Dispatch #61 February 20th 2020
Day 1196 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 1124 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
We need to stop wasting time on these intertwined past-times: (1) longing for the Obama Administration, and (2) believing that the PeeeOTUS and his quislings represent an unprecedented aberration.
Need to shake some sense into yourself or someone else?! Michelle Alexander’s essay in the New York Times titled “The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an ‘Aberration.’ From mass incarceration to mass deportation, our nation remains in deep denial” presents requisite history and commentary. http://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/17/opinion/sunday/michelle-alexander-new-jim-crow.html
Alexander reflects on the 10 years since the publication of her book The New Jim Crow wherein she documented the US system of mass incarceration that locked millions of poor people and people of color in literal and virtual cages and stripped them of basic human rights. She argues that the recurring cycles of racial reform efforts and destructive backlashes/retrenchments have defined US racial history since slavery.
Contrary to what many people would have us believe, what our nation is experiencing is not an “aberration.” The politics of “Trumpism” and “fake news” are not new; they are as old as the nation itself. The very same playbook has been used over and over in this country by those who seek to preserve racial hierarchy, or to exploit racial resentments and anxieties for political gain, each time with similar results.
White nationalism, at its core, reflects a belief that our nation’s problems would be solved if only people of color could somehow be gotten rid of, or at least better controlled. In short, mass incarceration and mass deportation have less to do with crime and immigration than the ways we’ve chosen to respond to those issues when black and brown people are framed as the problem….The politics of white supremacy, which defined our original constitution, have continued unabated — repeatedly and predictably engendering new systems of racial and social control. Just a few decades ago, politicians vowed to build more prison walls. Today, they promise border walls.
The stakes now are as high as they’ve ever been. Nearly everyone seems aware that our democracy is in crisis, yet few seem prepared to reckon with the reality that removing Trump from office will not rid our nation of the social and political dynamics that made his election possible. No issue has proved more vexing to this nation than the issue of race, and yet no question is more pressing than how to overcome the politics of white supremacy — a form of politics that not only led to an actual civil war but that threatens our ability ever to create a truly fair, just and inclusive democracy.
We find ourselves in this dangerous place not because something radically different has occurred in our nation’s politics, but because so much has remained the same. http://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/17/opinion/sunday/michelle-alexander-new-jim-crow.html
In her New York Times Essay titled “Seeing Black History in Context: It’s the perfect time to get real about America’s shortcomings,” Erin Aubry Kaplan declares:
In 2020, at this very perilous moment in the history of us all, it’s urgent that we turn the lens around, take it off the worthy black individuals and put it on America as a whole. It’s time to acknowledge what black history really reveals — not individual heroism or the endurance of democratic ideals, but their opposites. Time to examine what black history has always shown us: how hundreds of years of codified oppression, groupthink, hypocrisy, lies and political cowardice have made possible, and palatable, the political oppression and moral corruption of the current moment that threatens to wipe out democracy for everybody.
Black history rooted in slavery means that the country was always going to have to make ugly compromises with its own ideals, a process that became normalized. The longevity of slavery meant that business and the pursuit of profit, not justice, would be the dominant force in American life and the real energy driving even the most optimistic notions of American exceptionalism. Put in this context, the cult of Trump is not new, just another compromise with our ideals, albeit a far-reaching one that looks particularly bad in the supposedly enlightened post-civil rights era of the 21st century.
What we must come to grips with is that the arrogance and myopia that made our race-based social caste system possible, that allowed us to dishonor our Constitution and delude ourselves on a regular basis, are the same arrogance and myopia that are now threatening the well-being of the entire planet. Denying climate change is part and parcel of denying the corrosive effects of segregation. The point is that America is very good at making its own reality, which is another way of saying it has always tolerated — even welcomed — fake news and alternative facts for the sake of power and political convenience. http://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/19/opinion/black-history-month-america.html
So yeah, while lots of white people are suddenly horrified and protesting about the Department of Justice being politicized, for centuries, poor people, brown and black people, native peoples, immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries have all known the injustice baked into the US justice system.
Kaplan concludes her essay with these words:
All this month, I’ve wondered: Would Harriet Tubman, et al., have been surprised at this state of affairs? I think not. Disappointed for sure, but not surprised; I doubt any black freedom fighter expected a country so wedded to inequality to significantly change in his or her lifetime or ours. Yet if we as a country don’t significantly change our view of our own history, which is framed in black history, there will be precious little in the future to celebrate.