Monday, April 4, 2011

Evolved Monkey Business: Absurdity in the WHM Supremacist Mind and Manners, which manufacture and enforce U.S. American Reality

photograph of James Baldwin is from here
In the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed by James Earl Ray. I see this as a day to reflect on the murderousness of white het male supremacy. But then again, every day is a day to do that, and to fight against WHM supremacy too. Let's begin with these two quotes, which are among my favorites, by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)
And let us continue with several more by James Baldwin, one of very favorite activist writers, along with Andrea Dworkin and Audre Lorde.
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.
James A. Baldwin

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
James A. Baldwin

Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.
James A. Baldwin

Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.
James A. Baldwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
James A. Baldwin

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
James A. Baldwin

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
James A. Baldwin

It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
James A. Baldwin

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.
James A. Baldwin

But what, in America, is the will of the people? And who, for the above-named, are the people? The people, whoever they may be, know as much about the forces which have placed the above-named gentlemen in power as they do about the forces responsible for the slaughter in Vietnam. The will of the people, in America, has always been at the mercy of an ignorance not merely phenomenal, but sacred, and sacredly cultivated: the better to be used by a carnivorous economy which democratically slaughters and victimizes whites and Blacks alike. But most white Americans do not dare admit this (though they suspect it) and this fact contains mortal danger for the Blacks and tragedy for the nation.
       Or, to put it another way, as long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness—for so long as they are unable to walk out of this most monstrous of traps—they will allow millions of people to be slaughtered in their name, and will be manipulated into and surrender themselves to what they will think of—and justify—as a racial war. They will never, so long as their whiteness puts so sinister a distance between themselves and their own experience and the experience of others, feel themselves sufficiently human, sufficiently worthwhile, to become responsible for themselves, their leaders, their country, their children, or their fate. They will perish (as we once put it in our black church) in their sins —that is, in their delusions. And this is happening, needless to say, already, all around us. 
-- James Baldwin, A Open Letter to My Sister, Angela [source: here]

I live in a time where good people think that individual action is the same exact thing as collective action. And what a mistake this is to make. For nothing will effectively and radically change society unless it involves collective action against the forces of corruption, tyranny, and oppression, to say nothing of violation and murder. It's a both/and proposition; we must act individually and collectively. Always both. Never one at the expense of the other. But in a quasi-individualistic region of the world like North America, collectivist action run by the most oppressed and marginalised, who look after ourselves individually too, has been and remains a good place to start, and to finish. The reason I saw quasi-individualistic is because while we are led to believe that the oppressed need to act individually to pull ourselves up by the boot-straps, the enfranchised work very collectively, in quite an organised and forceful fashion, to make sure the oppressed never do the same.

We are in so many off-shore military wars at the moment that it appears the president, who is Black, but who works only for white het men, and the media ruled and regulated by other white het men, want us to forget how many countries we occupy--and to forget even more how many nations we occupy. For the nations we occupy are mostly here, on this soil, between these shores.

Indigenous Nations have been occupied by whites for centuries now. White men have shown [lack of] respect by naming cities, states, automobiles after the national identities or terms created by people who once lived here freely, with not on and against the land. Seattle, Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Cherokee. What is the dignity demonstrated by naming a foreign oil-consuming vehicle after a living people? Foreign oil that impels the U.S. military to invade several countries illegally, murdering tens of thousands of Brown people as if oil mattered more than human life; to white het men in charge, possession of oil most certainly does matter more than all Life.  Whites clearly value it in its liquid blackness more than anyone with Black skin and red blood.

"Academically well-educated" white het men love to talk and talk, saying nothing much at all--doing even less--other than talking or writing, of course, and supporting oppression and murder with some of the talk, some of the writing, and much of the silence that exists in between. To note such a simple truth is to be accused, most recently by the lefty white het boy, Jed Brandt, on Facebook no less, of participating in "identity politics" which is, apparently, a crime worse than allowing white het men to rule so ruthlessly, to rape and enslave women at will, to go to war at will, and to pillage the Earth at will. What being accused of "identity politics" means is that one has bothered to notice that yes, those who rule with the most power do, in fact, have an identity. And these WHM have been protecting and maintaining their racial and sexual identities ceaselessly, generally with ruthless violence and many, many laws.

Some of these WHM--rarely--get it that radical feminists of all colors and Indigenous women globally have had (and continue to have) something important to say, and have things to do beyond speaking and writing. And that is the business of resistance and revolution--of surviving and also taking down and taking apart what I term CRAP, and composting it, and replacing it with humane societies, some of which have existed here in North America for a very long time, since well before Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus landed in this region of the not-so-new world.

White het men say rarely say anything at all that's humane--and they do even less that's humane. To prove the veracity of that statement I'd ask you to list for me the number of white het men who are working, day and night, to end trafficking, slavery, capitalist patriarchy, white male supremacy, and heterosexism. If you can't list for me one hundred names, I rest my case.

That those with the most corrupt and unearned power most powerfully practice inhumane acts has been noted many times already by many people who have been neither white nor het nor male. Case in point--everything quoted above by Mr. Baldwin. We might take a moment to remember all that James Baldwin--a Black gay man--said about race and Amerikkka. If you don't know what he said or wrote, I encourage you to read all about it. How truthful and accurate his words were; unlike white men like the ones mentioned below, he actually called for action beyond words, to make this nation great, meaning humane, or to let it die of its own political diseases. It is killing itself, after all.

The tragedy won't be in its death, but in who it takes out before it finally dies of its own moral and ethical failings. And, no doubt, it, like most WHM supremacist nation-states, will blame people who are not white, are not het, and are not male, for its demise. See here for more on that:

Everything that follows is from *here* at one of the blogs at

Will Wilkinson


More on Patriotism and Progress

Apr. 4 2011 - 1:10 am | 53 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments
In the course of my skeptical reply over at Democracy in America to Adam Serwer’s progressive apology for American exceptionalism, I briefly addressed what I took to be a related progressive defense of national pride from Richard Rorty. Because Rorty’s argument concerns the moral psychology of progressive political motivation, I thought I’d also take it up here. “[A] nation cannot reform itself,” Rorty wrote, “unless it takes pride in itself—unless it has an identity, rejoices in it, reflects upon it and tries to live up to it.”
Yesterday, Stanford philosopher Joshua Cohen kindly sent me a draft of a review of Rorty’s book Achieving Our Country that he wrote with Joel Rogers for Lingua Franca. In their review, Cohen and Rogers make the same objections (and more) I made to Rorty’s argument for the necessity of national pride, but much more powerfully:
Though characteristically evasive, Rorty seems to believe that national pride is necessary to political action–that it is impossible to move people to improve their country if they don’t take pride in it. But this claim seems either trivially true or wrong. True, but trivial, if pride amounts simply to the belief that life in the country can be improved. Wrong, if pride means anything more than that.
After all, people are routinely moved to concerted political action by all sorts of motives. A simple sense of injustice–at children’s suffering, imprisoned innocents, subhuman wages, dangerous working conditions, or a night of terror imposed on other peoples–often suffices. So can a perception of material interest. While hatred of one’s country and its institutions may demobilize, and pride may spur efforts at reform, it is also possible simply to care about and act on injustice or cruelty because it hurts persons (not “peoples”) and violates principles (not “nations”). Patriotic appeals need not figure. Indeed, the preening self-involvement of some of Rorty’s own patriotic appeals–”America will create the taste by which it will be judged;” Americans are “the greatest poem because we put ourselves in the place of God”–may repel. Why, given his desire to improve the country, does Rorty restrict the grounds for doing so?
These observations about national pride in general apply with even greater force to Rorty’s particular antifoundationalist brand of patriotism. Although its pragmatic ethos may have some appeal to the 1990s cultural left, and historic resonance with Legal Realists and New Deal staffers, it is very far from the view of those who “achieved” this country. The abolitionists opposed slavery not because it cramped “social learning” but because they thought slaves were human beings and that it was morally wrong to enslave human beings. The Congress of Industrial Organizations was formed not to foster “experimental diversity” but to get workers dignity on the job and greater equality in dealing with bosses. The civil rights movement was inspired not by a faith in “social invention” but by absolutist moral beliefs in human equality. The women’s movement was originally fired not by interests in “reinvention” but by the outrage that women were “human beings in truth but not in social reality” (a remark of Catharine MacKinnon’s that Rorty finds disappointingly “ahistoricist”). Throw away all the American struggles animated by ideas about human equality, and you don’t have much of a democratic history left to tell.
None if this is to say that a desire to see one’s beloved nation live up to its foundational ideals cannot be a powerful inducement to progressive reform. It can be. But we’re not so wicked that we lack sufficient will to overcome injustice without the assistance of our powerful tribal instincts. And those same instincts lead to so much wickedness–from the marginalization of immigrants to the cavalier neglect of the rights and lives of foreigners in war–that the cause of justice seems more likely to be served by emphasizing the moral arbitrariness of national membership than by talking up its moral indispensability.

1 comment:

Jed B. said...

Key word in article, "apparently..."