mfioretti: racism*

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  1. Apparently, if you're not Asian, U can't tell if rice is cooked
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  2. Comics studio’s vice president of sales tells summit that some stores say people ‘have had enough’ of new female and ethnic minority characters
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  3. Buchanan wrote a 13-page memo to Nixon, urging him to engage in “heated political warfare, of not cooling off our supporters but of stirring the fires” as they were now “in a contest over the soul of the country” with their liberal enemies in Congress, the press and the universities. “It will be their kind of society or ours; we will prevail or they shall prevail.”

    And another aide, Michael Balzano, urged the president to transmit the following message to disgruntled white voters: “Today, racial minorities are saying that you can’t make it in America. What they really mean is that they refuse to start at the bottom of the ladder the way you did. They want to surpass you … and » they want it handed to them. … You worked the menial jobs to get where you are - let them do it too.” Balzono knew what he was proposing—an intentional rending of American society along racial lines, for political profit. “CAUTION – DANGER,” he wrote. “With respect to the calculated polarization described in this paper, ABSOLUTE SECRECY CANNOT BE OVERSTATED” or “there would be no way of calculating the damage to the Administration.” The capitalization was his.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-03-28)
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  4. you need not be wealthy to participate. All you need to gain access to socialism for white people is a good corporate or government job. That fact helps explain how this welfare system took shape sixty years ago, why it was originally (and still overwhelmingly) white, and why white Rust Belt voters showed far more enthusiasm for Donald Trump than for Bernie Sanders. White voters are not interested in democratic socialism. They want to restore their access to a more generous and dignified program of white socialism.

    In the years after World War II, the western democracies that had not already done so adopted universal social safety net programs. These included health care, retirement and other benefits. President Truman introduced his plan for universal health coverage in 1945. It would have worked much like Social Security, imposing a tax to fund a universal insurance pool. His plan went nowhere.

    Instead, nine years later Congress laid the foundations of the social welfare system we enjoy today. They rejected Truman’s idea of universal private coverage in favor of a program controlled by employers while publicly funded through tax breaks. This plan gave corporations new leverage in negotiating with unions, handing the companies a publicly-financed benefit they could distribute at their discretion.

    No one stated their intention to create a social welfare program for white people, specifically white men, but they didn’t need to. By handing control to employers at a time when virtually every good paying job was reserved for white men the program silently accomplished that goal.

    White socialism played a vital political role, as blue collar factory workers and executives all pooled their resources for mutual support and protection, binding them together culturally and politically. Higher income workers certainly benefited more, but almost all the benefits of this system from health care to pensions originally accrued to white families through their male breadwinners. Blue collar or white collar, their fates were largely united by their racial identity and employment status.

    Until the decades after the Civil Rights Acts, very few women or minorities gained direct access to this system. Unsurprisingly, this was the era in which white attitudes about the social safety net and the Democratic Party began to pivot. Thanks to this silent racial legacy, socialism for white people retains its disproportionately white character, though that has weakened. Racial boundaries are now less explicit and more permeable, but still today white families are twice as likely as African-Americans to have access to private health insurance. Two thirds of white children are covered by private health insurance, while barely over one third of black children enjoy this benefit.

    White socialism has had a stark impact on the rest of the social safety net, creating a two-tiered system. Visit a county hospital to witness an example. American socialism for “everyone else” is marked by crowded conditions, neglected facilities, professionalism compromised by political patronage, and long waits for care. Fall outside the comfortable bubble of white socialism, and one faces a world of frightening indifference.

    When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.
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  5. Why did voters who by and large benefit from social democracy turn against the parties that most strongly support it?

    It’s a hard question to answer if you believe people cast their ballots principally on the basis of their perceived economic interests. European social democrats have been proposing ideas that more objectively speak to the material interests of voters, particularly in the working class, for decades. In virtually every country in Western Europe, however, it hasn’t been enough to help the parties maintain their historic levels of public support.

    Ironically, that could be because the European left is the victim of its own success. Ronald Inglehart, an eminent political scientist at the University of Michigan, argues that the combination of rapid economic growth and a robust welfare state have provided voters with enough economic security that they could start prioritizing issues beyond the distribution of wealth — issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and, most crucially, immigration.

    So it’s not that European social democrats failed to sell their economic message, or that economic redistribution became unpopular. It’s that economic issues receded in importance at the same time as Europe was experiencing a massive, unprecedented wave of nonwhite, non-Christian immigration.

    That, in turn, brought some of the most politically potent nonmaterial issues — race, identity, and nationalism — to the forefront of Western voters’ mind.

    How comfortable were they, really, with multicultural, multifaith societies?

    The traditional social democratic message didn’t really speak to these cultural anxieties. But the right’s did.

    What this suggests, then, is that a party’s stance on economics isn’t very important to right-wing populist voters. People choose to back those parties because they want someone to shut down immigration and restrict the rights of Muslims, not because of those parties’ stances on trade or welfare spending.

    Kai Arzheimer, a professor at Germany’s University of Mainz, studied data on working-class voters, the traditional base of social democratic parties, between 1980 and 2002. He found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries — that is, the ones with the largest welfare states — saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did.

    You see a similar sort of pattern inside countries. Right-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries — that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity.

    It’s important to bear in mind that the rise of the far right isn’t solely, or even mostly, the result of social democratic decline. The far right has pulled in some working-class voters, but most of its supporters are petty bourgeoisie (like shopkeepers) or low-educated, fairly high-income people (like successful plumbers). Swaying these voters through economic proposals will be difficult.

    “They social democrats » shouldn’t be purely focused on winning back the voters who went to the radical right, because when push comes to shove, a significant part of that electorate is deeply nativist,” Cas Mudde, a scholar of the European far right at the University of Georgia, tells me. “They want a party that is nativist; the only way to win them back is pretty much by becoming radical right or radical right-light.”

    “What Reagan had succeeded in doing was tarnishing liberalism as a giveaway to people of color,” Ian Haney López, a professor at UC Berkeley who studies race and American politics, says. “Investment in our cities, investment in our schools, investment in social welfare programs, all of that was branded as giveaway to undeserving minorities.”

    The uncomfortable truth is that America’s lack of a European-style welfare state hurts a lot of white Americans. But a large number of white voters believe that social spending programs mostly benefit nonwhites. As such, they oppose them with far more fervor than any similar voting bloc in Europe.

    In this context, tacking to the left on economics won't give Democrats a silver bullet to use against the racial resentment powering Trump's success. It could actually wind up giving Trump an even bigger gun. If Democrats really want to stop right-wing populists like Trump, they need a strategy that blunts the true drivers of their appeal — and that means focusing on more than economics.

    The upshot is that a significant shift to the left on economic policy issues might fail to attract white Trump supporters, even in the working class. It could even plausibly hurt the Democrats politically by reminding whites just how little they want their dollars to go to “those people.” One can only imagine what Trump would tweet.
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  6. I mean, honestly. Why does this surprise any thinking person? As I’ve told people before: When I was a kid, we had grownups who’d actually lived through times of segregation and open racism, and were thus able to patiently and clearly explain to us dumb kids why segregation and racism were wrong.

    But my Dad, who saw the world of segregation with his own eyes, is nearly 71 years old. I am 41, and Martin Luther King Jr. and “I Have A Dream” and the drama of the Civil Rights movement were already looking a bit creaky and old-fashioned when I was in high school. So what does it look like to current high schoolers?

    Well, the oldest ones were 10 when Barack Obama was elected, and they were exposed to non-ironic fictional portrayals of a black president for years before that. A world where the idea of a black guy being the U.S. president was a staple gag of stand-up comedy is utterly foreign to them.

    So do you know what people who lecture about things like “structural racism,” “microaggressions” and “white privilege” probably sound like to current young high schoolers (at least the white ones)? They sound like wheezy, moralistic old farts, at best. At BEST. And if you’ve ever been a young person, you know how young people view wheezy, moralistic old farts. When these youngsters go off to college and face SJW administrators, they won’t see those administrators as virtuous revolutionaries fighting the good fight. They’ll see them the way 1950s college students saw scowling, Elvis-hating Deans and Dorm Mothers.

    That’s a best-case scenario. At worst, they’ll view the people who constantly call them out for racism or sexism or whateverism as hypocrites. Back in my day, we had teachers who’d piously lecture us Not To Use Drugs, when you just KNEW many of these same teachers, who’d come of age in the anything-goes era of the late-60s and early 70s, had probably spent their youth grooving on every drug they could get their hands on. So I can imagine white high schoolers today thinking, “oh, ‘white privilege’ is bad, huh? But I notice it seemed to work out pretty nice for your generation, and it worked out even better for my grandparents’ generation. But MY generation looks like it’s gonna get screwed. Why should we settle for less?”

    Steve Sailer has repeatedly noted how our popular culture seems wedded to this weird notion that 1965 was about five years ago, so the awfulness of that era ought to be self-evident to everyone — even though the youngest people who can still remember 1965 are now in their late 50s. Frankly, this is unhealthy, and it sends a message to younger generations that is quite the opposite of what the creators probably intend. I’ve spoken to numerous young white people who adored “Mad Men” not because they saw it as a harsh criticism of the past — instead, they saw it as a vision of a lost utopia.

    I’m not the only one who see this. The whole alt-right is calculated precisely to appeal to these natural feelings of generational restlessness. It’s amazing to me that the Left is so blindsided by this. They wrote the freaking rulebook for this stuff; now another generation is copying it. Shouldn’t they have known? Well, they did at one time: In hindsight, the 1992 movie “Bob Roberts” seems like a kind of a very hazy premonition of the alt-right, but I guess it just seemed too silly to take seriously.
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  7. There is something even more fundamental at stake, something that explains why, to paraphrase an internet stranger (sorry, stranger, I don’t remember who you are) commenting on a friend’s Facebook post: “plenty of people of color are impoverished and alienated by neoliberalism without losing their damn minds.”

    Quite. We are in fact dealing with a white people thing, which is to say, a person-of-European-descent thing. To be white in America is to inherit Europe’s deeply conflicted cultural, philosophical, and political baggage. Fascism has deep roots in European thought, and — it has been argued more than once, by Hannah Arendt among others — is written into the DNA of modern liberal democracy, or will be as long as liberal democracies are rooted in a territorially bounded conception of nationhood. As long as the legitimacy of a state’s sovereignty depends upon the idea of the nation, an imagined community that feels real in our bones, as long as we peddle in words like ethnicity, culture, or belonging, as long as we feel like home has something to do with place, and home means self-determination, then our fascist potential is always there, lurking just under the surface.
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  8. Last December, Daniel Kolitz wrote a cover story for Hopes and Fears reminding us of Moses's public declarations about the racist character of the streets, buildings and infrastructure he planned, like his rationale for putting still-fatal low bridges over the Long Island Parkway to keep urban black people from traveling by bus to the de-facto whites-only beaches he built; or his decision to put his legendary parks, pools and playgrounds as far as possible from black neighborhoods (the one pool he did install within walking distance of a black neighborhood was kept "deliberately icy" because Moses had heard that black people wouldn't swim in cold water).
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  9. For England, the New World was a place to dispose of the dregs of its own society.

    Class distinctions were maintained above all in the apportionment of land. In Virginia in 1700, indentured servants had virtually no chance to own any, and by 1770, less than 10 percent of white Virginians had claim to more than half the land. In 1729 in North Carolina, a colony with 36,000 people, there were only 3,281 listed grants, and 309 grantees owned nearly half the land. “Land was the principal source of wealth, and those without any had little chance to escape servitude,” Isenberg writes. “It was the stigma of landlessness that would leave its mark on white trash from this day forward.” This was not just a Southern dynamic. The American usage of squatter traces to New England, where many of the nonelect—later called “swamp Yankees”—carved out homes on others’ land only to be chased off and have their houses burned.

    The Founding Fathers were, as Isenberg sees it, complicit in perpetuating these stark class divides. George Washington believed that only the “lower class of people” should serve as foot soldiers in the Continental Army. Thomas Jefferson envisioned his public schools educating talented students “raked from the rubbish” of the lower class, and argued that ranking humans like animal breeds was perfectly natural. “The circumstance of superior beauty is thought worthy of attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs and other domestic animals,” he wrote. “Why not that of man?” John Adams believed the “passion for distinction” was a powerful human force: “There must be one, indeed, who is the last and lowest of the human species.”

    By the time the nation gained independence, the white underclass—its future dependents—was fully entrenched. This underclass could be found just about everywhere in the new country, but it was perhaps most conspicuous in North Carolina, where many whites who had been denied land in Virginia trickled into the area south of the Great Dismal Swamp, establishing what Isenberg calls “the first white trash colony.” William Byrd II, the Virginia planter, described these swamp denizens as suffering from “distempers of laziness” and “slothful in everything but getting children.” North Carolina’s governor described his people as “the meanest, most rustic and squalid part of the species.”
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  10. While the majority of democrats I know do tend to keep it civil with each other, nearly all of them will rail on “ignorant” republicans who “vote against their own best interests.” Thing is, Trump supporters don’t vote against their best interests, democrats just don’t understand the interest they care about most.

    It’s dignity.

    One of my favorite stories is Mike DeStefano interview about going on a motorcycle ride with his dying wife. It’s a beautiful, you should read it or listen to it. Anyway, at some point he says:

    Dying » people, they feel “I’m alive.” They pass away at one moment. Until that moment, they are alive, and they want to be loved, and they want to give and share, you know.

    Until that moment, they want to give and share. Giving and sharing is as important to life as being loved.

    We are depriving the white working classes of their means to give. As we export manufacturing jobs internationally and as we streamline labor with technology, we start moving people to the sidelines. It’s not just that they have less money, it’s that their identity as providers is being threatened. This is why they are often so against welfare. Even if it would fix their financial situation, it would not fix their identity problems. It would hurt their dignity. While the working class is undoubtedly worried about the economy, we already know many will not vote in their economic best interests. They vote for the candidate who promises a return to dignity, and it’s not because they’re dumb. It’s because they care about their dignity more than they care about their finances.

    Which, by the way, directly ties in to how they are racist. Not all Trump supporters are necessarily racist, but a fair number of them explicitly are. Normally, when liberals talk about racism, they use “racist” as an end point. “Trump is racist” is, by itself, a reason not to vote for him, and “being racist” is an indicator of a person who is morally deficient.

    Yet, the fact that we are similarly motivated — white racists, white allies, and people of color alike — is the key to fixing this whole mess. We must find ways for the working class to maintain its dignity, we must find a way for them to have jobs that are satisfying to them, we must find a way for them to contribute to culture. We must find a way for them to feel heard. Which, by the way, are the exact same goals we need to have for oppressed races. We all need the same thing, and until we find a way to give it to more people, we will fight each other for it.

    And, America is terrible at giving its citizens dignity and meaning. We have, with the internet, the power for more people to be appreciated than ever before, yet we use it primarily to shame each other. Shaming Trump supporters for being “ignorant bigots” is the worst thing you can do, because their entire motivation in voting for Trump is to alleviate the shame they are already carrying. If you add to their shame, they will dig in further.

    It is, obviously, difficult to think about ways to reduce shame on a national level but we have to start finding ways to have more appreciation for each other, even those we disagree with. At the most basic level we can start by not explicitly shaming people. We can stop calling them ignorant. We can stop mocking them on the internet. We can stop calling them out on twitter. Unless they happen to be Martin Shkreli, then it’s ok.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2016-03-09)
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