Monday, January 15, 2018

Racists and Reactionaries

On this Martin Luther King Day, in the year of the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination, the individual who holds the highest office in the land is fresh off of a scandal in which he was heard to malign immigrants from developing nations which are still contending with the aftereffects of colonization and post-colonial exploitation. The general consensus among Trump watchers is that Trump was motivated by racial animus, though the cretin won't own up to his racism.

Back in the happier times of the Obama presidency, there were murmurs that the United States had entered a post-racial stage, though anyone who could decipher the 'dogwhistles' of the racist reactionaries could tell a contrary tale, a tale of a backlash against an African-American president seen as a sinister 'other'. Now, the White House is occupied by one of the chief proponents of this racist conspiracy theory.

The racist reactionaries now seem more emboldened than every, feeling no qualms about repeating the basest racist calumnies. The rank-and-file righties aren't shy about expressing racist views, often cloaking their racism in psuedoscientific bafflegab. Outside of this core of unabashed racists, there is the so-called ironic racism exhibited by people who would never consider themselves to be bigots, an 'ironic' racism indistinguishable from other forms of racism.

I'd like to think that this new reactionary culture is merely a societal 'hiccup', a last gasp of a reactionary white culture that blames its lessening fortunes on people of color, rather than on the corporate culture that has been driving the race to the bottom. Among all of the pieties and platitudes that will be expressed today, though, there's a nagging suspicion that America's congenital birth defect will continue to haunt the body politic for the foreseeable future.


mikey said...

I'd like to think so, too.

But, alas, I see something else at work here.

America is an OLD small-d liberal democracy, dating from the decades before even the French Revolution. The American democracy was structured on a revolutionary set of founding principles, set out in the US Constitution. And it worked pretty well.

But now we're a few hundred years in the future, and those few pages of simple 'guidelines' can now be exploited by those seeking wealth and/or power. All of the 'features' that were created in those magical days in the 18th century grew into fearsome 'bugs', weaknesses that expose the entire edifice to the worst among us.

And now we have an ignorant authoritarian, telling the people what they already have come to believe - they are victims of this very system, and only by 'reforming' the societal rules under which we live can justice be found.

American democracy died in December of 2000. We're just along for the ride now as the body cools and the autonomic functions decline. As you mentioned, the racism isn't new - it's baked into the American cake. And it's only a small part of the collapse - the tribalism, the militarism of law enforcement, the empowerment of fundamentalist religion, the near instantaneous resort to violence.

You couldn't get a new constitution in good faith, and we can't survive with the one we have. Nations and empires rise, and fall. We saw the peak, and we'll see the decline....

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

black slavery is one "birth defect" we unitedstatesians have to live with - the other is the displacement (to use too mild a term) of the indigenous inhabitants

mikey could be right - probably is - but as yogi berra could have said, "you never know when something surprising might happen" - unforeseen forces could reinvigorate the neverending quest for truth, justice, and the potentially sentient way

may the creative forces of the universe smile in our general direction