23 May 2007

It used to be relaxing to read the morning paper...

I don't know, but the newspaper just made me depressed this morning. First, there's the front page story about the Democrats caving in to Bush yet again and gutting the bloated Iraq War funding bill of any checks on this Imperial President's powers. And the Dems really want to know why anyone left of the moderate wing of the Republican Party (I think there might be one person left in that wing, I'm not sure) calls the Democrats "Republican Lite"? Do the Democrats think they achieved massive gains in the midterm elections because voters were drawn to their well-thought-out policy papers on education reform? It's almost inconceivable, until you realize that this party voted, nearly unanimously, to give Bush almost unlimited war powers in the orgy of Nationalism that was the prelude to the Iraq War.

Then you have the story of lunatic Senator Tom Coburn, already a notorious moron, holding up a resolution -- a resolution mind you, one of those things that Congress passes by the wheelbarrow-ful for some feel-good publicity -- to honor Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, a book that for all its flaws (written in the early days of "better living through chemistry," the book is full of conjecture, some of which came true and some of which is shaky) is still credited with launching the environmentalist movement and raising awareness of the dangers of pesticides, specifically DDT. And that's what Coburn is pissed about: he apparently believes DDT is about as harmful as play-dough, and he blames Carson for "stigmatizing" the chemical.

Coburn is one of those nuts who believes that the banning of DDT has led to millions of malaria deaths, but those nuts generally forget the inconvenient fact that DDT -- outside the US -- has never been banned for malaria control; Carson herself warned very strongly against the chemical's overuse, especially in agricultural settings. However, you can't confuse utter morons like Tom Coburn with the facts -- he simply ignores them.

And then, just when you think you're safe, it's the letters to the editor page. Ugh. Most of the time the letters are sort of bland, but sometimes you have to wonder what particular neo-nazi subgroup meeting the letter writer came from before sitting down to pen his/her missive...

Here's a short example, with the classic "reverse racism" twist favored these days by everyone from David Duke to libertarians:

Solidarity or Racism?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007; Page A20


Regarding the May 18 news story "Can Old Loyalties Trump Racial Solidarity? Top 3 Democrats Tied Strongly to Black Voters": What is the difference between racism and "racial solidarity"? The Ku Klux Klan, too, believed in racial solidarity.
RHONA L. PAVIS
Gaithersburg


It's a classic: create a seeming similarity between the oppressed and their oppressors. Seriously, Rhona, if you need to be told the difference between long-standing community-based mechanisms to cope with institutionalized and extra-legal racist oppression and an organization based solely on white supremacy, then you've got more problems than can be answered by the Post's editor, and it's high time you dropped your Post subscription and subscribed to some thinly-veiled racist press products, like the Washington Times or Reason.

5 comments:

Joe Blow said...

"create a seeming similarity between the oppressed and their oppressors."

Who is oppressed, how are they oppressed, and who is oppressing them?

You speak of oppression as if it were ann objective reality -- you reify this abstraction without ever really analyzing it. You assert, rather than demonstrate. If this oppression you speak of is real, it must be demonstrable. You should, therefore, be able to quantify this oppression, and identify its mechanisms. Otherwise, you are expecting the reader to accept oppression as an unexamined premise.

cuff said...

A blog entry isn't exactly the place to go into the history of white supremacy in the United States, but it's possible that in my attempt to generalize the situation I made it unclear that it was about the historical conditions of African Americans in the United States (which of course are varied); however, I hoped it would be clear given that the letter writer mentioned the KKK.

As for mechanisms of oppression etc you could start by looking at lynchings (both sham trial legal lynchings and extra-legal lynchings), then consider laws on the books up through the mid-1960's, then look at lending practices and redlining, then look at more cultural symptoms like literary anthologies.

Maybe I should have come straight to the point: you can't compare the political reactions of a group that has been historically excluded from full political participation and continues to be subject to all sorts of scientific racist tomfoolery (see The Bell Curve et al) to the actions of a bunch of murdering thugs in white sheets.

Momentary Academic said...

Why do we even have to think in terms of racial solidarity? I, for one, wish that we didn't, but most groups don't (like the KKK) aim to destroy other people.

Reya Mellicker said...

Joe Blow, haven't you ever read A People's History of the United States? It's great.

As for the newspaper, I read the political cartoon and my horoscope, maybe some of the Style section. For my "news" I read you and other bloggers who will present a reality I can understand. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

Cuff, Kindly define "racial solidarity" and "racism." Do you make decisions based on race? If so, how is that okay?