Saturday, January 31, 2009

Premises about Civilization by Derrick Jensen (a white male seeker of truth and justice)

What follows was written by the antiracist, profeminist, environmental radical activist-author, Derrick Jensen, and appears, minus my butting in, in his book Endgame, vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization. Anything in [brackets] was intrusively written by moi.

Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.

Premise Two: Traditional [Indigenous] communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources--gold, oil, and so on--can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.

Premise Three: Our way of living--industrial civilization--is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, [profoundly delusional levels of fear, often acted out in gynocidal and genocidal atrocities such as the rape and murder of women], and the fetishization of its victims.

Premise Five: The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. [The italicised emphasis is mine.]It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control--in everyday language, to make money--by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.


Premise Eleven: From the beginning, this culture--civilization--has been a culture of occupation.


Premise Thirteen: Those in power rule by force and the sooner we break ourselves of illusions to the contrary, the sooner we can at least begin to make reasonable choices about whether, when, and how we are going to resist.


Premise Fifteen: Love does not imply pacifism.


Premise Seventeen: It is a mistake (or more likely, denial) to base our decisions on whether actions arising from them will or won't frighten fence-sitters, or the mass of [U.S.] Americans.

For the complete set of Premises, please obtain a copy of the book linked to above and again here.

For more about Derrick, click on the link to his website located to the right on my "Important Webpages" list below my blogroll. To hear more on this subject from a talk by Derrick Jensen, see:


Tecumseh and Chiksika: Shawnee Warrior Brothers against the White Man

Portrait Bust of Tecumseh, 1896 ECD
by Hamilton Plantagenet MacCarthy (a white man)
Bronze-coated terracotta
Government of Ontario Art Collection, 619883

Tecumseh, also Tecumtha or Tekamthi (March 1768 – October 5, 1813, ECD), was a famous Shawnee leader. He spent much of his life attempting to rally various native American tribes in a mutual defense of their lands, which eventually led to his death in the War of 1812.* Tecumseh is the younger brother of Chiksika. Chiksika, also Cheeseekau (c.1760 – 1 October 1792, ECD), was a war chief of the Kispoko division of the Shawnee Nation.

*White men's accounts of American Indians tend to focus on their battles with white men, often noting when the white man succeeded in killing them. We also tend to name time, history, and its wars from a point of view that centralises and aggrandises the era of Christian white male domination (ECD) and destruction of the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

What follows is mostly from this website. Its sexism may reflect the honky anthropologists', ethnographers', and historians' obsession with patrilineage among all people, eagerly disposing of the history of women in and out of battle against white men.


On the cool evening of March 9, 1768 a great meteor cut a path across the night sky. The Shawnee people called this phenomenon The Panther. This event preceded an event that occurred at a small pool near the principle Shawnee village of Chalahgawtha. A boy was born to Pucksinwah, the chief of the Kispoko sept. It was a custom for a child to remain nameless for ten days until a sign is given to the father but Pucksinwah knew at that moment what his name would be. There by the pool’s edge, he named his child Tecumseh, Panther Across the Sky, and it was in this moment he knew his boy was destined for greatness.

Tecumseh was the younger brother of both Chiksika and Tecumapese who took great care in making sure Tecumseh grew up according to their tribe’s sacred ways. For hours Pucksinwah [the boys' father] would walk through the hills with the boy and teach to him the ways of the land and of their nation’s heritage. He was an avid learner and quickly became well versed in tribal lore and how to live comfortably in their wilderness home. In all manners of boyhood games young Tecumseh excelled and was looked to as a leader, even by those who were older than himself.

At a very young age however Tecumseh met with a tragedy greater than many boys his age were faced with. At the battle of Point Pleasant, his beloved father fell. In his final breath he made Chiksika promise to continue Tecumseh’s teaching and train him to be a great man, and also that he would never let his great nation bow to the encroaching whites.

Chiksika did not take his newly delegated duties lightly and he did all in his power to see that Tecumseh would grow to a man worthy of being the son of Pucksinwah. Like his father, Chiksika took long walks with Tecumseh teaching him how to hunt and how to fight and as before he took on quickly and began to excel at all his elder brother was teaching to him. While his brother was taking one such walk, he relayed to Tecumseh what his father had told him about the whites, a lesson that Tecumseh took to heart and always remembered when making decisions.

“When a white man kills an Indian in a fair fight it is called honorable, but when an Indian kills a white man in a fair fight it is called murder. When a white army battles Indians and wins it is called a great victory, but if they lose it is called a massacre and bigger armies are raised. If the Indian flees before the advance of such armies, when he tries to return he finds that white men are living where he lived. If he tried to fight off such armies, he is killed and the land is taken anyway. When an Indian is killed it is a great loss which leaves a gap in our people and a sorrow in our heart; when a white is killed, three or four others step up to take his place and there is no end to it. The white man seeks to conquer nature, to bend it to his will and use it wastefully until it is all gone and then he simply moves on, leaving the waste behind him and looking for new places to take. The whole white race is a monster who is always hungry and what he eats is land. There can never be a true and equitable peace between the Indian and the white.”
-- Chiksika
(as recorded by Allan Eckert)

As Tecumseh grew older he was finally allowed to take part in a raid against the white men. As the Indians led the attack on George Rogers Clark’s army, he fled the battle but vowed to himself and to the spirit of his father that never again would he run. He continued to fight in many battles and always he emerged victorious. In council’s Tecumseh’s words would continue to inspire his brothers to never let the white men take their land. In one such speech he spoke the words that were kindled by his brother and his father saying:

“Let us form one body, one heart, and defend to the last warrior our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers.”

Tecumseh led many raids and attacks upon the white villages and always he emerged with success until he met the force of Anthony Wayne. The Indian forces gave way at the Battle of Fallen Timbers which forced many Indians to sign the Greenville Treaty. This gave up a great deal of land to the ever growing number of whites but Tecumseh himself refused to sign the document. Following this battle against “Mad” Anthony Wayne, Tecumseh realized that no Indian nation could single-handedly stop and defeat the looming and increasing threat of the whites and that for the Indian to win, he must first unite. He scoured the land looking for those who would follow his vision with and stand up and in doing so he created an Indian confederation consisting of Delawares, Ottawas, Kickapoos, Ojibwas, Wyandots, and of course Shawnees.

When Tecumseh’s plans to form an Indian nation reached the ears of the whites in the East William Henry Harrison was sent to see that this confederacy would become splintered. His first actions were to form treaties with many of the tribes that had just pledged their allegiance to Tecumseh thus removing them from his service. To make his moves permanent ones Harrison moved onto making land treaties with tribes such as the Delaware, Potawatomi, Miami, Kickapoo, and Wea tribes taking the land that Tecumseh had set apart in his mind’s eye for the founding of his new Indian nation.

These plans founded by Harrison only increased the zeal Tecumseh had for his mission. He then went to confront one the greatest confederacies formed in the Ohio, the Iroquois, in order to gain there support. Through his intricate weaving of words and emotion Tecumseh gained their support and like all of the other tribes that he had spoken with, he told them that when the great sign occurred they were to band together against Ft. Detroit.

“This great sign that Tecumseh spoke of wherever he went always remained the same, and his telling of it never failed to awe his audiences. When the period of waiting was over, he told them, when tribal unification had been completed, when all was in readiness, then would this sign be given: in the midst of the night the earth beneath would tremble and roar for a long period. Jugs would break, though there be no one near to touch them. Great trees would fall, though the air be windless. Streams would change their courses to run backwards, and lakes would be swallowed up into the earth and other lakes suddenly appear. The bones of every man would tremble with the trembling of the ground, and they would not mistake it. No! There was not anything to compare with it in their lives, nor in the lives of their fathers or the fathers before them since time began; when this sign came, they were to drop their mattocks and flash scrapers, leave their fields and their hunting camps and their villages, and join together and move to assemble across the lake river from the fort of Detroit. And on that day they would no longer be Mohawks or Senecas, Oneidas or Onondagas, or any other tribe. They would be Indians! One people united forever where the good of one would henceforth become the good of all!”
(The Frontiersmen by Allan Eckert…p.444)

When he left to go recruit his brothers across the mountains, he left his younger brother Tenkswatawa or The Prophet, in charge of his village. His younger brother however was not of strong moral fiber; the power he was entrusted with soon corrupted him. He told the people of the village that the Great Spirit had been visiting him with great signs of how to conquer the impending threat of the whites. He told them that they must cast away the gifts and items of the white culture including their guns and resort only to the ways of their forefathers. So, without questioning The Prophet, for fear of going against the Great Spirit, they did so without question. Following this he proclaimed he had another vision in which they led an attack on the army of William Henry Harrison and defeated them in one great battle. The battle which he foresaw was the Battle of Tippecanoe but the outcome of it was not as it had been revealed to Tenkswatawa. The following morning the Prophet led an attack upon their army with the remaining Shawnee force and all the tribes that Tecumseh had sent to this land. The spirits of the Indian warriors were short-lived as they were cut down by the superior technology of the white men’s army.

When Tecumseh returned to his homeland in the Ohio territory, he found a crippled nation on the brink of death pushed farther back than he had ever seen. The once fertile lands they once owned were being occupied and ravaged by the white man’s flame. He was sitting at a small glowing bed of coals when the news had reached him that they had the Prophet bound and awaiting the words of Tecumseh to decide his fate. Shortly after these words were directed the great sign of Tecumseh had come to pass.

“Such was the great earthquake that struck at New Madrid and was felt to greater or lesser degree for almost a thousand miles in all directions; such was the earthquake that had occurred where no one could possibly have anticipated or predicted that one would our except, perhaps, said a multitude throughout the land, a Shawnee whose name was Tecumseh”
(A Sorrow In Our Hear by Allan Eckert…p.674-675)

It was there he chose not to kill his brother for this treachery, but impend upon him a punishment to which death would have been chosen. He was exiled from the tribe for as long as he was to live. Those that were once loyal to Tecumseh thought this disaster belonged to him and their allegiance was soon broken with him. That day when his brothers died so did his dream and his vision to rid the whites from their father’s land. Tecumseh allied themselves with the British during the War of 1812 and he prayed that the British would win and destroy the white force that he had spent his life trying to keep at bay. The British gave Tecumseh a position of honor and he helped to lead their forces into battle. It was in one such battle history knows as the Battle of Thames that Tecumseh died by an American round. His followers carried his body to an unmarked grave that to this day has never been uncovered. Tecumseh was a man whose men loved him and through his example they were driven to their best. He loved the land that was his country and for this land he was willing to die before he would let his oath to protect it be broken.


A Sorrow In Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh, by Allan Eckert (a white author)

Tecumseh: A Life, by John Sugden (a white author)

Panther in the Sky, by James Alexander Thom (a white author)

The Frontiersmen, by Allan Eckert (still a white author)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rape, Religion, and Racism: BEWARE OF [a white heterosexual male] GOD

by Julian Real, copyrighted 2009. All Rights Reserved.

As I write this more than one woman in the sphere of women I know is suffering from post-traumatic stress due to being raped within the last few years. Another woman is dealing with incest memories distressingly moving towards the most conscious layers of her mind.

Given this, and completely regardless of this, I wish to link to a discussion about rape I found on one of the blogs on my blog roll.

Below I'm reposting one anonymous man's comment quoted and linked to on abyss2hope:

"Any man that is sick enough to rape is completely fruitloops and no more indicative of men than al-Qaeda is of Islam or the Inquisition is of Christianity."

To those who are not the anonymous man who are visitors here, I recommend reading that post linked to above if you haven't already done so.

To "The Anonymous Man":
Your statements equating being insane with being a rapist are fucked up for a variety of reasons.

"Being insane", if we take that to mean "being psychotic or deranged", is as much an indicator of whether or not that person is a rapist as is the color of a rapist's eyes. Some seriously mentally ill men rape. So to do some men rape who have hazel eyes. So to do some men rape who are in college, and some who are in high school, some who work in offices, some who work in factories, and some who are unemployed. What the population termed "rapists" has in common is not that they are "fruitloops". It is that they have physically violated at least one other human being, using methods and behaviors that are often also termed "seductive" or "sexual". The equation of being fruit-loopy with being an insane rapist reverberates with homophobia and reeks of male supremacist CRAP.

Most rape doesn't happen with great physical force, because the rapist has already arranged for his victim to be sufficiently available to him that he need not use extreme levels of physical force. While some rapists also batter or otherwise severely physically injure their victims during the act of rape, most rapes I'm aware of do not include that as a component of the raper's M.O. Pretending to be a friend of hers, or claiming to love her, scarily obsessing about her, or compulsively or habitually organising one's own presence to be near the person victimised, are far more emblematic characteristics of rapists.

A long time ago I was sexually assaulted by a heterosexual and married man who was known to me. He didn't use "physical force" to entrap me, nor was he insane. He was a skilled, practiced serial child molester. As noted elsewhere in the feminist blogosphere, the overwhelming attribute that rapists share is the fact that they are male and that they have found a way to have power over another human being, most often female. Sometimes rapists use their penises as a weapon of invasion, sometimes they use other things as weapons.

When you reiterate the harmful ableist lie that only clinically, demonstrably "insane" people rape, you promulgate an idea of "the rapist" that doesn't match social reality and further stigmatise mentally ill people as dangerous to society.

If only "insane" [whatever that means] people comprised the sole population out of which rapists emerged, it would be decidedly easier to avoid being raped, unless, of course, the "crazy-acting" people were seen as normal and unremarkable. If we, as a society, determined that "males objectifying females" was an "insane" thing to do, then most rapists would be crazy, as would most heterosexual men. If we understood men occasionally or chronically wanting power and control over women collectively or individually as "insane" then most rapists would be insane, as would most men, heterosexual or not. If we called "a man planning and executing a series of actions designed to put him in close proximity to another person over whom he then exerts some form of violative power and physical control" then all rapists would be "insane", and many other men would risk receiving the label as well. As it stands, none of those things is considered insane by our legal, educational, and religious institutions. All of those things are, in fact, glorified, romanticised, dramatised, advertised, and heterosexualised as natural, inevitable, and socially normal things for men to do when around a woman or women.

Sometimes an act of sexual force is termed rape by the unraped. Sometimes an act of subordinating another human being to one's careless will and self-centered wishes, if also physically invasive and called "sex" by many, is called rape. Most of the time such acts are defiantly called "only sex", by men, and tragically by women who do not wish to identify themselves as rape victims or survivors of rape.

Unless an act of physical violation is generally called sex-not-violence, it is not popularly determined to be rape; it is something else: perhaps it is physical abuse. And for heterosexual men, often, rape is only "a sexual act that has been misunderstood". Rape is called sex when named by the male perpetrator significantly more often than rape is named sex by the assaulted and violated woman. There appears to be a perception problem not among feminists, or women generally, but among men who practice sexual assault as a way to achieve satisfaction and bolster a form of masculinist self-empowerment that is too often valorised among men in patriarchal societies.

When Womanists, feminists, or women without political affiliations make these observations, they are called insane. When men make brag about these same realities, they are, among other men, generally regarded and treated as cool, not inhumane, not horrible, not "terrorists". One reason for this is the fact that men usually target women and girls for sexual violence and abuse, so the rapists are not, in fact, dangerous to the men they hang out with in the ways they are dangerous to women. One reason men brag about their sexual conquests, how they arranged to fuck a drunk woman, how they drugged and raped one or many women, how they enjoy tying women up before having sex with them, is because none of those actions are considered "insane". His male friends are not going to arrange for him to be carried off in a straight-jacket to the nearest psych ward.

Another reason rape happens is because men do not choose to learn what bodily cues mean and don't mean. Some men assume, for example, that a strange woman smiling at him warmly means "she wants me to fuck her now". Some men assume that women who wear short skirts "are begging to be raped". Some men assume that if a girl or woman is a street prostitute or a stripper that means "she will be less harmed by rape than women who are not in any form of prostitution". None of those assumptions are called "insane". Also, some men don't register that a woman being still or emotionally not present might be a clue that she is deeply distressed or dissociated and unable to act on her own behalf.

Drawing parallels, as you do, to what some religious people have done that exceeds the bounds of what a typical white Western male deems "acceptable" or "humane" portrays modern societies this way:

There is this large mass of men who behave appropriately (as defined by masses of men), and then there are the wackos, a group distinct from the masses because of the ridigity of their ideological beliefs and the calculated nature of the violence of their actions towards people who are termed "the enemy" by the wackos.

For rapists to be compared to members of al-Qaeda or the Inquisition is to not understand the social and political function of any of these groups. Every patriarchal religion has extremists, and sometimes those extremists come to be called holy men or saints. It is the trans-cultural patriarchal aspect of the Abrahamic religions, and the heterosexism and misogyny which inheres in societies organised around such religions, together with their perceived or actual vulnerability to a larger internal or external threat, that is the hallmark of such "religious" groups. Understanding members of al-Qaeda as "religious extremists" is less "indicative" of who they are than the fact that they are heterosexually-identified men who use gross violence when they experience being threatened. In this view, it is violent perpetrators of heterosexism and male supremacy, not the fact of someone being Jewish, Muslim, or Christian that identifies "the terrorist" as such. Many who identify with small violent, ideologically rigid minority factions of a larger oppressive religion or social group, think dominant society is fundamentally off-course and believe it may be corrected, or set straight, through the use of sustained acts of terrorism.

Rapists do not necessarily believe society is off-course, except when it comes to making rape a crime, a human rights violation, or when society is, in the view of masculinist men, being "feminised", which is to say, ruined. Society is off-course, according to the rapist, when its members understand the rapist to be a terrorist of women as a class of gender-oppressed people. The religion of non-militarised rapists is terroristic patriarchy.

For militarised terrorists armed against an alleged enemy state, the religion is also terroristic patriarchy; to believe it has more to do with Islamic, Jewish, or Christian gospel misses the point. The enemy of Muslim people of color is a particularly virulent form of Western white heterosexual male supremacist, corporate capitalism fused to governmental militarism, practiced and worshipped by secularists as well as Christians. Aspects of this is what the Rev. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was identifying and confronting more radically in the years just prior to his assassination. Deeper connections have been made in the following decades by Womanists and radical feminists of color.

Since its inception, the U.S. government has been waging war against women--white women and women of color. The United States of America is founded on white heterosexual male supremacy. That the Founding Fathers were puritanical Protestants is relevant only insofar as their religion was racist, heterosexist, and misogynistic, with a belief that being pale and male makes one closer to the God-of-social hierarchies.

The "enemy", in this view, is only regarded as fully human by white Westerners if he is white, heterosexual, male, and not disabled or poor. Followers of the descendants of Abraham are not so different as some say, if they follow the man-made patriarchal teachings posing as "the Word of God" in religious texts. In this country, patriarchal Christianity is normative and rape is commonplace. Christianity, like many other religions, is misused by its most political preachers and representatives to espouse heteropatriarchal doctrine and practice, both of which are decidedly secular and amoral.

In this view, "9/11" as that particular horror has come to be termed, is registered in the Western social psyche as undeniably horrible. This is because many white businessmen--heterosexual men with girlfriends, wives, and/or children were the majority demographic that died an atrocious death. White U.S. widows grieved real grief, and the young children of those fallen men have since grown up with memories of a daddy who only appears in a few fading photographs. Of those who died on "9/11", only those who were not "foreigners" were tallied as especially noteworthy deaths. And even among that population, working class employees of color were not seen as representative victims, to the extent they were spoken about at all in the dominant media.

The U.S. government then proceeded to kill even more U.S. men and women (those in the military), disproportionately poor or of color, and at least one hundred thousand Iraqis, most of them civilian women and children. These facts are not seen by white conservative Amerikkkans as a form of unGodly evil, the perpetration of a gross atrocity, or a form of terrorism-by-terrorists. Note at the "icasualties" site that those not from the U.S. or U.K.--both white heteromale supremacist countries, are termed "other".

When the governing members of a society determine that only actions of an extremely violent and unusually traumatic nature to men constitute terrorism, normal forms of terrorism disappear as such.

Normal heterosexual men rape women and girls, and also boys. When rape happens to boys it is newsworthy, as long as the boys are majority white and the men can be pegged as "probably not really heterosexual". When rape happens to women and girls it is one of three things: a) not rape, b) entertainment, or c) a non-event. It is disproportionately "c" when the victims are of color, whether an adult or a child.

Television media is utterly preoccupied with men's rape and murder of women as a form of entertainment for the masses. In primetime, rape and gynocide is entertainment, dehumanising the reality of female rape and murder victims. Meanwhile, U.S. militaristic racism and sexism, xenophobia and genocide, remain primarily off-camera, out of view of the popular media, and dissociated inside the dominant Western society's psyche.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tim Wise's newest book: Between Barack and a Hard Place

I am eager to read this, the latest book by radical anti-white supremacy ally Tim Wise. In the mean time, here's a piece written by him on the politics of the electability of Barack Obama, and what the his candidacy revealed about U.S. whites and white supremacy in Amerikkka. (Note: this was written almost one year ago.)

Racism, White Voters and the Myth of Color-Blindness

By Tim Wise

March 6, 2008

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write, at least not as soon as I am now compelled to write it: It may well be the case that the United States is on its way to electing a person of color as President. Make no mistake, I realize the way that any number of factors, racism prominently among them, could derail such a thing from coming to fruition. Indeed, results from the Ohio Democratic primary suggest that an awful lot of white folks, especially rural and working-class whites, are still mightily uncomfortable with voting for such a candidate, at least partly because of race: One-fifth of voters in the state said race was important to their decision, and roughly six in ten of these voted for Hillary Clinton, which totals would then represent her approximate margin of victory over Barack Obama.

But having said all that--and I think anyone who is being honest would have to acknowledge this as factual--we are far closer to the election of a person of color in a Presidential race than probably any of us expected. Obama's meteoric rise, from community organizer, to law professor, to Illinois state senator, to the U.S. Senate, and now, possibly, the highest office in the land, is something that could have been foreseen by few if any just a few years ago. Obama's undeniable charisma, savvy political instincts, passion for his work, and ability to connect with young voters (and not a few older ones as well) is the kind of thing you just don't see all that often. The fact that as a black man (or, as some may prefer, a man of biracial background) he has been able to catapult to the position in which he now finds himself makes the accomplishment even more significant. It does indeed mean something.

But this is where things become considerably more complicated; the point at which one is forced to determine what, exactly, his success means (and doesn't mean) when it comes to the state of race, race relations, and racism in the United States. And it is at this point that so-called mainstream commentary has, once again, dropped the ball.

On the one hand, many a voice has suggested that Obama's success signifies something akin to the end of racism in the U.S., if not entirely, then surely as a potent political or social force. After all, if a black man actually stands a better-than-decent shot at becoming President, then how much of a barrier could racism really be? But of course, the success of individual persons of color, while it certainly suggests that overt bigotry has diminished substantially, hardly speaks to the larger social reality faced by millions of others: a subject to which we will return. Just as sexism no doubt remained an issue in Pakistan, even after Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister in the 1980s and again in the 90s (or in India or Israel after both nations had female Premiers, or in Great Britain after the election of Margaret Thatcher), so too can racism exist in abundance, in spite of the electoral success of one person of color, even one who could be elevated to the highest office in the world's most powerful nation.

More importantly, to the extent Obama's success has been largely contingent on his studious avoidance of the issue of race--such that he rarely ever mentions discrimination and certainly not in front of white audiences--one has to wonder just how seriously we should take the notion that racism is a thing of the past, at least as supposedly evidenced by his ability to attract white votes? To the extent those whites are rewarding him in large measure for not talking about race, and to the extent they would abandon him in droves were he to begin talking much about racism--for he would be seen at that point as playing the race card, or appealing to "special interests" and suffer the consequences--we should view Obama's success, given what has been required to make it possible, as confirmation of the ongoing salience of race in American life. Were race really something we had moved beyond, whites would be open to hearing a candidate share factual information about housing discrimination, racial profiling, or race-based inequities in health care. But we don't want to be reminded of those things. We prefer to ignore them, and many are glad that Obama has downplayed them too, whether by choice, or necessity.

Erasing Race and Making White Folks Happy

The extent to which Obama's white support has been directly related to his downplaying of race issues simply cannot be overstated, as evidenced by the kinds of things many of these supporters openly admit, possessing no sense of apparent irony or misgiving. So, consider the chant offered by his supporters at a recent rally--and frankly, a chant in which whites appeared to be joining with far greater enthusiasm than folks of color--to the effect that "Race Doesn't Matter, Race Doesn't Matter," a concept so utterly absurd, given the way in which race most certainly still matters to the opportunity structure in this country, that one has to almost wretch at the repeated offering of it. Or consider the statements of support put forth by Obama supporters in a November 2007 Wall Street Journal article, to the effect that Obama makes whites "feel good" about ourselves (presumably by not bothering us with all that race talk), and that Obama, by virtue of his race-averse approach has "emancipated" whites to finally vote for a black candidate (because goodness knows we were previously chained and enslaved to a position of rejectionism). Worst of all, consider the words of one white Obama supporter, an ardent political blogger in Nashville, to the effect that what he likes about the Illinois Senator is that he "doesn't come with the baggage of the civil rights movement." Let it suffice to say that when the civil rights movement--one of the greatest struggles for human liberation in the history of our collective species--can be unashamedly equated with Samsonite, with luggage, with something one should avoid as though it were radioactive (and this coming from a self-described liberal), we are at a very dangerous place as a nation, all celebrations of Obama's cross-racial appeal notwithstanding.

What does it say about the nation's political culture--and what does it suggest about the extent to which we have moved "beyond race"--that candidate Obama, though he surely knows it, has been unable to mention the fact that 2006 saw the largest number of race-based housing discrimination complaints on record, and according to government and private studies, there are between two and three million cases of housing discrimination each year against people of color?

What does it say that he has failed to note with any regularity that according to over a hundred studies, health disparities between whites and blacks are due not merely to health care costs and economic differences between the two groups (a subject he does address) but also due to the provision of discriminatory care by providers, even to blacks with upper incomes, and black experiences with racism itself, which are directly related to hypertension and other maladies?

What does it say that Obama apparently can't bring himself to mention, for fear of likely white backlash, that whites are over seventy percent of drug users, but only about ten percent of persons incarcerated for a drug possession offense, while blacks and Latinos combined are about twenty-five percent of users, but comprise roughly ninety percent of persons locked up for a possession offense?

Why no mention of the massive national study by legal scholars Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen, which found that at least a third of all businesses in the nation engage in substantial discrimination against people of color--hiring such folks at rates that are well below their availability in the local and qualified labor pool, and well below the rates at which they are to be found in non-discriminating companies in the same locales and industries? Indeed, according to the Blumrosen study, at least 1.3 million qualified people of color will face job discrimination in a given year. Or what of the study of temporary agencies in California, which found that white women who are less qualified than their black counterparts, are still three times more likely to be favored in a job search? And what are the odds that he'll be likely to mention, to any significant degree, the recent EEOC report, which notes that in 2007 there was a twelve percent jump in race-based discrimination complaints in the workplace relative to the previous year (almost all of which were filed by persons of color): bringing the number of such complaints to their highest level since 1994?

As Obama talks about change and making the "American Dream" real for all, why is he unable to mention the fact--let alone propose specific remedies for it--that thanks to a history of unequal access to property and the inability to accumulate assets on par with whites, young black couples with college degrees and good incomes still start out at a significant disadvantage (around $20,000) relative to their white counterparts? In fact, the wealth gap between whites and blacks--with the average white family now having about eleven times the net worth of the average black family--continues to grow, even as income gaps for similarly educated families with similar background characteristics have shrunk.

And why such muted discussion about the way that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, government at all levels and across party lines has engaged in ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, failing to provide rental assistance to the mostly black tenant base for over a year, plotting to tear down 5000 perfectly usable units of public housing, failing to restart the city's public health care infrastructure, and even ordering the Red Cross not to provide relief in the first few days after the city flooded in September 2005, so as to force evacuation and empty out the city? While Obama has spoken much about the failures of the Bush Administration during Katrina, openly discussing the deliberate acts of cruelty that go well beyond incompetence, and which amount to the forced depopulation of New Orleans-area blacks, has been something about which he cannot speak for fear of prompting a backlash from whites, most of whom, according to polls, don't think the events of Katrina have any lessons at all to teach us about race in America.

Surely, that Obama is constrained in his ability to focus any real attention on these matters, suggests that whatever his success may say about America and race, one thing it utterly fails to say is that we have conquered the racial demons that have so long bedeviled us. And to the extent he must remain relatively silent about these issues, lest he find his political ascent headed in a decidedly different direction, it is true, however ironic, that his success actually confirms the salience of white power. If, in order to be elected, a man of color has to pander to white folks, in ways that no white politician would ever have to do to people who were black or brown, then white privilege and white power remain operative realities. Obama's ascent to the Presidency, if it happens, will happen only because he managed to convince enough whites that he was different, and not really black, in the way too many whites continue to think of black people, which according to every opinion survey, is not too positively.

Transcending Blackness, Reinforcing White Racism: The Trouble With Exceptions

Obama's rise has owed almost everything to his ability--and this, again, coming from people who support him and are willing to speak candidly--to "transcend" race, which is really a way of saying, his ability to carve out an exception for himself in the minds of whites. But this notion of Obama "transcending race" (by which we really mean transcending his blackness) is a patently offensive and even racist notion in that it serves to reinforce generally negative feelings about blacks as a whole; feelings that the presence of exceptions cannot cancel out, and which they can even serve to reinforce. To the extent Obama has become the Cliff Huxtable of politics--a black man with whom millions of whites can identity and to whom they can relate--he has leapt one hurdle, only to watch his white co-countrymen and women erect a still higher one in the path of the black masses. If whites view Obama as having transcended his blackness, and if this is why we like him so much, we are saying, in effect, that the millions of blacks who haven't transcended theirs will remain a problem. To praise the transcending of blackness, after all, is to imply that blackness is something negative, something from which one who might otherwise qualify for membership ought to seek escape, and quickly.

Note, never has a white politician been confronted with questions about his or her ability to transcend race, or specifically, their whiteness. And this is true, even as many white politicians continue to pull almost all of their support from whites, and have almost no luck at convincing people of color to vote for them. In the Democratic primaries this year, Obama has regularly received about half the white vote, while Hillary Clinton has managed to pull down only about one-quarter of the black vote, yet the question has always been whether he could transcend race. The only rational conclusion to which this points is, again, that it is not race per se that needs to be overcome, but blackness. Whiteness is not seen as negative, as something to be conquered or transcended. Indeed, whereas blacks are being asked to rise above their racial identity, for whites, the burden is exactly the opposite: the worst thing for a white person is to fail to live up to the ostensibly high standards set by whiteness; it is to be considered white trash, which is to say, to be viewed as someone who has let down whiteness and fallen short of its pinnacle. For blacks, the worst thing it seems (at least in the minds of whites) is to be seen as black, which is no doubt why so many whites think it's a compliment to say things to black folks like, "I don't even think of you as black," not realizing that the subtext of such a comment is that it's a damned good thing they don't, for if they did, the person so thought of would be up the proverbial creek for sure.

In what must prove among the greatest ironies of all time, for Barack Obama to become President, which he well may accomplish, he will have to succeed in convincing a lot of racist white people to vote for him. Without the support of racists he simply can't win. While this may seem counterintuitive--that is, after all, what makes it ironic--it is really inarguable. After all, according to many an opinion survey in the past decade, large numbers of whites (often as high as one-half to three-quarters) harbor at least one negative and racist stereotype about African Americans, whether regarding their intelligence, law-abidingness, work ethic, or value systems. Without the votes of at least some of those whites (and keep in mind, that's how many whites are willing to admit to racist beliefs, which is likely far fewer than actually hold them), Obama's candidacy would be sunk. So long as whites can vote for a black man only to the extent that he doesn't remind them of other black people, it is fair to say that white people remain mired in a racism quite profound. To the extent we view the larger black community in terms far more hostile than those reserved for Obama, Oprah, Tiger, Colin, Condoleezza, Denzel and Bill (meaning Cosby, not Clinton, whose blackness is believed to be authentic only by himself nowadays), whites have proven how creative we can be, and how resourceful, when it comes to the maintenance of racial inequality.

By granting exemptions from blackness, even to those black folks who did not ask for such exemptions (and nothing I have said here should be taken as a critique of Obama himself by the way, for whom I did indeed vote last month), we have taken racism to an entirely new and disturbing level, one that bypasses the old and all-encompassing hostilities of the past, and replaces them with a new, seemingly ecumenical acceptance in the present. But make no mistake, it is an ecumenism that depends upon our being made to feel good, and on our ability to glom onto folks of color who won't challenge our denial let alone our privileges, even if they might like to.

In short, the success of Barack Obama has proven, perhaps more so than any other single thing could, just how powerful race remains in America. His success, far from disproving white power and privilege, confirms it with a vengeance.

The Eventual End of White Supremacy in the United States (Hallelujah!)

Well, not exactly. Not yet. Not even close. But the following article explores this theme, less in terms of institutionalised political/economic white supremacy, and more in terms of media and culture's understanding of, and confusion about, "whiteness". This is The Atlantic, after all. They gotta keep their politics popular, and as far from militant as possible.

I found this piece to be insightful about many aspects of contemporary dominant U.S. American society and culture.


State of the Union January/February 2009 Atlantic

The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?

The End of White America?
by Hua Hsu

"Civilization’s going to pieces,” he remarks. He is in polite company, gathered with friends around a bottle of wine in the late-afternoon sun, chatting and gossiping. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard?” They hadn’t. “Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be—will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

He is Tom Buchanan, a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a book that nearly everyone who passes through the American education system is compelled to read at least once. Although Gatsby doesn’t gloss as a book on racial anxiety—it’s too busy exploring a different set of anxieties entirely—Buchanan was hardly alone in feeling besieged. The book by “this man Goddard” had a real-world analogue: Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, published in 1920, five years before Gatsby. Nine decades later, Stoddard’s polemic remains oddly engrossing. He refers to World War I as the “White Civil War” and laments the “cycle of ruin” that may result if the “white world” continues its infighting. The book features a series of foldout maps depicting the distribution of “color” throughout the world and warns, “Colored migration is a universal peril, menacing every part of the white world.”

As briefs for racial supremacy go, The Rising Tide of Color is eerily serene. Its tone is scholarly and gentlemanly, its hatred rationalized and, in Buchanan’s term, “scientific.” And the book was hardly a fringe phenomenon. It was published by Scribner, also Fitzgerald’s publisher, and Stoddard, who received a doctorate in history from Harvard, was a member of many professional academic associations. It was precisely the kind of book that a 1920s man of Buchanan’s profile—wealthy, Ivy League–educated, at once pretentious and intellectually insecure—might have been expected to bring up in casual conversation.

As white men of comfort and privilege living in an age of limited social mobility, of course, Stoddard and the Buchanans in his audience had nothing literal to fear. Their sense of dread hovered somewhere above the concerns of everyday life. It was linked less to any immediate danger to their class’s political and cultural power than to the perceived fraying of the fixed, monolithic identity of whiteness that sewed together the fortunes of the fair-skinned.

From the hysteria over Eastern European immigration to the vibrant cultural miscegenation of the Harlem Renaissance, it is easy to see how this imagined worldwide white kinship might have seemed imperiled in the 1920s. There’s no better example of the era’s insecurities than the 1923 Supreme Court case United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, in which an Indian American veteran of World War I sought to become a naturalized citizen by proving that he was Caucasian. The Court considered new anthropological studies that expanded the definition of the Caucasian race to include Indians, and the justices even agreed that traces of “Aryan blood” coursed through Thind’s body. But these technicalities availed him little. The Court determined that Thind was not white “in accordance with the understanding of the common man” and therefore could be excluded from the “statutory category” of whiteness. Put another way: Thind was white, in that he was Caucasian and even Aryan. But he was not white in the way Stoddard or Buchanan were white.

The ’20s debate over the definition of whiteness—a legal category? a commonsense understanding? a worldwide civilization?—took place in a society gripped by an acute sense of racial paranoia, and it is easy to regard these episodes as evidence of how far we have come. But consider that these anxieties surfaced when whiteness was synonymous with the American mainstream, when threats to its status were largely imaginary. What happens once this is no longer the case—when the fears of Lothrop Stoddard and Tom Buchanan are realized, and white people actually become an American minority?

Whether you describe it as the dawning of a post-racial age or just the end of white America, we’re approaching a profound demographic tipping point. According to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, those groups currently categorized as racial minorities—blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians—will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. Among Americans under the age of 18, this shift is projected to take place in 2023, which means that every child born in the United States from here on out will belong to the first post-white generation.

Obviously, steadily ascending rates of interracial marriage complicate this picture, pointing toward what Michael Lind has described as the “beiging” of America. And it’s possible that “beige Americans” will self-identify as “white” in sufficient numbers to push the tipping point further into the future than the Census Bureau projects. But even if they do, whiteness will be a label adopted out of convenience and even indifference, rather than aspiration and necessity. For an earlier generation of minorities and immigrants, to be recognized as a “white American,” whether you were an Italian or a Pole or a Hungarian, was to enter the mainstream of American life; to be recognized as something else, as the Thind case suggests, was to be permanently excluded. As Bill Imada, head of the IW Group, a prominent Asian American communications and marketing company, puts it: “I think in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, [for] anyone who immigrated, the aspiration was to blend in and be as American as possible so that white America wouldn’t be intimidated by them. They wanted to imitate white America as much as possible: learn English, go to church, go to the same schools.”

Today, the picture is far more complex. To take the most obvious example, whiteness is no longer a precondition for entry into the highest levels of public office. The son of Indian immigrants doesn’t have to become “white” in order to be elected governor of Louisiana. A half-Kenyan, half-Kansan politician can self-identify as black and be elected president of the United States.

As a purely demographic matter, then, the “white America” that Lothrop Stoddard believed in so fervently may cease to exist in 2040, 2050, or 2060, or later still. But where the culture is concerned, it’s already all but finished. Instead of the long-standing model of assimilation toward a common center, the culture is being remade in the image of white America’s multiethnic, multicolored heirs.

For some, the disappearance of this centrifugal core heralds a future rich with promise. In 1998, President Bill Clinton, in a now-famous address to students at Portland State University, remarked:

Today, largely because of immigration, there is no majority race in Hawaii or Houston or New York City. Within five years, there will be no majority race in our largest state, California. In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race in the United States. No other nation in history has gone through demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time ... [These immigrants] are energizing our culture and broadening our vision of the world. They are renewing our most basic values and reminding us all of what it truly means to be American.

Not everyone was so enthused. Clinton’s remarks caught the attention of another anxious Buchanan—Pat Buchanan, the conservative thinker. Revisiting the president’s speech in his 2001 book, The Death of the West, Buchanan wrote: “Mr. Clinton assured us that it will be a better America when we are all minorities and realize true ‘diversity.’ Well, those students [at Portland State] are going to find out, for they will spend their golden years in a Third World America.”

Today, the arrival of what Buchanan derided as “Third World America” is all but inevitable. What will the new mainstream of America look like, and what ideas or values might it rally around? What will it mean to be white after “whiteness” no longer defines the mainstream? Will anyone mourn the end of white America? Will anyone try to preserve it?

Another moment from The Great Gatsby: as Fitzgerald’s narrator and Gatsby drive across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, a car passes them, and Nick Carraway notices that it is a limousine “driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl.” The novelty of this topsy-turvy arrangement inspires Carraway to laugh aloud and think to himself, “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge, anything at all …”

For a contemporary embodiment of the upheaval that this scene portended, consider Sean Combs, a hip-hop mogul and one of the most famous African Americans on the planet. Combs grew up during hip-hop’s late-1970s rise, and he belongs to the first generation that could safely make a living working in the industry—as a plucky young promoter and record-label intern in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and as a fashion designer, artist, and music executive worth hundreds of millions of dollars a brief decade later.

In the late 1990s, Combs made a fascinating gesture toward New York’s high society. He announced his arrival into the circles of the rich and powerful not by crashing their parties, but by inviting them into his own spectacularly over-the-top world. Combs began to stage elaborate annual parties in the Hamptons, not far from where Fitzgerald’s novel takes place. These “white parties”—attendees are required to wear white—quickly became legendary for their opulence (in 2004, Combs showcased a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence) as well as for the cultures-colliding quality of Hamptons elites paying their respects to someone so comfortably nouveau riche. Prospective business partners angled to get close to him and praised him as a guru of the lucrative “urban” market, while grateful partygoers hailed him as a modern-day Gatsby.

“Have I read The Great Gatsby?” Combs said to a London newspaper in 2001. “I am the Great Gatsby.”

Yet whereas Gatsby felt pressure to hide his status as an arriviste, Combs celebrated his position as an outsider-insider—someone who appropriates elements of the culture he seeks to join without attempting to assimilate outright. In a sense, Combs was imitating the old WASP establishment; in another sense, he was subtly provoking it, by over-enunciating its formality and never letting his guests forget that there was something slightly off about his presence. There’s a silent power to throwing parties where the best-dressed man in the room is also the one whose public profile once consisted primarily of dancing in the background of Biggie Smalls videos. (“No one would ever expect a young black man to be coming to a party with the Declaration of Independence, but I got it, and it’s coming with me,” Combs joked at his 2004 party, as he made the rounds with the document, promising not to spill champagne on it.)

In this regard, Combs is both a product and a hero of the new cultural mainstream, which prizes diversity above all else, and whose ultimate goal is some vague notion of racial transcendence, rather than subversion or assimilation. Although Combs’s vision is far from representative—not many hip-hop stars vacation in St. Tropez with a parasol-toting manservant shading their every step—his industry lies at the heart of this new mainstream. Over the past 30 years, few changes in American culture have been as significant as the rise of hip-hop. The genre has radically reshaped the way we listen to and consume music, first by opposing the pop mainstream and then by becoming it. From its constant sampling of past styles and eras—old records, fashions, slang, anything—to its mythologization of the self-made black antihero, hip-hop is more than a musical genre: it’s a philosophy, a political statement, a way of approaching and remaking culture. It’s a lingua franca not just among kids in America, but also among young people worldwide. And its economic impact extends beyond the music industry, to fashion, advertising, and film. (Consider the producer Russell Simmons—the ur-Combs and a music, fashion, and television mogul—or the rapper 50 Cent, who has parlayed his rags-to-riches story line into extracurricular successes that include a clothing line; book, video-game, and film deals; and a startlingly lucrative partnership with the makers of Vitamin Water.)

But hip-hop’s deepest impact is symbolic. During popular music’s rise in the 20th century, white artists and producers consistently “mainstreamed” African American innovations. Hip-hop’s ascension has been different. Eminem notwithstanding, hip-hop never suffered through anything like an Elvis Presley moment, in which a white artist made a musical form safe for white America. This is no dig at Elvis—the constrictive racial logic of the 1950s demanded the erasure of rock and roll’s black roots, and if it hadn’t been him, it would have been someone else. But hip-hop—the sound of the post- civil-rights, post-soul generation—found a global audience on its own terms.

Today, hip-hop’s colonization of the global imagination, from fashion runways in Europe to dance competitions in Asia, is Disney-esque. This transformation has bred an unprecedented cultural confidence in its black originators. Whiteness is no longer a threat, or an ideal: it’s kitsch to be appropriated, whether with gestures like Combs’s “white parties” or the trickle-down epidemic of collared shirts and cuff links currently afflicting rappers. And an expansive multiculturalism is replacing the us-against-the-world bunker mentality that lent a thrilling edge to hip-hop’s mid-1990s rise.

Peter Rosenberg, a self-proclaimed “nerdy Jewish kid” and radio personality on New York’s Hot 97 FM—and a living example of how hip-hop has created new identities for its listeners that don’t fall neatly along lines of black and white—shares another example: “I interviewed [the St. Louis rapper] Nelly this morning, and he said it’s now very cool and in to have multicultural friends. Like you’re not really considered hip or ‘you’ve made it’ if you’re rolling with all the same people.”

Just as Tiger Woods forever changed the country-club culture of golf, and Will Smith confounded stereotypes about the ideal Hollywood leading man, hip-hop’s rise is helping redefine the American mainstream, which no longer aspires toward a single iconic image of style or class. Successful network-television shows like Lost, Heroes, and Grey’s Anatomy feature wildly diverse casts, and an entire genre of half-hour comedy, from The Colbert Report to The Office, seems dedicated to having fun with the persona of the clueless white male. The youth market is following the same pattern: consider the Cheetah Girls, a multicultural, multiplatinum, multiplatform trio of teenyboppers who recently starred in their third movie, or Dora the Explorer, the precocious bilingual 7-year-old Latina adventurer who is arguably the most successful animated character on children’s television today. In a recent address to the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, Brown Johnson, the Nickelodeon executive who has overseen Dora’s rise, explained the importance of creating a character who does not conform to “the white, middle-class mold.” When Johnson pointed out that Dora’s wares were outselling Barbie’s in France, the crowd hooted in delight.

Pop culture today rallies around an ethic of multicultural inclusion that seems to value every identity—except whiteness. “It’s become harder for the blond-haired, blue-eyed commercial actor,” remarks Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, of the Hispanic marketing firm Enlace. “You read casting notices, and they like to cast people with brown hair because they could be Hispanic. The language of casting notices is pretty shocking because it’s so specific: ‘Brown hair, brown eyes, could look Hispanic.’ Or, as one notice put it: ‘Ethnically ambiguous.’”

“I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now—like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group. Imada and Newman-Carrasco are part of a movement within advertising, marketing, and communications firms to reimagine the profile of the typical American consumer. (Tellingly, every person I spoke with from these industries knew the Census Bureau’s projections by heart.)

“There’s a lot of fear and a lot of resentment,” Newman-Carrasco observes, describing the flak she caught after writing an article for a trade publication on the need for more-diverse hiring practices. “I got a response from a friend—he’s, like, a 60-something white male, and he’s been involved with multicultural recruiting,” she recalls. “And he said, ‘I really feel like the hunted. It’s a hard time to be a white man in America right now, because I feel like I’m being lumped in with all white males in America, and I’ve tried to do stuff, but it’s a tough time.’”

“I always tell the white men in the room, ‘We need you,’” Imada says. “We cannot talk about diversity and inclusion and engagement without you at the table. It’s okay to be white!

“But people are stressed out about it. ‘We used to be in control! We’re losing control!’”

If they’re right—if white America is indeed “losing control,” and if the future will belong to people who can successfully navigate a post-racial, multicultural landscape—then it’s no surprise that many white Americans are eager to divest themselves of their whiteness entirely.

For some, this renunciation can take a radical form. In 1994, a young graffiti artist and activist named William “Upski” Wimsatt, the son of a university professor, published Bomb the Suburbs, the spiritual heir to Norman Mailer’s celebratory 1957 essay, “The White Negro.” Wimsatt was deeply committed to hip-hop’s transformative powers, going so far as to embrace the status of the lowly “wigger,” a pejorative term popularized in the early 1990s to describe white kids who steep themselves in black culture. Wimsatt viewed the wigger’s immersion in two cultures as an engine for change. “If channeled in the right way,” he wrote, “the wigger can go a long way toward repairing the sickness of race in America.”

Wimsatt’s painfully earnest attempts to put his own relationship with whiteness under the microscope coincided with the emergence of an academic discipline known as “whiteness studies.” In colleges and universities across the country, scholars began examining the history of “whiteness” and unpacking its contradictions. Why, for example, had the Irish and the Italians fallen beyond the pale at different moments in our history? Were Jewish Americans white? And, as the historian Matthew Frye Jacobson asked, “Why is it that in the United States, a white woman can have black children but a black woman cannot have white children?”

Much like Wimsatt, the whiteness-studies academics—figures such as Jacobson, David Roediger, Eric Lott, and Noel Ignatiev—were attempting to come to terms with their own relationships with whiteness, in its past and present forms. In the early 1990s, Ignatiev, a former labor activist and the author of How the Irish Became White, set out to “abolish” the idea of the white race by starting the New Abolitionist Movement and founding a journal titled Race Traitor. “There is nothing positive about white identity,” he wrote in 1998. “As James Baldwin said, ‘As long as you think you’re white, there’s no hope for you.’”

Although most white Americans haven’t read Bomb the Suburbs or Race Traitor, this view of whiteness as something to be interrogated, if not shrugged off completely, has migrated to less academic spheres. The perspective of the whiteness-studies academics is commonplace now, even if the language used to express it is different.

“I get it: as a straight white male, I’m the worst thing on Earth,” Christian Lander says. Lander is a Canadian-born, Los Angeles–based satirist who in January 2008 started a blog called Stuff White People Like (, which pokes fun at the manners and mores of a specific species of young, hip, upwardly mobile whites. (He has written more than 100 entries about whites’ passion for things like bottled water, “the idea of soccer,” and “being the only white person around.”) At its best, Lander’s site—which formed the basis for a recently published book of the same name (reviewed in the October 2008 Atlantic)—is a cunningly precise distillation of the identity crisis plaguing well-meaning, well-off white kids in a post-white world.

“Like, I’m aware of all the horrible crimes that my demographic has done in the world,” Lander says. “And there’s a bunch of white people who are desperate—desperate—to say, ‘You know what? My skin’s white, but I’m not one of the white people who’s destroying the world.’”

For Lander, whiteness has become a vacuum. The “white identity” he limns on his blog is predicated on the quest for authenticity—usually other people’s authenticity. “As a white person, you’re just desperate to find something else to grab onto. You’re jealous! Pretty much every white person I grew up with wished they’d grown up in, you know, an ethnic home that gave them a second language. White culture is Family Ties and Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses—like, this is white culture. This is all we have.”

Lander’s “white people” are products of a very specific historical moment, raised by well-meaning Baby Boomers to reject the old ideal of white American gentility and to embrace diversity and fluidity instead. (“It’s strange that we are the kids of Baby Boomers, right? How the hell do you rebel against that? Like, your parents will march against the World Trade Organization next to you. They’ll have bigger white dreadlocks than you. What do you do?”) But his lighthearted anthropology suggests that the multicultural harmony they were raised to worship has bred a kind of self-denial.

Matt Wray, a sociologist at Temple University who is a fan of Lander’s humor, has observed that many of his white students are plagued by a racial-identity crisis: “They don’t care about socioeconomics; they care about culture. And to be white is to be culturally broke. The classic thing white students say when you ask them to talk about who they are is, ‘I don’t have a culture.’ They might be privileged, they might be loaded socioeconomically, but they feel bankrupt when it comes to culture … They feel disadvantaged, and they feel marginalized. They don’t have a culture that’s cool or oppositional.” Wray says that this feeling of being culturally bereft often prevents students from recognizing what it means to be a child of privilege—a strange irony that the first wave of whiteness-studies scholars, in the 1990s, failed to anticipate.

Of course, the obvious material advantages that come with being born white—lower infant-mortality rates and easier-to-acquire bank loans, for example—tend to undercut any sympathy that this sense of marginalization might generate. And in the right context, cultural-identity crises can turn well-meaning whites into instant punch lines. Consider ego trip’s The (White) Rapper Show, a brilliant and critically acclaimed reality show that VH1 debuted in 2007. It depicted 10 (mostly hapless) white rappers living together in a dilapidated house—dubbed “Tha White House”—in the South Bronx. Despite the contestants’ best intentions, each one seemed like a profoundly confused caricature, whether it was the solemn graduate student committed to fighting racism or the ghetto-obsessed suburbanite who had, seemingly by accident, named himself after the abolitionist John Brown.

Similarly, Smirnoff struck marketing gold in 2006 with a viral music video titled “Tea Partay,” featuring a trio of strikingly bad, V-neck-sweater-clad white rappers called the Prep Unit. “Haters like to clown our Ivy League educations / But they’re just jealous ’cause our families run the nation,” the trio brayed, as a pair of bottle-blond women in spiffy tennis whites shimmied behind them. There was no nonironic way to enjoy the video; its entire appeal was in its self-aware lampooning of WASP culture: verdant country clubs, “old money,” croquet, popped collars, and the like.

“The best defense is to be constantly pulling the rug out from underneath yourself,” Wray remarks, describing the way self-aware whites contend with their complicated identity. “Beat people to the punch. You’re forced as a white person into a sense of ironic detachment. Irony is what fuels a lot of white subcultures. You also see things like Burning Man, when a lot of white people are going into the desert and trying to invent something that is entirely new and not a form of racial mimicry. That’s its own kind of flight from whiteness. We’re going through a period where whites are really trying to figure out: Who are we?”

The “flight from whiteness” of urban, college-educated, liberal whites isn’t the only attempt to answer this question. You can flee into whiteness as well. This can mean pursuing the authenticity of an imagined past: think of the deliberately white-bread world of Mormon America, where the ’50s never ended, or the anachronistic WASP entitlement flaunted in books like last year’s A Privileged Life: Celebrating WASP Style, a handsome coffee-table book compiled by Susanna Salk, depicting a world of seersucker blazers, whale pants, and deck shoes. (What the book celebrates is the “inability to be outdone,” and the “self-confidence and security that comes with it,” Salk tells me. “That’s why I call it ‘privilege.’ It’s this privilege of time, of heritage, of being in a place longer than anybody else.”) But these enclaves of preserved-in-amber whiteness are likely to be less important to the American future than the construction of whiteness as a somewhat pissed-off minority culture.

This notion of a self-consciously white expression of minority empowerment will be familiar to anyone who has come across the comedian Larry the Cable Guy—he of “Farting Jingle Bells”—or witnessed the transformation of Detroit-born-and-bred Kid Rock from teenage rapper into “American Bad Ass” southern-style rocker. The 1990s may have been a decade when multiculturalism advanced dramatically—when American culture became “colorized,” as the critic Jeff Chang put it—but it was also an era when a very different form of identity politics crystallized. Hip-hop may have provided the decade’s soundtrack, but the highest-selling artist of the ’90s was Garth Brooks. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods may have been the faces of athletic superstardom, but it was NASCAR that emerged as professional sports’ fastest-growing institution, with ratings second only to the NFL’s.

As with the unexpected success of the apocalyptic Left Behind novels, or the Jeff Foxworthy–organized Blue Collar Comedy Tour, the rise of country music and auto racing took place well off the American elite’s radar screen. (None of Christian Lander’s white people would be caught dead at a NASCAR race.) These phenomena reflected a growing sense of cultural solidarity among lower-middle-class whites—a solidarity defined by a yearning for American “authenticity,” a folksy realness that rejects the global, the urban, and the effete in favor of nostalgia for “the way things used to be.”

Like other forms of identity politics, white solidarity comes complete with its own folk heroes, conspiracy theories (Barack Obama is a secret Muslim! The U.S. is going to merge with Canada and Mexico!), and laundry lists of injustices. The targets and scapegoats vary—from multiculturalism and affirmative action to a loss of moral values, from immigration to an economy that no longer guarantees the American worker a fair chance—and so do the political programs they inspire. (Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan both tapped into this white identity politics in the 1990s; today, its tribunes run the ideological gamut, from Jim Webb to Ron Paul to Mike Huckabee to Sarah Palin.) But the core grievance, in each case, has to do with cultural and socioeconomic dislocation—the sense that the system that used to guarantee the white working class some stability has gone off-kilter.

Wray is one of the founders of what has been called “white-trash studies,” a field conceived as a response to the perceived elite-liberal marginalization of the white working class. He argues that the economic downturn of the 1970s was the precondition for the formation of an “oppositional” and “defiant” white-working-class sensibility—think of the rugged, anti-everything individualism of 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit. But those anxieties took their shape from the aftershocks of the identity-based movements of the 1960s. “I think that the political space that the civil-rights movement opens up in the mid-1950s and ’60s is the transformative thing,” Wray observes. “Following the black-power movement, all of the other minority groups that followed took up various forms of activism, including brown power and yellow power and red power. Of course the problem is, if you try and have a ‘white power’ movement, it doesn’t sound good.”

The result is a racial pride that dares not speak its name, and that defines itself through cultural cues instead—a suspicion of intellectual elites and city dwellers, a preference for folksiness and plainness of speech (whether real or feigned), and the association of a working-class white minority with “the real America.” (In the Scots-Irish belt that runs from Arkansas up through West Virginia, the most common ethnic label offered to census takers is “American.”) Arguably, this white identity politics helped swing the 2000 and 2004 elections, serving as the powerful counterpunch to urban white liberals, and the McCain-Palin campaign relied on it almost to the point of absurdity (as when a McCain surrogate dismissed Northern Virginia as somehow not part of “the real Virginia”) as a bulwark against the threatening multiculturalism of Barack Obama. Their strategy failed, of course, but it’s possible to imagine white identity politics growing more potent and more forthright in its racial identifications in the future, as “the real America” becomes an ever-smaller portion of, well, the real America, and as the soon-to-be white minority’s sense of being besieged and disdained by a multicultural majority grows apace.

This vision of the aggrieved white man lost in a world that no longer values him was given its most vivid expression in the 1993 film Falling Down. Michael Douglas plays Bill Foster, a downsized defense worker with a buzz cut and a pocket protector who rampages through a Los Angeles overrun by greedy Korean shop-owners and Hispanic gangsters, railing against the eclipse of the America he used to know. (The film came out just eight years before California became the nation’s first majority-minority state.) Falling Down ends with a soulful police officer apprehending Foster on the Santa Monica Pier, at which point the middle-class vigilante asks, almost innocently: “I’m the bad guy?”

But this is a nightmare vision. Of course most of America’s Bill Fosters aren’t the bad guys—just as civilization is not, in the words of Tom Buchanan, “going to pieces” and America is not, in the phrasing of Pat Buchanan, going “Third World.” The coming white minority does not mean that the racial hierarchy of American culture will suddenly become inverted, as in 1995’s White Man’s Burden, an awful thought experiment of a film, starring John Travolta, that envisions an upside-down world in which whites are subjugated to their high-class black oppressors. There will be dislocations and resentments along the way, but the demographic shifts of the next 40 years are likely to reduce the power of racial hierarchies over everyone’s lives, producing a culture that’s more likely than any before to treat its inhabitants as individuals, rather than members of a caste or identity group.

Consider the world of advertising and marketing, industries that set out to mold our desires at a subconscious level. Advertising strategy once assumed a “general market”—“a code word for ‘white people,’” jokes one ad executive—and smaller, mutually exclusive, satellite “ethnic markets.” In recent years, though, advertisers have begun revising their assumptions and strategies in anticipation of profound demographic shifts. Instead of herding consumers toward a discrete center, the goal today is to create versatile images and campaigns that can be adapted to highly individualized tastes. (Think of the dancing silhouettes in Apple’s iPod campaign, which emphasizes individuality and diversity without privileging—or even representing—any specific group.)

At the moment, we can call this the triumph of multiculturalism, or post-racialism. But just as whiteness has no inherent meaning—it is a vessel we fill with our hopes and anxieties—these terms may prove equally empty in the long run. Does being post-racial mean that we are past race completely, or merely that race is no longer essential to how we identify ourselves? Karl Carter, of Atlanta’s youth-oriented GTM Inc. (Guerrilla Tactics Media), suggests that marketers and advertisers would be better off focusing on matrices like “lifestyle” or “culture” rather than race or ethnicity. “You’ll have crazy in-depth studies of the white consumer or the Latino consumer,” he complains. “But how do skaters feel? How do hip-hoppers feel?”

The logic of online social networking points in a similar direction. The New York University sociologist Dalton Conley has written of a “network nation,” in which applications like Facebook and MySpace create “crosscutting social groups” and new, flexible identities that only vaguely overlap with racial identities. Perhaps this is where the future of identity after whiteness lies—in a dramatic departure from the racial logic that has defined American culture from the very beginning. What Conley, Carter, and others are describing isn’t merely the displacement of whiteness from our cultural center; they’re describing a social structure that treats race as just one of a seemingly infinite number of possible self-identifications.

From the archives:
The Freedmen's Bureau
(March 1901)
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line..." By W.E.B. DuBois

The problem of the 20th century, W. E. B. DuBois famously predicted, would be the problem of the color line. Will this continue to be the case in the 21st century, when a black president will govern a country whose social networks increasingly cut across every conceivable line of identification? The ruling of United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind no longer holds weight, but its echoes have been inescapable: we aspire to be post-racial, but we still live within the structures of privilege, injustice, and racial categorization that we inherited from an older order. We can talk about defining ourselves by lifestyle rather than skin color, but our lifestyle choices are still racially coded. We know, more or less, that race is a fiction that often does more harm than good, and yet it is something we cling to without fully understanding why—as a social and legal fact, a vague sense of belonging and place that we make solid through culture and speech.

But maybe this is merely how it used to be—maybe this is already an outdated way of looking at things. “You have a lot of young adults going into a more diverse world,” Carter remarks. For the young Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s, culture is something to be taken apart and remade in their own image. “We came along in a generation that didn’t have to follow that path of race,” he goes on. “We saw something different.” This moment was not the end of white America; it was not the end of anything. It was a bridge, and we crossed it.

Hua Hsu teaches at Vassar College.

Radical Feminist bell hooks on Charlie Rose's talk show

I'm more than annoyed that the video and audio of this YouTube piece are out of sync. It's aggravating to me. If you are sighted and have hearing capability, I recommend just listening to it, eyes closed, so it can be heard with less distraction.

Thank you, professor bell hooks, for your radical feminist theorising, for your many books on many subjects, and for your lectures and other teachings.

For a list of her many books, please go here.

Corporate Racist Atrocious Patriarchy

(...or, um, a PROfeminist!)

In 2005, I coined the term CRAP to mean what it does in the title of this post. I am fond of actual-word acronyms that hold conjoined meanings as a term and as an acronym. I was brought to create that one when reading several of bell hooks' books over one summer almost four years ago. At that time especially, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy was precisely what I was seeking to see analysed. In my own writings, rather than borrowing her phrasing, I sought a shorter way to refer to this cluster of oppressive systems in my own writings. So, C.R.A.P., or CRAP, was born.

I'm realising that I tend to not use that term quite so much here on this blog as I used to on other people's blogs. But I think that'll change now that I see bumper stickers like the one above!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kyle D. Payne: Where Are You?

If you are out of jail, Kyle, please publicly identify your whereabouts. The women in your town or city have the right to know you are among them, and that you sexually assaulted and photographed a woman who had passed out from alcohol.

You invaded the room of a woman student in a dorm, where you were the R.A. And you were not charged with gross sexual assault. That is not justice.

Speaking about Disability: Helen, your words speak to and break my heart


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yoko Ono's Enduring Feminist Message

[Image from this website.]
[For the web source of the article, go here and scroll down.]

All She Is Saying: Yoko Ono's Enduring Feminist Message

Sunday, April 22, 2007; N07

Yoko Ono matters as much today as ever. Read passages from her 1971 manifesto "The Feminization of Society" and you could think she was talking about 2007:

"This society is driven by neurotic speed and force accelerated by greed, and frustration of not being able to live up to the image of men and woman we have created for ourselves; the image has nothing to do with the reality of people."

Ono was in her late 30s when she wrote that essay. By then, she'd devoted 10 years to making conceptual and performance art with the group Fluxus and on her own. She had already begun performing "Cut Piece," one of her most important feminist works, in which the artist presented herself onstage, handed audience members scissors and asked that they cut away at her clothing. Reprised several times since 1964, the work, with its exploration of power dynamics and gender issues, remains relevant now.

Because many of Ono's works are performative or conceptual, she presents us with almost nothing to buy. Today, as in the 1960s, that approach offers an antidote to the ever-expanding art market bubble. Instead of inviting a purchase, Ono asks that we participate in her work. She acknowledges us as much as we must acknowledge her.

Today, at 74, Ono radiates vitality. Her ongoing work -- she gave the Hirshhorn a "Wish Tree" earlier this month -- asks us to help make the world a place of equality and peace for all beings.

In an interview at the Hirshhorn Museum on April 2 (with some follow-up via e-mail), Ono discussed feminism, the art world, witches and wizards.

-- Jessica Dawson

You've said that the role of the artist is to "change the value of things." What is the value of women in our society right now?

[Feminism] came in and it did its job in a way. But even women got scared of that title because there was such a backlash. This is still a backlash time. But the nice thing about it, everybody understands about women now. Because of that they're getting more scared. [Laughs.] There will be a time when the opposite sex will understand that we care for them, too. And we understand them, too.

I worry that women of my generation -- I'm 34 -- are less vigilant in advocating for equal rights. In the art world, the percentage of women represented in major group shows is low to declining. How do you feel about these trends?

That's why I say backlash. Women are starting to find that they might want to go back to the traditional body of women in the sense of wanting to create a family, wanting to have babies. And when they have children they want to spend more time caring for their children. And that's okay, too. Finally they all come to the same realization that we are half the sky and the world. We are a very important energy that the society can use. To denigrate us or to abuse us or to sweep us under the rug is not beneficial for the society itself.

You've made fewer overtly feminist pieces in recent years. Was this a conscious decision to produce fewer feminist works?

I don't think there is any difference in my attitude about my work. And even "Cut Piece" -- I did it in 1964 and then I did it in 2003 in France. I'm still continuing. . . .

I never thought that I was waving flags. I always felt that I was just being me and by being me in my work I was automatically being that one who is promoting the body of women.

Just by the fact that you are a female artist.

And by the fact that that particular way of expressing myself was always being attacked so much. That shows where I stood. That the society was not ready to take a woman as a real woman.

"Yes I'm a Witch" is a song I wrote in 1974. Very interestingly, if you said, "Yes, I'm a wizard" or "You're a wizard," that's a compliment.

A wizard is a male version of a witch. Why is it bad when it's women? Because then immediately you want to burn them. [Laughs.] But wizards you want to praise. We should know that we are all witches. And wizards.

Men and women both.

Yes. The human race is a very, very magical race. We have a magic power of witches and wizards. We're here on this earth to unravel the mystery of this planet. The planet is asking for it.

Much of your work is about peace. Yet you also encourage acceptance of things as they are. Can violence ever be accepted as part of human behavior?

It's a defense mechanism. Like some germs coming to the body and they have to maybe violently correct it, kick the germs out. For that, I think it's very important that we use our power of violence (I don't like the word violence) . . . the power of protecting ourselves.

I recently reread "The Feminization of Society" and it struck me that the essay could have been written yesterday. How do you compare today's society with that of the early 1970s when you wrote it?

At the time, we thought that we were terribly liberated, the sexual revolution and all that. But that was mainly for guys. Women didn't really get the benefit of it because we have a very different body structure.

We're responsible for taking the pill and ingesting all those hormones.

Exactly. So in that sense we are angry -- whenever I think about it, it just makes me very angry -- that anger is very good because it leads to the next positive situation. If we're not angry about it, we won't do anything about it. You have to kill that condition that is not helping us. In that sense, violence can be a component of progress.

In that same essay, you wrote about a second stage of feminism where women "will realize the futility of trying to be like men" and "will realize themselves as they are" rather than in comparison to men. Have we gotten there yet?

It is starting to dawn on all women that it is time to forget about trying to compete with men who, with their blunders, have shown us that they have not been doing such a great job. Why try to equate ourselves with such flawed power?

In fact, the whole world is starting to realize that it was the most unwise thing for our society to have ignored women power, to run the society with male priorities. Desperation is finally opening the door to wisdom.

A Response to Ryan Thoreson at The

What follows is a piece of commentary posted at the on Thursday, 22 January 2009, 14.30 GMT. What follows that is my reply to him.

Why ban porn at all?

China's crackdown on internet 'vulgarity' was immediately attacked, but there are draconian rules in our own universities

by Ryan Thoreson

The sex wars have begun anew – and this time, they've gone global. As if restrictions on free-flowing information weren't already unsexy enough, the Chinese government has upped the ante by cracking down on pornography and "vulgarity" across the country.

Almost instantly, the move was roundly condemned by free-speech advocates. Depending who you asked, it was a blow to free expression, a setback for grassroots media or a gross invasion of privacy. And virtually everyone agreed that the punishment seemed wildly inappropriate for the offence of poor taste and the occasional bit of self-abuse.

While plenty of people oppose pornography (most famously, savvy feminist academics like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon) very few people leap to the defence of the strict policing or draconian punishments of this particular episode. It wasn't the manufacturers of pornography who got caught in the dragnet, or the models, actors, filmmakers or photographers, or even the viewers themselves, but the search engines that knowingly or unknowingly host the offending pages. As a result, 19 companies – including major players like Baidu and Google – are subject to being raided and having their equipment seized. As of this morning, more than 1,250 websites had been shuttered, and the ministry of public security announced plans to expand the crackdown to police individuals' mobile phones.

But really, who are we to talk? While pornography isn't illegal in the UK, restrictions aren't that different at Oxford – or really, any of the UK's other bastions of learning. According to Oxford's information technology policy, like other universities on the government-funded JANET programme, "the creation, transmission, storage, downloading, or display of any offensive, obscene, indecent, or menacing images, data, or other material, or any data capable of being resolved into such images or material" is a punishable offence for users on university networks. Cambridge's policy is similar, as is Manchester's. King's College lumps porn into a range of reactionary offences; by banning content "which is sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, pornographic or similarly discriminatory or offensive" they skilfully blur the lines between self-love and hate speech. As quick as commentators have been to condemn the crackdown in China, our intelligentsia don't seem to be any less squeamish about porn themselves.

It's not just this instance, either. Just prior to China's sweeps, pundits were up in arms over Facebook's ban of breastfeeding photos. But while Oxford or Cambridge might let the photos slide, they're not necessarily permissible. As the policies stand, universities in the UK not only prohibit displaying racy photos on their networks, they often prohibit uploading and sending them privately in the sanctity of a university room.

Obviously, there's a non-trivial difference in scale between China's crackdown and a fed-up IT technician who reports a student to a university. It's said that Oxford rarely enforces its policy, and certainly, nobody has their belongings confiscated or gets detained indefinitely for breaking that particular rule. Moreover, Oxford – like many institutions – does explicitly allow students to access racy materials for "properly supervised research purposes", although the policy neglects to say what constitutes a properly supervised use of porn, or what unlucky group of bureaucrats is asked to evaluate such claims.

If it's trivial or impractical to regulate, why ban porn at all? Many universities argue that surfing for porn is banned because it's not for academic purposes. But this hardly explains why students are only lectured on porn as they are introduced to the network. Nobody worries that they'll be sent down for shopping for jeans, emailing their grandmother or checking a bus schedule. And frankly, they probably get more out of the porn. It's hard to single out pornography as uniquely anti-intellectual – and it certainly doesn't make sense to ban it at universities where students regularly skip to bops in schoolgirl miniskirts or fetish gear.

But what such vague and imprecise prohibitions do promote is a kind of self-consciousness, fearfulness, and shame about accessing content that might be damning. Worse, they allow the university to crack down on whoever it chooses, whenever it chooses, with whatever punishments it chooses. It lends itself to targeting people who watch porn often, or who are into kinky stuff that catches the university's eye. That's especially arbitrary to those of us who think porn is pretty innocuous compared to the rampant misogyny or violence that you can watch unrestricted on TV, but the sheer inconsistency of it should give even critics of pornography pause. Pornography can be sexist and it can be offensive, but it isn't inherently so – and if porn offends, so does a lot of the material on the internet. And for institutions that prize curiosity and free thought, a blanket prohibition on net-based erotica alone seems awfully difficult to justify.

The politics of pornography are complicated everywhere, in the UK just as much as in China. But a key difference between the two is that porn isn't illegal in Britain, and that's what makes this puritanical streak in academia especially incomprehensible. It's frankly bizarre for universities to distribute contraception and test for chlamydia while banning porn – to effectively tell students that they can touch, but not look. While pornography might be distasteful to some, that kind of sex schizophrenia that persists in its place is a much bigger turn-off.

Cheers Ryan.

Andrea Dworkin was not an academic, she was a writer and activist. So your theories about the Academy or the State banning pornography don't hold together if you're going to include her work as an example of such a connection. Dworkin dropped out of Bennington College and never worked as a professor. Yes, she taught a class or two at one point, but teaching a class or two, along with being a college drop-out does not an academic make.

Dworkin and MacKinnon (first name, Catharine; do you have a problem with spelling?) never promoted State censorship as a means of confronting the problem pornography poses for women and their economic, political, and social subordination to men. Regurgitating ad nauseam that such feminists were pro-censorship is a handy myth for those who are sexually or economically invested in not knowing the truth of what they worked together to do; they created a CIVIL RIGHTS law. Sorry to interrupt your argument with inconvenient truths.

If you are capable of reading and comprehending feminist writing, make a concerted effort to comprehend this speech, by Andrea Dworkin: Pornography Happens To Women. In my experience, "academically educated men" are quite stupid when it comes to interpreting the meaning of feminist theory and the function and purpose of civil rights/sex discrimination-based feminist anti-pornography activism. Visit this website, and pay close attention to "Section 5: ENFORCEMENT" and note how such a law may, and may not, be applied.

In the U.S. we have a category of speech, appropriately termed "hate speech" which is not protected by our First Amendment. Pornography, the term, literally means the graphic depiction of women as whores. It is, at least, hate speech. Women are not whores, they are human beings, despite what pimps, punters, procurers, traffickers, and political libertarians delusionally believe. Women of all ethnicities have the right to study in intellectual environments (and beyond them) where the message "you are a whore [or: slut, skank, tramp, harlot, hoe, c*nt, hoochie mama, slag, hooker, tart, etc.] is not visually displayed before them, or hurled at them in order to intimidate, harass, humiliate, silence, or threaten them.

Men do, at least on occasion, treat women as whores-by-nature, when women do not wish to be approached or contacted by men at all. Every women I know is routinely approached on the street, or called out to, by men who assume "women exist to be sexually available to me, whenever I want such access". Men, not all, treat women, not all, as if they are whores, including on university campuses, which is one dynamic in the problem of college date rape. Too many males feel entitled to get what they want from women regardless of what the woman wants. Wanking off to images of women who appear to want to be roughly f*cked 24/7 does nothing to reinforce and support the liberating idea that women are not whores-by-nature, including prostituted women. Let's hope that millionaire pimps, their bevy of very well-paid attorneys, and you, aren't the only ones who gets to define what pornography is, self-servingly decreeing its social-political effects.

That you do not see the connections between a multi-billion dollar industry producing hate speech, and the mistreatment of women inside and outside of that industry is a function of your privilege. Just because you don't understand these connections, however, doesn't mean pornography-on-campus isn't a legitimate human rights problem for many female students.

King's College recognizes pornography as race and sex discrimination. It being "offensive" is not the issue. Holding such a view doesn't make one "squeamish", Ryan; it makes one an opponent of the individual rights of the wealthy, race and sex-privileged elite, when they impede on the civil rights of the oppressed.

Ryan's and my comments may also be found here.