Friday, October 8, 2010

Pirates of Color and Blond Thin White Heterosexual Women: Part 93 (now in 3D), aka "Gunfire at Falcon Lake"

this image is being used here for media analysis purposes only, as an expression of political speech, and is from here
I've written out my analysis of what the hell is going on with this case in my comment below. It has been modified a bit from the one I submitted to The Feminist Texican. With thanks to Melissa for posting what follows. Please click on the title below to link back to her blog. What is next is a video and commentary and analysis from Melissa. Then a very few comments (two) from readers of her blog. Then there's mine, which as usual is last and longest. While I get into it below, I'll state from the outset that I don't know what happened in this particular case. I've only got mass media as my source of information and if there's one thing they're known for not doing, it's telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They aren't under any oath, and their investors want money, not social change. Exploitation and entertainment is the name of the capitalist media game. The stories all start and stop there.

To all who have been harmed by poverty, drug trade gun-fire, rape, and other forms of atrocity, my heart goes out to the loved ones of those who did not survive. Most of those victimised are of color. Many are women of color. And the U.S. media won't tell you a damn thing about any one of them--we won't ever learn their names, hear about their personal histories, watch their family members and other loved ones grieve, or understand how it came to be that they were in a violent place where guns manufactured in the U.S. were sent with the express purpose of firing bullets in order to kill people of color.

On the alleged Mexican pirate attack at Falcon Lake

6 October, 2010

Trigger warning. 

Today has a transcript of the interview portion here.

This is all just too bizarre.

I live in south Texas (I was actually going to go out to Falcon Dam with a friend a while back to check out the flooding) and hear stories of cartel/gang violence on a daily basis. Something about this woman’s story seems off when you compare it to all the stories you hear about cartel violence. For one, how would she have time to turn her jet ski around, see her husband was shot, try to pull him up onto her jet ski, and still be able to get away…all while being shot at from three boats? I could absolutely be wrong here, and perhaps she really did “luck” out and was able to barely make her escape, but it doesn’t sound right. Second, mutilated bodies turn up all the time. I really can’t see the cartels giving a shit if Hartley’s body is found, so I can’t picture them going back just so they could hide his body. (No, I’m not alleging anything here other than my opinion that her story sounds bizarre. I can’t imagine what the family is going through.)

As an aside: I just love how a young white woman is widowed in an attack by Mexicans, and it gets national news coverage. Yes, I’m gonna go there. Because innocent people are getting murdered on a daily basis. Women are being raped at gunpoint while their boyfriends/husbands/family members/friends are forced to watch. I went to dinner last month with my old high school friends and was stunned to learn that two of them had relatives who’d been kidnapped and held for ransom in Reynosa. Do you have any idea how surreal it is to sit at Olive Garden, have one friend disclose the fact that her uncle had been kidnapped, and then hear another friend at the other side of the table say, “Mine was too?” (Both of their relatives are safe now.)

Fucked up shit is happening. Daily. Less than 15 miles south of where I live. But because it’s happening to brown people–Mexicans, no less–the media doesn’t give a shit.

1. noemi | 6 October, 2010 at 10:46 am

I totally agree with you that its not being reported. The shit my dad tells me when he comes back from Nuevo Leon. My cousin right now is kidnapped, for weeks now. And there was no coverage at all when they hung men from trees near Cerralvo.

2. Darth Paul | 6 October, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I turned him over and he was shot in the head. And that’s when one of the boats came up to me. [I] had a gun pointed at me. [They] were trying to decide what to do with me, and then they left.”

Me digo el mudo…

I’m just gonna be coarse and suggest she had him offed and is trying to pin it on vague Mexican bogeymen. As indicated, violence is happening all the time on the frontera…what better place to have an ‘incident’ with your spouse of one year?

3. Julian | 8 October, 2010 at 12:54 am

I’ve heard her story. Apparently there are plenty of media opportunities to do so. For what it’s worth, I’m going to say I believe her account of what happened. And my condolences to her and his loved ones.

And I’m also going to say that when I first heard this story my first reaction was that this was yet another fu**ed up racist white male supremacist media story that was going to clog the airwaves–or whatever they are now–for weeks to come.

Why did I think that? Because this is not just A story. It is THE story that repeats in dominant U.S. media and in the dominant U.S. mind: something negative happens to an English-speaking woman, usually young–sometimes a girl–always “pretty” by corporate/advertising/pornographic standards, which means–necessarily and with very few exceptions–she’s white, blond, and thin. I already mentioned young, didn’t I? And white? And thin? And blond? Just checking. And not ever, ever a lesbian. And not ever, ever a butch woman of any sexual orientation. Oh, and always, always class-privileged. Always. Never poor. Not even once.

So here’s the deal: the media wants us all to look at these women, some women, a select few, over and over and over again, to prop up this one ideal of beauty while exploiting someone’s suffering, and to associate this beauty with suffering and with victimisation and various ideas that “she needs help”.

The perennial “she” has been kidnapped, raped, or something else that’s grim and terrible, always–ALWAYS–by “a foreigner”. If the foreigner isn’t an English-speaking, GREAT. And if the foreigner is male and of color, EVEN BETTER. Corporate media isn’t about to discuss any serious issues, like, say, white male supremacy and how it impacts what media covers and doesn’t cover. You’d think that all the dominant media would occasionally slip up and make the mistake of focusing on that, but no. We won’t hear about the fact that one in three American Indian women are raped in this country [in her lifetime] and that over 80% of the rapists are white het men. That’s not “news”. Truth is, it’s not “new”, but it ought to be news.

What we’ll get is yet another story that amps up U.S. white xenophobic racism, anti-Mexican/Mexico (or anti-Black, or anti-Muslim, or anti-Arab) sentiments, and plays to the heterosexist and racist pornographic imagination wherein bad things happen to good white (“good” and “white” being interchangeable) women, by bad, bad men (read: men who don’t speak English as a first language and who are darker than pale white people). “Dark” means bad.

The media IS HUNGRY for stories that will reinforce our racist government’s efforts to stigmatise people of color in order to reinforce white supremacy and uses of the U.S. military and police forces–as if white supremacy was in any danger of being harmed any time soon. (As if it wasn’t the U.S. government and corporations that are harming the hell out of non-rich white folks, and people of color of all classes. Hush my mouth!)

It’s Snow White and Sleeping Beauty all over again. All we need now are some white het male heroes on Aryan-white horses to save the day.

The reason the perennial “she” must be young is U.S. corporate advertisers have tons of non-recyclable shit to sell us all. So we’ve got to be trained on her face. We’ve got to note what “youth” looks like: it looks like a white woman, preferably blond; it doesn’t look fat; it looks more beautiful if very young. Because there’s another major enemy out there of white women (and women of color too)–AGE. Yes. Cue the “Jaws” theme music. AGE will get her. One day it will. If she and her white loved ones aren’t off’ed by some man of color in the mean time.

The O.J. Simpson story was so huge, so very, very, very huge, not only because he was famous. But because it so usefully reinforced in the dominant white imagination this idea that really, when you’re not looking, that dark man is gonna gitcha! And the “you” he’s gonna git is “pretty, white, blond, thin, female, heterosexual, and class-privileged”.

Now I’ll add that I believe O.J. Simpson horrifically battered and murdered Jessica Brown Simpson, and that he also callously and selfishly murdered Ron Goldman. The issue isn’t so much guilt or innocence. The issue is what to focus on so that we don’t have to pay attention to the deeper issues: the racist-misogynistic violence and terrorism that is U.S. foreign and domestic policy–the active maintenance of poverty, for one thing, which disproportionately wears the face of someone who is female and of color.

We’ve also got to not really notice–in so many words–the fact that we’re at it again in Asia–sixty-five-plus years and counting of terrorism, just because we can keep on murdering and raping, raping and murdering Asian people and pretend, against overwhelming evidence, it’s to protect white Amerikkka. And we have awards–medals of honor–to give some of our soldiers, if they live and if they don’t. (The U.S. military cares not one bit about its soldiers; it trains them to kill and to be killed, and if they complain about it they are called misogynistic names.)

And I say all of this while believing that this particular young woman is telling the truth. And, I could be wrong. I thought about the fact that maybe her husband was an abuser. That’s not because media portrays, stigmatises, and stereotypes hulky white het guys as perps of anything, mind you. It’s because I know lots of women and gay men of all colors who’ve been victimised by white het men.

In this latest story, I’ve wondered if maybe he, the white husband, was involved, himself, in drug runs. Perhaps not. We’ll see what we find out. Lorde knows the media won’t leave this alone. And they won’t PRECISELY for the reasons Melissa says: because the dominant U.S. media must not cover the deaths of women of color. They must not cover the deaths of men of color either. They will usually only cover the terrifying incidents of white women being systematically harmed (by white men) if the perp isn’t a white man.

And so we won’t get news about Iraqi citizens who’ve been raped and murdered by U.S. troops–unless, maybe, if the soldier is a Black or Brown man. And we won’t hear about what the West is really doing in Afghanistan, to women, to men, to children, to the land. And we won’t hear about how U.S. and European weapons are funneled to and furiously fuel every conflict around the world: from Central America to sub-Saharan Africa to cities and towns across the good ol’ U.S. of A.

We won’t be called to grieve the loss of any people of color. Not ever. Not in the white white West. If no one white was harmed, there was no crime, as far as dominant media is concerned. If only whites were harmed, and only people of color were the perpetrators, you’ll be hearing about it for weeks if not months, if not years, if not for centuries.

The U.S. media doesn’t have time to tell us anything that’s fundamentally and systematically wrong with the U.S. We’re too busy being enthralled with what happened in this latest case. And with the latest products to make our skin look years younger. Oh, and Lindsay Lohan and Lady GaGa.

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