by Alex Symington…….
What a fascinating country we live in! A country where, not only, can a billionaire gas bag with a dead cat on his head be a legitimate presidential contender, but also find people out there that support him! In these early days The Donald is actually out in front of the perennial pack of right wing republican radicals. As I said, fascinating. Trump’s gloves-off openly xenophobic and racist remarks have struck a chord with a demographic we have become all too familiar with since the election of an African-American to the White House.
Ironically, in retrospect, the beginning of this new unmasked racism started with South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson chastising President Obama out loud with the accusation, “You Lie!” in his first year as president in a speech to a joint session of congress. Race-based hatred has become less censored and more acceptable with each passing day until we arrive seven years later at full blown, in your face racist rhetoric that is not only said out loud, but said with pride by the likes of Trump. Donald Trump is simply the resultant fungus that has sprouted up on the manure pile of FOX News and old school right wing white supremacy. I may have said this before, but I will repeat, “The US has become a living Onion satire.”
Henry A. Giroux, scholar and cultural critic has exposed the underlying venom behind the comical patina of Trump with his brilliant essay, “Trumping America” (link below). Giroux’s writing and journalistic skills combine to pack an almost impossible amount of eye opening clarity of thought into his analysis.
Giroux quotes Trump’s comments at the official announcement of his presidential candidacy, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Giroux posits,” [This] mouthed from one of America’s favorite billionaire buffoons, his racist and xenophobic statements have been defended as brave, dismissed as uncivil, or set aside as the colorful discourse of a cantankerous, rich eccentric.”
He continues, “Such commentary collapses into the realm of the personal by privatizing racism. That is, it ignores the deep seated contours of systemic racism and xenophobia and the conditions that promote it, instead focusing on the individual who spouts such poisonous racist language.”
“Rather than viewing Trump’s comments as a political virus that has deep roots in nativist apoplexy and a long legacy of racism and state violence, his despicable remarks are reduced to an uncivil rant by a bullying member of the billionaire class with no reference to the unmarked status of white privilege and its underlying logic of white supremacy. Such commentary at its core is superficial, duplicitous, and represents a flight from responsibility and a politics of denial.”
May I just add, “BAM!” Trump is only a severe symptom among many symptoms of a disease that is killing this republic. As Giroux points out, we focus on the individuals such as Trump, or Roof, or Cliven Bundy as isolated and random cases of nutty racism, yet these individuals have been raised in the hot house of state sanctioned racism and corporate media popularized xenophobia.
Giroux thinks the real issue that needs to be examined is what kind of society produces a Trump or a Roof or a Bundy. “Trump provides a more direct and arrogant persona that produces the ugliness of a society ruled entirely by finance capital and savage market values. Trump is the hyperventilating yellow canary in the coal mine reminding us all that social death is a looming threat.”
Another essay on racism in Amurca that struck me this week is written by John Metta. (link below) I am not familiar with Mr. Metta but his essay comes at the issue from a perspective that might make white folks uneasy. He tell us that he is uncomfortable discussing race with white people, because they may view themselves as non-racist, therefore racism is an abstract position that does not exist for that individual, thus making denial of racism a personal belief that is not based in reality.
Much like Henry Giroux stated in his piece on Trump, Mr. Metta observes that the white person has the option/luxury to view a white racist as an individual that is racist for “one reason or another”, as if they were raised in a vacuum, and is dismissed as a lone operator and refuses to see the cultural root cause. (The manure pile)
Metta goes on to relate the black take on race hate and/or hate crime is that what happens to the individual African-American is felt by and happens to ALL African-Americans. He puts it this way, “Racism affects us directly because the fact that it happened at a geographically remote location or to another Black person is only a coincidence, an accident. It could just as easily happen to us- right here, right now. Black people think in terms of “we” because we live in a society where the social and political structures interact with us as Black people. White people do not think in terms of “we”. White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals. You are “you,” I am “one of them.”
Metta identifies the frustration that black people feel when discussing race with whites this way, “Here is the irony, here’s the thing that all the angry Black people know, and no calmly debating White people want to admit: The entire discussion of race in America centers around the protection of White feelings. White people and Black people are not having a discussion about race. Black people, thinking as a group, are talking about living in a racist system. White people, thinking as individuals, refuse to talk about “I, racist” and instead protect their own individual and personal goodness. In doing so, they reject the existence of racism.”
Giroux and Metta accurately illustrate the tenacious and pervasive ingrained schizophrenic Americentric pathology of both racist denial and racist defense. As long as the game is rigged in favor of one demographic over another and those in power either violently protect their position or deny that their power exists there is scant chance for reconciliation. Tragically, any positive constructive change to this paradigm does not appear to be forthcoming. Doing the right thing does not interest the powerful. It never has.
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