Monday, May 30, 2016

Never Forget the African-American Origins of Memorial Day

I hope that you will feast on this day until your innards are bursting with the digested parts of other animals who were fed their friends akin to the ruthless efficiency of the AI in The Matrix in order to provide you hot dogs, hamburgers, and other meat products. I also hope that you have not imbibed too many fermented drinks, thus leaving you in a state where you are unable to satisfy your partner's post Memorial Day bbq  demands for coitus.

Memorial Day has many origins in the United States. The tradition and history that I am most proud of locates this holiday at the end of the Civil War when African-American free people (re)buried white Union soldiers. Black Americans practiced self-manumission, resisted in ways both obvious and subtle, died by the tens of thousands to win the Civil War for the Union, left the South as slaves and returned as fighting men (to have witnessed such a thing!) and then during Reconstruction offered a radical and truly democratic vision for American society--one that we are still striving for today. We, black Americans, are an honorable people who have never--for the most part--sought revenge for the crimes of slavery and American Apartheid that were done to us. We also honored the dead who fought to help us save ourselves. There is something wonderful--yet at times frustrating--about those facts.

Alternet has a good essay on the African-American origins of Memorial Day. It is well-worth reading. But, my favorite "popular writing" on the topic remains Professor David Blight's piece in the NY Times, "Forgetting Why We Remember", which can be read below.

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Most Americans know that Memorial Day is about honoring the nation’s war dead. It is also a holiday devoted to department store sales, half-marathons, picnics, baseball and auto racing. But where did it begin, who created it, and why?

At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.

Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual.

But the practice of decorating graves — which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day — didn’t start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.

But the ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory as well, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.

The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend Semi-Open Thread: The New York Times Discovers the Relationship Between Professional Wrestling and Society

It seems that the relationship between professional wrestling and politics is now officially part of the zeitgeist and has been discovered by the so-called smart folks in our establishment media and "journals of record".

The New York Times has a feature in its weekend magazine which asks, "Is Everything Wrestling?"

It is a bit broad, but well-worth the read. Again, as I tell folks during our fundraisers (hint: next month is the first of our two pledge drives for 2016) we are often way ahead of the curve here at Indomitable aka WARN aka We Are Respectable Negroes--and have been so for a good number of years.

It would be nice to be included in the NY Times feature, but ideas have many parents and I am glad that professional wrestling is the topic of more serious analysis in this, the era of "Trumpmania" and the march of the Trumpthuglicans.

As is our habit and tradition, please do share any matters of personal or public concern that you feel are of interest. What are your Memorial Day weekend plans? Eating the innards and other parts of animals put inside of stomach linings or other organs?

I have included the NY Times article on professional wrestling below for those interested and so inclined.

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The charms of professional wrestling — half Shakespeare, half steel-chair shots — may never be universally understood. Every adult fan of the sport has encountered those skeptics who cock their heads and ask, “You do know it’s fake, right?”

Well, sure, but that hasn’t stopped pro wrestling from inching closer and closer to the respectable mainstream. Last year, World Wrestling Entertainment announced a partnership with ESPN, leading to straight-faced wrestling coverage on “SportsCenter.” The biggest action star in the world, Dwayne Johnson, known as the Rock, got his start as an eyebrow-waggling wrestler. When the “Today” show needs a guest host, it enlists the WWE star John Cena to don a suit and crack jokes. No less an emblem of cultivated liberal intelligentsia than Jon Stewart recently hosted wrestling’s annual Summerslam, his first major gig since leaving “The Daily Show.” Wrestling may never be cool, but it is, at the very least, no longer seen as the exclusive province of the unwashed hoi polloi.

This is partly because the rest of the world has caught up to wrestling’s ethos. With each passing year, more and more facets of popular culture become something like wrestling: a stage-managed “reality” in which scripted stories bleed freely into real events, with the blurry line between truth and untruth seeming to heighten, not lessen, the audience’s addiction to the melodrama. The modern media landscape is littered with “reality” shows that audiences happily accept aren’t actually real; that, in essence, is wrestling. (“WWE Raw” leads to “The Real World,” which leads to “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and so forth.) The way BeyoncĂ© teased at marital problems in “Lemonade” — writing lyrics people were happy to interpret as literal accusations of her famous husband’s unfaithfulness — is wrestling. The question of whether Steve Harvey meant to announce the wrong Miss Universe winner is wrestling. Did Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj authentically snap at each other at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards? The surrounding confusion was straight out of a wrestling playbook.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Conversation with Sociologist Laurie Essig about Neoliberalism, Emotions, and the Color Line

This week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show features Professor Laurie Essig. She is the author of several books including American Plastic: Boob Jobs, Credit Cards, and Our Quest for Perfection. Dr. Essig is also a contributing writer for Psychology Today.

In this week's installment of the podcast, Laurie does some great sharing and teaching about how neoliberalism has distorted love, marriage, and other human relationships. Chauncey and Laurie also talk about race and "white" weddings, the dangers of consumerism, and of course, their mutual interest in the "human zoos" and "freak shows" that are reality TV.

During this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show, Chauncey gives his thoughts on WWE's Extreme Rules pay-per-view, the new movie The Nice Guys, and explains his decision about attending a White House summit event in June. Chauncey also does some truth-telling about Republican toilet sex deviant potty politics, and of course, the now fallen and disgraced Bill Cosby.

This episode with Laurie Essig can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at Stitcher. The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Donald Trump Conquers Captain America: Apparently Steve Rogers is a Secret Hydra-Nazi Agent...Just in Time for Jewish American Heritage Month

Something particularly ill-timed for Jewish American Heritage Month here in the U.S.

Captain America, a character created by two Jewish Americans to be a beacon of hope with an almost immovable sense of duty and honor, has now been revealed as a Hydra-Nazi sympathizer/secret agent all these years.

Talk about writing yourself into a corner Marvel.

This twist is akin to finding out that Brother Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was a secret KKK member.

Of course, the obvious move it that Steve Rogers joined as a child and has been a "member" his whole like as a reminder of how bigotry, racism, and hatred can seduce any person...regardless of how "good" they appear to be.

An excerpt from Time magazine's interview with Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort:
How long has this been in the works? 
Almost since the beginning of when Nick started writing the Captain America titles, which would have been the end of 2014. So right around there the conversations first started about this. It’s been in the works for more than a year. 
What does this mean for the Marvel Universe? 
It means on the most fundamental level that the most trusted hero in the Marvel universe is now secretly a deep-cover Hydra operative, a fact that’s really only known to the readers and to him. That makes every interaction he has with anyone take on a second layer, a second meaning. 
In the comic the Red Skull of Hydra talks about “criminal trespassers” who “make a mockery” of America’s borders and calls the refugees in Germany an “invading army” bringing “fanatical beliefs and crime” to Europe. Obviously, this hate speech is nothing new for the organization, but it sounds like rhetoric we’ve been hearing this election. Is that purposeful? 
We try to write comics in 2016 that are about the world and the zeitgeist of 2016, particularly in Captain America. Nick Spencer, the writer, is very politically active. He’s a Capitol Hill head and following this election very closely. So we can talk about political issues in a metaphoric way. That’s what gives our stories weight and meat to them. Any parallels you have seen to situations real or imagined, living or dead, is probably intentional but metaphorically not literally.
Popular culture is politics and politics is popular culture. It would seem that even Captain America is powerless to resist the zeitgeist allure of Donald Trump and the ascendance of Trumpmania.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Meditations on the 'Trumpthuglicans': Untangling Class, Race, and "The Good Old Days"

Friend of the website Werner Herzog's Bear has a series of very smart essays on race, class, and the ascendance of Donald Trump over at his blog Notes from the Ironbound. I think that many of you would enjoy reading all of them. Here is one that I think is particularly on point.

The chattering classes and so-called "smart people" are doing a very poor job of discussing the relationship between "the white working class", white privilege, and out-group competition. If Trumpmania was actually driven purely by economic anxiety then where are all of the black and brown members of his hellish voting block, a group that has done far worse and experienced much more economic pain than whites? The answer is the obvious missing piece in the various half-cooked "think pieces" on Donald Trump.

Hopefully, we will get more smart writing and analysis from commentators such as Werner Herzog's Bear on the Trump phenomenon.

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Quite a few trees have been felled and servers burned out in the cause of explaining the support for Donald Trump's presidential bid. As is usually the case with complex questions, people are looking for monocausal answers. Some in the mainstream media have gone out of their way not to talk about racism as a factor in Trump support, preferring to see him as the candidate of downtrodden working class whites. Others (more rightly) have highlighted the obvious face that white racial resentment is a huge element of Trump's support, but also tend to see talk of formerly middle class workers longing for the "good old days" to be a fig leaf for white supremacist yearnings. Though the latter group may be much more correct in their outlook, they also conveniently set aside the legitimate reasons so many would in fact pine for "the good old days." Not understanding that will make it very difficult to defeat Trump.

In the first place, the white racial resentment driving Trumpism is obvious, and the evidence for its strength grows with each passing day. A recent article in Salon shows this very starkly. Even without the statistics handy, the fact that working class people of color are not supporting Trump is a pretty glaring sign that his appeal is in no way purely or even mostly class based. As the article shows, Trump supporters are more likely to hold negative views of African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, and the LGBTQ than even other Republicans, and higher opinions of white people as well.

At the same time, Trump supporters look to the past, when things were better for "people like us." In my mind that's why I call them Archie Bunkers. If you remember All In The Family, Archie was always railing against the same people Trump voters don't like, except for Muslims, who had yet to become as vilified by his ilk. Every show started with he and his wife Edith singing "Those Were The Days," a song that longed for a former time when "men were men" and there was no "welfare state." Then as now, this pining for the past before the social revolutions of the 1960s is politically reactionary when put in those terms. Archie himself benefited from the white affirmative action aspects of the New Deal, from his union job to a house whose mortgage one could assume was backed by the FHA. It's when others benefited from the welfare state that he got mad, a pretty typical occurrence after the Great Society among Nixon's "silent majority."

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Sociological Imagination, Racism, and Donald Trump

The sociological imagination is the connection between personal experience and the broader social and political world. This concept is one of the most powerful frameworks for understanding the human experience and how we locate it within a given society and/or cultural milieu.

As such, the sociological imagination has been invaluable in my efforts to make sense of politics in the Age of Obama, the rise of “Trumpmania,” and the radical rightward move of the Republican Party and movement conservatism. Because such interactions are both disturbing and fascinating, I routinely take “human safaris” to overt white supremacist websites and the comment sections of Fox News and similar right-wing entertainment disinformation media. I also respond to conservatives via social media who are made enraged, hurt, and angry by the topics and themes explored by my essays and other work.

While the right-wing media exists in a state of epistemic closure—where the logic, reasoning, and rationales of the troglodytes stuck within are bizarre and exist outside of empirical reality—it remains essential that we pull back the veil and look inside: The machinations that are produced therein are a threat to the Common Good.

One of the repeated narratives which I have encountered from Donald Trump supporters online (and in person) is that they are not “racists,” are the “real victims” of “political correctness,” and how there is no “evidence” or “proof” that the ascendance of Donald Trump’s pro-fascist, right-wing producerist, Herrenvolk movement is driven by racial animus or bigotry.

Much of these responses—beyond trolling, deflection, and evasion—are standard right-wing talking points for the post-civil rights era and the Age of Obama. An unwarranted sense of victimhood as well as grievance mongering is a perpetual state of affairs for conservatives, from the civil rights era to the present.

Other Trump supporters and Republicans are befuddled by the claim that their party’s present state and its presumed nominee are the result of decades of the “Southern Strategy” and the politics of white racial resentment. Some of them are ignorant of their own political party’s history and present. Others lack critical thinking skills, and a good many are propagandized by the right-wing disinformation machine. Systems-level thinking is a skill conservatives find very challenging, and the majority are simply exhibiting the binary thinking, fear-dominated heuristics and cognition, as well as authoritarian tendencies that are common to their brain structures and political personalities.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Conversation with Psychiatrist David Reiss about the Deaths of Music Icon 'Prince' and Professional Wrestler 'Chyna'

This week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show features two great guests and friends of the podcast. 

Psychiatrist David Reiss returns to the show and shares his insights and thoughts about the deaths of music legend Prince and professional wrestling trailblazer Chyna and how they are victims of America's epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. Dr. Reiss also shares his experience and wisdom about the challenges of pain management, detoxing, and recovery. Of course, David and Chauncey have to talk some professional wrestling and how Roman Reign's "flack jacket" is symbolic of how he is "protected" by the WWE and is subsequently hurting his ability to get over with the audience. Dr. Reiss also shares his thoughts about the documentary, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake Roberts.

Bill the Lizard is the second guest on this week's installment of The Chauncey DeVega Show. Bill the Lizard stops by the virtual bar and salon to offer his critical assessment of the new movie Captain America: Civil War. Bill also has some ideas on where the films need to go in the future and offers a very sharp and insightful observation about the relationship between Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and the Winter Soldier. Plus, Bill the Lizard suspects that we most certainly have not seen the last of HYDRA in the Marvel Universe.

During this week's show, Chauncey begins by offering up a dedication and remembrance for one of his doggie friends who was tragically killed last week by a reckless driver. Chauncey also talks about being invited to a "summit" at the White House and if he should go, as well as his recent guest spots on the RT Network and Free Speech TV. 

To close out this week's show, Chauncey offers up some thoughts on the Republican Party's sick toilet obsessions and sex deviants who hide in toilets and sewers to look up women's dresses. 

This episode with guests Dr. David Reiss and Bill the Lizard can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show is available on Itunes and at StitcherThe Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.




Thursday, May 19, 2016

Shameless Self-Promotion: Chauncey DeVega on the RT Network's 'Big Picture' Discussing Racism and the 'Trumpthuglicans'



As is my habit, here is my segment from last night's Big Picture with Thom Hartmann on the RT Network. I always enjoy chatting with Thom. He is extremely intelligent and also very patient (see the earlier segment with black conservative lunatic Crystal Wright and another Right-wing mouth breather),

I think I hit my mark for the most part. I was a bit fast at first given the limited segment time. It has been a month since I have done TV so I was a bit rusty. I need more reps. I am also going to rethink my use of the word "herrenvolk". If the listener/viewer has to think about the concept too much then I have already lost them.

Visually, I was not the human pumpkin I usually am on TV. And there is little that I can do to fix my grotesquely large head.

Thoughts? Suggestions about the segment?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Elizabeth Bathory of American Politics: Donald Trump has Bathed in the Blood of Racism, Bigotry, and Nativism

There are two consistent themes about the American right-wing in the Age of Obama. First, racism and conservatism is now one and the same thing. Second, the Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization. I am not the only person to have made such observations.
Of course, Republicans and conservatives find these twin facts offensive and unbelievable. They hold onto their founding myth of Lincoln and “Great Emancipator” while simultaneously being dependent on voters from the former Confederacy for power—states that still fly and honor the American swastika, a rebel flag of treason and anti-black hatred.
Despite their protests, the evidence is overwhelming.
The ascendance of Donald Trump and his coronation as the presumed 2016 Republican presidential candidate is the logical outcome of a several decades-long pattern of racism, nativism, and bigotry by the American right-wing and its news entertainment disinformation machine.
For example, in response to the triumphs of the black freedom struggle and the civil rights movement, the Republican Party has relied on the much discussed “Southern Strategy.” Lee Atwater, master Republican strategist and mentor to Karl Rove explained this approach as:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “N****r, n****r, n****r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****r”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.”
Ronald Reagan and other Republican elites would leverage Atwater’s approach to winning white voters and elections. To point, Reagan began his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the locale where American civil rights freedom fighters Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were killed by white racial terrorists. In that speech, Reagan signaled to the ghosts of Jim and Jane Crow and the neo-Confederacy by stating his support for “states’ rights.”

Monday, May 16, 2016

Racist, Bigoted, Nativist, Entitled, Thugs: Introducing the 'Trumpthuglicans'

What is the best way to describe Donald Trump’s supporters?
Are they the Tea Party on steroids? Right-wing populists? Fascists? Something else?
Last week on the Big Picture news program with Thom Hartmann, guest Mike Papantonio suggested that Trump’s supporters–with their penchant for extreme nationalism, racism, and bigotry–are best described as “Trumpublicans.”
During a presidential primary season when so many members of the commentariat and political chattering classes have avoided speaking truth to power, Mike Papantonio’s observation is a refreshing and very important step in the right direction. However, he is still too kind in his description of Donald Trump’s public.
Donald Trump’s supporters are not merely “Trumpublicans,” they are something far worse: his voters are actually “Trump-thug-licans.”