Tag Archives: KKK

Our Fascist Overlords (So Far…)

There’s an old Arab quote that roughly translates to “Don’t tell me about a man, tell me about his friends.” i.e, you are the company you keep. In spite of the present efforts for a recount in certain key states, we are still very much bracing for a Trump presidency, and perhaps worse yet, a Trump cabinet. Let’s get to meet our new fascist overlords:

2Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley

Born to Sikh Indian parents, Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley earned acclaim for her decision to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds. While maintaining a number of hardline positions- especially in terms of immigration- Haley again made headlines with her early criticism of then-candidate Trump. Criticism that earned her calls to be deported.

Deported to exactly where remains a mystery, as Haley was born in America. But as plenty of Trump supporters imagine America to be an inherently white country, they showed no qualms about reminding Haley (and people of color) that their presence in this nation is merely tolerated

1

Image retrieved via Policy.Mic

Which makes Trump’s decision to offer her UN ambassadorship surprising, and Haley’s acceptance even more so. But perhaps that’s just to show how much the Republican party has chugged the Kool-Aid. A woman who, simply because of her first name and her skin tone, received calls for her “deportation” is now the international face of the same “siren call of the angriest voices.” Certainly it’s a chilling picture of what’s to come, and enough to silence anyone claiming that the house and senate will somehow act as a counterbalance to Trump’s Fourth Reich. Continue reading

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The Cultural Revolution

Gangs of schoolchildren sporting red scarves chant slogans as they march through the streets. A shop owner tears down an old sign for containing counter-revolutionary terminology. A man is publicly shamed for wearing pants too tight for manual labor- a young woman with scissors cut from the hem to above the knee. The son of a landlord is dragged through the streets as insults are hurled at him.

These are scenes from the so-called “Cultural Revolution”. Begun by Mao and his followers in 1966, these rallies and mass actions were meant to purge China of the last vestiges of antiquated, foreign, and Capitalist thought, replacing it with a proletarian culture that would forever cement the victory of the Maoists in 1950.

The Cultural Revolution quickly degenerated into something that could only be likened to the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution, with anyone accused of counter-revolutionary sentiment facing political and physical attacks. The “revolution” became a hotbed for corruption and suppression of dissent of any kind, and one might even argue that this major attempt to push socialism upon its inhabitants is actually what eventually led to the unraveling of Chinese Communism and its replacement with the sweatshops and slave-labor we more commonly associate with that nation today.

Mao, you see, had it backwards- trying to seize power and then change the hearts and minds of the public. That’s not a revolution, comrades, that’s just a coup. Rosa Luxemburg, an early but seminal Marxist thinker, once asserted that even if each and every civil servant and elected official were to suddenly become Communists, the world would not be one iota closer to being a Socialist one. Luxemburg understood the true nature of revolution- not some bleak military conquest but a fundamental change in the thinking and values of the majority of society. My ability to make you memorize Lenin, work on communal farms, and wave red-and-black flags will not make you Communists, no matter how long you do it (and even if it did, you’d be some pretty lousy Communists at that). The entire disastrous venture of the cultural revolution may have been avoided had Mao heeded the words of American Socialist and presidential candidate Eugene Debs when he proclaimed:

In the simplest possible terms, leaders come and go, the great will of the masses does not. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The fight to change the basic values and principals of the people must come first– but how is this done? Continue reading

Fame Day: Abdul Haji, WWII Vets, and These Other Guys

For everything that’s going on in the world, this actually hasn’t been such a bad week. The tragic murder of an anti-racist singer in Greece has, at long last, resulted in the hammer being brought down on upon the Neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party responsible for both his death and attacks on leftists, immigrants, and a 12-year-old girl. It’s been a long time coming, but at long last the Greek government is actually heeding calls from the public to respond to this fascist menace; other European countries, ya mind taking a hint?

Speaking of racists, did you know that the rally the Klu Klux Klan was planning on holding at Gettysburg was cancelled as a result of the shut-down of the US government?

Well it was.

If you can’t take joy at the collapse of a racist rally, what can you?

Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Talk: The Confederate Flag

GORDON: Today, we’re going to be touching on a nerve that’s still pretty raw in the US, even after a century and a half.

Specifically, we’re going to be talking about the ol’ stars and bars- the flag of the former Confederate States of America.

EVAN: I’d like to remind everyone reading this that I am a Canadian. The most experience I have with the Confederate flag is in seeing it on the top of the General Lee from the remake of, and not the original, Dukes of Hazard.

That being said, Gordon directed me towards an article written not too long ago on BBC, and there is an incredible amount of divisiveness regarding it as a symbol. Continue reading

Europe and Racism

I’ve mentioned on more than a few occasions that Europe is grappling with issues of racism, which is something of a euphemism for “full fledged white supremacy movements.” What with my repeated references and the major role that this obviously plays on a cultural and political field, I figured it’s high time I actually break it down for ya.

The UK

You’d think that a nation that’s invaded all but 22 countries, maintained the largest empire of all time, and started multiple wars with underdeveloped nations to force them to buy drugs would be a bit more understanding when the people from those countries tried moving to the UK to build better lives for themselves. Instead, the flow of immigrants into Britain has resulted in a massive backlash from the “native” English (you know- the ones descended from Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Norman immigrants). United under the fear that the empty house next door might be rented out by a family with brown skin and funny accents instead of a family with white skin and funny accents, Britain has seen the rise of bigoted groups in both the forms of political parties, such as the “British Nationalist Party” [BNP], to straight up gangs of violent racist thugs, such as the self-proclaimed “English Defense League” or “EDL”. But hey- we’ve got similar problems across the pond- what’s the big deal (other than, you know, the attempts to turn Britain into a whites-only nation, through violence and intimidation if necessary)? Continue reading

Django and the N-Word

Let me begin by explaining that this is not a review of the simultaneously acclaimed and decried 2012 Tarantino blood-fest. You want to hear one of those, I’d recommend clicking over to Spill or The Escapist’s “Escape to the Movies.” No, what I want to talk about are some specific elements and segments of the film which have become points of contention, controversy, and debate in the past weeks.

Let’s start with the most obvious:

I. Saying “Nigger” Every Other Word

I won’t claim to know your stance on the word “Nigger”- heck, I’m not even sure of my own stance. Perhaps you view the term as so degrading and reprehensible as to merit burning it from spoken language. Perhaps you believe that appropriating and using the word strips it of its power to even be used as an insult. Maybe you see it as being purely contextual- a term of address with audience and a terrible insult with another.

It’s all Elmo ever thinks about

There are probably strong points to be made on all sides, but perhaps the stance you cannot take is that the use of the word “nigger” was inappropriate for the movie.

Now before you take up the battle-cry of “Tarantino is just trying to shock us!” or “Tarantino uses the word excessively in his other movies!” I have to say this.

You’re right.

It’s Tarantino; that’s not an excuse, that’s a fact. You wanna take up his use of the word in other films, then that’s part of the whole debate mentioned above. Simple truth of the matter is that this use of the word “nigger” would still be controversial if the film had been made by anyone else. So let’s talk about it.

Let’s assume that this movie, with selfish or noble intent, is trying to demonstrate a glimpse of the world in question; the use of that word is almost bound to come up. I might throw out the example of Mark Twain’s classic novel Huckleberry Finn, and while by sheer volume Django probably has Huck beat for use of the word, by percentage I’d posit the two are pretty evenly matched. The escaped slave Jim is repeatedly and almost exclusively referred to as “Nigger Jim,” as are the other black characters in the book. Now Twain was anti-slavery and used that word to demonstrate the dehumanization of African Americans (which is why taking the word out of versions of the book is so dumb), as well as reflect the general use of the word. Now I’m admittedly no historian, but if the writings of Twain and other authors are any indication of the times, I wouldn’t say the film is quite so far off as some critics might suggest.

And speaking of historical accuracy…

II. The KKK, or Lack Thereof

There is a scene in the film during which a group of men wearing white sacks over their heads attempt to stage an attack on Django and Schultz. New Yorker contributor Jelani Cobb writes “Tarantino depicts the K.K.K. a decade prior to its actual formation in order to thoroughly ridicule its members’ (literally) veiled racism.” While that scene was (in my own opinion) side-splittingly hilarious, Jelani, and many others, are dead wrong in assuming that this scene depicted historical inaccuracy.

Take this section from Huckleberry Finn:

Why don’t your juries hang murderers? Because they’re afraid the man’s friends will shoot them in the back, in the dark — and it’s just what they WOULD do.

“So they always acquit; and then a MAN goes in the night, with a hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is, that you didn’t bring a man with you; that’s one mistake, and the other is that you didn’t come in the dark and fetch your masks.

Again, this is a Tarantino movie set in a Tarantino universe. That’s not a defense, simply, as I’ve already stated, a fact. If you’re looking for a historical account of the pre-war South, a spaghetti-western revenge flick probably ain’t the best place to look for it. There are going to be certain inaccuracies, and there are going to be things the filmmaker has to get right- but all of that is beside the point (which we’ll get to in a minute). All of that’s to say if you’re gonna try to criticize (or praise) the movie’s deviation from historical truth, make sure you’re (1) doing it for the right reason and (2) that you’re critique is actually right.

III. Samuel L. Jackson as Uncle Tom

In Django, Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of the villain’s head-slave Stephen, who isn’t so much a character as a caricature of the most groveling, snivelling Uncle Tom you will ever see or even imagine. This guy makes Uncle Ruckus look like Eldridge Cleaver.

You are guaranteed one genuine Gordon hug if you know who Eldridge Cleaver is.

I’ve heard people call this portrayal offensive, bordering on “black-face” in its depiction of stereotypical “black” mannerisms. It’s exactly for that reason that I didn’t have a problem with the character.

I really have no reason for putting this gif in here…

See, the entire point is to make fun of the guy- and not just him, but the quisling slaves that did indeed exist. I don’t think that this portrayal robbed the film of the gravity of slavery anymore than Bugs Bunny foiling a cartoonized Hitler robbed WWII of it’s gravity.

Now let’s get right to it-

IV. The Horror, The Horror

LA Times journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan said this of Django’s depiction of slavery: “It is an institution whose horrors need no exaggerating, yet Django does exactly that…”

This is a flat-out falsehood.

If Django Unchained exaggerated the horrors of the slavery, if the film depicted one one-hundredth of the horrors of slavery, I will never write again. Despite the allegations of this critic, the truth of the matter is that we could depict the institution of slavery for a century and be no closer to depicting an ounce the inhumanity of it all than when we first started. Does the film exaggerate slavery? Absolutely not. Does it make light of it? Certainly this was a concern of mine going into the movie, but having seen it, I really don’t think it can be faulted there either. The film does, I believe, make a distinct effort to show slavery as brutish and ugly as possible. Or, at the very least, the slavery scenes; this is, after all, a revenge movie first and foremost.

V. The Point

That’s the thing I feel most people are missing here. This ins’t a movie about slavery, this is a movie with slavery in it. It’s a revenge film in which one sorely persecuted character dispenses well-deserved justice upon his persecutors and we all nod our heads in approval and feel a sense of pride and joy well up as we look into this fantasy where the bad guy does get what’s coming to him. Slavery is the backdrop, not the subject, of the movie, but it’s just such a major issue that most of us are getting hung up on it. The equivalent might be bashing a western on the basis that the actual “wild west” was pretty peaceful- factually true, but still missing the goal of the story.

No, this is not a historically accurate film. No, it doesn’t capture the horror of slavery. No, it doesn’t even try to wrestle with it. No, it’s not a discussion of our checkered heritage. No, it’s not the film to drag that dark, bloody history out into the light of day.

But damn it, it’s a start.

Fascists, Skinheads, and Nazis (Oh My!)

As you all doubtlessly know, two days ago, a gunman entered a Sikh temple in the little town of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring four more before being shot dead by police. The killer, one Wade Michael Page, was connected to a number of vicious white-supremacist groups, most notably the “Hammerskins”, a white-supremacist group that focuses on dispersing racist messages and propaganda through music- Page being the founder of one band and a member in another.

Why is this even being brought up here? As strange as it may seem, there’s an argument to be made for the Oak Creek massacre having its origins in culture. Now many of you might be thinking of the Aurora massacre, and no, this isn’t some discussion about our attitudes towards guns, violence in media, or anything of the kind. There’s certainly a good discussion to be had on that subject as well, but it’s not what I’ll be addressing here.

No, what I’m going to be talking about is this:

Fascism.

It’s coming back.

See, the idea that the culture, traditions, and history of specific people group are superior to those of all others and should be promoted and maintained through brute force didn’t die when Hitler blew his bigoted brains all over an underground bunker in Berlin, or when Communist freedom fighters gunned down Mussolini in a picturesque Italian village. It’s been dormant for a long time, but in recent years, it has again shown its ugly face.

Nope- uglier than that…

While there have been plenty of racially motivated murders over the years since Nazism fell (to say nothing of countless lesser hate crimes), what we’re seeing now is a resurgence in full-fledged Fascist ideology- but before we get into that, just a side note.

For many of you, the term “Fascism” probably conjures up images of generic authoritarianism. Obama’s a Fascist. Rush Limbaugh’s a Fascist. That one really strict teacher is a Fascist.

I’ve struggled for a while to come up with a good, succinct definition for what Fascism is all really about, so I’m going to offer this illustration. To a Fascist, his people (often, race) are inherently great and good, and they are inherently great and good because of their traditions, values, and culture, which are all also inherent to them. The greatness of the nation is lost when evil, conniving undesirables start pushing their own cultures, values, and traditions, which are subversive and degenerative to the nation. Therefore, these degenerates who threaten the nation must be stomped out (often quite literally), and the “original” culture/traditions/values must be restored, enforced, and maintained through an all-powerful government, police force, military, etc.

There’s more to it, of course. I could talk about the concepts of autocracy, corporatism, use of ancient Roman symbolism, and the like, but for now, let this all above be the definition we work with.

Now why do I say it’s coming back? Certainly if we disregard the recent massacre and the occasional race-related attack, there doesn’t seem to be any major Fascist threat in the US. The KKK isn’t roaming with impudence in the South. Gangs of Nazis aren’t attacking Jewish stores and businesses. Self-proclaimed defenders of the nation aren’t roaming the boarders trying to-

Oh yeah…

Ok, but it’s not like there’s been any major attack on people for having different skin or heritage or religio-

Ok, fine, but it’s not like any of this bigotry has been legislated or-

…Yeah…

See, that’s how it works. It’s subtle, discreet. The great Sinclair Lewis perhaps said it best:

And this is just America. In Europe, Fascism is even more prevalent and less shameless, simply take a look at France, where the government has instituted laws banning certain forms of Muslim garb, or forcibly expelling the Roma Gypsies.

I recall another guy who took actions to get rid of gypsies…

Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that “Multiculturalism has failed”

Kinda forgetting about the last time a German chancellor declared the failure of multiculturalism…

…And in Britain, holocaust-denier Nick Griffin, leader of the white-supremacist British Nationalist Party (BNP) was elected to the European Parliament. That’s about the equivalent of the Grand Wizard of the KKK getting elected to congress.

I’d show you an actual picture of Nick Griffin but **** that guy…

And this is to say nothing of the escalating attacks on immigrants across Europe. Why? Because many Europeans and Americans are buying into the idea that the values, traditions, culture, and beliefs of other people are a direct threat to them. I recall in college on particularly nasty student who asserted that “All immigrants should go home”. Interesting, considering he had an Italian last name. Does he mean that he too will leave America? Of course not. Does he mean the Canadians who attended that school? Not at all. “Immigrants” was simply code for those “undesirable brown people”. But don’t take the words of one bigoted student as evidence of this ugly trend- just look at Congressman Steve King’s attempt to make English the “Official Language” of the US!

Now why on earth would you try to make English the official language of the US? It’s not like the vast majority doesn’t already speak it. And what if we did speak Spanish? How would it make a difference to anyone what we speak… unless English was somehow viewed as “inherent” to America!

There’s really part of the problem. It’s a perspective on society. Back in College, I had a conservative friend whose opposition to gay marriage was that “the traditional family is the building block of society, and changing the family weakens society”. I’m not saying he’s a fascist- not at all, but this view of society as a solid, unchanging thing is what really serves to create so much of the general bigotry and outright fascism that we see today. When society’s well-being is linked to culture, to maintain society is to maintain culture, and while there’s a certain logic there, all too often it’s taken to mean that every aspect of culture, right down to traditional gender roles, religion, and racial demographics, must be controlled. It’s the reason why you see Muslims, immigrants, homosexuals, or as the past couple days have shown us, Sikhs, targeted. And don’t for a minute imagine that it’s just Aryans who take up this line of thought. I recently had an encounter with an Asian immigrant who cited that his country was once upon a time a “Christian country”, and that he was concerned at Hindus, Buddhists, and the like building places of worship in his community.

Only where does it end? Suppose you argue that non-Christians should be excluded from a country because their cultures threaten the stability of the nation- what the minority groups? I always want to bring this up when I hear someone make the argument that America is a “Christian Country”- does that include the Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses? What about Unitarians? Episcopalians? Catholics? Mennonites?

That’s the crux of the matter. The Fascists- both the self-declared and the self-deluded- would have us believe that we’re all hopelessly divided. That we cannot respectfully disagree with each other. That you can’t speak Mandarin and I can’t speak Arabic and the two of us get along. That multiculturalism is a fantasy. That we can’t have our own practices and perspectives while all agreeing, to some degree, on how to live together. We’re meant to live in constant fear that if we tolerate anyone who doesn’t fit in, there goes our way of life.

So let it go.

This will be harder for some than others…

The title of this blog is the Culture War Reporters, and perhaps what needs to be understood is that the culture war isn’t something that can (or should) be won. There’s always going to be divergence in opinion and in behavior. There’s always going to be new things coming in, and old things struggling to stay on. There’s always going to be good stuff and bad, so at the end of the day, why worry? Don’t buy the idea that culture can be maintained, or that one group has found all the answers. For all the dark content about murders, genocide, and the like, strange a line from Disney’s Ratatouille should fit so appropriately. Defending his lifestyle against the accusation that it’s “against nature”, Remy the rat declares that “Change is nature”.