Friday, September 8, 2017

Ta-Nehisi Coates (once again) Knocks It Out of the Park

If I had been able to, this is what I wished I could write to explain my bitterness, my sense of betrayal and wariness and living behind enemy lines that I've felt since the election.  Somewhere in an earlier post I told the story of my blurting out to a co-worker after hearing another co-worker insist that we all read J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, "I don't owe those crackers shit," and how tired -- so very tired -- I am of the assumption that the working class that the press writes about and opines about is the white working class, as if American blacks in particular are only jobless ghetto-dwellers or former presidents of the United States.  Coates dissects the edifice upon which much analysis and understanding of Trump, who he defines as "The First White President," is based.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Vacation Reply

I have been out of school since the end of June.  (And what an ending it was -- finishing the last of the coursework while sitting in airports as I flew to California to celebrate a friend's 90th birthday.)  Ordinarily being out of school is license for writing.  As in:  my workday went from 10 hours to 8, let's blog!  But I just haven't felt like it.

And, yes, like any other person who was horrified and outraged by Trump's election, there's plenty to write about.  Daily.  But I haven't.  Despite the fact that the hits just keep on comin'...

Tomorrow I fly to Amsterdam.  I have been bitching more than usual that I would rather just stay home and quilt and pull up weeds, but when you are married to a European who believes a 5 week vacation is a human right, well let's just say that refusing to leave home is not an option.  This evening will be chasing down electronics, books, clothes, meds, lotions and cremes enough to keep me for a couple of weeks.  Never been to Amsterdam.  I hear there's art.

Apropos all things political/cultural, one of the blogs I read is Rod Dreher's at The American Conservative.  I probably started reading TAC during Obama's first run, following the work of Daniel Larison who's beat is foreign affairs, and have stayed ever since.  Dreher is a big deal in the conservative world, and a joke to many liberal lefties -- both assessments have merit.  I mostly read the blog for the subject matter -- American cultural mores as seen through the eyes of a Southern (Louisiana-born), orthodox Christian; and for the commentary, commbox, as I've learned it's called.  The commenters are often well trained in theological and philosophical discourse, so that even if I disagree -- and I do, a lot -- it's worth engaging.  Some commenters are astounding to me for their callousness, paranoia and racism.  And I'm no virgin to the ways of white folks having grown up in Iowa.  (One of these days I'll write a pamphlet:  "Shit Those Crackers Said".)  But man, even for someone like me who's seen, heard and endured a lot, some of those folks can get ugly, and they ain't playin'.

Nevertheless, this armchair traveler always winds up at Dreher's house.  I wanted to publish what I thought was a particularly thoughtful and cogent rebuttal to one of his recent posts, "The Curse Of Identity Politics".  

EngineerScotty says:
And if you were to ask the ghost of Josef Goebbelsm he’d happily give you reasons why the Final Solution was ultimately the Jews’ own fault. I’m not at all comparing you to him (or to any other Nazi), but you can only summon demons that are there.
And this notion that the resurgence of overt white nationalism in our politics is primarily the fault of Democratic identity politics–the “they pushed us too far!” theory–is utter horse manure.
Identity politics was not something invented by the modern-day cultural left, either last year, or ten year ago, or fifty. The term has only recently entered the mainstream political lexicon, but it has been with us–good and bad–since before the founding of the Republic.
Identity politics, of a sort, was used to justify the enslavement of Africans and the conquest of Native Americans; both of which were held to be inferior to the white man and thus unworthy of full humanity, let alone civic inequality.
Identity politics fueled Jim Crow. When George Wallace remarked that he had been “out-ni**ered” in a political campaign, and vowed it would never happen again, it was both an acknowledgement that white supremacy was the political currency of the realm at that time place, and a promise not to be outspent.
And yes, identity politics of a sort fueled the civil rights movement. The difference between Dr. King and his opponents (and the difference between Dr. King and the various black nationalists of his time) is that he was seeking equality, not supremacy.
Right-wing media has been engaged in a constant stream of identity politics for the past thirty years–ever since Morton Downey Jr. discovered it was profitable to invite the Louis Farrakhans of the world on his to be ridiculed by an audience of hootin’ and hollerin’ working class folk, who would never fit in Donahue. (Farrakhan, for his part, enjoyed the exposure of mouthing off on national TV–even if he was essentially starring in a minstrel show–and Downey would later show quite a bit of regret before he died). Limbaugh, Coulter, Savage, Malkin, and the rest all studiously avoid the N-word, but nobody is fooled as to what they are talking about.
And of course, the election of Barack Obama dropped the contents of the Augean Stables into a rather large fan. Having an African-American president, no matter his actual politics, seemed to awaken something terrible in a whole lot of people. Long before Trump entered the political scene, things were being said in our national politics that we hadn’t heard for a generation.
The problem is, the fight for equality isn’t entirely over, even if the vast majority of the legal barriers were torn down last century. You may righteously vent all you like about trivia like “SJW”s objecting to bad sushi, or about campus arguments over which pronoun to use, or about “cultural appropriation”, and such–and I would be sympathetic–but many of the issues advanced by the broader left, such as police brutality, or continued discrimination in housing and employment, are nottrivialities, not petty concerns of woke yuppies who have little to fear from the law or anyone else, and are secure in their own homes and careers.
And yet this blog–and many other parts of the conservative media sphere–routinely conflate legitimate grievances, which still very much exist, with the obnoxious behavior of petty campus revolutionaries.

The left certainly has a share of the blame. But the rise of the “alt-right” ultimately remains the responsibility of the mainstream right, which for the past thirty years has tried to ride the tiger of white resentment to electoral victory–and now finds itself dinner.

This. When asked (not that I am) why I don't get enthused about quixotic campaigns (see Nader, Ralph, 2004; Sanders, Bernie, 2016) it's largely because I've been an eyewitness to the political re-alignment that's been going on since Carter lost his bid for re-election and have known for a long time how reactionary this country can be.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  They.  Ain't.  Playin'.  Enter stage right, Donald J. Trump.