Geeks are not immune to racism

Eric S. Raymond is a celebrity of sorts in the open source world. He is mostly self-aggrandizing, having to his credit a couple of books and two minor email utilities.

A side of him not many geeks are aware of is his frothing-at-the mouth diatribes such as this one. As a person of Indian ancestry, I was tickled by one of the more laughable assertions in this collection of racist and bigoted remarks, that the British somehow “civilized” India, which had highly evolved cities with refinements like sewers in a civilization that dwarfed Egypt 5000 years ago.

British colonialism had everything to do with the extraction of resources through the sheer application of violence (as in their invention of concentration/extermination camps during the Boer war, their ruthlessly efficient genocide in Tasmania, the Opium wars or the Amritsar massacre), not any Kiplingian post-facto rationalizations of a supposed civilizing mission.

I won’t dignify the rest of his viscerally anti-muslim prejudice with comment, but this raises an interesting point. Raymond is a techno-anarchist libertarian, and a neo-paganist. As such, his profile looks very similar to that of the Dutch fascist Pim Fortuyn. There was certainly too much indulgence for Fortuyn’s racist rhetoric and proposed policies simply because he was homosexual, a perfect illustration of what Bertrand Russell called the “fallacy of the moral superiority of the oppressed”.

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