22 October 2007

Islam & Women

Here's one very fine example of why we need to ensure that Islam never gets a foothold in the United States of America!

Where are the feminists decrying the treatment of their "sisters" under the Iron Sandal of Islam? Nowhere.

Because their phoney feminism only discounts "evil republicans" and white males. They've been brainwashed with political correctness doctrine to ignore the Islamic countries and to focus all thier bile on the US.


Coldtype said...

"Because their phoney feminism only discounts "evil republicans" and white males. They've been brainwashed with political correctness doctrine to ignore the Islamic countries and to focus all thier bile on the US"-RSM

You mean the "evil republicans" and white males responsible for the war of aggression [the supreme war crime] in Iraq that's led to the deaths of perhaps 1 million Iraqis and over 2 million refugees?

Or do you mean the "evil republicans" and white males who staunchly support Saudi Arabia, the most radically fundementalist, repressive, and undemocratic islamic state on earth [in defiance of it's general population]?

Or do you mean the "evil republican" and white males who are pushing for yet another attack [up to and including the use of nuclear weapons] on a sovereign islamic nation (Iran) that poses no threat to us in naked violation of the UN Charter?

It's so important that you clearly define your terms Rue.

rosco said...

Let them eat their goats. If they wish to screw us with high oil prices, cut off their food supply. Stop feeding the world, America! Shut our borders down. Cut off everyone.

Coldtype said...

"If they wish to screw us with high oil prices, cut off their food supply..."-Rosco

"They" are not raising our oil prices, the western oil majors are. Since our illegal, mass-murderous, war of aggression was launched against the people of Iraq, the US/UK energy corporations have seen their highest profit margins in history.

Correspondingly, we as consumers are paying more for fuel than at any other time--including the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Unlike the oil embargo of '73 which was a protest initiated by the oil producing OPEC nations in response to US support for Israel's expansionist policies, the current crisis is an entirely US-created phenomenon.

It's important to remember when discussing oil prices that the western energy corporations control the distribution system and have highly lucrative concession agreements with most oil producing nations. Thus they make a killing on both ends, from when the crude is pumped from the ground to the refining process to the gas station in your neighborhood.

The only places were the US/UK energy corporations don't have a virtual lock on the oil reserves are Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, and Russia. Surprise, surprise these are the very places now in the Team Bush cross-hairs.

rosco said...

Lets all just ride bicycles then. Peddle that fat off. Have beat bicycles! Just keep rapid cars.

Coldtype said...

I know I've been beating the drum hard lately Rue but I've got so much time on my hands of late.

Far be it from me to leave the false impression that our current sorry state of affairs can be placed solely at the feet of the Republican Party and its hacks. Oh no, this is by all means a bipartisan affair and the Democratic candidate likely to take the White House in '08 [my money's on Hillery] is unlikely to engineer a change of course. How could he/she since without their support the Team Bush agenda would not have been possible? Privilege and Power is the thing Rue and that's all its ever really been about. Here are a few words from Gore Vidal on this very subject.


The unifying Leitmotiv in these lives [the lives of the twelve Caesars as told by Suetonias] is Alexander the Great. The Caesars were fascinated by him. He was their touchstone of greatness. The young Julius Caesar sighed enviously at his tomb. Augustus had the tomb opened and stared long at the conqueror's face. Caligula stole the breastplate from the corpse and wore it. Nero called his guard the 'Phalanx of Alexander the Great.' And the significance of this fascination? Power for the sake of power. Conquest for the sake of conquest. Earthly dominion as an end in itself: no Utopian vision, no dissembling, no hypocrisy. I knock you down; now I am king of the castle. Why should young Julius Caesar be envious of Alexander? It does not occur to Suetonius to explain. He assumes that any young man would like to conquer the world. And why did Julius Caesar, a man of the first-rate mind, want the world? Simply, to have it. Even the resulting Pax Romana was not a calculated policy but a fortunate accident. Caesar and Augustus, the makers of the Principate, represent the naked will to power for its own sake. And though our own society has much changed from the Roman (we may point with somber pride to Hitler and Stalin, who lent a real Neronian hell to our days), we have, nevertheless, got so into the habit of dissembling motives, of denying certain dark constants of human behavior, that it is difficult to find a reputable American historian who will acknowledge the crude fact that a Franklin Roosevelt, say, wanted to be President merely to wield power, to be famed and to be feared. To learn this simple fact one must wade through a sea of evasions: history as sociology, leaders as teachers, bland benevolence as a motive force, when, finally, power is an end to itself, and the instinctive urge to prevail the most important single human trait, the necessary force without which no city was built, no city destroyed.


A Middle Aged Female said...

To Coldtype:
What the hell are you saying? Where do you come from? Anywhere but America, you would have your tongue cut out. The muslims are the only culture that are reproducing and soon we will be the minority (are you listening Black, Latino and Asians?). That being said, it will be a matter of time before you will be silenced.
You sound like a moron.

Rue St. Michel said...

Middle Aged Fem:
Thanks for the visit, and the thoughtful comment.

Yes - you could certainly make the case the ColdType is a moron. Don't be too angry with him. He's just another deluded Leftist who is part of our seditious Fifth Column. Lenin would have referred to him as a "useful idiot."

Coldtype said...

"Middle Aged Fem:
Thanks for the visit, and the thoughtful comment"-RSM


What am I deluded about Rue? You make this curious statemtent without providing examples. Is Gore Vidal deluded as well? If so please tell me in what sense.

"What the hell are you saying?"
-Middle Aged

That we do not live in a democracy or even a democratic republic worthy of the name. This was Vadal's point my lady. We currently reside in a plutocracy in which the needs of privilege and power are its chief concern.

This explains America's massive "democracy deficit" in which public opinion and public policy are at complete variance. For example, polls of public opinion consistently indicate that most Americans are in favor of a nationalized heath care system along the lines of those found in western Europe, Cuba, and Canada. Big Pharma, and the insurance industry, however, disagrees. Can you guess which side won out and left us with the most expensive and least efficient health care system in the industrialized world?

Most Americans wish for our nation to sign on to the Kyoto protocals on climate change in which by treaty agreement the US would curb it's carbon emissions to some degree thereby lessening the threat of global warming [the US, though only 5% of the world's population, contributes over 30% of the world's carbon emmissions]. Unfortunately this doesn't serve the bottom line interests of the major US multinational corporations that "our" politicans serve so faithfully from their knees.

The other wing of the American Business Party, conventionally referred to as Democrats, were elected to the majority of the House and Senate due to the anti-war sentiments of the American public, yet when Bush announced his major escalation of our mass-murderous, petro-imperialist, war of aggression in Iraq on January 7th of this year during his State of the Union address, the so-called "opposition" party voted to approve supplemental funding for our war crimes in excess of what he requested. How's that for "representative" democracy?

"The muslims are the only culture that are reproducing and soon we will be the minority"-Middle Aged

A couple of things are wrong with your statement here but I think it's best if we begin with your premise. First, we have always been the minority as far as population is concerned. There are more Asians on earth than any other race and likely always will be. This, however, is utterly irrelevent to the subject of Arab emnity toward the west.

By accident of geography the vast majority of the world's obtainable oil reserves are in lands occupied by Arab peoples. This fact, however, has never prevented the western energy corporations (and the governments that serve them) from seeking control of this vital resource. Western powers have achieved this largely by supporting tyrannical, undemocratic regimes that viciously subdue their domestic populations in service to western needs. Where this failed, the west attacked the country in question directly [see: US in Iraq and soon Iran]. In contrast, Arabs have long struggled for control of their own resources and true sovereignty but to no avail--thanks to the good old USA, erstwhile "champion of self-determination for all peoples".

"You sound like a moron"
-Middle Aged

Unfortunately my dear much of the American public are assumed to be morons by our rulers. Too bad so many of us oblige them in this perception. Do wake up.

Middle Aged Female said...

Every "minority" for the past 40 years has been given every opportunity to better themeselve and have failed, miserably I might add. Free breakfast, free lunch, afterschool day care, before school day care and yet... black on black crime, hispanic gang shootings are at an all time high.

What does the oil situation in the middle east have to do with the muslims who are overwhelming the countries of France, England, Spain, etc. have to do with the fact they are having a lot of children. It's more of a religious thing. Asians are plentiful for sure, but, they do not cram their ideology down the throats of the countries they are "guests" in. The muslims are not hospitable to their emigre countries.

As for socialized medicine. This I know about intimately after having retired from the medical profession. It ain't all it's cracked up to be, unless you have money and can afford to pay to see a specialist in a timely fasion. With socialized medicine, elective procedures are often delayed by months. In America, not so. I am not saying the health care system in America is not in need of work, but don't even go to the socialized medicine issue. And.... any doctor, especially young physicians, who are worth their salt, are NOT and I repeat, are NOT in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. That's like saying all cops are corrupt and all priests are pedophiles. (well..that's another subject) With the crappy Medicare/insurance system, young physicians are not making the money they did 15 years ago, even 5 years ago because Medicare sets the payment schedule. Hell, doctors in Crook County can barely afford malpractice insurance.

And... the melting icecaps... part of a natural progression my friend. Pompeii, the glaciers, etc. mother nature. And, where you area, man now walks upright? Well some...

Coldtype said...

"Every "minority" for the past 40 years has been given every opportunity to better themeselve and have failed"-Middle Aged

Really? You mean "given every opportunity" to make do with under-funded schools, state-supported housing theft via gentrafication, and institutional racism?

"What does the oil situation in the middle east have to do with the muslims who are overwhelming the countries of France, England, Spain, etc...?"-Middle Aged

Muslims are not "overwhelming" the countries of France, England, Spain, OR etc. This is a canard utilized by neo-cons to distract gullible Americans from the inconvenient fact that Europeans overwhelmingly oppose our policies in the Middle East. Millions marched against our criminal war of aggression in Iraq throughout Europe before the invasion began and the opposition to this travesty has only grown over the past four years. Don't believe me? Check the polls of European public opinion.

"As for socialized medicine. This I know about intimately after having retired from the medical profession. It ain't all it's cracked up to be"-Middle Aged

Actually it's exactly what it's cracked up to be, which explains why Big Pharma and the insurance industry are so vehemently opposed. And with "our" elected officials in their pockets, they have little to fear (for now).

As far as elective proceedures are concerned, sure if what you "need" are bigger tits you may have to wait awhile, however, the one thing you will never have to worry about in Canada, western Europe, or Cuba is going broke if you're faced with a genuine health crisis.

"And.... any doctor, especially young physicians, who are worth their salt, are NOT and I repeat, are NOT in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies"
-Middle Aged

Correct, however, our politicans are--which is what counts.

"And... the melting icecaps... part of a natural progression my friend"-Middle Aged

There is nothing "natural" about the carbon emission of the industrialized societies. Over the past quarter century climate scientists have concluded that global warming is a FACT and that human activity is its CAUSE.

Middle Aged Female said...

It must hurt your head soooo... much with all the brain power you have. There is obviously no reasoning with you.

Underfunded schools - HA! Tell me where my property taxes, lottery money and sales tax is going? Nigga' please! The key word is "FREE" on my back and I'm pretty sure, your back as well. College grants - on our backs when our own children cannot get a break. How about all the vouchers that have been given and now like roaches, they have infiltrated the suburbs. Oh, I know, wha-wha-wha, the projects have been torn down and we put them to live there in the first place. Boo-fuckin-hoo. It was temporary, food stamps - temporary, public aid - temporary. 'Nuff said?

Elective in my book does not mean TITS but you do sound like a big BOOB yourself. It meeeeans.. a total knee replacement, total hip replacement, back surgery, foot surgery and in some cases, cardiac surgery. And... in the case of my husband, a kidney replacement! I don't know how quickly that would have happened in Cuba, especially having a live donor.

I also have immediate family living in England who have been there for many, many years and believe me, there has been a huge middle eastern presence there going back longer than 4 f-ing years.

Go kiss Al Gore's fat ass, or better yet, go picket his Tennesse house that cost thousands of dollars to heat and light.

Coldtype said...

“It must hurt your head soooo... much with all the brain power you have”
-Middle Aged

Yes…it does.

“There is obviously no reasoning with you”-Middle Aged

This of course implies that your positions are reasonable, but what should I do with the irrational ravings you’ve left here?

“It (elective surgery) meeeeans.. a total knee replacement, total hip replacement, back surgery, foot surgery and in some cases, cardiac surgery. And... in the case of my husband, a kidney replacement!”-Middle Aged

What is it that you don’t understand about single-payer healthcare systems lady? All of the procedures you have listed are COVERED! The only difference is that private medical insurance companies don’t own the system which they profit handsomely from—at our expense.

“How about all the vouchers that have been given and now like roaches, they (blacks?) have infiltrated the suburbs”-Middle Aged

Ahhh yes. Race. Racism. I was so hoping that we would get around to this subject and explore in some detail how it relates to our wonderful country. Thanks for the segue dear. For the honors I’ll turn the floor over to Arthur Silber, a writer whose blog I’d suggest you visit sometime (perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two). Silber wrote this essay back in June of this year during the Great Immigration Amnesty Bill dustup and many of the themes he explores apply directly to our conversation. So, without further ado…


The Triumph of Racism

So, the immigration bill appears to be dead, probably until 2009 at the earliest. It was an entirely awful piece of legislation, one which eminently deserved to be killed -- but not for any of the reasons that, in fact, actually led to its demise. Among those ill-informed and wrongheaded reasons was a complete ignorance and disregard of basic economic and political principles, about which more in a moment.

But the record is disgustingly clear on the question of the single major factor that led to the death of this bill: the most repellent and primitive kind of racism. Ann Coulter is a singular blight on our cultural landscape, but she does possess one useful characteristic: she will often rip aside the false mask of more "acceptable" arguments concerning a particular controversy and allow us to see the remarkably ugly truth that seethes beneath. Coulter begins her latest exercise in demagoguery by heaping scorn on all those who dared to accuse opponents of the immigration bill of racism:

“Now we're racists for not wanting to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

I don't know why conservatives like Linda Chavez have to argue like liberals by smearing their opponents as racists.”

Accusations of racism are just "smears." Keep that in mind.

I'll perform my humanitarian act for the day, and try to save you from reading Coulter's column in its entirety. Here are the critical paragraphs. This particular passage begins with Coulter's joyful reliance on the God-given combination now so beloved by conservative purveyors of endless war and immeasurable hysteria: unreasoning fear of The Terrorists Who Will Kill Us All and Therefore Make It Necessary for Us to Take Over the Whole World, together with the shrieking panic induced by Those People, Who Might as Well Be Terrorists Since Lots of Them Have Dark Skin and Are, You Know, Not Civilized Like Us. Coulter writes:

“Some of those hardworking immigrants who just want a chance to succeed were arrested in a plot to blow up JFK Airport last week.”

Please. I mean, really, please.

Now Coulter is under full power:

“Most immigrants still come from a handful of countries; [Ted] Kennedy simply changed which countries those would be. In 2005, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the overwhelming majority of immigrants came from only 10 countries, none of which had sent a lot of immigrants to America for the country's first 200 years: Mexico (161,445), India (84,681), China (69,967), the Philippines (60,748), Cuba (36,261), Vietnam (32,784), the Dominican Republic (27,504), Korea (26,562), Colombia (25,571) and Ukraine (22,761).

In 1960, whites were 90 percent of the country. The Census Bureau recently estimated that whites already account for less than two-thirds of the population and will be a minority by 2050. Other estimates put that day much sooner.

One may assume the new majority will not be such compassionate overlords as the white majority has been. If this sort of drastic change were legally imposed on any group other than white Americans, it would be called genocide. Yet whites are called racists merely for mentioning the fact that current immigration law is intentionally designed to reduce their percentage in the population.”

But, Coulter insists, she and her allies are not racists.

A few paragraphs on, Coulter writes:

“The government does not allow us to stop supporting welfare recipients in America, millions more of whom it plans to import under Bush's bill. That's not a free market -- it's a roach motel.”

But they're not racists.

Here is the fuller truth that most Americans don't want to acknowledge, including and often especially "well-intentioned" liberals. This kind of vicious racism is usually kept more skillfully under wraps, especially in the last couple of decades when those in public life have learned to become increasingly clever at deploying hatefully wrong ideas covered with effective camouflage. But Hillary Clinton expressed much the same idea, in a comment at the last presidential debate that went almost entirely unnoticed. (Ruth Conniff noticed it, but she's one of the very few who did.) As I note in that post about Clinton, John Kerry offers a similar perspective, as does virtually everyone in our governing class.

As I've discussed in a number of essays, racism has been a foundational element of the United States since its earliest beginnings, long before an independent nation was even formed. It explains the European settlers' treatment of the Native Americans, the enslavement and brutalization of blacks brought here by force, the violence and arrogance directed at Mexico 150 years ago, the excessively brutal and explicitly racist occupation of the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century, and the hatred directed at successive groups of immigrants. Racism is a core element of the doctrine of "American exceptionalism," and thus of our foreign policy for more than a hundred years. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we saw the most repugnant forms of racism unveiled still another time, as the proponents of these horrifying views positively reveled in the hate and contempt they unleashed, and which they fully believed and tried to convince others was "justified."

Racism is unquestionably the major motive that led to the opposition to the immigration bill, for the very simple reason that none of the various other reasons offered make the slightest degree of sense. On these issues, I am happy to direct you to this article by the indefatigable and indispensable Sheldon Richman. In relevant part, Richman writes:

“The new compromise immigration bill is drawing lots of flak, not least from conservatives who object to granting amnesty to millions of so-called illegal aliens in the country. (I prefer to think of them as independent migrants.) Here I have to agree with the conservatives. The illegals shouldn't be granted amnesty. Amnesty connotes forgiveness for doing something wrong — and they have done nothing wrong. Indeed, the government should be asking forgiveness from them.

But they broke the law to get into the country. Did they? They weren't under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government until after they entered the country. It's amusing that conservatives think illegals are covered by the law but not by the Constitution. Talk about having it both ways. The Constitution and Bill of Rights do not distinguish between citizens and noncitizens. Besides, there is no obligation to obey an immoral law.

But they came into our country without permission, conservative talker Tucker Carlson and his ilk say incessantly. Without whose permission? The whole population of the United States? The federal government? Why the assumption that either of those aggregates can have the right to give or withhold permission for someone to relocate here? This is a country, not a country club, and rights are natural not national. If someone wants to come here and can do so without trespassing on private property, that's his right and his own business.


If conservatives don't like the guest-worker aspect of the immigration bill, I'm with them. But my reasons are different. How degrading such a program is. Mr. and Ms. Immigrant, we don't want you to move here as a free person to live and work as you wish. But we are happy to bring you here for a few years to do some heavy lifting, after which we will send you back. Dash that.”

Although I understand why he included this point, I do wish Richman hadn't written the following:

“Border security is an issue for demagogues. Timothy McVeigh crossed state borders to commit terrorism in Oklahoma City, but you didn't hear the "secure the border" mob call for internal passports and walls along state lines. Leave crime to the normal law-enforcement institutions.”

For several years, I have thought, and I believe today more strongly than ever, that after another domestic terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 or worse, there will indeed be calls for internal passports, among other measures. So I'm tempted to say, "Don't worry, Sheldon. They will call for them soon enough. Don't give them any ideas in the meantime."

The deeply offensive arrogance and paternalism that all members of the governing class, including liberals, exhibit in the realm of foreign policy (see the links above) also reveals itself with regard to the immigration question. For example, via Justin McCarthy (who has further commentary about this and related matters that you should read), I see that Eric Alterman recently wrote the following:

“Personally, I support a fence. The current system encourages the horrific abuses that take place against immigrants attempting to sneak in. Naturally, I support allowing generous numbers of immigrants into this country, but I support doing so legally, first and foremost. I also think it encourages contempt for the law, which is a net negative in any society. (I also support the legalization of pot for the same reason.) And certainly any nation has the right to determine to whom it wishes to grant citizenship.

If a fence is the best way to enforce those choices, well, then, why not? For symbolic reasons? I don't care about "symbolic reasons." I care about reality.


I support the end result, whatever it is, because ultimately, I believe in a society of laws, and because I'd rather see the poor and exploited at the mercy of the law enforcement officers with whom I drank and traveled in San Diego than the people who are doing the exploiting now.”

The massive stupidity of this is equalled only by its insufferably arrogant condescension. Does anyone truly believe that a fence -- a fence over endless miles of borders -- is actually going to be effective? And Alterman echoes all the mindless, contentless screams of the racist conservatives who railed against this bill: "But they're illegal immigrants! They broke the law, our law!" Neither Alterman nor the conservatives choose to acknowledge, let alone address, how those laws are written, whose interests they serve, or how arbitrarily they are enforced. Not for Alterman or for the conservatives, any recognition of one of the most fundamental of human rights, the right to move, which Richman mentions in his column but almost no one else does. They shout, "The law! The law!," like any barbarian, not even beginning to understand that is only the first step of the inquiry, not anywhere near the last.

But the worst is this:

“I'd rather see the poor and exploited at the mercy of the law enforcement officers with whom I drank and traveled in San Diego than the people who are doing the exploiting now.”

How wonderfully gracious of Lord Alterman, to tell us -- and to tell the immigrants -- how he would prefer to see them exploited. I don't suppose it ever occurred to Alterman that he might inquire as to how they would prefer to spend their time, and their lives. After all, if they objected to their "exploitation" so strongly, they could have stayed where they were.

To be sure, there is a great amount of economic "exploitation" going on -- but it is crucial to note the source of that exploitation. The source is ultimately the alliance of nominally private business interests with the power of government. As I indicated in "A 'Splendid People' Set Out for Empire" (in my "Dominion Over the World" series), this alliance began in the late nineteenth century, and grew exponentially during the Progressive era and in the course of World War I. As I noted in that post, many of today's liberals need to learn some history and try to understand it. It appears that no one at all reads Gabriel Kolko's The Triumph of Conservatism or, if they do read it, they don't begin to grasp Kolko's primary theme: that the Progressive era was the triumph of already-vested big business interests, via legislation they themselves designed and/or approved, and via brute government power.

If one genuinely opposes the resulting "exploitation," one must oppose this intermingling of business with government. We have had nothing remotely like a genuinely free market in the United States, in labor or in anything else, for a hundred years. But liberals like Alterman don't oppose this intertwining at all: they want more government regulation and oversight. They still believe, like not very bright children who believe in Santa Claus past the age of six or seven, that calling something "government" or appealing to "a society of laws" purifies it of self-interest and corrupted and corruptible motives and concerns. They seem to be incapable of understanding that, from the first historic forms of the State, the State has always formed and will always form alliances with certain individuals and segments of society -- to which the government bureaucrats will provide favors and special dispensations, and to the severe disadvantage of those individuals and groups that are not so favored. I will return to this issue and many related ones in my upcoming series on tribalism in politics; for now, I note that our contemporary tribalists believe, without any history or evidence whatsoever to support the claim, that if only members of their tribe were in charge, they would act in saintly and disinterested ways, and they would be uniformly non-venal, non-self-seeking, and non-human. Good luck with that. It has never happened and it never will, barring a fundamental transformation of what it means to be human.

Let's return to the more general subject of immigration, and how ignorance and distortions of our own nation's history feed into the various American myths I continue to discuss. In an earlier post about the latest immigration debate, I offered an excerpt from Matthew Frye Jacobson's, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917. That excerpt concerned the myth of the "good" European, a myth that avoids the virulent hatred directed at many European immigrants when they first arrived on American shores.

Earlier in his book, at the opening of the chapter entitled, "Accents of Menace: Immigrants in the Republic," Jacobson writes about the broader issues involved:

“The favored metaphors for American diversity -- melting pot, mosaic, potato salad, stew -- all tend to present the relationship among the nation's peoples as neutral and even-handed. Pleasing though they may be, such celebratory conceits evade the power differentials, the coercion, the tensions, and the conflict that have characterized the American social order since the era of European settlement. What room does a clever metaphor like "melting pot" or "mosaic" leave to reckon seriously with the animosities marshaled under the banner of racialism or nativism? With legal issues such as eligibility versus ineligibility for citizenship? With historical facts of racial hierarchy, conquest, or slavery? WIth the differential political trajectories charted by citizenship through the coerced processes of slavery and emancipation, say, versus citizenship through voluntary migration and naturalization?


The peoples of the United States did not come together in a simple process of politically neutral adding-and-stirring. Some entered the polity willfully through migration, others through enslavement and eventual emancipation, and still others through conquest, dispossession, and absorption. As different peoples have entered the polity along widely differing lines, so have they enjoyed or suffered widely divergent statuses. Questions about who is in fact "fit for self-government" have been crucial to the history of American diversity in the making from the American Revolution onward.

This query had gender at its very root; among the core contradictions of citizenship in the United States is that while independence was seen initially as a prerequisite for fit citizenship, dependence -- upon either husband or father -- continued to be among the hallmarks of proper womanhood, and none seemed so destabilizing to the social order as the independent woman. Womanly virtue thus disqualified civic virtue, and vice versa. The question of fitness for self-government most often turned out to be a racial query as well: the Revolution may have altered the lines of authority radically from the Crown to "the people," but it left untouched various Enlightenment assumptions about who "the people" properly ought to be. This experiment in republican government demanded an extraordinary moral character in the people -- it called for a polity that was disciplined, virtuous, self-sacrificing, productive, far-seeing, wise -- traits that were all racially inscribed in eighteenth-century Euro-American thought. (The definition of the word "Negro" in an encyclopedia published in Philadelphia in 1790, for instance, included "idleness, treachery, revenge, debauchery, nastiness, and intemperance.") If the external authority of monarchy was to be loosened, members of the polity themselves were going to have to exhibit truly fabulous powers of self-control, self-possession, and often self-denial. And, according to Euro-American thinking at the time, "race" was one key to the distribution of these virtues and so to the question of fitness for self-government. Thus even free blacks were most often denied the full rights of citizenship; and thus the nation's first naturalization law limited the prospect of naturalized citizenship to "free white persons."

Nor had the racial imperatives of self-government faded by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the New England poet and former editor of The Atlantic Monthly, looked over the bedragged immigrants disembarking at the docks of East Boston in 1892 and, economically combining the languages of criminality, disease, and race, pronounced upon their undesirability. These "jailbirds, professional murderers, amateur lepers ('moon-eyed' or otherwise) and human gorillas," he wrote a friend, "should be closely questioned at our gates." ”

On our rock-strewn path to "civilization" and in the course of our alleged "progress," we have decided that the ugliest and most charged terms of this racialist approach are no longer to be tolerated: except in private rooms swimming in drink, one is not apt to hear words like "gorillas," and even the phrase "those people" is encountered infrequently.

But then you read a column such as the one by Coulter, or consider the impenetrable paternalism of Alterman's approach, and you realize that beneath the more polite exterior, the dynamics actually at work have changed very little. And then the catastrophe that unfolded after Hurricane Katrina reveals that those dynamics have not changed at all. "Those" poor, ignorant blacks left behind in New Orleans stayed there by choice, we were told -- and they stayed because "those people" are inherently lazy, shiftless, and basically rotten. They deserved whatever they got, including death.

Despite all this, the myth of an inclusive America, one that opens its arms to all, continues. During the past week, I heard and read any number of comments that insist we affirmatively welcome immigrants. We welcome them so long as they are "legal" -- disregarding the hugely and incomprehensibly arbitrary nature of our immigration laws, and that those laws are crafted by already vested interests, those who also possess immense political power; we welcome them so long as they are willing to be fully "assimilated," that is, they are willing to be "Americanized," self-reliant, and independent in the mode adopted specifically by the ruling class in America -- which is to say, by affluent, white (and until very recently, exclusively male) Americans, who have always determined the particular content of the term, "American."

But so intent are we on maintaining the myth, that we insist the "real" America is the one contained in some deeply admirable, but loftily abstract statements of political principle formulated over 200 years ago -- while we disregard, distort and rewrite the actual history of American politics, culture and society, a history that relied on outright, legalized coercion, enslavement, and exclusion, as well as on numerous "subtler" means of social control.

We have not progressed very far at all, in fact. It is not difficult to imagine that, should an economic collapse of significant proportions occur, all these ugly, vicious impulses shall have full reign again, since they have never left us. We may come to regard the horrors in the wake of Katrina as a pale preview of future events.

This indicates some aspects of the actual "real" America. The most primitive kind of racism has triumphed once more, and we refuse to acknowledge the most basic fact of what has happened. At the same time, virtually everyone in the governing class insists that we are so extraordinary as a nation that we have the right and obligation to enlighten all other nations of the world, even those that do not threaten us, using missiles and bombs as required.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to take us seriously as a country in any way at all, or to grant the United States any measurable degree of respect. The United States government is certainly a very significant and serious threat -- both to its own citizens, and to the rest of the world. But that is about the only way in which it is serious.

With regard to almost every other issue, the United States is variously contemptible, vicious, brutal, hypocritical, and laughable. And we become stupider as a people with each day that passes, as this last episode proved still one more time.

-Arthur Silber


More of Silber’s work can be found here: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/

rosco said...

Ask Jessie, Only white folks are racist. Its only a hate crime when the victim is black and the offender is white. If you are white euro-trash you are now bottom rung material. Even in sports, white athletes don't got the tools anymore.

Coldtype said...

Rosco, did you actually read my post and Arthur Silber's comments?
Any thoughts?