Monday, April 4, 2011

Acknowledging the Passing of a Radical Intellectual and Activist, Manning Marable

this lovely photograph of Manning Marable (May 13, 1950 – April 1, 2011) is from here

Manning Marable passed on just a few days ago, on April 1, 2011. For those who are not familiar with him or his work, he was an African American radical anti-racism scholar, professor, writer, and activist. His newest book has just been published, days following his passing. It is a very important book, titled Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, In it, Manning Marable has challenged portions of Malcolm's own autobiography, and added to the scholarship and inquiry regarding his assassination. I watched some coverage today on his life and work, including interviews with him. My condolences to his loved ones and to so many people whose lives he touched, shaped, and radicalised.

Tavis Smiley remembers him here:

Here's a link to his newest book:

Here is a discussion with him on that book, from Democracy Now!

With Gratitude to Barbara Ransby, for writing "Quilting A Movement"

What follows comes from In These Times. I wish to thank Barbara Ransby for writing this.
You may link back to the source website by clicking on the title, Quilting a Movement, just below.
Features » April 4, 2011

Quilting a Movement

Real movements for social change need many grassroots leaders—not one charismatic politician.

By Barbara Ransby

Ella Baker. (Photo by: AFP/Getty Images)
Ella Baker was fond of asking the question--who are your people? She meant where do you come from, but she also meant, who do you identify with?
Many progressives, especially young people, had their hopes dashed after the 2008 election when President Barack Obama did not deliver on his campaign promises for real fundamental change. There was even greater despair after the GOP took Congress in 2010. But there are lessons here. First and foremost, we cannot rely on a single charismatic figure, no matter how sweet-talking or smooth-walking he is (and it is always a ‘he’ isn’t it?). And we cannot rely on elections alone as our sole mode of political organizing. Slogans and bumper stickers tell us what we need to be doing. “Don’t mourn, organize.” “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” “No one will save us but ourselves.” Yet we still don’t seem to get it.
In order to map our next moves, we would do well to look to the example of the late civil rights leader and radical intellectual Ella Baker. She understood that in order to create a broad-based progressive movement that would fight for palliative reforms and push for institutional change we have to build deep ties (not one time “hook up” coalitions) between diverse communities of activists. It is easier to say “let’s build a movement,” however, than it is to do it. The work is gritty not glamorous, messy not neat, protracted not immediate. As both Baker and Brazilian educator Paolo Freire insisted, we have to engage in active listening as the first step to movement building.
There are a number of obstacles that stand in the way of movement building at this particular juncture. We must reappraise how we have read, or misread, the history of the last 50 years. First, we need to develop a more nuanced understanding of what is derisively termed “identity politics.” Second, we need to comprehend the mechanics of how social justice movements are built. And third, we need to reconsider who we look to for answers, and inspiration.
Emerging from the turbulent 1960s, activists were fragmented, factionalized and frustrated. In the wake of intense organizing (mainly against war, racism, sexism and poverty), some folks (namely those not in the majority or in a dominant position within either the left or society) felt cynical and skeptical about multi-cultural and multi-issue organizing. In multiracial women’s groups, lesbians and women of color often felt marginal. In labor struggles, undocumented workers and service and temporary workers, as well as black workers in some industries, felt outside of the fold, their concerns not a priority. Demands from people of color, GLBTQ people and women have been read as “divisive” of “big tent” movement efforts. Some black activists felt racism within the left and liberal coalitions dictated a need for all-black organizations. Lesbians saw themselves whited out of the leadership of mainstream feminist struggles as a way to make demands more palatable to a generic public. The examples go on.
What so-called identity groups rejected was not coming together with a diverse array of other progressive folks, but the terms on which we would all come together. This is an important point because some intellectuals have diagnosed the left as suffering from “interest group” politics suggesting that our problem is too much focus on race and gender, and not class. According to Walter Benn Michaels, writing in New Left Review, “It is exploitation, not discrimination, that is the primary producer of inequality today. It is neoliberalism, not racism or sexism (or homophobia or ageism) that creates the inequalities that matter most in American society; racism and sexism are just sorting devices.” We are surrounded by the ubiquitous nonsense about living in a post-racial and post-feminist society. And we are bombarded by articles on the dangers and irrelevance of diversity by left intellectuals in publications like In These Times. For example, John M. Davis writes in the March 2011 issue, “Progressives have become participants in a ‘separate but equal’ scheme. By promoting diversity, we think we are promoting both equality and individual rights. They are not the same thing.”
As a result of such skewed thinking, we are ill-equipped to create the principled, inclusive movement that some of the most oppressed peoples in our society will feel at home in. The reality is class exploitation and racism are not at odds but intimately related, and the progressive movement cannot turn a blind eye to different degrees of privilege and power within our ranks. Still, progressive publications seem to increasingly feel okay with all-white staffs. Left conferences still have to be challenged to not have all-male panels. Non-English speakers, Native Americans and the disabled are often quite literally left out in the cold altogether. Now, this need for “diversity within the left,” if you will, is not an end unto itself. But it is a necessary starting point. And to the extent that we dismiss it, we will continue to have false starts in our movement organizing efforts.
Despite what some of my anti-identity politics colleagues think, important work is being and has been done by folks who began their political sojourn in organizations that focus on issues of race, class, gender, disability status and sexuality.
But within so-called “identity politics,” two schools of thought exist: a liberal “put somebody who looks like me in charge” wing, and a radical wing with a strong structural and class analysis. This latter group is led and inspired primarily by women of color. Women such as Angela Davis (renowned radical and a founder of Critical Resistance), Audre Lorde (the Caribbean-American poet and lesbian activist), Barbara Smith (black feminist writer/activist and co-founder of Combahee River Collective and Kitchen Table Press), Chandra Mohanty (a post-colonial and transnational feminist), Kimberle Crenshaw (Critical Race Theory scholar and constitutional law professor), the late Gloria Anzaldua (a chicano activist and queer theorist), and Andrea Smith (the Cherokee feminist and anti-violence activist), for example.
Despite many caricatures of us, women of color and Third World or postcolonial feminists have rarely, if ever, advocated narrow single issue politics or “my group” versus “your group” politics. Our mantra of “race, class, gender and sexuality” (to which we should add disability/ableism) militates against exclusivity. In fact, what we believe is precisely the opposite of what we are accused of by the anti-identity politics crowd. Most of us reject the problematic term identity politics altogether.
Indeed, rather than separating ourselves from the big tent left, women of color feminists have been in the forefront of a kind of coalition and movement building work. If we accept the idea of ‘intersectionality” (a feminist term that links various overlapping and related forms of oppression into one analysis), the praxis of intersectionality is movement building.
A movement needs many leaders
Our second historical misconception involves the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and what that signifies for movement politics today. One of the most powerful social movements of the twentieth century, it did not, as mainstream characterization would have it, rest on the courage of a few heroic men; did not rely heavily on politicians; and often operated outside of large established organizations.
One of the key forces to propel the black freedom struggle forward in the early 1960s was a group of militant young people who borrowed from the wisdom of their radical elders. Out of an historic meeting, in April 1960 the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was born and a new phase of activism began.
Despite what many think, older, predominately male-led, hierarchical organizations like Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) were not the key players after 1960.
For example, the national NAACP, as a matter of policy, discouraged its members from engaging in civil disobedience and in fact was known to reign in local members who did not comply. CORE abandoned the 1961 interstate Freedom Rides only to have them taken over by a coalition led by the newly formed and highly-decentralized SNCC. And SCLC, Martin Luther King’s organization, wanted to absorb the young sit-in leaders. SNCC deliberately chose not to join the organization but to launch something new and independent instead.
It was SNCC that would ride the crest of a new wave of protests and provocative electoral campaigns in the South. SNCC’s bold actions revived the Civil Rights Movement in the spring of 1960, which carried over to Freedom Summer in 1964 and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party that same year.
SNCC was not a highly centralized, top down organization like its counterparts. It was a grassroots enterprise that embraced Ella Baker’s notion of group-centered leadership. When asked by reporters, “Who is your leader?” SNCC members would reply, “We all are.” Their more fluid style of community-based leadership was a strength, not a weakness. They did not have to go through bureaucratic chains of command, get approval from higher ups, or cater to wealthy or well-connected funders in order to take action. They were able to adapt and respond creatively to local situations.
Moreover, they were able to take the lead from local organizers who knew their communities. Legendary southern leaders from poor and working class backgrounds like Amzie Moore, Joyce Ladner, June Johnson, Hollis Watkins and Fannie Lou Hamer were able to make their voices heard because of the open and de-centralized structure of SNCC.
Who are your people?
Ella Baker was fond of asking the question—who are your people? She meant where do you come from, but she also meant, who do you identify with? When you have to take sides, where do you stand and who will be there with you? She pushed educated college students to see illiterate sharecroppers as “their people,” their allies and their political mentors. She pushed Northerners to embrace Southerners in principled solidarity. She organized back and forth across various color and cultural lines, and most importantly, across generational divides. In other words, she was a political quilter. She did not advocate forging coalitions of convenience: short-lived and limited. Instead, she wanted to create a movement and nurture the kind of long-term relationships that would sustain it. She tenaciously stitched together fragments of a progessive community into a patchwork of a movement.
Ella Baker taught us how we ought to do our movement work: take time to be inclusive, be active listeners, walk the thorny and sometimes circuitous path of participatory democracy, mutual respect and genuine solidarity; and build campaigns from the bottom up not the top down. Today’s progressives should take these lessons to heart, if they want to succeed in creating the social change our world desperately needs.
Barbara Ransby is a professor of history at the University of Illinois-Chicago, the author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision and a founder of the activist group Ella's Daughters.

Be Outraged. And Organise Against the Major U.S. Banks and the Government: "The Next Housing Shock" by CBS's 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley (April 3, 2011)

image of someone who has probably never spent a day in prison is from here

This story would be unbelievable if it were fiction. The history of the U.S. is the history of displacing people from their homes. We begin with the English, French, and other European men who came here to steal land from those who already lived here, pretending this was a New World, not an Old World they were trespassing on. We move into the many ways wealthier people gentrify neighborhoods, forcing working poor and working class people out, allowing wealthier whiter people in. Because all the effected people so far are not white and men, we don't expect them to organise against the U.S. government's and corporations' fraudulent, thieving ways.

But now imagine the shock of the banking industry when they attempted to foreclose on a middle class white woman for not paying her mortgage, and using a fraudulent document to try and kick her to the curb. As you'll see, she was an attorney who had trained the FBI in how to recognise forged and fraudulent documents. And she showed them.

I hope everyone who has been negatively affected by what you see here will organise to hold the banks accountable, if you haven't already. These banks charge us all kinds of ridiculous, shareholder-enriching fees for making tiny mistakes, like buying something that cost five dollars over what we have in our checking account because we're not shareholders and only have a few dollars to our name. What do we charge them for illegally taking our homes, leaving us homeless, while committing fraud?

Women of all colors have been the primary movers and shakers of justice-seeking activism. The portraits of the alleged heroes of so many social justice movements erase the women out of history, fictionalising the accounts of social change to make it seem as though only men have the capabilities to lead--yet another form of gross theft and intentional dishonesty. So don't forget those women of all colors, who have been active for decades, for centuries, on the land that is this relatively new country, as you watch what follows.

Everything that follows is from here:;photovideo#ixzz1IahYVgGG

The next housing shock

April 3, 2011 5:00 PM
As more and more Americans face mortgage foreclosure, banks' crucial ownership documents for the properties are often unclear and are sometimes even bogus, a condition that's causing lawsuits and hampering an already weak housing market. Scott Pelley reports.
Mortgage paperwork mess: the next housing shock?

And what of the Poor and Working Class in Amerikkka, for whom The American Dream was never in reach?

What needs to happen is the middle class and anyone wealthier being led by the working poor into class consciousness and revolution. The middle class has been fucked over, to be sure. But not more so than the poor in this racist-sexist-classist country. What needs to happen is men being led by women into consciousness about patriarchal atrocities and abuses. What needs to happen is people of color, including especially Indigenous Americans, leading whites into race consciousness and environmental consciousness, toward ending all this CRAP, once and for all, not pretending there can be such a thing as a just war or a just racist capitalist patriarchal civilisation. What follows is from AlterNet and may be linked back to by clicking on the title just below.
The rich have been sucking the economic lifeblood from the middle class for decades. Today, "We Are One" rallies are happening all over the country.
The nation’s greedy corporations and insatiable wealthy are fattening themselves on workers. There’s no trickle down. It’s the opposite; the rich have been sucking the economic lifeblood from the middle class for decades.

When reckless Wall Street banksters get taxpayer-funded bailouts, billionaires get tax breaks and gigantic corporations like GE and Bank of America pay absolutely no federal income taxes, they’re getting for free the very public services that enable them to make massive profits in this country – the courts, the roads, the trade regulators, the patent enforcement.

The middle class doesn’t get those big time special deals and loopholes. Workers pay their taxes. As a result, it’s workers footing the bill for the government services that enrich the rich. Greedy corporations, their CEOs and the right-wing politicians they buy with tens of millions in campaign cash are freeloaders.

It’s time workers stood up to the freeloaders. Join Monday’s We Are One rallies. These demonstrations across the country by religious groups, social justice organizations and labor unions will illustrate that the middle class is mad as hell and not going to take trickster economics anymore.

It’s time for greedy corporations and the insatiable rich to pay their fair share. It’s time to stop cuts to the government programs most treasured by and vital to the middle class and the vulnerable in this country – education, public transportation, Social Security. It’s time to stop right-wing attempts to terminate democratic rights like collective bargaining and voting without harassment. It’s time for the middle class to stop paying for everything and for the insatiable rich and greedy corporations to start sharing the sacrifice required to recover from the economic crisis caused by reckless gambling by Wall Street bankster corporations.

March for your rights Monday. March for the middle class facing record rates of foreclosure, unemployment, child poverty, and loss of opportunity as country club conservatives cut off college loans and Head Start.

March for the right of college students to register and vote in the towns where they study. March for the right of workers to band together, elect representatives and bargain with employers for better pay and working conditions. March for the right of the people to insist that corporations pay at least the same rate of taxes as workers do. March to end tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent who have now acquired more wealth than all the workers in the bottom 90 percent.

Greedy corporations, the insatiable wealthy and their purchased politicians have for three decades skewed public policy to enrich themselves while pushing down wages and benefits for the middle class.

From 1947 to 1975, a time of strong unionization in the workforce, real wages of average workers increased with productivity. The 75 percent rise in productivity and the nearly matching rise in wages gave the United States the largest, most vibrant middle class in the history of the world.

Since 1978, productivity grew 86 percent, but compensation for workers grew only 37 percent, and if the cost of benefits, mostly uncontrolled health insurance increases, is removed, the real average hourly wage did not rise for 35 years, according to Alan S. Blinder, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Here’s how it works: The nation’s largest corporation, General Electric, earns tens of billions in profits from the labor of its workers but refuses to share the benefits with them. GE is expected to demand that its 15,000 unionized U.S. workers accept benefit cuts. So they’ll pay more for their retirement and health care and have less money to live and to pay taxes.

Meanwhile, the share of national income captured by the richest one percent rose from 8 percent in 1975 to 23.5 percent in 2005.

Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president in the 1950s, the nation’s richest paid an effective tax rate of 70 percent after loopholes. Today, it’s 16 percent – significantly lower than the 25 percent forked over through payroll deductions by individual workers earning between $34,500 and $83,600 a year.

That resulted from deliberate policy changes. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, country club conservatives cut taxes for the wealthy, while at the same time ending routine minimum wage increases and undermining the bargaining rights of labor.

The changes were made by increasingly wealthy politicians increasingly influenced by lobbyists. For example, 60 percent of the freshmen in the U.S. Senate and 40 percent in the U.S. House are millionaires. By contrast, only 1 percent of Americans are worth more than $1 million.

Compounding that is corporate influence, which worsened last year when the U.S. Supreme Court enabled corporations to donate unlimited money in secret. The upshot is corporations like General Electric, spending millions to lobby and paying zero in federal income taxes. GE spent $200 million to lobby for loopholes in the federal income tax code over the past decade, made $26 billion in American profits over the past five years, and not only paid absolutely no federal income taxes, but got itself a $4.1 billion rebate from the IRS.

That is far from an anomaly. Two out of every three U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. And the situation hasn’t improved since then. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has written repeatedly about tax avoidance by the likes of Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, Wall Street banks that former President George W. Bush handed hundreds of billions in bail out dollars.

Bank of America got a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, even though it made $4.4 billion. Goldman paid only 1.1 percent in federal income taxes on its $2.3 billion in profits. New York Times reporter David Kocieniewski wrote in his story about GE that such tax dodging by corporations has resulted in a significant decline in federal revenue from corporations – from 30 percent in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.

Tax avoidance is a virtuous cycle for greedy corporations and the wealthy. They pay less in taxes, then have more money to lobby politicians to lower their taxes. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that lawmakers are hiring lobbyists right from their K Street firms to write legislation. And Congress’ new right wingers are increasing this trend. Since they took office in January, nearly half of the 150 former lobbyists working in top policy jobs in Congress were hired. 

For workers, however, it’s a vicious cycle. They’re forced to pay the taxes shirked by greedy corporations and the insatiable wealthy. And they’re forced to suffer service cut backs.

Right now, right wingers are trying to cut $51.5 billion from the federal budget – demanding elimination of programs essential to the middle class and poor such as subsidies for home heating for the impoverished. But if the wealthy paid their share, say hedge fund manager John Paulson who earned $2.4 million an hour in 2010 – then those cuts would be unnecessary because the federal government would have an extra $69.5 billion in revenue.

Forty-three years ago on April 4 Martin Luther King was assassinated after standing up for the right of public sector workers in Memphis, Tenn. to negotiate for better lives.

In his last speech, Rev. King said God had allowed him to go to the mountaintop where he’d looked over and seen the Promised Land. “I may not get there with you,” he cautioned, “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land.”

Greedy corporations and the wealthy have made it to the mountain top. And they’re shoving American workers down the hillside to ensure the Promised Land is reserved only for the richest.

The promise of America democracy is equality. Equal rights, equal treatment under the law, equal opportunity. Freeloading by greedy corporations and the insatiable wealthy is denying those promises to the vast majority of citizens. Americans must unify and march to wrest back those rights and secure the American Dream for all.

Take a first step. Join one of the 600 We Are One demonstrations on April 4.

Leo W. Gerard is the international president of the United Steelworkers union. He is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee and chairs the labor federation’s Public Policy Committee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Wilkinson


More on Patriotism and Progress

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