Friday, August 21, 2009

miss "their" america

These days, a lot of people in the United States are decrying the loss of "their" America. So far, every person that I've seen crying like that is a white person.

I mean, seriously -- how many non-white Americans go around shouting, "I want my America back!"

In other words, just what kind of America is it that these white Americans -- most of whom would never, ever consider themselves capable of a "racist" act -- just what kind of America is it, in racial terms, that they want back?

Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore
"The Daily Show"


For a more sober analysis of the racism that's been bubbling up during the great health care debate, I highly recommend two recent pieces by Tim Wise, who identifies this racist resurgence as symptomatic of a conservative "movement."

This movement, Wise writes, "is trying desperately to create a groundswell of support behind the notion that white people are the new victims of massive discrimination, the new victims of the Obama era: the ones who don’t get picked first for the Supreme Court, and who can no longer take for granted their hegemonic power."

Wise explains how and why conservatives are reframing socialism as the "new black bogeyman" here, and the bizarre connections they're making between health care, Obama, and Hitler here.

The good old days are gone for good. Of course, they never really were all that good, were they. Why is it so hard for some folks to keep in mind that "Leave It to Beaver" was just a TV show?


"Leave It to Beaver"
(the "Magical Beatnik-jazz Hairdo" episode)

29 comments:

  1. "I WANT MY AMERICA BACK!

    I want an America that:

    -still legalizes slavery
    -still forbids women from voting
    -still criminalizes homsexuality
    -blacklists anyone who's a "commie"
    -women should shut up and stay in the kitchen
    -blacks, Asians, and immigrants not allowed to go to all-white schools
    -the Confederate flag still allowed to fly in the air
    -Hollywood leading roles in movies and TV shows should only go to white people
    -no foreign languages allowed in school.. except Latin! since it's a dead language.

    ..."

    yeah? Is that what these racist white folks want? Pathetic.

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  2. Thank you for posting this. Whenever, I hear this comment, it makes my skin crawl. When this guy said to me, "I want to take America back" and I said, "If anyone wants their 'America' back it should be the Native Americans' to which he replied, "I mean the constitution." The interesting thing about the constitution is that it can be interpreted in many ways but I have to agree with what Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said.

    I'm really convinced that there are two Americas--an America that was stated above and an America that wants to move forward. I'm for the America that wants to move forward.

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  3. My gosh, my mother and I were just discussing this yesterday...same thing also that the previous two commentors have said.

    Let's go back to an American in which I was nearly invisible, but visible enough to work your crops, build your properties, cook your food, nurse and care for your young, all the while getting raped...

    ...Your laws which weren't even created with me in mind.

    Your forefathers, not mine.

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  4. Right on, Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! Right on!

    Who's America?

    If we are to give the America "back", give it back to its rightful owner, the Native Americans. Otherwise, STFU!

    That America of long ago was a regression. We are trying to progress. Move on or ship the hell out.

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  5. It's nice to see the Daily Show put some non-white faces on, isn't it?

    This will sound snarky, but seriously, you are aware that with your "car launch" post, your "racist memorabilia" post and now with this post, it seem like you're interested lately with going after lower middle class rural white republicans (LMCRWRs)? It's your blog, have at it - but talk about shooting fish in a barrel (as a LMCRWR would say).

    LMCRWRs have been negatively stereotyped for a long time now, for approx the past 100 years, ever since the rise of the Northeastern urban intellectual elite. LMCRWRs have never been more powerless since this past election.

    We're talking about a slow, slow moving target.

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  6. Vick, I think of my target instead as a broader white supremacist ideology. Sometimes "LMCRWRs" fall prey to it, and end up voicing and enacting it.

    But, yes, at times I could make it more evident that the broader great white shark is my target, and not the LMCRWR and other sorts of pilot fish. So thanks for the reminder.

    In return, as it were, it's odd to me that you express approval of a black person's presence on the Daily Show, but then you direct barbs at me for saying basically the same thing in this post that Larry Wilmore did in the DS segment. It's almost like you saw and applauded the black person, but didn't listen to what he had to say.

    And where did I say that in that memorabilia post that the proprietor, Jenny, is an LMCRWR? From what I could tell, she was quite well off financially, and I have no idea whether she was a Republican.

    And finally, aren't a lot of lower middle class rural whites Democrats? I'm not sure, but I doubt that crowd at the Turtle Lake Car Launch was homogeneously Republican.

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  7. Nostalgia... the privilege of the wealthy, straight, cis, Christian, "able-bodied" white man coasting on his own sense of thwarted entitlement.

    Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist has it down pat.

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  8. Vick, do you really watch "The Daily Show"? If you do, you'd know that the show is diverse. So, it shouldn't come to a surprise that there are non-whites on the show, if you are an actual viewer.

    Also, I wouldn't call the folks that you are defending powerless. So, the violin playing stops with you. If they are a slow moving target, it's to get them to see outside of their self-inflicted boxes of what life is. In addition, the elites have nothing to do with their mindset of LMCRWRs, as it was quite pervasive prior to their "rise".

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  9. I'm with Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist on this one.

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  10. I feel no sympathy for anyone who expresses the sentiment that they want "their" America back.

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  11. macon d-

    Thanks for your reply. re: Larry Wilmore's bit on the Daily Show... Hmm, I think we both agree with parts of Wilmore's bit: you agree with him that using the word "their," "mine," etc. has a racist sense to it. And I agree with him that white people (I would emphasize LMCRWRs) are losing power.

    I brought up the Daily Show because it's been criticized in the past for hiring mostly white males. So it makes me chuckle when the Daily Show does a piece on white racism.

    You have a point about the memorabilia post, I suppose. I have never seen a single instance of what your post talks about in my entire life, so I imagined (lazily perhaps), that if such a phenomenon exists, it must be mostly a LMCRWR one, and probably a regional (southern?) one at that. Maybe I'm wrong. Not sure how to resolve the question one way or the other.

    Last, you ask, aren't a lot of lower middle class rural whites Democrats? No, not in significant numbers. I'm talking about places where the GOP wins elections by 60, 70, 80 percent. Look at an electoral map, especially one that shows county by county results. The divide between rural and urban in this country is dramatic.

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  12. @Vick

    You have a point about the memorabilia post, I suppose. I have never seen a single instance of what your post talks about in my entire life, so I imagined (lazily perhaps), that if such a phenomenon exists, it must be mostly a LMCRWR one, and probably a regional (southern?) one at that. Maybe I'm wrong. Not sure how to resolve the question one way or the other.

    maybe here would be a good time to point out that maybe your experience here isn't the norm, and others have. I've seen it in TX, IA, and WA state. Hell it was up until just a few years ago we still had a Coon Chicken Inn in Washington.

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  13. honeybrown1976 -

    The Daily Show has been criticized for hiring mostly white males.

    Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

    http://nextnewsroom.ning.com/profiles/blogs/celebrating-diversity-with-the

    You say LMCRWRs aren't powerless. I say that LMCRWRs have never been more powerless, and there's nothing about the current political landscape which indicates that they're on the rise again. But by all means, continue kicking that thoroughly-beaten horse.

    The point of my comment is that going after LMCRWRs is old and tired. So old that they have turned the stereotype around and reclaimed it (eg. macon's "redneck pride" post). I think that if we're trying to say something interesting and insightful about racism in America, then approach the subject of poor rural whites with a measure of care - because there isn't a lot of shitty things to say about them that hasn't already been said.

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  14. Vick, I highly doubt that those individuals attended those rallies are poor. Poorly educated, yes. But, not financially poor. In fact, those in attendance would be considered lower middle-class, which is in a much better placement than poor rural whites, who would be more willing to look at whatever it would take to guarantee some healthcare for their families.

    It is often those that have something that will fuss the most than those that don't.

    I stand by my notion that no one's truly powerless, unless they actually give up that power to someone else; otherwise, no successful movements would've gotten off the ground.

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  15. I've been having an email exchange on the health care debate with some of my relatives (we're white) who are against "socialized health care" (as they would call it), even though many of them are lower class, some have no health insurance, and some accept other forms of government "socialized" services such as SS and medicare. It's like banging my head against a brick wall, though. I am quite sure that racism plays into their views, but if I brought that up, they would hotly deny it. *sigh* I do think they long for "their America" again.

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  16. "
    Let's go back to an American in which I was nearly invisible, but visible enough to work your crops, build your properties, cook your food, nurse and care for your young, all the while getting raped..."

    oh pulleeze. I think back in the days most of those jobs were done by whites. There weren't enough blacks. Or Latinos to mow the lawn. Most people did it themselves. Learn your history instead of spouting insulting (to my hard working relatives) cliches please.

    Excellent comment Vick. But re your second comment "(I would emphasize LMCRWRs) are losing power. " What power? When have they had power?

    I am so sick of everybody reading into everyone else's thoughts. I don't get race at all in this case, sorry. It WAS a simpler time, people were more self-sufficient, upward mobility was possible for people who saved their mmoney, the society was far less litigious. Whether you agree or not how can you just "decide" what people are "really thinking"? Everyone here seems to be so good at it.

    And Macon d - ", I think of my target instead as a broader white supremacist ideology. Sometimes "LMCRWRs" fall prey to it, and end up voicing and enacting it."
    Condescending 100% bullshit dude. Why don't you just write your blog from YOUR class perspective rather than ALL white people. It will be much more meaningful.

    "get them to see outside of their self-inflicted boxes of what life is"

    Lotta blaming going on here.

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  17. Vick wrote,

    This will sound snarky, but seriously, you are aware that with your "car launch" post, your "racist memorabilia" post and now with this post, it seem like you're interested lately with going after lower middle class rural white republicans (LMCRWRs)? It's your blog, have at it - but talk about shooting fish in a barrel (as a LMCRWR would say).

    And in another comment,

    Look at an electoral map, especially one that shows county by county results. The divide between rural and urban in this country is dramatic.

    Okay, I looked at an electoral map. The car launch took place in Turtle Lake, which is in Barron County. In the last twelve presidential elections, Barron county went blue six times, and red the other six times. Doesn't exactly sound like the homogeneously Republican group to me.

    I don't get it -- why are you stereotyping people who identify as "rednecks"? I didn't label them Republicans in that post (nor Democrats); you did.

    I think that if we're trying to say something interesting and insightful about racism in America, then approach the subject of poor rural whites with a measure of care - because there isn't a lot of shitty things to say about them that hasn't already been said.

    "shitty things"? You mean like, "they're Republicans"?

    Seems to me you should take your own advice about approaching poor rural whites with a measure of care.

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  18. Vick - I see your point about The Daily Show's writing staff, but it's hardly rare for them to have POC in front of the camera. In addition to Larry Wilmore, who's been on the show for three years, they have Wyatt Cenac and Aasif Manvi.

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  19. Isabel wrote,

    And Macon d - ", I think of my target instead as a broader white supremacist ideology. Sometimes "LMCRWRs" fall prey to it, and end up voicing and enacting it."

    Condescending 100% bullshit dude. Why don't you just write your blog from YOUR class perspective rather than ALL white people. It will be much more meaningful.


    It's not bullshit, Isabel. I mostly do end up writing from my own class perspective (though in a less educated, self-aware manner than I'd like -- still working on that). As for white people from other classes, it's certainly fair for me to write about them as white people too, if I approach them with care. In a country with an ongoing legacy of white supremacy like the one I live in (the U.S.), white ideology seeps into everyone. It doesn't do so the same for everyone, and it doesn't encourage everyone to think and act the same, but it's there. As for lower-/working-class whites, it's certainly fair to say, for one thing, and as I've said before, that the ongoing legacy of white supremacy encourages them to think of themselves as fundamentally different from lower-/working class blacks, Hispanics, and other groups. And to therefore fail to see a common interest with them in terms of class, because they're usually more focused on differences of race or ethnicity.

    Do you disagree with that?

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  20. right on Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist. as for everything else being said right now...isabel and vick...bullshit.

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  21. Leave No Sacred Cow UnslaughteredAugust 22, 2009 at 1:55 AM

    I want the America back where you could criticize someone who happened to be a POC & not be branded "Hatemonger!" "Racist!" "Uncle Tom!"

    I want the America back where the media wouldn't cover up facts that undermined the thesis of the media status quo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYKQJ4-N7LI

    That would call something like the Obama Joker socialist poster racist

    http://volokh.com/posts/1249580799.shtml

    But swept under the rug when it turns that this isn't caused by White racist conservatives (a redundancy I know) but by a Kucinich supporting Palestinian-American

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/08/obama-joker-artist.html

    That wouldn't villify Whites for leaving the inner-city and forming White community suburbs

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2009/05/raise-their-children-in-isolation-from.html

    ...And then revillyfing them for returning

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2009/04/feel-bad-about-participating-in.html

    -an irate POC who has had enough.

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  22. LNSCU, your first point is ridiculous. I see a LOT of POC criticize other POC -- Michael Steele, Bill Cosby, John Yoo, Alberto Gonzalez, Condoleeza Rice, and Clarence Thomas, for starters -- and not be branded "Hatemonger!" "Racist!" "Uncle Tom!"

    Regarding your second point, your YouTube link, what you and others are "sweeping under the rug," in favor of this "coverup" canard, is that a lot of white people ARE strapped with guns at political rallies these days -- one black guy is an exception to the rule, not something that disproves the rule -- and a lot of white people resent having a black president, and are dragging race into such unrelated issues as the health care debate, because they resent having a black president. It's a toxic combination that SHOULD be of concern. Yes, MSNBC should have edited and spoken more carefully, but why are you and others on your side not speaking out and loudly, significantly DENOUNCING the toxic combination I just described, and the racism generally spewing more than ever from your side ever since the election?

    Regarding your simplistic summary of those two swpd posts -- you imply that they contradict each other. It's as if you're saying, like a lot of white people do, "Well, what do you expect white people to do? You vilify them for doing one thing, and then you vilify them for doing the opposite!"

    If that's what you're getting at, again, it's simplistic summary of those two posts, because it ignores the differing contexts in which those two different movements occur, and more to the point, it ignores how both movements occur at the expense of POC. Both are invidiously white separatist movements -- the first, "white flight," was a movement away from POC, and a de jure and then de facto exclusion of POC from the area. The second is often a classist movement into impoverished POC areas that drives out POC.

    Finally, this blog doesn't "vilify" white people; it explicates and condemns an ongoing legacy and ideology of white supremacy, by pointing out its manifestations. That's the bigger target I'm trying to shine a light on and hit. Not people.

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  23. Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist - you're so spot on. How about the days of dysentery, no vaccines, outhouses, no grocery stores?? Yeah - the good old days. Gee, can I can I??

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  24. Unfortunately, I think these people will get their "America" back in three years. I'm seriously doubting that Obama will serve a second term. I think the nation will justify this by declaring that it gave a black guy a chance, and he just didn't get the job done, without examining how racial resentment made policies such as his health care plan bomb.
    As for the class discussion, I'm connected to college-educated, upper middle class whites who have very racist views. Yes, they are Republican. The point is, you don't have to be uneducated and poor to be racist.

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  25. Vick/Isabel

    Bullshit. Pure Bullshit.

    Would you please add to the discussion than try to derail it? Otherwise, step aside.

    You are clear examples of derailing. I wonder if you are purposely trolling or that you believe what you think.

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  26. Isabel said...

    "It WAS a simpler time, people were more self-sufficient, upward mobility was possible for people who saved their mmoney, the society was far less litigious. "

    But why do you maintain that 'a lack of social mobility' or 'too much suing each other' is what is being complained about when folk attack Obama's health-care plans and talk about 'taking their country back'?

    I'd be interested to know, who, in your view, they are taking it back _from_. Because I don't see the connection between your points above and the railing against Obama and 'socialised medicine'.

    Are you referring to all those staggeringly wealthy Blacks and Hispanics who have benefited so much from the decline of social-mobility (which presumably, in this view, has cemented their position at the top of society?) /Sarcasm

    Also, what period of time are you talking of when you say 'it' was a simpler time?

    The 1950s, for example, was a pretty good time for white, male, straight Americans (including working class ones), but that was at least in part because all the US's industrial competitors had been totally destroyed by the war - those days at least are never coming back.

    The decline in social mobility, in my view, is just part of the inevitable logic of capitalism. The very system that the opponents of socialised health care appear to have so much faith in has a natural tendency, unless otherwise ameliorated, towards plutocracy.

    It's increasingly a winner-takes-all system. Black people and Liberals (and whoever else is supposed to have stolen the country) have nothing to do with it. Social mobility has collapsed across the Western world. The big expansion of the middle-class is over, and the cost of housing (and in the US, healthcare) takes up a bigger and bigger slice of ordinary workers' income.

    Incidentally, my pet theory is that much of the difference in political culture between the US and Europe is down to the historical availability of land in the US. It makes social-geographical self-segregation easier, allowed even poorer whites to have a real chance at improving their lot, and conceals the fact that the initial distribution of wealth was the result of centuries of theft and plunder (something rather harder to miss in Europe, where anyone could see the rich, who even now still own most of the land, were mostly rich because their ancestors were particularly successful thieves).

    Not surprising that Locke said that 'in the beginning all the world was America' (meaning, empty, unowned, ready to be carved up).

    But I don't find it surprising that as the US matures economically, and its population density increases, that the American Dream of self-reliant social mobility would start to fade. The US has urbanised much later than Europe. You're becoming like old Europe, thanks to forces much larger than 'liberalism' - including urbanisation and, not least, capitalism itself - and I don't see how complaining about affirmative action or Obama is going to stop that.

    I can understand a nostalgia for 'old America' even in the absence of a longing for white male supremacy, but these protests don't seem to have any interest at all in addressing those issues you mention.

    Perhaps if you drastically reduce your population density, return to the mostly rural existence of pre-WW2 America, and destroy all the technology that contributes to this winner-takes-all tendency, you just _might_ get that America back. But, the Khmer Rouge tried that already and it didn't work very well. Perhaps trying to fix the problems with _this_ America would be a better idea?

    PS that car launch looked kind of fun to me.

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  27. I want my America back, too, the America I was born in, where "Liberal" meant bold and aggressive actors like John and Robert Kennedy, not weenies like Bill Clinton. Where "Conservative" meant prudent and thoughtful people like Dwight Eisenhower, rather than town-hall gunmen. Where we were moving toward greater equality of opportunity and increased social mobility, ratheer than in the opposite direction. Where we dared great things like going to the Moon and providing health care to our elders, rather than sniveling over incremental less-badness.

    I must be a conservative myself, because I want to return to the country where I was born.

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  28. P.

    I don't know what you are blathering about. I said the world was in fact simpler for them in many ways in the past, and you don't need to interpret it a coded expression for racism. Even if they are misguided, it doesn't mean they are racist.

    You sound pretty racist actually.

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