Dispatch #31 September 30th 2017
Day 328 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
Day 253 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy- Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
So yeah, keeping the outrage, the out-raging, and the resistance fired up is soul-enervating and mind-debilitating. The constant hagiographic normalizing of White Supremacy and Misogyny is like acid rain beating on the brain and heart.
An insidiously poisonous example involves Mitch McConnell being routinely described by the mainstream media as the Republicans’ master tactician in the Senate. Uh –Huh, his singular accomplishment for the last 8 years involved total opposition to the Obama Administration premised on fueling the flames of White Supremacist horror at the event of a black man in the white house. And oh yeah, violating procedure rules, he refused to hold hearings for a year on a legitimate Supreme Court nominee premised on elevating the War on Women and rewarding misogynists. Come on now: All hail Mitch McConnell as the master-toady-tactician-quisling for White Supremacy and Misogyny in service of Early 21st Century American Fascism.
We must all resist normalizing, if only to have the small satisfaction for being on the side of justice and equity when future historians assess Early 21st Century American Fascism nurtured to full flowering by the Ascendency of White Supremacy and Misogyny, and the Emergence of Global Capitalism’s Unrestrained Reign of Human and Environmental Degradation.
A BIG shout-out to New York Times columnist Charles Blow who is committed to resist normalizing the White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS and to insist on unrelenting condemnation.
From Blow’s column Soul Survival in Trump’s Hell:
You could stay in hell for a little while if you knew that you were going to get out.
My mother always told me that when I was going through something tough and dispiriting. It was her way of saying that trouble doesn’t last forever, that even in your darkest place, hold fast to the hope and the light, that though today you are in the valley, tomorrow you shall scale the peak.
Well, Mama, this is hell. Indeed, Donald Trump’s America is the Ninth Circle.
And while I know that a president is limited to two terms, and I highly doubt that Trump could be re-elected to a second term and think that Robert Mueller’s investigation may curtail the first, I am still struggling to maintain optimism and perseverance.
I don’t think that this is even a matter of fatigue, but rather of the capacity of rage and the length of mourning. Hopelessness is a very human response when the feeling of persecution intersects with the feeling of powerlessness.
Like many Americans, I try my best to do the small affirming things in my family and in my community that express my love and reaffirm my values….I try to nourish my soul so that it will survive, because I know that the fight is not finished. We are in hell. We have to remember that one day we will get out. www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/opinion/soul-survival-in-trumps-hell.html
From Blow’s column Dispatch From The Resistance:
I often hear from Trump enthusiasts and accommodators that at some point resistance must submit, that the time for outrage is term-limited, that at a point, complete opposition registers as unfair and unpatriotic.
This always settles on me in a most unsettling way. How is it, precisely, that right becomes less right and wrong less wrong simply by the passage of time and the weariness of repetition?
How is it that morality wavers and weakens, accommodates and acquiesces?
It seems to me the oddest of asks: Surrender what you know to be a principled position because “moving on” and “moderation” are the instruments that polite society uses to browbeat the radical insisting on righteous restoration.
I see no value or honor in this retreat.
I don’t even think my crusade is a personal one, although it must be said that every day that I wake and recall that a bigoted, sexist, intolerant, transphobic scoundrel is president, my stomach turns and my skin crawls.
None of this is normal or right, and Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, in my opinion, has become one of the most dangerous men in America because he is endeavoring to make the abominable look acceptable. No, thanks, sir, I prefer my disasters not to wear a disguise. www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/opinion/dispatch-from-the-resistance.html
From The Flag Is Drenched In Our Blood where he points out that the American flag represents a country with 400 year history of black slavery and apartheid where black people have somehow survived and sometimes thrived:
But I am also infuriated by his framing: that this has nothing to do with race (whenever you hear that, know that the subject at hand must have everything to do with race) and that this is just about patriotism, honoring national ritual, celebrating soldiers, particularly the fallen, and venerating “our flag.”
What this misses is that patriotism is particularly fraught for black people in this country because the history of the country’s treatment of them is fraught. It’s not that black people aren’t patriotic; it’s just that patriotism can be a paradox. Many black people see themselves simultaneously as part of America and separate from it, under attack by it, and it has always been thus.
People upset with those who kneel seem to be more angry about black “disrespect” than black death. (Here, I need to applaud the non-black players who demonstrated their solidarity in the cause of free speech and equality.)
We have to accept that different Americans see pride and principle differently, but that makes none of them less American.
Indeed, we Americans see the flag itself differently. As the civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “The flag is drenched with our blood.” www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/opinion/the-flag-is-drenched-with-our-blood.html
We must understand the significance of the PeeeOTUS’s latest foray into inflaming and encouraging White Supremacist violence and hatred by attacking certain black athletes who protest injustice in the public square of national sports. Sports serves as a primary socializer, nationalizer and cultural mediator. Moreover, the growing dominance of black athletes in national American sports threatens whiteness and challenges the rules of behavior dictated by toxic male whiteness.
In Taking A Knee Is Not About Abstract Unity But Racial Justice, Dave Zirin, highly regarded social justice sportswriter (yes, this is possible), calls out efforts of PeeeeOTUS and others to distort and dilute the courageous protests of black athletes.
People like Jerry Jones and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and all the owners, linking arms with their players, are as complicit in obscuring the actual meaning of taking a knee as Donald Trump himself. It’s a case of competing narcissisms. We absolutely cannot allow this debate to become one of “unity” vs. “the flag” or a liberal brand of bumper-sticker patriotism (“Protest Is Patriotic”) vs. the Trumpian brand (“Stand or Die!”).
This is what it’s about. It started because the killings of people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile last summer were intolerable for anyone with a conscience.
Protesting during the anthem was about highlighting that gap between what we are told the flag represents and the lived experience of too many people. Or as Kaepernick himself said a year ago, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Then I asked Chris Petrella, who works with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp to develop political-education curricula. He said:
“I am deeply concerned that the original political thrust of #TakeAKnee is being both diluted and recast through the shallow, simple, and ahistorical vocabulary of “unity.” This kind of political shift, however, is far from surprising. History has proven that white supremacy has a way of reframing the terrain of political debate—changing the goalposts, if you will, and policing the parameters of acceptable discourse when communities of color pose threats to its persistence. My sincere hope is that folks in the movement refuse to cede the pointed and historical language of police violence, institutional racism, and white supremacy. To paraphrase James Baldwin, we white folks are trapped in a history we don’t understand. Calling for unity flattens history and makes a mockery out of the passage of time. Unity does not heal; truth does. If we’re after truth and justice, then knowing our history might be a good place to start.”
It is so important for us to draw strength and inspiration from the people throughout the sports world standing up to Trump. But inside the movement, we do need to not be silent as we link arms. We need to turn to those alongside us and say the names of those killed by police. We need to say that unity matters, but not unity with those who would blackball Colin Kaepernick. We can never forget that this is a movement for those who, because of racism and state violence, can no longer speak for themselves. www.thenation.com/article/taking-a-knee-is-not-about-abstract-unity-but-racial-justice/
Similarly, in Please Stop Defending Colin Kaepernick. You’re Doing It Wrong, Michael Harriot educates, chastises, and exhorts white people:
Over the past year, people have tried to whitesplain taking a knee with gobbledygook about America’s need to have a conversation about the underprivileged, inherent bias, or anything that’s not about the flag, the anthem or race. What began as a radical, obstinate statement of resistance and truth has been “All Lives Mattered” by people trying to make it palatable for white America. It was always about race. It was always about the flag. It was always about the anthem.
If you could peer into the hearts and minds of black people in America, you would find that we have always been, at the very least, conflicted about the flag. It has nothing to do with hating this country, but it has everything to do with the unavoidable knowledge that the Stars and Stripes have always billowed blindly over the centuries of beating and brutality that black people have endured.
For us, it is a duality. It simultaneously represents the birthright of our oppressors and the perfect freedom to which we aspire. It stands for the constitutional justification for our subjugation and the laws we invoke to argue for our liberty. It is the rope they used to lynch us and the tourniquet we used to stymie our bleeding. The flag symbolizes a superpower assembled on white supremacy. It is the emblem for the nation that black people built from scratch with our own bruised backs and callused hands.
The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass stood in front of a crowd of white women 165 years ago (July 5, 1852) at the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society’s Independence Day Celebration and told them this:
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?
I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”
So please stop the arm locking and the other empty gestures. Cease saying that Colin Kaepernick’s act of courage had nothing to do with race, the anthem or the flag. It most certainly was about all of those things. It was about so much more than those things, but erasing the defiance of his message does not serve any cause. Making it palatable for white people not only neuters its power but also does a disservice to Kaepernick’s courage, the movement he inspired, and the overall fight for justice and equality.www.theroot.com/please-stop-defending-colin-kaepernick-youre-doing-it-1818999019
In A Rebel, A Warrior and A Race Fiend, Blow insists that the current state of affairs in America is not due to the PeeeeOTUS, but, instead to the structural oppressions being called to account by Kaepernick and other black athletes:
Donald Trump is operating the White House as a terror cell of racial grievance in America’s broader culture wars.
He has made his allegiances clear: He’s on the side of white supremacists, white nationalists, ethno-racists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites. He is simpatico with that cesspool.
And nothing gets his goat quite like racial minorities who stand up for themselves or stand up to him.
Kaepernick’s objection is valid on its own, but the anthem itself is problematic. It all points to the complexity we encounter when we pull back the gauzy veil of hagiographic history we have woven.
The exploitation of black bodies and the spilling of black blood are an indelible part of the American story, and how we deal with that says everything about where we are as a nation and who we are.
This is about far more than football and flags, about more than basketball and battle cries. This is about American memory, the ongoing quest for equality, the racial inequities fused to the DNA of power in this country. This is also about the response to minority advances and the coming minority-to-majority demographic conversion.
This is about the honest appraisal of what America was, is, and should be. www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/opinion/columnists/trump-race-nfl-nba.html
A shout-out to Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code for her courageous and principled op-ed in the New York Times The Case for Shunning the White House explaining why she declined Ivanka Trump’s invitation to the White House:
To work with this administration in any capacity is to normalize it, and all of the hate and bigotry it represents. That is the very real danger we face as the months drag into years, and each successive outrage fades from memory. We will all be tempted — by lucrative contracts, federal grant dollars or flashy ribbon cuttings — to seek a middle ground that does not exist. At times, it will be easier to give an inch than to stand firm.
In those moments, we would be wise to remember the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who, in “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” lamented that “the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
There is an undeniable appeal to the benefits that could come with having an audience with any president, and conventional wisdom about our divided politics has long suggested that the way to make change is to find common ground. Still, I believe Girls Who Code sends a more powerful message — to the young women we aim to empower, to other organizations making strategic choices and to President Trump himself — by refusing to engage.
Resistance is not futile. Those who have recently taken a knee on the football field showed us — by the national attention they drew back to the issue of racialized police violence and the value of peaceful protest — the power of citizens who refuse to cooperate with injustice. As long as extremists and open bigots inhabit the White House, there is no common ground nor common purpose to be found. We are at war for the soul of our nation, and that is why we must say no, on behalf of our fellow Americans who deserve nothing less than equality. We must not be stumbling blocks. We must draw the line. We must do it here and now. www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/opinion/girls-who-code-trump-stem.html