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Forum Post: The White Man’s Last Tantrum?

Posted 10 years ago on Oct. 5, 2013, 5:27 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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The White Man’s Last Tantrum?

Saturday, 05 October 2013 09:50 By Robert Parry, Consortium News | News Analysis


American pundits are missing the bigger point about the Republican shutdown of the U.S. government and the GOP’s threatened default on America’s credit. The real question is not what policy concessions the Tea Partiers may extract, but rather can a determined right-wing white minority ensure continuation of white supremacy in the United States?

For years, political scientists have been talking about how the demographic changes in the United States are inexorably leading to a Democratic majority, with Hispanics and Asian-Americans joining African-Americans and liberal urban whites to erode the political domains of white conservatives and white racists.

But those predictions have always assumed a consistent commitment to the democratic principle of one person, one vote – and a readiness of Republicans to operate within the traditional standards of democratic governance. But what should now be crystal clear is that those assumptions are faulty.

Instead of accepting the emergence of this more diverse and multi-cultural America, the Right – through the Tea Party-controlled Republicans – has decided to alter the constitutional framework of the United States to guarantee the perpetuation of white supremacy and the acceptance of right-wing policies.

In effect, we are seeing the implementation of a principle enunciated by conservative thinker William F. Buckley in 1957: “The white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.” Except now the Buckley rule is being applied nationally.

A Nationwide Strategy

This reality is hard to deny even though much of the U.S. political elite remains in denial. But the truth is apparent in a host of anti-democratic moves that have emanated from the lily-white Tea Party and that have been implemented by the predominantly white Republican Party at both the state and federal levels.

It’s there in the nationwide campaign to impose “ballot security” by requiring photo IDs for voting to cure the virtually non-existent problem of in-person voting fraud. The well-documented result of requiring photo IDs will be to reduce the number of urban minority voters who are less likely to have driver’s licenses and other approved identification.

It’s there in the reduction of voting hours, which — when combined with disproportionately fewer (and less efficient) voting booths in poor and minority areas — guarantees long lines and further skews the political power to wealthier white areas. In the pivotal election of 2000, we saw how this combination of factors in Florida suppressed the vote for Al Gore and handed the White House to the national vote loser George W. Bush.

It’s there in the sophisticated gerrymandering that Republican statehouses have applied to congressional districts around the country by lumping minorities and other Democratic voters together in one deformed district so other districts have comfortable Republican majorities.

This gerrymandering – now aided by computer models to remove any guesswork – played an important role in maintaining the current Republican “majority” in the House of Representatives even though congressional Republicans lost the national popular vote in 2012 by about 1½ million votes.

Congressional Tactics

The Right’s anti-democratic strategy is there, too, in the endless use of Republican filibusters in the U.S. Senate. Because of compromises made at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, some of this anti-democratic bias was built into the system (from a deal to assure the small states that they would not be overwhelmed by the large states under the Constitution, which concentrated power in the federal government).

Except for that long-ago compromise, there is no logical reason why the 240,000 registered voters in Wyoming should have the same number of senators as the 18 million registered voters in California. (Or why the 400,000 registered voters in the District of Columbia should have none.)

However, this violation of democracy’s one-person, one-vote principle is exacerbated in the U.S. Senate when Republicans filibuster even minor bills and demand that Democrats muster 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to proceed. That means that a handful of lightly populated states can block legislative action favored by large majorities of the American people, such as requiring background checks on gun-show purchasers.

Republicans also have found endless excuses to deny congressional voting rights to Washington DC residents. You can probably guess what color skin many DC citizens have and what political party they favor.

The New Jim Crow

If you step back and take a look at this ugly landscape, what you will see is something akin to a new Jim Crow system, a sickening reprise of what happened the last time white supremacists saw their political and cultural dominance threatened in the years after the Civil War. In the late 1860s and 1870s, the two parties were on the opposite sides of the racial-equality issue. Then, the Republicans pressed for a reconstruction of the South to assure civil rights for blacks. However, the Democrats, the old party of slavery, acted to frustrate, sabotage and ultimately defeat those efforts.

What the United States then got was nearly a century of racial segregation across large swaths of the country although most egregious in the South. It was not until the 1960s when the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson broke with the old traditions of collaborating with the Old Confederacy. These new Democrats instead supported civil rights legislation pushed by Martin Luther King Jr. and other advocates for racial equality.

However, opportunistic Republicans, such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, saw an opening to flip the electoral map by snaking away the South’s resentful white racists from the Democrats and locking them into the Republican Party. The maneuver – cloaked in coded messages about states’ rights and hostility toward the federal government – proved astoundingly successful.

Still, the white supremacists faced a politically existential problem. They were demographically fading from their historic dominance, steadily replaced in numbers by Hispanics, Asian-Americans and blacks as well as by younger whites who viewed racial bigotry as a disgusting residue from the age-old crimes of slavery and segregation.

Countering Demographics

So what to do? Right-wing billionaires helped by pouring in vast sums to create a powerful right-wing propaganda machine, an ideological media unparalleled in American history. The loud voices and angry words from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch whipped up white grievances, but – as the election and reelection of African-American Barack Obama showed – more was needed.

The votes of non-whites and the young needed to be suppressed via manipulated election rules; the use of scientific gerrymandering had to be expanded to further devalue Democratic votes; obstructionism in Congress had to become the rule, not the exception.

Finally, it became clear that a de facto transformation of the constitutional system was needed to prevent the rule of this emerging – and “undeserving” – majority. Thus, government by extortion became the ultimate solution. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Government by Extortion.”]

By using the Republican House and its gerrymandered “majority” to prevent votes on straightforward bills to pay for the government and raise the debt ceiling, the Tea Party is now testing whether the majority of the nation can be coerced into accepting the demands of a right-wing minority through threats of economic calamity.

Even some Republicans seem confused about their short-term goals. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Indiana, declared, “we’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

But the message that the Tea Party Republicans are delivering to the nation is that if the American people insist on electing Democratic presidents or enacting federal legislation to “promote the general Welfare,” the Tea Party will respond by making the economy scream. The economic dislocations from a credit default alone could be so severe that millions of people will be thrown out of work and out of their homes.

The implicit warning is that you will suffer that fate — you may be driven into poverty — if you don’t let whites continue to rule. Or as the urbane William Buckley put it, you must let whites “prevail, politically and culturally.”

An Unthinkable Idea?

For those Americans who recoil at this scenario – and think it must be unthinkable in the Twenty-First Century – they should remember their history. In the 1870s, racist whites – especially in the South but also in many parts of the North – refused to accept post-Civil War amendments that guaranteed equal rights and voting rights for blacks.

Through connivance and violence, the racist whites prevailed and it took nearly a century – and much more bloodshed – to reverse their victories. What America is witnessing today is the next phase of that war for white supremacy. Well-meaning people should not be too cavalier about the outcome.

The Tea Party-induced government shutdown and the upcoming extortion demands over the debt ceiling may indeed turn out to be the white man’s last tantrum – but this extremist strategy of mayhem and extortion could also be the inauguration of a grim new era of Jim Crow.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.



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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Anatomy of Banning a Worldview

Saturday, 05 October 2013 10:14 By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, Truthout | Opinion


I have heard authors openly complain of never having had their books banned by Arizona's Grand Inquisitors. I suppose it's a form of street cred, yet the truth is that censorship and banishment are not a badge of honor - but evidence of something very sick.

The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) book ban was part of the district's shutting down of a curriculum and a department. Even more importantly, in collusion with the state and its anti-ethnic-studies law, HB 2281, it banned a worldview, or at least attempted to do so. That effort included the banning of books, yet it is important to understand two things. First, when the state began its assault on Tucson's highly successful Raza Studies Department, there was nothing wrong with the department, except its size: It was too small. Second, that assault was undeniably predicated on the idea, compliments of then-state Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne, that Raza studies resides outside of Western civilization.

In 1997, when the department was founded, I was co-writing a nationally syndicated weekly column with Patrisia Gonzales. Throughout the life of the department, we were in regular contact with the director and its teachers, who used our weekly columns or books as part of the curriculum. We often spoke in classrooms or conferences.

Having recently participated in several banned-book-week events throughout the country, I have had to remind audiences that the issue in Tucson was not limited to the banning of books but instead was part of a larger effort to discredit and destroy the discipline. Even more sinister, it is a state effort to define and determine who Mexican-Americans are.

The state appears to want to have it that Mexican-Americans - or La Raza - are peoples who came across the ocean in three boats. The goal seems to be to teach students not that they have an indigenous heritage going back many thousands of years but that their history began with the arrival of helmeted conquistadors to these shores. Within that context, I bring up two works, The X in La Raza and Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human, both of which were part of the department's original curriculum. These two works don't always appear on Tucson's banned-book list, in part because they were restricted from TUSD classrooms, not in 2012, but in 2011, the year before the TUSD school board and the state declared a virtual auto de fe against the Raza studies department. While TUSD administrators, under the helm of then-superintendent John Pedicone, officially confiscated seven titles in 2012, the rest of the books associated with the curriculum also, in effect, were banned. Prior to this confiscation, in a scene right out of the Inquisition, as I walked into a courtroom in Phoenix in 2011, into the proceedings of the state's inquiry into the legitimacy of the department, the state lawyer was questioning the director of the Mexican-American studies program. He was asking him about The X in La Raza. The lawyer was inquiring about a line in it regarding "Plymouth Rockers." He wanted to know if that was in reference to the Pilgrims.

Only in Arizona. As I sat through that hearing, I never could have imagined that the director, or any writer in this country, would ever have to account for every word ever written by authors of books that were part of the Raza studies curriculum. In the same courtroom, the lawyers representing the state also asked about a poster: "Who is the alien, Pilgrim."

Apparently, they were concerned with the program depicting the Pilgrims as peoples not indigenous to this continent.

After the hearing, Horne's successor, John Huppenthal, who campaigned to "Stop La Raza," determined that the department was out of compliance with Arizona Law HB 2281. Soon thereafter, the Tucson School Board acquiesced and shut down the program. As part of this assault, teachers were instructed to remove all their teaching materials and - via nine directives - not to utilize anything thereafter that could lead to the teaching of a Mexican-American perspective. This included, but was not limited to, books, art and posters.

Perhaps only Horne, Huppenthal and Pedicone know the real reason the program was dismantled, but we know Horne waged a campaign to eliminate Raza studies because he claimed the material being taught in the department was not rooted in Greco-Roman thought. In that sense, he was right. The department's curriculum, including my works, contained material that is rooted in maíz-based culture - in knowledge that is indigenous to this very continent. The philosophical foundation for Raza studies was the concepts of In Lak Ech - you are my other me - and Panche Be - to seek the root of the truth. These concepts are thousands of years old and absolutely not rooted in Greco-Roman culture. However, Horne's fallacy was to argue that knowledge outside of so-called Western civilization (outside of civilization itself, actually) is anti-American and therefore such knowledge should not be taught in US schools, in particular, not in Arizona schools.

In one egregious example of the consequences of this assault, a principal walked into one classroom of Norma Gonzalez, who was teaching from the "Aztec Calendar," and instructed her to take it down and cease teaching from it.

Throughout this time, the students of Raza studies always knew what was at stake; that is why they have waged an epic seven-year struggle, one that continues, and continues beyond Arizona's borders. I argue this battle was won long ago. The theatrics of Horne, Huppenthal and Pedicone - of trying to restrict or ban knowledge - is futile, at best a delay of the inevitable. That knowledge, and its corresponding worldview(s), cannot be eliminated. Despite hundreds of years of European efforts to eliminate it, it is still with us.

Recently, under a new school board majority and under a new superintendent, the district has, in stages, released a list of books for history and English classes that are now purportedly "unbanned." The first list included no Raza authors, and some of the original banned books apparently will remain boxed and warehoused. There is no word yet whether the district will also "unban" speakers. For example, Paula Crisostomo, associated with the LA Walkouts of 1968, was prevented from speaking at TUSD schools at the height of this struggle. And there were others.

Regardless of the minutiae of current developments (the district's new culturally relevant curriculum and the ongoing litigation), Horne's effort backfired. Now, more than ever, there is a greater interest nationwide in this discipline, and many new departments are sprouting around the country. Because of Horne, people know about the ethos of In Lak Ech and Panche Be, more than ever before. The challenge will be to teach these courses not solely at the college level but in kindergarten through 12th grade.

There is but one reason this discipline was assaulted: because it taught students that their story began not with three ships from afar, but on this very continent. Despite misinformation from the state, our students know better. I am reminded of a Cesar Chavez quote: "Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."

I might add: You cannot alienize a people once they know their roots.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Latin America’s Anti-Intervention Bloc

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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

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