Is "The Lord of the Rings" racist?

Discussion in 'Debates' started by Anduril, Dec 25, 2003.

  1. curunir's bane

    curunir's bane Kwisatch Haderach

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    I always saw the saruman/uruk hai thing as kind of being the characteristics of hitler's reign. Although I know that tolkien denies any of these allegories but if you were to compare them to anything i would say to compare them to hitler. You have saruman who is the hitler figure that is an excellent speaker that can sway people with his words. The white hand of saruman would symbolize the swastika (yeah i spelled that wrong i think) and the thing about breading a certain race of orcs was like hitler being obsessed with blond hair blue eyed people and he tried to make a race out of them. But anyway I am sure that tolkien never intended that but it is just something i have often thought about.
     
  2. Bard

    Bard Erchamion

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    honestly,
    (no offense) when last i looked, tolkien was a white guy just trying to base some good old fashioned fantasy literature on his lifestyle(pipes, languages, tea...not to mention england) i dont see where someone could insinuate that being racist....
     
  3. jeremiah.l.burns

    jeremiah.l.burns Callo

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    So the question remains...does anyone here actually agree with the stupid arse who wrote the articles in the first place?
     
  4. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    No.......case closed.
     
  5. Bard

    Bard Erchamion

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    no possible way...
     
  6. Elan Morin Tedronai

    Elan Morin Tedronai The Forsaken

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    I (obviously) don't agree with the whole racism thing, its a story, and yes it has white people, who cares. People are people. Oh, and Boromir, don't you think thats a bit harsh, this is the "Debate" section of the Lord Of The Rings forum, thats what we do here. Debate.
     
  7. Skyanide

    Skyanide The Big Meanie Staff Member

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    Without going through every post, this is my view.

    If you were to study Tolkien's life, you would learn that he was in the military in WWI, which left a profound impression on him, as it would anyone. So as far as the Orcs, Sauruman, etc. representing WWI Germans or the Nazis, it may be very well possible -- but on an idiological level, not on a racial level. Of course, with Hitler's ideas of the "master race", fair skinned, blonde and blue-eyed hardly fits the Orc description.

    If you were going to write a story with a villian, wouldn't you write a story based on an enemy you are somewhat familiar with?

    If anything, the story is anti-racist. It shows that peoples of different races can combine forces to overcome.

    And just a side-note: regarding stereotypes -- The notion that there are no non-whites in England is ludicrous, even for back in Tolkien's day. At the time of Tolkien's writings, the British Commonwealth included African nations, India, etc. There were plenty of non-whites in Britain, as well as (obviously) the Colonies. I have a close friend who is English but of Indian descent, to look at him you wouldn't guess him as British, and his family has been in the UK for generations. But there's no mistaking when he opens his mouth -- and although he does have inherited land in India, he still considers himself "from England". And, I have to say, he's as much an "English wanker" as any other Brit I know, including my own relatives. ;):D
     
  8. jeremiah.l.burns

    jeremiah.l.burns Callo

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    Very true, Sky. I've someone very close to me in England who was explaining this very thing to me...that there is actaully a rather large percentage of Indian descended peoples in the UK.

    Indeed even I, at my new job, was prevy to this. I met a very nice gentleman by the name of Scott. As I was being introduced to him, it was obvious that he was descended from a culture somewhere in the Middle East. In Michigan, I don't meat a great deal of people from these cultures that don't happen to speak with their native accents and dialects. However, whin this gentleman spoke to me, it was with the most British accent you could ever imagine to hear.

    Yes, there is a large diversity in Great Britain and all the U.K. I'm learning. But I think that the point that was made was that 'natively'...not necessarily during Tolkien's time of writing...but natively...there weren't the black or olive skinned peoples.

    I can't say if this is true or not, as I'm not as steeped in UK culture as I wish I were, but it may make a difference in the way you've viewed the posts. Just a thought. :)
     
  9. Skyanide

    Skyanide The Big Meanie Staff Member

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    IIRC, the UK was conquered twice by the Roman Empire, the last being somewhere around 50 A.D. One might say that apart from Northern Italians, the average Italy-born Roman soldier would be olive-skinned.

    As a matter of fact, in Britain, it is a custom for it to be good luck if the first person to walk through your door on New Years Day was a dark-haired person. If you were dark-skinned, even better. (According to my Scottish father)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2004
  10. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    As a person antive to the UK i would like to confirm whats been said. britain is hugely full of many different ethnicities, and always has been. Since the last romans left over a thousand years ago, half the peoples of europe came to the shores of britain to start a new, most common were the Agles (from the germany/denmark region), and the saxons (similar area). and thus the anglo saxoon race was developed, the mixture of europe. and since then britain has always been accepting of other cultures.

    The main boom however happened in rrecent centuries, and was a result for the british empire. As the empire grew all the provinces and colonies of people merges within the empire, trade and people passed frequenty between all. A lot on indian people came over and others from here went back. The empire may have changed but the fellowship between the old empire has never died. A good example is america, it was part of the british empire but then the american revolution happened and cut it off, but to this day britain and america have been allies since.

    Thus the spirit of intercultural exchange and freedom of travel (my grandparent went all over the world, my granny was born and raised in china and has been almost everywhere. My mother was born in nigeria and has traveled europe) in britain has lead to many different cultures here, people of indian or pakistani descent number higher than others but are no less british than me or any other anglo saxon. britain was founded on fellowship of cultures and that has never changed.

    Thus any accusation of rascism towards the works of tolkien are unfounded and frankly ignorant.
     
  11. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Yes... case closed :D

    I do think it Middle Earth has ethnical differences as to superiority. It all has to do with the ancient past, and houses people come from. Think about the Drudain or the Gahn-buri-Gahn (sp?) they are retarded, disfigured and underdeveloped in comparison to the Gondorean people. They, however are less evolved than the Numenorean, as those people helped in the final war agains Morgoth and in the battle of the unnumbered tears. But there is a functional reason as to why they are superior to all the other human houses.

    To take the equation one step further and compare ME to the Mediterranean, as has been done in the past... Indeed the easterlings and Haradrim (with their Elephaunts) would correspond to people from the Arabic and African world. But these links are very weak. I think JRRT only used this region as a template and filled it in to his vision. It is his freedom to do with it, whatever he wants. After all, it is his world.

    What I like about that world, however is the fact that there is a good reason to discriminate, opposed to the world we live in, where all racism is cultural bias. Besides, it makes more than common sense that Tolkien included some superior and inferior races in his story. It makes it that more epic, to my opinion.
     
  12. asap

    asap New Member

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    Oh, the sacrilege, calling a book by The Professor racist only because it tells us that those who carry High Blood in their veins are superior to all others :p


    Uhh... care to elaborate? ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2004
  13. GALADRIAL

    GALADRIAL New Member

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  14. GALADRIAL

    GALADRIAL New Member

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    just Kidding
     
  15. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    But most certainly:

    as all Tolkien fans know, all things done by a race are carefully tracked by the Valar. Do good and be rewarded. For instance, as I already told, the Numenoreans were rewarded for the fact that they stayed true to the Valar and fought against Morgoth (the most evil character, Sauron's Master) untill the bitter end, at great loss. Most humans were dicribed as having switched sides somewhere along the road. Now, the Numenoreans were rewarded with their own Island in sight of the Undying lands in the West, a bigger body and a longer lifespan. Now it is possible to say that at that point the Numenoreans were better in (almost) all ways then the rest of the Humans on Arda. This is discriminiation, and perfectly reasonable.

    Unlike, of course in the real world, where we are for about 99.8%, with no apparent big differences between races. Yes, it could be argued that often negroid Humans make better athletes, due to minor differences in anatomy (depending on tribe), but if it comes to intellegence, for instance... No difference, whatever they tell you. In fact, genetically humans are the most homgenous species on the planet.

    Now, if your question was really about my preference towards the ability to discriminate between races, it is merely from a literal point of view. Especially in Fantasy, I like the idea that some humans are inheritably better then others. It makes some stories so much more epic.
     
  16. asap

    asap New Member

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    Ahh, now I see :). My question was about why you felt that the discrimination between races on ME was justified. Your explanation sounds quite rational. Thank you for the thorough reply.

    Whether or not it is morally right to pay attention to racial background in case of each individual is a whole nother topic open to debating of course, but not most likely in ths thread.
     
  17. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    But do not forget the last days of numenor, when sauron was their captive and he perverted their views of the valar, making them launch an armada against the undying lands.

    they aint so superior no more.


    and the 99.8% is wrong, we share more than 99.999999% or someother ungodly number of 9's with every other human. we share around 99.9% of genes with chimps. And i think most lifeforms on this planet share above 90% of them too. thats genetics for you.
     
  18. curunir's bane

    curunir's bane Kwisatch Haderach

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    I get the impression that people thought that in my last post I was saying that Tolkien was racist. That's just the impression that I get. But no I don't think he was racist at all I just think that maybe he threw that stuff in there in a kind of way that was representing what hitler did (not that I am saying the whole theme of the story is about world war two). Anyway I don't really think that that is what he intended but I was just pointing it out.


    Of course, with Hitler's ideas of the "master race", fair skinned, blonde and blue-eyed hardly fits the Orc description.

    It's not so much of how they are the same that I made the comparison. It is the fact that both Saruman and Hitler tried to make "master races" by breeding certain people/orcs. So I just think it was kind of a "nod", i guess you could say, to what hitler had done. And I think that is the most relevant symbol between the two. But I still think that Tolkien didn't intend any of this.

    And once again I still don't see how the stoies are racist.
     
  19. Crusader

    Crusader Disturber of the Peace

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    To be honest, the uruk-hai/arian thing is valid but in my opinion, the uruk-hai are more of a representation of a purified evil than a master race. A culmination of the enemy into one badass mo fo, not one bad guys idea of the perfect species, more his idea of a perfect soldier.
     
  20. Patkun

    Patkun Patkun, lover of bread

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    So, I wonder, how would our friend the article-writer make a non-(as he sees it)racist Lord of the Rings, for this enlightened age?
    Some of the main characters would have to change race, of course. Then you'd have to change the climate considerably. The sun beating down on arid Hobbiton? Possibly not.
    Any use of the word 'dark' as a negative is out, and must be replaced with 'racist'-''The racist lord in the racist land of Mordor.''
    The haradrim and Easterlings would all have to be white. With no Mumakil.
    The main locations would all have to be somewhere that wasn't the West. Of anywhere. "Men of the places other than the West! Unite before this racist horde!

    This is harder than I thoght it would be. Can anyone help me out?
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2005