Friday, October 10, 2008

White Rage

White rage at Obama's lead in the polls is palpable.  Daily it is expressed in racist taunts by average citizenry. The basis of this anger is a fear of loss of privilege.  Obama is threatening not because of the policies he espouses, but because of the blackness of his body.  Some have used the irrational fear of socialism to justify their angst but  at best Obama is a centrist and anyone with even a cursory understanding of Marxism would be hard pressed to describe the man as a communist.

What I find interesting about the rage is that it is not viewed as socially threatening.  Whiteness is entitled to anger at the smallest slight; whereas blackness is expected to accept its second class location and or marginalization without complaint.  White people love the long suffering negro but are not prepared to play that role themselves.

A black person that is willing to subvert their personal will to uphold white hegemony is praised and held up as a role model for all people of colour to follow; whereas one that expresses dissatisfaction is deemed a threat to social order.   Barack is a threat because he refuses to play Uncle Tom to McCain's Simon Legree.

Many of his supporters will not walk around displaying their hatred behind white sheets, but that does not mean that it is not still a covert display.  When they refer to him as Barack Huessin Obama and suggest that he is an 'other', what must be taken into consideration is what the binary opposite represents.  American means God fearing and white.  The resounding wails about the downfall of the American empire are really about fear of the devaluation of whiteness. 

Whiteness feels entitled not only to power but safety, thus when it is inferred that Obama is a terrorist it is an attempt to benefit off of the social construction of black males as violent.  Though the connections are tenuous at best, no real evidence needs to be offered because the belief is supported by the social construction of the black male body. 

In a world where so many feel powerless and unstable whiteness as valuable is one of the few remaining constants.  Whiteness is something intangible that can be embraced as you are losing your job, your home, or declaring bankruptcy.  While the world around you is descending into chaos as long as whiteness remains valuable there still exists a possibility to express a form of power. Racism is the tenacious expression of power where no real power to effect macro change exists.  It is the lie of difference that is sold by the ruling elite to create division in situations that call for unity.

 


H/T Urban Swirl

18 comments:

AR said...

It is the lie of difference that is sold by the ruling elite to create division in situations that call for unity.

You had me right up to the last sentence. I think you give the elite too much credit, and the masses not enough culpability.

“In fact, one thing that I have noticed . . . is that all of these conspiracy theories depend on the perpetrators being endlessly clever. I think you'll find the facts also work if you assume everyone is endlessly stupid.”

Renee said...

You had me right up to the last sentence. I think you give the elite too much credit, and the masses not enough culpability.

Right which is why who has counted as "white" has not been universally stable. Which is why management has used racial difference to destablize union movements...think about it really. Whiteness as value is used to reinforce difference within the proletariat to keep us fighting amongst each other rather than focusing on our universal oppressor.

AR said...

Unions are as often harmful to the interests of workers as to management. (Except for the privileged few in the union, historically often determined on the basis of race or other bigoted criteria.) They are a prime example of how the conflict is not between the classes, but between the politically privileged and non-privilege, between those willing and able to use violence, either personally or courtesy of the state, and those who are not.

For a more detailed look at the effect of unions on wages, check out the relevent chapter from Economics in One Lesson, available online. Or, for a look at the economic effects of political privilege generally, check out the entire book.

Even granting that it could just as well be the politically connected as the wealthy who are strategically using race to their benefit, I don't think that any such group could just pull bigotry out of the luminferous aether, but can only take advantage of bigoted sentiment that already exists in the population. Nobody can sell what nobody wants to buy.

Payday Loan Advocate said...

Television’s portrayals of cultures that don’t fit the mold of the status quo are not conducive to our progressive society. Over the past several generations, communities such as Gays and African Americans have fought for the equal treatment that the majority takes for granted, only to see their efforts thwarted by stereotype-promoting dramas and situation comedies. Thanks to wildly-popular shows such as Good Times, Sanford and Son, and Will and Grace, most of us would be hard-pressed to find an average person on the street who does not believe at least most of the traits of Fred Sanford or Jack McFarland to be true of all African Americans or gays, respectively. Surely, while our society has come a long way in its acceptance of people from all walks of life, our entertainment still has a long way to go. Case and point: the writers of a new CW television program, “Easy Money” have their next target in view; payday loan companies. Should the show, which premiered on Sunday, October 5, gain popularity as Sanford and Son and Will and Grace did, the possibility is very real for society to acquire a distorted picture of a legitimate business model. Our society could get an inaccurate idea about those who run payday loan stores, called “loan sharks” in Easy Money’s trailers. This, in turn, could lead to irrational measures such as Ohio’s HB 545, which would drive payday lenders out of the state and bring about devastating ramifications. This just provides further evidence that we can’t turn to Hollywood to learn about the world around us.

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White Trash Academic said...

@AR

The article you cite is from Hazlitt's work and he is not the most credible source in discussions on the impact of unions. He spread the Ayn Rand doctrine around New York and is mostly known for being a free market advocate, so, of course, he will not have anything good to say about unions.

As a former union member, I can cite countless examples of how unions can and do work. The whole idea behind "unions do not increase wages" has historically been used as part of the propaganda machine against unions.

@Renee
I find that those who say they are scared of socialism have no idea what it means and have never read Marx. They think socialism = communism and that communism = bad because of Russia and China.

And, I believe that the underlying reason those people on the video cannot make the connection on why they think he is a terrorist is solely about race and fear.

FeministGal said...

I've learned not to expect more from people over the past few years but i never realized how much emphasis some place on a NAME. Granted i doubt someone named Rudolf Gitler would ever get elected president but i never thought people would think Obama a TERRORIST simply due to his name. That's completely insane and irrational. Maybe it was naive of me but i never knew we lived in a country where someone can get elected (or not) based on his/her name... Thanks for this post and video.

Maritzia said...

I just want to point out that these idiots are a subset of white folks and not all white folks. There are many of us who are not only *not* afraid of Obama winning, but exultant at the thought of it.

I grew up in the middle of idiots like those on the videos. If you interviewed most of my extended family, you'd get a lot of the same comments as you see on these videos. I've worked long and hard to separate myself from that way of thinking, as have many of my southern sisters and brothers.

I guess all I'm saying is, please don't think we're all like that. I want to just cry when I hear white people saying such idiotic, hate-filled things. I want to cry when I hear someone say "He's just so well spoken", like it's a miracle a black person can speak clearly (which I heard from my mother regularly), and like if someone doesn't speak like you, then they must be stupid.

I want to cry when I hear these things, and it makes me angry that paint all white people with that image.

And I don't know why I felt the need to say all this...I just did.

M.Dot. said...

Gurl, my post today was about how the crowd at McCains rally yesterday reminded me of a lynch mob.

You hit the nail on the head.
Group think. Racial Animosity. Anger.
Shit has prehistorically been a bad look for Black folks. Especially "uppity" ones.

The lynch mob didn't come to mind at first when they were sitting there.

But when old boy got up and said he was mad and NOT at the economy. I was like, why are these white folks cheering like this?

There is an undercurrent here that WE need to pay attention to.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

Fabulous post Renee!

From my observation there are no POC in this video. I don't want to assume anything because I know people can be mixed. It is very sad the amount of fear that is in these people to vote for McCain-Palin.

Anonymous said...

Come on! While it it can be argued that politicians or corporate elites cannot "invent" racism to divide and rule, there is no question they have deliberately, calculatingly and blatantly exploited racism among the working and middle classes in America to push their economic, social and political agendas throughout our entire history, up to the present. Anyone who suggests otherwise is either lying or ignorant.

And it has worked spectacularly. My formerly vibrant, strong, proudly union working class town has been long devastated, and too many people there ARE STILL RACIST as shit, and are STILL IN WILLFUL DENIAL about what happened, and STILL REFUSE to see who their true enemies are.

Nobody forced the ruling and corporate elite to exploit popular racism and prejudice of my fellow townies to further ends that enriched and entrenched them and hurt and oppressed the rest of us, whether or not we were too blinded and made stupid by our racism to see it. Sorry, they have to totally own this one, too. And I expect to see a lot more of it with the looming economic catastrophe about to hit us.

And yes, the unions in my area have to take responsibility for their racism and selfish agendas that allowed the destruction of good jobs and good wages, and viciously pitted white workers against black workers, mainly. They totally allowed themselves to be manipulated by the powers that be on this. I don't let them off the hook at all. Only NOW national union leaders are addressing the racism in their rank and file in this election campaign??? Too little, too late. I hope I am wrong about this, but we will see Nov. 4.

AR said...

White Trash Academic: The article you cite is from Hazlitt's work and he is not the most credible source in discussions on the impact of unions. He spread the Ayn Rand doctrine around New York and is mostly known for being a free market advocate, so, of course, he will not have anything good to say about unions.

He does have some good to say about unions. Here, he only criticizes unions who work through violence or legal coercion. That is the only way it is possible for a price to be consistently off-market.

I find that those who say they are scared of socialism have no idea what it means and have never read Marx. They think socialism = communism and that communism = bad because of Russia and China.

I, on the other hand, find that those who favor socialism have no idea what it means and have never read Ludwig von Mises.

"The impracticability of Socialism is the result of intellectual, not moral, incapacity. . . . Even angels, if they were endowed only with human reason, could not form a socialistic community."

Anonymous said...

Oh, good god, AR. Ludwig von Mises? Hayek?

I bet you read a lot of Ayn Rand, too. Good to know where you are coming from, ultimately. By throwing around von Mises to show off to White Trash Academic, you have revealed your true contempt for the "unwashed masses" here.

AR said...

I have read Ayn Rand, but only Atlas Shrugged, and I regretted it. If nothing else, she has a special talent for writing Mary Sues, but then, so does Marx, who also could not stop himself from assigning saintly motives to his favored group, the Communist Party.

Lisa Harney said...

Maritzia,

Then Renee's post is probably not about you, and you can rest easy.

Renee,

I like your point about how white racial anger is safe - at least, safe to white people, to the dominant culture. Obviously, it's not safe to POC at all. Anyway, that and the corollary that standing up and speaking is practically enough for a POC to be seen as angry and unreasonable.

I found the video pretty scary, btw. Not the individuals, but the thoughts and beliefs they represent, and how many of them probably exist, and what they might do if Obama's elected.

AR said...

By throwing around von Mises to show off to White Trash Academic, you have revealed your true contempt for the "unwashed masses" here.

It is a common misconception that pro-market means pro-big business, and by extension anti-worker. This is only possible if one is ignorant about how rent seeking big businesses actually operate. Most of them, in fact, are extremely eager to avoid the free market at the expense of the public and their competitors, and even when it is they who would hold the advantage in a free market, they'll seek further government aid to do even better.

American agribusiness, for instance, is far from a result of the free market, as it is one of the most pathologically anti-market industries around, especially corn. Corn can be processed into a sweetener called "high fructose corn syrup," something you've seen if you've read the ingredients list on almost anything edible made in America. Sugar cane is cheaper, better tasting, and possibly healthier than HFCS, but it doesn't grow in America, so the corn lobby has arranged to limit by statue the amount of sugar cane products that can be imported. By cutting off almost the entire American market for sugar cane, the profit that can be realized by sugar cane farmers throughout the world, particularly South America, is severely curtailed, and so every time someone buys a bottle of Coke made in the US, money that would have gone to some poor tropical farmer in a free market instead goes to wealthy American corn farmers. Then, when you pay taxes, part of that money also goes to those same farmers in the form of subsidies! If import limits and domestic subsidies weren't enough, imported sugar also has a tariff on it, like a lot of things.

The international trade agreements that Renee often (rightly) criticizes here are essentially this same principle applied on a far larger scale. While marketed and sometimes opposed as "free trade," "managed trade" would be more accurate, and it's no trouble to guess who the managers are.

Or consider Wal'Mart. In a free market, the innovations that Wal'Mart has made would probably have made it somewhat of a success regardless, but it's present level is unjustified under capitalism. Among many other abuses, the minimum wage, often marketed as help for the little guy, plays right into the plans of big businesses like Wal'Mart, as is evident by their CEO favoring a rise in the federal minimum wage. A little bit of economic thought shows why: Wal'Mart can afford to absorb higher wages provided that it gains compensating increases in sales in the form of reduced competition, which, since, many of its small competitors can not afford higher wages, they would get when their smaller competitors become bankrupt from an increased minimum wage, and the people working there go from making low wages to making no wages. Again we see how the anti-market position is also often the big business position.

I could go on and list as many examples as there are big businesses, but I think I've made the point that the tycoons of the world dislike free markets about as much as Renee does! For this reason, even at the Ludwig von Mises Institute is "big business" most often used as a pejorative.

White Trash Academic said...

AR, if you would like to debate this further I am more than happy to start an open thread on my blog since this was not the point of Renee's post.

AR said...

If you wish, but I asked permission to post comment #15 before doing so for that exact reason, and Renee doesn't mind digressions in subject that are made through the course of natural conversation.

In any case, I couldn't leave alone an accusation that I care not for the masses. If I didn't, I might as well favor feudalism as capitalism. It makes little difference as far as the welfare of the wealthy is concerned.

And the digression into economics to begin with was related to the initial post, because I was pointing out the often forgotten fact that a major historic function of unions has been to keep non-white workers out of all but the most unskilled and unpleasant labor.

Sarah St. Catherine said...

"American means God fearing and white."

Renee's statement has a second focus not really expanded upon in the post. The video subjects' references to terrorism, name, and bloodline are not just racially motivated. Let's not ignore the crusades-worthy undertone of religious intolerance implicit there.