The White Man’s Burden… April 14, 2007
Change is rarely an easy thing to deal with and as a global community we have an enormous amount of it to attend to. Numerous recent exposures of the actual inner workings of this society are forcing us to face aspects of our existence that have long been denied. The reality-based tidal shift in this country that has been evident since the November elections has begun to uncover a host of festering wounds and deceptive practices that Americans were largely unaware (or in intentional denial) of, and how honestly we choose to address these issues will determine the length of suffering and the degree of pain we all must endure in order to transform this malignancy into a society in which we all can live.
One of the most crucial and difficult aspects of understanding this country and its motivations is reconciling the rhetoric with the reality of its origin. The fundamental reason for this difficulty is that with the exception of a few fixed dates, the two have nothing in common. What we “believe” about the origin of this country (and the rhetorical image of the American Pioneer) does not include the reality of the genocide of the Native American, theft of his property, or the destruction of his culture. Our rhetorical image of the fastest growing “civilization” in history does not include the enslavement, rape, and deaths of untold millions to build the wealth and power “we” Americans are so proud of.
This denial is at the core of the American problem. It is from this original misunderstanding that most if not all of our subsequent problems have arisen.
Denying ones origin makes it impossible for one to understand where you are, and (as America has certainly demonstrated over the last six years) we don’t have a clue. The fact that “they hate our freedom” ever worked to begin with illustrates what limited (if not non-existent) self and global awareness the average American citizen has – or is afforded. Americans are generally quick and content to believe that this country is (and always has been) in the “right” because that is all that they have ever been taught. According to the rhetorical view, this country (in its mere two-hundred years of existence) has apparently invented everything, discovered everything, and saved everyone from themselves.
The historical reality of course is that of a nation founded on genocide and slavery that has altered its course very little during its comparatively miniscule existence. The relationship between the white “founding father” and the indigenous / transplanted people of color in this country was one of oppression and (although superficial representations have changed to some degree) one need not look far to find the reality of that relationship hasn’t gone anywhere. The same policies of conquest and oppression that were so effective during the “founding” of this country for instance (use of bio-weapons and disease, fomenting the division of clans and tribes, re-education, deliberate addiction, etc.) are identifiable in every “ghetto” in the country and on the planet… Surely that is no coincidence.
The United States is not the originator of the methodology of oppression of course. Being a mere two hundred years old, how could it be? It is as old as “civilization” itself. All of the world’s would-be conquerors have used similar tactics and methods to dominate and control populations to a greater or lesser degree, but the United States is the “keeper of the flame” and (as “leader of the free world”) is responsible for its perpetuation.
This same methodology has been and is being applied in our occupation in Iraq. Aside from the “unfortunate problem” of the Iraqi people actually fighting back, the United States (in a mere four years) has implemented with great effectiveness what took decades to inflict on the Native American population. The policy of self-replicating violence has been almost perfected, their culture and history are all but destroyed, the educated and able have been driven out or imprisoned, and the remaining population is developing addictions to Prozac, Valium, and Viagra in a desperate effort to escape the horrific reality we have heaped upon them. This is no different than the Native American / Black American experience and the intent is exactly the same.
This methodology stems from one essential belief. The belief that one man (due to “heritage” or power) is “better” or “more worthy” than another man. The belief that some have “worth” and that some are “worthless”. The collective societal act and acceptance of the classification, denigration, and dehumanization of people of color all over this world is why it is commonly “permitted” to treat them like cattle, take their possessions, and kill them when necessary without it being perceived as violating “equal” human beings. The reality of our acceptance of these practices is quite evident in Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq… Just to name a few.
This collective belief (from the very beginning) is what has created the global caste system in which we live and is responsible for the biases, divisions, and wars among the peoples of this planet. The belief in inherent individual, gender, or community superiority and inferiority is the root cause of racism, sexism, and oppression on this planet and (whether we are consciously aware of it or not) it influences our every action on one level or another.
The reality of this underlying current is rarely acknowledged for obvious reasons. To do so instantly shatters the rhetorical view of “all men are created equal” or “land of the free” and forces one to re-examine the structure of society as a whole. The recent statement and subsequent dismissal of CBS/MSNBC’s Don Imus however has unintentionally brought this current to the surface whether society is ready for the conversation or not. In one brief statement (“nappy-headed hos”) Imus managed to rake across the entire “non-white male” community, and in doing so demonstrated the caste system in living color.
For a week now I have watched this unfold, and unfortunately it has been quite predictable. Mainstream media is an integral part of the policies of oppression (lest we forget) and their response has been in accordance. Imus, Dobbs, Scarborough, Carlson, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and the like were not hired by accident after all and their perspectives are obviously the ones these networks intend to represent. The “commentary” and “dialog” they have offered in their effort to “examine” this issue testifies to this reality beyond any question, and we have seen it all before.
In this country, when a white man of any social stature demonstrates bias, a remarkable process begins. Because of the total denial of society as a whole for the actual reasons for the offense and the crushing effect it would have on the illusion of American “righteousness”, a frantic search for some other viable excuse (other than the person actually being bias) begins. As was the case when Michael Richards (Kramer on Seinfeld) went on his “nigger” screaming tirade or George Allan’s “Macaca” moment, mainstream media (controlled entirely by the white man) must find a way to make it look like something other than what it actually is – A white man saying what that white man thinks.
Deflection is the tactic du jour and as a result we have heard a discussion on a topic that usually gets no mainstream (TV news) coverage or exposure whatsoever. That topic is of course Rap Music and the black man’s use of derogatory words.
I watch a great deal of news and political commentary and as a result of the limited options offered, I watch a lot of MSNBC. This meant (although I was quite aware of Imus’s previous patterns) I was “exposed” to a good deal of his program that ran for three hours a day. To the best of my recollection, I never heard Imus discuss a rap artist, play a rap song, or give any indication that rap music was any part of his reality.
Yet after being caught denigrating the majority of the people of the planet (for which hopefully I have explained why I do not hold him entirely responsible), Rap Music was practically the first thing out of his mouth.
Needless to say this is a deflection of responsibility and this diversion has been repeated on every channel I have access to. Attempting to deflect and equate his offense with that of the undereducated, disenfranchised, oppressed, and manipulated “ghetto” youth of America is absurd to begin with. A “ghetto” youth that has been called a nigger, treated like a nigger, feels like a nigger, and understands that society views him as a nigger, has every right to use the word “nigger”. The “white man” who created, represents, and perpetuates that reality for the “ghetto” youth does not at all have equal privilege in its use.
Nevertheless, like a twisted game of “telephone”, this is the “conversation” about race in this country that the media has created for us. Just last night for instance Joe Scarborough had a segment titled “Hip-Hop-Cracy”, indicating just how far from the point we have already gone. Adding insult to injury of course is the fact that the “white man” cannot divert attention like this by himself. As I said, representations have changed slightly in the last two hundred years and just “telling” us what we should do and how we should feel is not enough – if spoken only by the “white” man. Therefore there must also be “black” representation (supporting the “white” man’s perspective) to “convince” the population that they are being spoken for in some fashion… And so begins the parade of complicity to support the illusion of “fair and balanced” representation.
Armstrong Williams for instance (the man who single-handedly got me to stop listening to AAR in the mornings because of his incessant pandering) has been a virtual fixture on MSNBC this week. There for the specific purpose of downplaying black outrage and desperately attempting to equalize guilt and responsibility in the Black community for Imus’s bigoted and sexist comments. From my perspective, he only conjures up images of the house slave defending his master in order to keep his “better than average” position in the white man’s house. The behavior of these type of “black” representatives is transparent and embarrassing… You can be sure I’m not the only Black Man that feels that way.
So ultimately the cycle ends (as it always does) with the black man being guilty of something or responsible for his (or her) own turmoil as “white” society marches on unscathed and unencumbered. Absolved of “sin” just as the Duke players have been miraculously declared “innocent” without any reference to the blatant racism displayed and documented on that evening. “Hey bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt” are not the words of a racist in this culture, they are the words of a youth whose “image” has been tarnished from false prosecution. “I plan on killing the bitches and proceeding to cut their skin off” are apparently the sentiments of an “innocent” man who deserves “vindication”.
As ultimately insulting as Don Imus’s (and the mainstream media’s) attempts at deflection and self-justification for these repeated behaviors are, there is one point in which Imus is entirely correct… He is not alone nor ( by far ) the worst offender. Like I said, Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc are overt advocates of the oppressor methodology and are not in the least shy in expressing it. Considering Lou Dobbs has a segment virtually every single day denigrating Mexican “immigrants” (denying the reality of such pesky little facts like a fair portion of this country used to belong to them), Imus was actually one of the least generally offensive on MSNBC.
However, whereas Imus and his supporters attempted to use this as justification for him keeping his job (being the lesser of the evils), this in reality is justification for all of them to go. The age of oppression is coming to an end and (as uncomfortable as that fact may be for the “white” man) this behavior is no longer acceptable and will not be tolerated. It is the burden of the “white” man to understand the nature of the society he has created, recognize the error of his ways, and correct the behavior that perpetuates the unjust system of oppression in which we live. Apologies are meaningless, the behavior and mindset must change.