Here are the final chilling words of Bartolomé de las Casas, who was there in the 15th and 16th centuries at the dawn of European colonization:
I think that God shall have to pour out his fury and anger on Spain for these damnable, rotten, infamous deeds done so unjustly, so tyrannically, so barbarously to those people, against those people. For the whole of Spain has shared in the blood-soaked riches, some a little, some a lot, but all shared in goods that were ill-gotten, wickedly taken with violence and genocide- and all must pay unless Spain does a mighty penance.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
- Revelation 6:9
It is not so far-fetched a statement to make that racism is a religion. Indeed, when we examine the historical record, we find that racism was deeply rooted in religious ideology and religious ideology was used to maintain systemic racism.
The Moorish Conquest of the Iberian Peninsula (Southern Europe)
I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider had a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages, and six pounds of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!"
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature sat, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and wild beasts of the earth.
- Revelation 6:1-8
European Christians made servants of other European Christians before they enslaved people from other lands. University of London professor Dr. Kate Lowe explains in a publication of the Walters Art Museum:
With the exception of Spain, in the mid-fifteenth century before the commencement of the slave trade from West Africa, only a small percentage of slaves in Europe were African; the vast majority were from the eastern Mediterranean, Russia, or Central Asia. During the Renaissance, slavery was not just a black phenomenon—slaves in Europe were both “white” and “black.” Europe had a long history of white slavery. There was mass white slavery in Europe before there was black slavery, and white slavery continued after the influx of black slaves from sub-Saharan Africa in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries...
The earliest evidence of white slaves in Medieval Times can be found in the resolutions of church councils held in Koblenz, Germany (922), in London, England (1102), and in Armagh, Ireland (1171) condemning this practice.
These sentiments would not apply to the "Saracens" across Europe.
Landing of Columbus by John Vanderlyn, 1846 This painting hangs in the rotunda at the U.S. capitol since its installment in 1847. (Source: Architect of the Capitol)
For years, people journeyed to museums to catch a glimpse of what the rest of the world looked like. These places were often a window to what "primitive" cultures had to "offer" for the appetite of an "adventurous" populous. As foreign expeditions were led by selected conquerors (who we now so conveniently refer to as "explorers"), they brought items collected through trade or plunder upon their return.