Friday, September 11, 2015

Identity Politics


The number of New York Times columnists I read continues to shrink. First off my list was Nick Kristoff, after his resurrection of  a 17 year old accusation of child abuse against Woody Allen (for which he was exonerated after an exhaustive investigation), recirculated as a favor to his personal friend Dylan Farrow. Next was Maureen Dowd, whose pathological hatred of all things Hillary (although there's plenty to dislike) grew too tiresome to tolerate. Now Charles Blow is approaching the danger zone with his myopic, strangulated vision of how the country might achieve equal justice for all its citizens.  In fact that's the problem; there is no vision, no concrete proposals or even philosophical notion of how to get to where we need to be. There's just enraged whining.

This from Mr Blow last Thursday, seeking to excuse the incendiary rhetoric  adopted by some acolytes of the Black Lives Matter Movement:

I actually believe that you have to peel back the vitriol to expose the fundamental, but unarticulated truth at the core of the opposition to this movement: It centers blackness in a country that “others” blackness. It elevates blackness in a country that devalues it. It prioritizes blackness in a country that marginalizes it.

....Discomfort with Black Lives Matter, is, on some level and to some degree, a discomfort with blackness itself. It’s not only about the merits of individual cases, it is also about the collective, ingrained sins of the system committed disproportionately, and by design, against people of color. The movement convicts this country of its crimes.

America has been engaged since its inception in a most gruesome enterprise: Like the mythological Cronus, it has been eating its children, the darker ones, and this movement demands — at least in one area, at least in one moment — that it atone for that abomination.

Here's a response from the Comments that's answers this accusation far better than I ever could.

Okay. Standard White liberal here. Voted for Obama twice. Support affirmative action. Think black people have gotten unfair deal in American and its our responsibility (all of us) to address racism past and present with aggressive prosecution of racists and their removal from public life. Have plenty of black co-workers, friends and family members. All that being said, it's hard for me not to see the BLM "movement" as being, in part, a movement blind to the complicated reality of race in America --- it's just not simple. It's a "movement" led by professional activists in urban centers who have no reason whatsoever to find common ground, productive solutions and peace between races; instead, the goal will be to exacerbate the situation to "prove" America's racism, again and again and again. The rhetoric --- like the talk in this article about hating blackness etc. --- pretends we're all in Mississippi in 1965, if only we were --- the answers would be easy and enemies obvious, but we're not. Urban 21st century whites by and large take it for granted that blackness is great and racism is evil. It's not up for debate. BLM is a 21st century "professionalized dissent fantasy structure" in which we pretend that no one has black family members, friends and co-workers and we all live surrounded by corrupt racist all-white police forces. Basically people who missed the sixties want to replay them now. 

Meanwhile the slaughter of young Black men by their counterparts continues to spike. Again from the Times, here's an account of one recent murder in Milwaukee, an epicenter of such violence.

In Milwaukee, most of the victims and the suspects in their killings are black men under 30, police data shows, who come from neighborhoods where foreclosures, joblessness and poverty are also high. Most involve guns and people — both victims and suspects — who have been arrested before. The most common motive in the slayings was not robbery or gang rivalry but an argument, according to the data.
On July 3, as an annual fireworks display along Lake Michigan ended, Tariq Akbar, 14, was shot in the back of the head while he was leaving the crowded celebration to meet his mother, who was parked not far away.
“The police were right there — not even 50 feet away,” his mother, Arifah Akbar, said. “This is when you know how bad Milwaukee has gotten.”
The police said the shooting had stemmed from a dispute on social media. A 15-year-old has been charged.

About such events we hear nothing from Mr Blow, or Mr Coats, or Mr. West. We hear the keening of grief from the loved ones of these dead children.

Demand equal justice, relentlessly. Accept nothing less. Demand effective, coherent, compassionate policing. A tremendous amount of mayhem is driven by handful of knuckleheads. Find them. Lock them up Condemn violence, everywhere, by anyone.



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