Racism has become one of the most used words in our modern vernacular. The world has been divided into two: Either you are a racist, or you are the person who calls other people racist. Unfortunately, as often as the term is used, most people are completely unaware of its true meaning, and I think the truth would surprise them.The science of racism emerged hand in hand with the rise of nationalism. It was a form of antisemitism. You read that correctly, racism began as a form of antisemitism. It began because ardent nationalists needed to justify their jingoism. Jingoism is extreme patriotism, tinged with an aggressive foreign policy. And in the 1800s, nationalism was raging. Today we would say that nationalism was on steroids. There was a need to define, really to differentiate between, insiders and outsiders. Insiders were part of the volk (pronounced “folk”). The volk were people linked by land, by blood and by culture. If you were an insider, part of the volk, you were superior to others. You were great, and you were greater than others because you shared that common land, blood and culture.If you were not part of the volk, you were inferior.It was that, simple and straightforward.The most used proof for the accuracy of the volk versus non-volk theory was the pseudo-science called eugenics. Eugenics used measurement and body shapes and features – like eye color, forehead shape, nose shape, etc. – to evaluate the superiority of one race over others.While many people associate eugenics with Nazi Germany, it existed long before Hitler came to power. The term was coined in 1883 by Francis Galton, who wanted to improve humanity by having only the healthiest people have children. In fact, eugenics was promoted in major American universities both before Hitler’s rise to power and even after.People relied on this bunk as evidence to prove that they were better.It was in this context that antisemitism emerged as the most identifiable tool of the racist. Wilhelm Marr coined the term antisemite in 1879 in order to describe a positive belief that it was good to be a racist and an antisemite. WHY? BECAUSE antisemites/racists/nationalists were protecting Germany from the invasion of the outsider. And who was the outsider? The Jew, who actually lived in Germany for centuries and spoke German but did not have German blood.Other than the Jew, there were no other outsiders in Europe. This racism emerged, to the dismay of certain Europeans, after a prolonged period of emancipation during which Jews in Europe received rights of equal citizenship.At the same time that Marr in Germany was coining the phrase antisemitism, Edouard Dumont was echoing the same doctrine in France. Both men and their followers, believed that if allowed, Jews would take over their national culture. It would no longer be German or French culture, it would be German-Jewish or French-Jewish culture.Racist and nationalist and antisemite were synonymous terms. They were interchangeable. To be one was to wear a badge of pride. To be called one was to be paid a compliment.The racists used these terms and the pseudo-science behind the terms to elevate their ideas. They did not want to be considered Jew-haters; those were people who focused on theological hatred of the Jew. They were not at all interested in the Church’s view of the Jew, which was about Deicide, the belief that the Jew murdered their god. Their hatred of the Jew was nationalist ideology, not religious.Adolf Hitler’s call to unite the Germans as a master race was based on these earlier ideas.He was creating an “Aryan race” not just to promote German superiority, but to rid Germany and then the world of the subhuman race of Jews. Racists believed that Jews would contaminate their pure Aryan blood and race. When Hitler first started his political campaign for office in the 1920’s, the rate of Jewish intermarriage with non-Jewish Germans was over 50%. In the United States at that same time, intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews was virtually unheard of.Over the past few months, we have seen a rise of Jew-hatred and attacks against Jews and against Jewish institutions. It is simply called antisemitism. Today, however, the word racism seems to be exclusively reserved for anti-black behavior.The writer is a political commentator who hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.