Monday, October 25, 2010

Dangerous Times, part two

"What are the true stakes?"

Marco Roth, calling a spade a spade in an essay entitled "Caucasian Nation." Seriously, to hell with the uncritical and fake "moderation" of mainstream-encouraged false equivalencies...Jon Stewart saying of the Tea Baggers Partiers "of course they're not racists" and so on). False equivalencies only work for a discourse taking place already inside power, and accepting of that power (as both singular and universal). On a fake news show desperate not to seriously confront a celebrity politician, for example.

The truth is that however facilely smoothed out or assimilated or glossed over by what we mistakenly call "polite" discourse they are, these slippery prejudicial roots (of the "Tea Party" or whatever) run deep, implicate us all, and are legitimately dangerous particularly when dignified, inflamed and exploited for an ever-growing elite benefit. Where is the proud American tradition of warnings from historians? Where is the long view? Not on many blogs...The truth is that we are all racists; it's impossible not to be. Acknowledging so is only the first step–albeit a crucial one–in fighting back against it.

Marco Roth:
....To say that the Republican Party these days stands for white ethno-nationalism is not an op-ed exaggeration or Washington parlor-game witticism on par with Jonah Goldberg’s deliberately thought-annihilating oxymoron “Liberal Fascism.”


The robust case for dominating other people sounds awful to most American ears today. So the contemporary idea of ethnocracy relies instead on an opposite rhetoric of victimization. The simple-minded mantra we’re taught in grade school goes like this: blacks good because oppressed, whites bad because oppressors. So if whites suddenly became oppressed, even while remaining the majority, they would magically become good again. Many Americans are now being taught to think this way.

The manufactured controversy over lower Manhattan’s Cordoba House Islamic center offers one more example of how the contemporary right seizes on a trivial event to create a false choice between ethnic minority and majority, in which the majority emerges — an increasingly familiar surprise — as terrorized victim. There is no dispute that both American common-law traditions of liberty of conscience and the First Amendment protect the construction of the center, regardless of its popularity. It shouldn’t be a big deal. And yet: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” tweeted Sarah Palin, white goddess of the victimization movement. This opening salvo was later amended, with little more grammatical success, to “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.” The idea that 9/11 somehow taints all of Islam, so that all Muslims should be honor-bound not to practice their religion within an unspecified radius of Ground Zero for fear of hurting other people’s feelings — this is like the blood libel meets Oprah.


In a late interview by turns confessional and triumphant, Lee Atwater, author of the strategy that turned the solidly Democratic, racist South into the solidly Republican, racist South, described the Southern Strategy’s metamorphosis over the years, “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” Partly through [Lee] Atwater, Republicans developed a kind of reverse means test, an economic version of the old “one-drop rule.” Policies that were likely to help blacks, even if they were also likely to help poor whites, because they were policies largely designed to help the poor, regardless of color, became issues to campaign against: welfare, health care, federal education funding, progressive taxation, clean air regulations, funding for public transportation, just about any “progressive policy” you can think of. Some whites would be hurt, but blacks would be hurt worse.


It’s ancient history, after all — 1787, 1857, 1865, or 1968. Yet the Tea Partiers, by their name alone, have chosen to steep themselves in that history. This too is bad conscience, pomo evasiveness, an assault on national memory, and yet another ploy to claim victimhood by playing dress-up. Good ol’ Americana from our “good” revolution covers, like a creeping vine, the more relevant foundations of today’s American right. The ideology of states’ rights against federal enforcement, the metastasized right to bear arms, the fear of “big government” intervention — these were the pillars on which the Confederate and later segregationist South sought to erect a white plantation nation. The use to which these ideas were put in the American past forever taints their invocation, as it rightly should.


As of right now, there exists no serious strategy to combat this new bigotry. The Democratic leadership appears content to hope that once these radical Republican race-baiters take control of Congress after the midterm elections, the ordinary responsibilities and realities of power will force them to abandon the strategies they used to obtain power. That is, after all, what the Democrats do. The activist left, marginalized by the centrist Democratic party yet always hoping to be led by it, never imagined that they’d have to refight political racism, and so failed to try to force Republican bigots to defend their unacceptable rhetoric and even more unacceptable policies in the few neutral media venues that still exist....(read the entire article)

For my part, I submit that there is no singular example of such ancient "victim" rhetoric–a partial history only of which is traced above–more nauseating than that of multi-billionaires David and Charles Koch. For the richest resident of New York City (and the 24th richest person in the world) to cry about his suffering at the hands of "big government" in times like these, and not only that but to fund a series of related hate-and-lies-fueled astroturf organizations and activist groups to further destroy all that remains of equality in social and civil decency and economic opportunity in this country for the vast majority of its citizens is just, well, historically shameless. Which is of course largely why they are admired and so widely followed; Obama or any aspiring leaders should take note.)

One can only assume such an essay will ignite time bombs of irrelevant response, insinuative ad hominem and "reasonably" classist gestures complete with an undertow of wounded puppy-licking all over the remaining dregs of "respectable" "conservative" intellectual-veneer land.

Cry us a river. I'm sure David Koch will be able to pay for yet another self-aggrandizing advertising blitz full of quarter truths, and regardless of whether you flatter him enough, continue writing fat checks to dishonest "movements." (After all they have big plans for their own class enrichment.) Trust me, Koch Industries does not really care about your freedom.

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