Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Trick About History Is Not Remembering It, But Re-writing It

I think Newt Gingrich may know history. And he hates it. He hates the fact that African Americans and poor Whites ever rose up and questioned the power structure that he represents.

And so he's trying to re-write it by the sheer fact of speaking. In his act of speech, he actively gives support to those who likewise feel animosity towards African Americans, even as they themselves are usually poor whites in slightly better shape than the African Americans they attack - but in far worse shape than Newt himself is in (no fat jokes, please).

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The schema of the power base (the very base that conservatives support by their very essence, since to be a conservative is to keep the status quo as much as possible) is to keep the masses distracted. Much of that distraction comes from consumptive waste (hello, Christmas shoppers!), another portion from sports demagoguery, or from the cult of celebrity worship, from too much revelry, pop culture... We are distracted from our lack by our excess.

The largest distraction for who are actually interested in the political arena is the popularity contest of politics, of course. But the biggest distraction for those aware of their lack of political (and economical) capital is the tried and true game of Divide & Conquer.

Hence the relationship between the White Citizen's Council and the Ku Klux Klan. Between Newt Gingrich and uneducated voters who come to hear his coded tirades out. Chuck Colson and older Evangelicals trying to shut up their more social-justice-oriented Evangelicals - typically younger folks like most of you, myself, Rachel Held Evans, Kurt Willems, Fred Clark of Slacktivist... But also older, more established activists, believers, and groups that are both Evangelical and concerned about the 'least of these': Tony Campolo, Dr. John Perkins and the Christian Community Development Association, Rob Bell, as well as any Christian that dare have some connection with the Occupy movement.

To not attack dissidents subtly or boldly through getting fellow sufferers against them is a sure way for the power elite to relinquish power.

But let's reconsider the bond between the White Citizen's Council and the Ku Klux Klan. Although they both were prominent in the fight against the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties in the American south and both were fearful of the rise of black power and their lack of economic or political power therein, the constitution of each was distinct. Whereas the latter consisted of working class men, the WCC were the powerful elite: politicians and city elders, mayors and preachers, governors and leading businessmen. The Klan worked exclusively in intimidation and brute violence. The Council was a little more shrewd, however.

However, despite these tangible differences, the two groups worked in perfect symbiosis - each rubbing the back of the other. The WCC was able to say that they don't traffic in violence by comparing themselves to the obvious terrorism tactics of the KKK. Meanwhile, they spurred violence in their rhetoric given in public speeches (which were attended by Klan members). The Council was able to use the Klan as a moral guard (See? At least we're not like them!) while the KKK was able to use the WCC as a moral impetus. The Council sanctioned the violence that the KKK carried out, but then washed their hands of the bloody affairs (with a knowing *wink*), once the shootings or lynchings occurred.

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Do you sense a pattern here? It's the pattern of the powerful. D&C and then re-write history.

When they take over property and goods and resources and any other means to self-preservation, they set themselves up as experts and gods. Then they tell those they've dis-empowered from that their real enemies are those people in even worse conditions. Then they watch, disengaged, as those struggling groups rip each other apart.

Of course, if the poor White and Black groups could work together, they'd be unstoppable and they could be secure in having enough food and land to secure what they need. But as long as the elite kept the poor whites and blacks fighting for scraps... well, people are hungry.

In my religious tradition - or at least for the last thirty years - that's meant that a Francis Schaeffer or a Chuck Colson or a Jerry Falwell or a James Dobson will tell the rest of us who or what our "real" enemy is.

And it's not poverty. Or violence. Or injustice. Or racism. Not in any sort of tangible way. Sure, they may allude to those matters, but they are not important. I suppose they believe that the poor will always be amongst us. But they are much more concerned about those pesky secularists, feminists, abortionists, gays, Muslims, atheists...

And though they'd NEVER {faint} approve of violence against Muslims or homosexuals, they lobby violently against them, doing actual damage of ostracizing, maligning, and humiliating those who are different. Non-Christians and non-straights are scorned and denied basic civil rights that others hold. Constantly held in contemptible suspicion, these crews are perpetually suspended in a secondary citizenship status specifically because conservative Christian leaders aim to maintain their power base of fear. And that's just their direct actions, - the specific lobbying and ignorant preaching against homosexuals, against Muslims and other non-Christians (secular, atheists, Buddhists, etc.), often against the poor, against those whom may threaten communism.

None of these tactics or topics, are advocated by Jesus, of course. But that doesn't keep them from being top priorities for the so-called Moral Majority. And if the leaders say those things are evil from their (bully) pulpits, what can the congregants do but to listen? And then to attack and hurt and bomb the mosques, or mock the little "butch" girl until she hangs herself.

This is the face of bullying. Bullying works most efficiently when it's a scare tactic of the powerful to maintain their own power and keep the rest of us occupied.

And so, (dialectic history lesson approaching!) a couple years ago, when Obama began in office and he was extremely popular, Newt Gingrich, of all people, figured that Republicans can attack Obama and, in so doing, may recover some prominence. He was right, politically speaking. By blocking and obstructing the Democratic Party, the Republican Party actually may have prolonged the recession (though that is debatable), slowed down any growth for many middle class and working-class families, and made Democrats look like spineless cowards. It worked in that sense, but it has done tremendous harm to the typical American family while income inequality has spread incrementally even more so.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And Newtron Gangly actually helped to make that possible.

So, what is his solution? Fire unionized janitors at schools and hire the students to clean up the schools. Because, he reasoned, inner city students (read: African American and Latino youth and children) are surrounded by inner city adults (read: African American and Latino adults) and therefore, have neither an innate desire to work for pay* nor any role models to teach them how to do an honest day's worth of legal labor. Never mind that this isn't true in the least (we will get to that in a separate blog), but the fact that he was scolded off the planet and IN FACT leads the Republican nomination now does not bode well for our country.

But it's okay, right? Because Gingrich's hands are clean. He's not going to actually go out and personally intimidate young children of working class, Black and Latino kids and refuse to acknowledge their humanity. Right? And his party would NEVER intentionally kick out large swaths of working middle-class African Americans, while simultaneously blaming them for every social evil in the planet - therefore setting the stage for a violent confrontation over non-existent means to survive. Because that would be evil. Right?

Wait. What??

So, yeah, N00t is trying to re-write history. And if we don't learn and share the lessons of history - of how the powerful elite claw and maintain their power through our shared sacrifices and in-fighting - then we will continue to lose out.

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*Though they'll work for free? WTF??

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