Tag Archives: racism

Why Does America Love War?

bombing Baghdad

Shock and Awe

Ancient epics may tell more about past civilizations (and our own) than either science or history, though all three must be taken with a grain of salt.

Authority of Science

In the enlightened, rational west we tend to give absolute authority to science and history. Their pronouncements are “facts,” while epic literature is “myth.” The problem with this view is that scientists and historians can be wrong. For example, Aristotle’s assertion that flies have four legs was reprinted in natural history texts for 1,000 years. It seems that it would have been easy enough to check this fact by taking a look at a fly, but Aristotle had said so, and he was the authority.

Authority of History

What about history? Although most historians now try to abide by some standard of neutrality, this has not always been the case, and is sometimes not the case even now. The truth is, everyone is biased and this shows up in the choices of sources and certainly in the interpretation of information. Ancient history was often written as propaganda; to flatter a king and demonize the “barbarians.” This spin was scattered amongst many actual facts, but it is very difficult to separate the two.

Probability vs. Certainty

So what can be certain about? Well, flies have six legs and early the British historian Venerable Bede (673-735) was wrong that the air in Ireland killed snakes and even neutralized their venom. Where written history is backed up by archeology the probability of accuracy rises, but nothing can eliminate bias. For example, the spin in most western history called eurocentrism implies that civilization sprang fully-formed from the Golden Age of Greece, passed through Rome, then to Europe. American history implies that the U.S. improved on that already superior path.  When you read ancient history, you find that this attitude is itself ancient: “Our nation is the epitome of civilization; all others are irrelevant.”

Epics and Sagas

We can continue to seek the truth and we can get closer to the truth (and we should,) but we probably can never achieve certainty. Or we can study what the people said about them selves with the awareness that they were biased (just like scientists and historians.) The difference is that people’s epics and sagas are in their own words. They will tell a story with spin, but even the way they spin it will tell you a lot about them.

Glorious Anglo-Saxons

A mighty movement to glorify Anglo-Saxons has not only shaped American history, it is still shaping history. it is probable that Anglo-Saxons have interbred with many other peoples (as have all peoples) until there is no such pure race. This does not stop racists and nationalists from clinging to the myths, though. This year Norwegian Anders Breveik killed 76 of his countrymen to draw attention to the fact that the Nordic race was in great danger of being assimilated by immigrants.

Values of the Norsemen

What were these Norsemens like? What did they value? How have they affected us? The Volsunga Saga gives us a peek into their minds. Old sagas and epics were no doubt passed down orally for many years before they were written; we have no way of ever knowing the date of their origin.

Warlike

The Norsemen valued warfare; they were pirates and terrorists. They reported their slaughters, pillagings, and village-burnings only as accomplishments-so much gold-so many villages. The morality of these activities were never questioned. Morality for the Norsemen had to do with a code of honor which emphasized bravery in battle. In Chapter VI, of the Volsunga saga, when Queen Signy is told her son was afraid of a snake, tells her brother Sigmund, “Take him and kill him then; for why should such a one live longer?” Her second son met the same fate. Finally, unable to produce a brave enough son with her current spouse, she disguised herself, had sex with her brother and gave birth to a real man, with the DNA of the Volsungs now concentrated in his veins.

Breeding Warriors

As Signy reveals to her brother later, “Take heed now, and consider, if I have kept King Siggeir in memory, and his slaying of Volsung the king! I let slay both my children, whom I deemed worthless for the revenging of our father…Sinfjotli is the son of thee and of me both! And therefore has he this so great hardihood and fierceness, in that he is the son both of Volsung’s son and Volsung’s daughter…”

Anglo-Saxon Superiority

This may bring to mind Nazi Germany’s doctrine of racial purity with an eye toward producing the perfect warrior, but elements of both race and war obviously appear in the British and American psyches as well. Prominent Americans have unequivocally stated that the original Americans (the “Anglo-Saxons”) were superior to all others and should be preserved lest civilization itself deteriorate. Americans still honor war heroes over scholars and America has by far the largest military budget in the world. Counting wars against Native Americans and covert and “police actions,” there are few years American has NOT been involved in a conflict somewhere.

The militarism and racism of the Anglo-Saxons still runs through the collective unconscious of Americans. That this is unconscious can be illustrated by the fact that in any debate about who discovered America, the debaters are trying to determine which white man discovered America, in spite of the obvious fact that it had been discovered by Native Americans long before it was discovered by Europeans. But that, apparently is irrelevant.

 

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Return to Slavery in the U.S.

minority inmates

Return to Slavery: Right Wing Wet Dream

Slavery has been practiced all around the world for millennia because it works so well-for the slave owners.

Historical Context: Slavery

In the West, we like to claim that we sprang from ancient Greece, the cradle of democracy, philosophy, and reason. Their art wasn’t bad, either. This is, of course, just another case of myth-building, since all cultures, including ancient Greece, build on the accomplishments of those who have come before. Greece was preceded by great Middle Eastern cultures in Sumeria and Egypt and people got around and shared ideas much more than history seems to indicate. How much did they get around? Humans spread all over the world from Africa to Australia, on foot, and many thousands of years ago. For example of historical distortion, Pythagoras actually got his theorem from the Egyptians.

Slave Owners Longing to be Free

Human beings from Plato to Thomas Jefferson find the leisure to philosophize, reason, and experiment because they are no longer busy hunting, gathering, or tending crops. They are no longer busy doing these things because someone else is doing those things for them. In ancient societies the producers were the “common people” and slaves. Slaves came from common people who became impoverished or from conquest-what did warlords do with survivors of warlording? They could either kill everyone left over (and sometimes they did) or they could bring them home and make them haul water and chop wood for the rest of their lives.

Greek Slavery

The renowned Greeks Plato and Aristotle used their free time to philosophize about politics, the natural world and the meaning of life. They also philosophized about a bit about slaves. Plato envisioned a Utopia in which three rigid classes (aristocrats, their warriors and everyone else) were led by a Philosopher-King: someone, well, exactly like him! Slaves were devoid of reason and of worth only as servants of their betters. Aristotle asked himself if some are “born slaves” and then he answered himself:

“There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.”

Slave Economy Works

We admire Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson-men who philosophized about liberty- and we make excuses for the hypocrisy of their slave-owning. “We can’t judge, it was the cultural norm, everyone was doing it.” But there has always been a sizable group opposed to slavery that we ignore in this rationalizing: the slaves themselves. Nevertheless, the system worked well for the autocrats and may have made their nations prosperous overall; that is, it no doubt enhanced the state’s GDP as a whole.

Man Does Not Live by GDP Alone

This is one reason GDP cannot be the only measure of a successful society, as it has become in the United States, a nation with a high GDP and now 39th worst in income inequality in the world. When intelligent men examined the question of slavery, they had to come out against it or rationalize why it was all right after all. It was all right, they decided, because it was the natural order. Aristocrats were genetically superior and slaves were born to be slaves. Slaves at best were like children and at worst like unruly animals. The patricians had to not only convince them selves this was true for the sake of their conscience, but also convince the slaves for the sake of the aristocrat’s safety. Southern planters were (justifiably) worried about slave rebellions. They were exploiting and abusing human beings who vastly outnumbered them.

Fast forward to today. The growing income inequality in America has resulted in a nascent wage slave revolt called Occupy Wall Street. How it will turn out we do not know. It appears that citizens reared on the ideals of equality will not tolerate inequality. The slave system fans have another plan afoot, however, and it involves the huge section of “surplus” human beings who are incarcerated. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In addition to war, the U.S. appears to really like prisons. A disproportionate number of prisoners are low-income people of color.

Face the Racism

Let’s face it; a certain segment of the U.S. population doesn’t like low-income people of color. They have no intention of providing jobs for them, so what can be done? Lock them up. But no, you might argue, they have committed crimes. So have the bankers who crashed the economy, yet they are too big to jail. Could any of the inmates be innocent? Surely some are, according to the New York Times which proves that drug cops plant evidence to meet their arrest quotas. The same segment of the population mentioned earlier dislikes immigrants. Immigration uproars have historically been racist in origin. As a result of draconian immigration laws in some states, crops are rotting in the fields.

Back to the Cotton Fields

The brilliant solution to racist fears, the lamentable end of slavery and rotting crops is to boot out all immigrants and send the prisoners into the fields! Once again we can experience the thrill of driving past steaming fields with brown people sweating in the sun. Order will finally be restored to society and Plato’s aristocratic Utopia will have arrived. And get this-it’s constitutional!

Thirteenth Amendment: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Think of it: No immigrants, “colored” slaves, and Constitutional=Right Wing Paradise Found.

I have worked in prisons. Prison is extremely unpleasant and excruciatingly boring. But perhaps inmates would like to get out and do some work, even if it is for 50 cents an hour (what inmates were making “inside the fence.”) If it were truly voluntary, it would not be slavery. But the 13th Amendment allows involuntary servitude and citizens who object to slavery need to be ready for this emerging Right-Wing wet dream.

 

 

 

Right-wing Deal with the Devil

death

Perfect Rightwing candidate: He's white, carries a weapon, loves wars, executions and hates health care

The trouble with making a deal with the devil is that you can never trust him not to turn on you in the end.

Faust is the star of a classic German legend in which a successful, but dissatisfied man makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul in order to get everything he wants on earth. A faustian bargain describes a deal in which an ambitious person trades their integrity to achieve power. This resonating theme keeps recurring in art, music, and literature-and maybe in real life. Al Pacino, in the movie The Devil’s Advocate, delivers such a powerful speech as the devil, that ever since I watched it I have to remind myself when I see him that, no, he’s not really the devil, just a very gifted actor.

Racism is Devilish

Human beings cherish devilish ideas at times and one of the most potent and persistent is racism. According to anthropologist Donald Brown in his book Human Universals, preference for our own kinship group, or tribe, is completely natural. It serves a good purpose, in that it motivates us to care for each other in manageable groups. We can’t care for all of mankind the way we care for those in our tribe. In fact, some who claim to care for all mankind fail to care for their own children, thus they avoid caring for anyone at all on a nitty-gritty level.

Prejudice is Common

Prejudice is also natural, defined as a tendency to judge quickly, to take a few cues and promptly put people or events into little pre-labeled boxes in our brain. We label people “thug” hick” “snob” and such things based on a glance. We are often wrong, so why do we do this? I call it part of the Principle of Cognitive Conservation, the tendency to avoid thinking too much. It can also be called stupidity. But it’s ubiquitous, saves us lots of energy, and can be corrected when we become aware of it.

Core Racist Beliefs

Racism is more sinister. It is a complete, organized belief system that maintains that the race to which you belong is superior (racists never think any other race is superior.) The superior race does not have to operate by normal laws of human decency toward members of lesser races. Lesser races are meant to either be eliminated or to serve the superior race. They can be abused in any manner the superior race deems fit-in their superior opinion.

Racism, Religion, and the Pit

Racism is a devilish idea, yet some religious racists justify racism from their scriptures, which generally take a dim view of the devil. Then again, anyone can justify anything from any collection of books. Racism is also a powerful idea, drawing strength from the natural and universal human preference for kinship groups and revving it up until it plummets right over the cliff of morality and into the pit.

Right Wing and Racism

Right wing groups, which rely heavily on fear and a consequent need for order, like to employ racism as a propellant to power. The Jew, the Mexican, the immigrant, the “other” is to blame for our difficulties. We can’t be to blame, we are superior-it’s the “other” we need to kill, export, or incarcerate and the right wing politician promises to take care of this for us. They will keep us safe; return us to the purity we once enjoyed. Obviously, we detect echoes of Hitler, but do we detect this in our current political discourse?

The “Other”

The Republican Party which once ran such honorable men as Dwight Eisenhower, has been playing footsie with the devil. The “other” is those lazy welfare queens Ronald Reagan mentioned, those brown people coming across our borders, those other brown people wearing funny scarves on their heads, well, really, brown people in general. Perhaps worse than the brown people are the white pointy-headed liberals who are traitors to their race and to the mythical pure beginnings of the Republic.

Death Debates

In two recent debates for Republican presidential candidates, the big applause-getters came when Rick Perry’s Texas was noted as having executed 234 more people than any other state. Applause. Kill them, kill them all. The next big applause-getter was when Ron Paul was asked a hypothetical question about a 30 year-old uninsured man who gets sick. Should he be allowed to die? Cheers from the audience-hell, yeah, let him die!

Now that they’ve let the demon out into the general population, has it taken control? Can a Republican get elected who isn’t in favor of death to ‘others?’ A Republican who tries to take a moderate position on war, or brown people, or sick people? Can you make a deal with the devil and expect him to dance to your tune? Or will he turn and consume you?

 

 

Right-Wing Extremists: An Inside View

Flag and cross

For God, the Fatherland, and the WASPs

Yesterday in Norway, a murderer apparently killed over 90 people with a bomb and automatic weapons. The knee-jerk response of the press was to speculate about which Islamic terrorist group was responsible. As of this writing, police have arrested a tall, blonde Norwegian man described as a Christian right-wing extremist. I have been warning about these groups for several years and tracing the scary growth of their influence, but we have been distracted by the preferred storyline of the brown-skinned, bearded terrorists until now.

My Landlord the Right-Wing Extremist

Since losing my job in the crash of 2008 my housing options had narrowed. I pulled up to the trailer park to ask about a rent and noticed that my potential landlord drove a huge pickup with a big Confederate flag in the back window. “Is there going to be a problem?” I wondered. I had run into plenty of racism in Deepsouth, since my daughter is bi-racial. I didn’t have a lot of choices, though. I took the rent and ended up drinking coffee every morning with my landlord, who I learned, belonged to the Aryan Nation. I also joined the group around the campfire every evening, just shooting the breeze and telling jokes. I try not to be judgmental; I try to view less-than-ideal situations as learning experiences.

My Daughter and the KKK

Strangely, my landlord was very fond of my daughter, but then she has such a sparkly personality, she had even won over a prominent member of the KKK in our previous town. The Klansman was a wealthy citizen and came to the local elementary school every St. Patrick’s Day to pass out candy to the kids. He was very friendly to my daughter. She asked him, “So I’m half black, why do you like me?” “Oh, it’s not your fault,” he answered, ruffling her curly hair. She was eleven years-old but knew what he meant by “fault.” “Whose fault is it?” she asked. “It’s your mother’s fault,” he said. “Why isn’t it my father’s fault?” she asked. “Oh, you’re father is an animal-he’s not responsible.”

Racism is Alive and Well in the USA

She wasn’t upset by this conversation. She had heard worse. I asked her what she thought about this prominent citizen’s remarks. “Nothing-he’s an ignorant bastard,” she answered matter-of-factly, and looked at me directly, daring me to rebuke her for using profanity. I did not. I realize that readers from more liberal climates may wonder why I didn’t lodge a complaint with the school system or crusade against discrimination or something. I didn’t do any of those things because I didn’t want to get killed. I had heard first-hand stories of cross-burnings and threatened lynchings and had heard the word “nigger” so often I had almost, but not quite, overcome my cringe-reflex

Eating Chicken Wings with the Aryan Nation

My landlord invited me a Christmas party he was throwing for his friends and I attended. “This gives a whole new meaning to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” I thought as I watched the Aryan brotherhood eating their chicken wings. We talked about fishing and kids and hunting dogs, subjects where I could usually find common ground with Deepsouth racists. Talk turned to gator hunting. Having looked into getting a permit to hunt gators, I knew a little about that, too. “What’s the best gator bait,” a wiry short-haired guest asked rhetorically. “You just tie a nigger on a rope and throw him out there. If you can’t pull him in fast enough, just go get a fresh nigger and start over.”

The Coming Race War

At this point, I had a visual image and I realized I was in serious danger of throwing up. I glanced around for a wastebasket, just in case. I had to get out of there, but it was too awkward at that moment. They started talking about guns. When Obama was elected, they had started cranking up their arsenals-for when the socialists came to disarm and enslave them.

Well-Armed

Apparently the most recent gun shows had completely sold out of firearms and ammunition and this was alarming to them. A 1,000 rounds of ammo-rationing rule had gone into effect and they were overcoming this by sending their aunties and grannies in to buy another 1,000 rounds. “A thousand rounds? That sounds like a lot. How many thousand rounds do you need?” I asked. They looked at each other like this was a new concept. Apparently there would never be enough rounds for the coming race war which would be led by a coalition of people of any color besides white (blacks, Hispanics, people from the Middle East) and the worst traitors of all-“leftist” white people. They described their arsenals and their survival camps and their plans to blow up whatever place they were in when the end came. They seemed to know a lot about blowing things up. The end was coming, they were pretty sure, but they would die with honor and take a bunch of the enemy along with them.

Right Wing Extremists Pseudo-Christianity

They knew I was a Christian from our campfire chats and they claimed to be Christian also. I asked what they did about the fact that Jesus was a Jew. They actually had a torturous explanation for this that was so convoluted, I couldn’t follow it. They used the Bible in bizarre and twisted ways to bolster their ideology: They were the only pure- blood people, the other, degenerate people were plotting to pollute their pure blood and thus destroy mankind.

Fear and the Master Race

My landlord had been adopted as a child, so I asked how he knew he had pure blood, since he didn’t know who his biological parents were. His answer was also convoluted and full of pagan and Biblical references. I realized that they were actually Hitler fans! Hitler wasn’t dead, but had sat on some magic stone and disappeared into another dimension. I looked around at the Master Race and wondered, “If you are superior, wouldn’t you be smarter, or taller, or have more teeth or something?” Didn’t they have mirrors? I did not ask this question-there was no penetrating the fear-yes-FEAR-that masqueraded as aggression.

Immigrants, Socialists, Terrorists

Never underestimate the power of fear. These people are extremely dangerous. They feed their ideology on stories of immigrants over-running the nation, Islamic terrorists, and any “socialist” government programs in the offing. Immigrants, terrorists, socialists. These code words may bring out the conservative voters, and they may get TV ratings, but they also feed the fear of the Hitler fans, sitting next to their many thousand rounds of ammo, automatic weapons, and homemade bombs, waiting and watching for the attack they are sure is coming.

You may think I am advocating for gun control. I am not. I am advocating for FEAR CONTROL. I am advocating for calling the right wing out every time they throw out hot-buttons words like immigrants, socialists and terrorists. The right wing superiority complex, pseudo-Christianity, and fear-fueled militancy is dangerous-and it is evil.