Monday, December 13, 2004


Decency Should Not Be Assumed

As I’ve read much on the material on I’ve been impressed with the focus and dead on analysis of U. S. society. Specifically, on the current misadventure in Iraq, much of the commentary focused on the enabling character of the white U. S. population. Although there is some truth to Noam Chomsky’s assertion that the high levels of support for the war is a result of the massive and unprecedented propaganda campaign unleashed on the North American populace, I have always maintained that the strength of the propaganda campaign is not solely based on its intensity and pervasiveness but on the receptiveness of the white American audience that it is directed at. It does not take much to convince a population who are inured to violence (witness the popularity of professional wrestling and reality TV), mesmerized by popular media that consistently and unabashedly define democracy and freedom as uniquely American values and finally, are heirs to three plus centuries of fashioning a national identity based on white superiority and privilege.

What is disturbing is that much of the rag tag left in this country continue to insist that if only the American public were better informed by the media then a movement would arise to challenge the neo-con’s plans specifically and all injustices generally. But the truth does not get through the filters of the corporately controlled media and naturally, the color red or orange or any other color can mean something only to someone who can see to begin with. Clearly, the white U. S. population by and large has been blinded by centuries of racism. As, indeed, historically is the case with settler states which typically have genocidal origins. The pogroms (what else can they be described as) carried out in Tulsa and Rosewood should be a lesson to those who believe in the inherent goodness or benevolence of white U.S society as a whole. As a people, sectors of the white population throughout the long and tortured history of the country, have personally engaged in genocide or ethnic cleansing. Many of those that have not, which may be the majority, have either cheered from the sidelines or tacitly agreed through their silence. The main difference between the genocide of the past and that ongoing today being that for much of the country’s existence it was accomplished by the settlers themselves and now its labeled “the war on drugs” and carried out by the various state institutions comprising the prison-industrial complex.

Even if one charitably assumes that the U. S. media can and will accurately report on U. S. adventures or misadventures abroad, will as racist society such as the U. S. be able to muster the appropriate moral outrage and countervailing action appropriate to the slaughter and maltreatment of black and brown peoples? Not likely since so much of their identity is based on the domination of and perceived superiority over black and brown peoples. Then, when someone among their own, such as Eugene Debbs, decides to stand with humanity and attempt to move the white U. S. masses away from their allegiance to the brutish U. S. ruling class, he is either quickly marginalized (ala Noam Chomsky) if he or she is lucky or simply murdered or imprisoned if not. But lets also not forget the economic dimension. Much of the wealth of not only the U. S. but of the global North as a whole originated and continues to originate with the destruction and exploitation of people of color. Racism is integral to the maintenance of a modus vivendi with the conscience (such as it may be) of whites individually and collectively. This is why poor whites consistently vote against their material interests by voting for the most reactionary politicians. Abandoning racism would simply mean the destruction of their collective identity. An identity that while having spelled doom for non-white peoples and perhaps ultimately whites themselves cannot be easily discarded. Apparently, the psychological comfort of their white skins is more valuable than decent healthcare, wages and schools. In short, if the Iraqis, or the rest of the world for that matter, is waiting for the white masses in the U. S. to wake up from their stupor and put the clamps on their ruling class, we all should collectively not hold our breath.

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