directly attributable to climate, UV radiation and global warming but racism and protecting the false narrative of racial superiority precludes any action towards stopping it)... Portions excerpted from General Assembly (United Nations Report October 2022)


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