Frank Rich has an article in the Sunday ‘New York Times’ provocatively entitled “In Defense of White Americans” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/opinion/26rich.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print)
I don’t know what’s worse. The fact that such a title is provocative because that’s where We are now in Our national journey. Or that it’s been that way for so long now that a number of Americans who might hear of the article (that they would read it might be somewhat optimistic) would consider that ‘white Americans’ are too far gone (however ‘gone’ might be defined) to be ‘defended’.
But good for him that he wrote it.
As I’ve often said, the strategy of any new ‘identity’ seems inevitably to require an ‘enemy’. Goebbels not only picked up advertising theory from the American Edward Bernays, but also ‘demonization’ from … well, the nature of human communities, I guess. The Israelis, whose playbook the rising Identities of the late-1960s and 1970s borrowed about the same time they unpacked the suitcases of the French deconstructionists who had been tossed out of France as intellectual plague-carriers, had apparently figured that Goebbels could be ‘baptized’ (you should pardon the expression) simply by putting his methods in the service of something ‘good’. Thus, as the Americans took possession of Wehrmacht tactics, rocketry, and – only recently – the hugely efficient shape of the helmets as spoils of war, so the Israeli ‘realm’ soon took possession of Goebby’s propaganda play-book.
And deployed it forthwith.
The targeted folks must be ‘defined’ as ‘enemy’, and as a particularly inhuman enemy. So far so familiar. But it goes farther than that. Anybody who doubts that characterization – not necessarily ‘opposes’ it just yet, but simply doubts it – must be instantly characterized as an ‘enemy’ or a ‘aid-er and abetter of the enemy’ him/herself. No room for ‘deliberative’ space, for kicking the tires of your vision and your characterization and the plans and policies that you have derived in consequence of that characterization must be permitted. The ‘enemy’s’ worst characteristics must be presented as his only characteristics, and –again – any persons or any school of thought or habit of thought that would try to look at the larger picture, try to see the mitigating or ‘good’ characteristics … must be stifled, and itself indicted as ‘evil’ if need be.
And further, any idea which could not believably characterized as intentionally ‘evil’ would have to be undercut by being cast as ‘misguided’, ‘uninformed’, ‘ignorant’, ‘unrealistic’ – even if well-intentioned.
This classic set of methods has become – it is to be hoped – obvious by now to the several generations of Americans who have even a nodding acquaintance with the sayings and doings of the Israeli realm over the past half-century or so.
These methods, as I said, were adopted by the Identities here three decades and more ago, especially as their ‘advocacy’ quickly morphed from small bunches of ‘concerned citizens’ speaking on their own to expensively-advised ‘Advocacies’ run by ‘professional’ media-savvy flaks and lobbyists (always ‘fronted’ for the cameras – as was the case when Goebbels made his justificatory pitch for the invasion of Poland – by telegenic and well-coached ‘victims’ of the purported ‘evil’ and ‘enemies’).
Let it be said right now that I am not making a case that any and every ‘victim’ is a poseur, or a manipulator, or a liar. But no rational person can doubt that with these types of methodologies and the organizations who deploy them loose in the land, the prudent citizen is well-advised to look carefully. And quietly – lest s/he also be tarred with the brush of ‘approving of’ or ‘supporting’ or ‘being-for’ whatever actual evil the victim’s case might legitimately instantiate.
To the ‘white American’. We recall that in the ‘first’ 1960s (my term for the period in American history that ended on or about July 10, 1965) the sight of Southern white police officers and citizens (men, women, and youngsters) taunting and assaulting ‘freedom riders’ and black Americans, captured on TV news film and shown on TVs in every living room in the land, truly displayed a national ‘growing edge’.
But in the ‘second’ 1960s (my term for that period in American history that certainly had raised its head by 1968 and has never since ‘gone away’) ‘white Americans’ became all Americans who were not black. The ‘revolutionary’ and the ‘Black power’ movements wrested control of what had been so nobly achieved by that first week of 1965 and now wielded ‘blackness’ as a weapon against the rest of the national community.
And as I’ve said, in the Democrats’ desperate effort to keep this ‘demographic’ and extend it to make up for the electoral loss of Southern voters, the pols espoused whatever demands and visions issued from the presumable spokespersons of the black community (which I do not equate with ‘all’ American blacks). Hence, by a queasy osmosis, whatever the black-power folks wanted became baptized as part of the ‘liberal’ agenda because it became part of the Democratic agenda and the Democratic Party was the ‘liberal’ Party.
The feminists of the Second Wave – seeking to conduct a far deeper and wider ‘revolution’ – deployed the game-book a bit later on, mixing into the deconstructionist and revolutionary brew a stream of anti-whiteness to their anti-maleness, and coming up with an ‘enemy’ who was ‘white and male’ (although ‘maleness’ was not – theoretically – merely a property of ‘whites’; some allowances had to be made in the interests of revolutionary solidarity). The multiculturalists, coming along later in the ‘80s as somewhat the spawn of all the foregoing, created the now ‘classic’ ‘Enemy’ of all the ‘oppressed’: the Dead, White, European Male, in relation to Whom all other folks in the country and on the planet were ‘oppressed’ and ‘victims’, and of Whom all living white males were simply the evil and still-active progeny.
The media lapped it all up, since the playbook’s careful guidelines for telegenic agitprop were masterful to begin with, and faithfully deployed according to the original specifications. It was no longer necessary to ‘dig up’ news (or ‘truth’) but simply to read the fax and find out where the next ‘demonstration’ or ‘situation’ would be and show up with camera batteries charged and microphones on. (Later, the media would extend to government flaks the same courtesy, publishing the faxes as ‘reporting’.)
It may seem too fantastical to be true: that a nation with pretensions to holding the primacy of the West, and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the primacy of the planet should allow its politics to descend to such levels of caricature and immature thinking. But that’s what happened. And when the ‘right’ wised up and figured how to deploy caricature and immature thinking for its own purposes, then the circle of political debauchery became complete. And closed.
Worse than 'closed': stuck on the cycle of "permanent revolution" in Lenin's pithy phrase. And whether intentionally or not-intentionally permanent is of secondary importance.
The neocons were no more ‘conservative’ than the ‘radical Identities’ were liberal. But just as the national economy came increasingly to be detached from any working connection to the necessary realities that constitute an actual, solidly-grounded ‘economy’, so the national politics came to be increasingly detached from any working dynamics of an actual deliberative, representative democratic politics. It’s going to be a coincidence well-remarked in the history books that in this Year of Grace 2008 both the economic phantasmagoria and the political phantasmagoria reach a point of undeniability.
The economy – and the Malefactors of Great Wealth and their treacherous bipartisan political lapdogs ... all revealed to be a house of cards, a casino game rigged at Our expense, and Ourselves played for fools (though, what indication had We given them in the past decades that We were not ‘low-hanging fruit’?).
The politics of this election equally phantasmagoric: neither candidate making too much reference to the economy, each discussing plans and policies – domestic and foreign – that assume billions or trillions of dollars that the government can only acquire by borrowing, from the very foreign powers with whom the politicians and generals tell Us are or may be competitors and future enemies.
Nor – as if in a fairy tale – is anyone in authority now or who has been in authority in the past twenty years going to suffer any consequences. About all that can be said is that while they may continue to live happily, they will not live ‘forever after’; but at this point that’s still more than can be said for most of Us, who will be ‘unhappy’ for quite some time, as will Our descendants unto the third and fourth generation.
Nor can anyone predict just what a new President – no matter how well-intentioned – is going to be able to do to set things right, or to rebalance the nation’s politics, or even to just keep things from completely coming apart. If indeed, it is a President’s task – and his alone – to ‘balance’ or ‘rebalance’ Our politics.
Frank Rich notes the “anti-white” bias in the current election. He cites the example of George Allen, an unlovely and unripe ‘guy’ – senator from Virginia – of the type that has been enabled in these decades of debauched politics. Allen made the “macaca” comment (not to be confused with “Macarena” which was a buzz-word a while back earlier than that) to a Native American in the course of a re-election campaign event.
Prescind from the fact that it would never occur to me that “macaca” was a Native American word or had anything to do with Native Americans; or why calling an idea proposed by a Native American “macaca” was a sign of racial insensitivity. Allen was dopey enough to respond to a query with a childish deprecation of the comment and it’s nice that there is one less dope on Capitol Hill as a result (though one less raindrop does not the end of a hurricane make).
But the key point – the alpha stream – in all of this is that an entire group would be defined by its least ‘good’ characteristics or least impressive members, or by a characterization – think ‘Kulaks’ – assigned to it, and even inaccurately, by some even larger entity.
‘White people’ was the first in the Age of Identities, followed by ‘men’, then morphing into ‘white men’ and so on and so on. Decades of a very real form of civil war, conducted with publicity and various public panics and with fear and ‘outrage’ and all the panoplium of Goebbels big black book. Raising up the Kulaks and then others as a ‘class’ to be hated or feared by all the other Russian citizens had a lethally stifling effect on any Soviet-era Russian community among the citizenry.
The effect on Our national politics, on Our sense of identity as Americans, on Our ability to keep a watchful eye on Our common weal, has been nothing short of disastrous. In the manufactured or exaggerated distractions imposed upon Us all by this and that ‘movement’, and then as part of standard political operational procedure by the professional spawn of the disreputable Lee Atwater, has lethally compromised Our ability to ground the government bequeathed to Us, entrusted to Us. Like Russia and Germany after World War One, America's civil society now lacks - thanks to the past forty years - any commonly-held, consensual tradition; as the social compact has gone south, so had the social unity and common American identity before that.
Are all ‘white’ Americans ‘racist’? Define ‘racist’. Are there still pure embodiments of old-fashioned Southern racism circa 1955 still around? If you are white and you aren’t sure you agree with the whole ‘affirmative racism’ thing of the post-’65 era, are you racist? If you are white and not so spry and aren’t sure you’d walk down a street in an inner-city neighborhood, are you racist? (Think: if you don’t think Israel should have nuclear weapons, are you an anti-Semite? Does that make you a supporter of the Holocaust or of another Holocaust?)
The ‘expanding definition’ trick is one right from the black book: it’s been played on all sorts of folks and ‘groups’ in recent years, but it started with ‘white males’ in that faraway time four decades ago.
Frank Rich makes the valid point that not all ‘whites’ are ‘racist’. I agree – and I’d take it farther and say that ‘racist’ is a word the definition of which has been expanded almost to the point of uselessness. ‘Useless’ if what you’re looking for is accuracy. Maybe not so useless if there is another objective for using it. Deploying it. Wielding it. Against other citizens. Like guns are.
But as dangerous as guns are, they have not brought the American People and the Republic to the edge of the abyss. Hyper-inflated ‘categories’ and ‘definitions’ have. And there are wayyy too many folks walking around with them. Walking the streets. Using them. On other citizens.
In that sense America of the past forty years has regressed to the Wild West. Has been regressed to the level of the Wild West of yore. And – the ‘hot ironies’! – that regression was set off by the very interests who loved to claim that it was the very ‘white’ and ‘male’ Wild West that was the problem in America.
The Identities thought that a ‘revolution’ waged without ‘guns’ would be a ‘good’ or at least a ‘harmless’ revolution. That you couldn’t start a ‘civil war’ unless you used guns, like in 1861. But in an advanced democracy and among a politically sophisticated citizenry –which America was, relatively speaking, back in 1968 – then unripe or inaccurate concepts or patters of thought can create even more havoc than guns. Their effect is more insidious, but in the long run as lethal, perhaps more lethal.
But maybe We can see that now.
And if so, let’s not expect that any President is going to be able to ‘cure’ Us. To paraphrase the Good Book: Lest the person watches his soul, the government keepeth its vigil in vain.