Miguel Cervantes' Christocentric Racialism

Discussion in 'Anthropology' started by Pangloss, 12 March 2016.

  1. Pangloss

    Pangloss Senior Member

    (I found this on a facebook group, and thought you gents would find it of interest)

    Additional evidence against such a conclusion can be suggested in the fact that Cervantes, as Forcione observes, frequently stressed the importance of blood purity in his literary output. (2)

    In the first volume of 'Don Quixote' we are told that being of peasant stock that is pure (i.e. 'Old Christian') is infinitely superior to being of aristocratic stock that is impure (i.e. 'New Christian'). Furthermore Cervantes openly informs us that being of racially (and religiously) pure stock is of the utmost importance.

    This can additionally seen in the remarks of Sancho Panza in both the first and second volumes of 'Don Quixote' where he takes great pride in his pure 'Old Christian' ancestry, while other characters in the second volume also declare as such to the eponymous hero of the story.

    The reason Cervantes offers for this assertion is two fold.

    In the first instance we learn in the second volume of 'Don Quixote' that he actively differentiates between human racial groups – Cervantes specifically cites the difference between those of European and African origin – and that these differences have been created by God.

    This is qualified further by 'The Dialogue between Scipio and Berganza' where Cervantes gives the example of a female black servant who is cruel towards animals. While in the first volume of 'Don Quixote' Cervantes styles 'Nubians' (i.e. blacks) as inveterate cowards, which statement he was deriving from his own experiences as a soldier fighting against the armies of Islam.

    He also can be said to have recognized the idea, however primitively, of the inherited and genetic (and therefore racial) basis of human behaviour when in 'The Little Gypsy Girl': he states that gypsies were born to thieve. In other words: their criminal behaviour has a significant cause in their biological ancestry, which necessarily references the idea that behaviour is choice, but one governed by other factors in addition to free will.

    Cervantes also applies a value judgement in regards to the relative worth of those of European and African origin when in 'The Dialogue between Scipio and Berganza'; he heartily approves of the use of torture by pressing as a method of teaching blacks their place in the hierarchy of the world.

    Compare this to Cervantes' idealization of those of European origin when he styles all beautiful women as blonde European girls of 'Old Christian' families with the exception of two Moorish (i.e. Arab) beauties who have converted to Christianity and have been 'secret Christians' from their respective girlhoods.

    It is therefore reasonable to assert that Cervantes believed in the reality of racial differences and that people of European origin were manifestly superior to those of African origin. While noting that, in line with his time, Cervantes believed that true faith in Christ could be, and was, reflected in physical appearance.

    This however does not negate the clear racial beliefs expressed by Cervantes, which is why he takes such trouble to inform his audience of the importance of racial and religious purity.

    In the second instance Cervantes has a stridently negative view of the adherents to Islam: whether they are such openly or in secret.

    For example we are told in the second volume of 'Don Quixote' that the moriscos (i.e. former Muslims resident of Spain) are eternally plotting against the Christians of that country in order to facilitate its reconquest by the forces of Islam. This Cervantes openly tells us is why Philip III of Spain was quite justified in issuing a degree of expulsion against the moriscos on 9th April 1609 (six years before the second volume of 'Don Quixote' was published in 1615).

    Cervantes also uses the character of a 'good morisco' to inform us that such an individual is a rarity and that the moriscos have been 'justly banished', because they are tainted and corrupt. As well as also actively attempting to spread that taint to the Spanish national body with their lies and sedition.

    A similar attitude is also expressed by Cervantes in his 'The Licentiate Vidriera' where Muslim women are said to be providers of magical charms and poisons, which promptly send the main character insane and convince him that he is made of glass. Further confirmation of this view is offered in the first volume of 'Don Quixote' when were told that Arabs (i.e. Muslims) are inveterate liars as well as malicious enchanters and sorcerers.

    We also read in 'The Dialogue between Scipio and Berganza' that moriscos, like open Muslims, are incorrigible cheats and also obsessed with robbery. While in 'The Generous Lover' we find it stated that Muslims targets Christian girls in their piratical raids in order to convert them to Islam.

    Therefore we can see that Cervantes is demonstrably utilizing a primitive form of racialism - although within the confines of his sincere Christian faith - as a prism through which to view the world, but also that Cervantes was deeply worried about the potentially seditious morisco population in Spain. This, as we have seen, is in addition to the withering derision with which he delights in painting a portrait of the characteristics of the adherents of Islam.

    Who Cervantes links Islam to is also indicative of his political and ideological sentiments in that in the second volume of 'Don Quixote'; he declares that morisco women almost never marry or have affairs with those of 'Old Christian' stock.

    What Cervantes means by this is quite simple: morisco women do not marry or have extramarital sexual liasons with people who do not have either Muslim or jewish ancestors. After all 'Old Christian' merely means someone who didn't have this element in their ancestry, which suggests that morisco women are happy to be seduced by, or marry, jews (be they of the secret or open variety) as well as other adherents of Islam (be it openly or in secret).

    This link between Islam and the jews can be seen in 'The Generous Lover' when we are told that jews control a large portion of the trade in slaves in the Islamic world (which is incidentally true historically). (3) Cervantes also qualifies this to the effect that White Christian Spanish women are the special area of expertise for said jewish slave traders; whom they sell to lecherous Muslim buyers at exorbitant prices.

    Meanwhile the jews are also themselves said to be of the same bent and are veritably consumed with the lustful desire to rape or seduce any White Christian women in their power.

    Cervantes also makes his specific opinion of jews in general clear when in 'Rinconete and Cortadillo'; he uses the example of a jewish thief who refuses to conform to the equitable hierarchical structure of the society of (non-jewish) thieves and suffers for it. This same thief is said to be a con-artist and to don the garb of a priest to carry out his crimes, while knowing no Latin.

    In other words while he is a bit of a fool in his choice of garb; the jewish thief is, like his coreligionists, a foe of Christianity and wishes to discredit it by conning Spanish people, while dressed as a priest and therefore bring the church into disrepute.

    Thus we can see that to Cervantes: race and ancestry were key ideological and political concerns, but in addition to that the forces of Islam were also identified by him as close allies of jews. Both of whom, through the agency of their secret communities in the Iberian peninsula (who were actively engaged in international espionage against Spain at the time), (4) sought to bring down the Spanish government and the Christian church there.

    It is therefore little wonder that Cervantes has been often accused of both racism and anti-Semitism (and more recently Islamophobia)! (5)

    To summarize then: Cervantes was an inveterate opponent of both Islam and the jews and demonstrated as much by encouraging their immediate removal from the country.
    • Interesting Interesting x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    If true faith in Christ could be, and was, reflected in physical appearance then Cervantes must have thought blacks literally incapable of sincere Christianity.

    And when Cervantes equated beautiful women with blond European girls of 'Old Christian' families, he must have had the old Germanic and Alanic families in mind moreso than the Iberian/Latin average.
  3. Raisin

    Raisin Senior Member Staff Member

    20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

    21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

    22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
    • Interesting Interesting x 1
  4. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    Light as good and dark as bad seems to be a widespread duality; even though talking about hair colour European folklore favours the light sister over the dark. As far back as Amorite times, the Semites referred to the Sumerians as 'black headed' to connotate their submissive status.
    • Interesting Interesting x 1
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