Thursday, June 2, 2011

Explaining How and Why America is a White Man's Country...

I changed some info on the sidebar. I procrastinated. But, I finally got around to it. As requested by some of you, I am going to be doing more posts on history, sex, military science, esoteric potpourri and other miscellaneous goodness. Chauncey DeVega moves forward. As does this website.

On a housekeeping note, I am also going to trim down the links list to about 10 web pages. Do you have any suggestions for what to add, and which links to discard? Likewise, the list of favorite posts is getting (at least) halved. So please, offer your suggestions there as well.

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I love to share good reads. I also need to clarify some of the terms I use on WARN. As a first effort, I want to work harder on giving an example and explication of the phrase "Herrenvolk republic"--one of my go to bits of Lingua Franca that I deploy here quite often.

A few weeks ago I mentioned The History of White People--a text which is oh so quotable. This post is the first of two sessions based on sharing pithy bits of wisdom from said great book. We often talk of America as a "White Republic." What follows is a sense of why and how that came to be.

Dr. Painter's observations on the roots of that phrase can stand on their own because they capture the spirit and substance of the ether and ectoplasm in which this country inhales, and was/is birthed so well. My friends, do not forget that history's reach is long and deep: when Palin and the other members of the New Right Tea Party GOP talk about "real America" they are signaling to the following:

As politics freed all white people and ideology whitened the face of freedom, "free white males: seemed useless redundancy...During the nineteenth century, when "free white males" was losing its usefulness because fewer and fewer whites were not free, another phrase was coming into use, one with a much longer life, "universal suffrage."The United States was the first nation to drastically lower economic barriers to voting. Between 1790 and the mid 1850's the ideology of democracy gained wide acceptance, so that active citizenship was opened to virtually all adult white men, including most immigrant settlers...

All women, people ineligible to become citizens (Native American Indians and Asians), the enslaved, and free people of African decent outside New England continued to be excluded, as well as paupers, felons, and transients such as canal workers and sailors...In this situation, "universal suffrage" meant adult white male suffrage, though from time to time the definition of white came into question...

The abolition of economic barriers to voting by white men made the United States, in the then common parlance, "a white man's country," a polity defined by race and limited to white men. Once prerequisites for active citizenship came down to maleness and whiteness, poor men could be welcomed into the definition of American, as long as they could be defined as white--the first enlargement of American whiteness.

What a powerful irony. On one hand black folks are quintessentially American. Our music, culture, struggle for democracy, and weight of character and history, in many ways exemplifies the best of what the U.S.A. is and can be. Nevertheless, by tradition and habit, people of color are a perennial Other which Whiteness and the in-group as "real Americans" use to define themselves against.

As they say, "God bless the United States of America." God help her in negotiating her deep contradictions. Tell me my friends, what can we do to save her?

9 comments:

stephen matlock said...

"God help her in negotiating her deep contradictions. Tell me my friends, what can we do to save her?"

What exactly are you trying to save?

Because I think what you're saying is that there nothing to "save" - the past that enfranchised and empowered only pale males not only is past, it is powerless. You're saying that the whole of the people of America is greater than the individual parts that commingle in some kind of uneasy alliance.

Maybe it's not saving that America needs. Maybe it's redemption and re-creation.

Thrasher said...

CD,

I like the growth and maturation of WARN..I have no intention of hiring my gum shoe to track down your gov't name:-)

Maybe one day my blog will even get the privledge of being listed on the WARN's website..Just Sayin..lol,lol

Oh Crap said...

Nevertheless, by tradition and habit, people of color are a perennial Other which Whiteness and the in-group as "real Americans" use to define themselves against.

Yeah see, I would add that on the whole, they define themselves against a deeply distorted image of us. That leaves their entire method of identity-constitution fundamentally f'd.

A current example...that ass Lou Engle, who pre-emptively claims victimhood if we don't "forgive" his guilt-ridden butt. http://bit.ly/lfiywS

Their warped identity is their problem. We don't owe them anything.

Oh Crap said...

Oh yeah, I can't recommend anyone to kick off but it's probably obvious I'd like to stay on. :p

chaunceydevega said...

@Steve. Sounds like we need a national intervention. Who will be doing the intervening? Who will be sitting on the couch?

@Thrasher. Duh. Forgot. Which site should I add?

@OhCrap. Hmmmm. How could I lose my sapphic palin crush by proxy?

stephen matlock said...

Well, you.

Me.

And people who want to change things.

I don't know what else we can do.

Seriously. I'm OK with just talking about what we should do. But at some point, we should start doing it.

No matter how unknown the process or the results might be.

I'm aware that there has been a lot of progress. But if you asked someone from Mars to look at us and evaluate us fairly, he wouldn't say we've arrived.

Let me know where you want to start. I'm game.

stephen matlock said...

Meh.

Don't you hate it when you post something and then think of one more thing?

I'm aware that the conversation and the changes are probably not going to make me feel good. I'm also aware that I'm not even aware of how bad it's going to get. But I don't want to just let things go on the way they are.

Oh Crap said...

Imo, we've done all we can. We gave them an entire Civil Rights movement, what more do they want?

CNu said...

Tell me my friends, what can we do to save her?

You must do everything in your power to help undermine the culture of conspicuous consumption and America(TM);

“Though shaken, the United States remains the world’s sole superpower and its largest consumer and polluter. For global civilization to get through peak oil and fight climate change, the US must stop obstructing international efforts to power down from fossil fuels and to cut greenhouse pollution.

But our nation will never abandon its suicidal consumerism and profligate use of energy until citizens overthrow what Adbusters’ Kalle Lasn has called America(TM).

Less a country than an ad campaign, America(TM) is a lifestyle where “cool” as defined by Nike, Apple and Calvin Klein is the ultimate value. You become cool by buying stuff you don’t need and replacing it as soon as you can with the new and improved model.
Standing as it does for conspicuous consumption and criminal excess, America(TM) is destroying our ecology while it poisons its own people with toxins physical and mental.
The spread of America(TM) around the world means that China builds a new coal plant every day and that Indians can buy a $3,000 car.

If America(TM) is not stopped, global ecological overshoot and resource depletion will soon reach catastrophic tipping points.

We need a Second American Revolution to take the (TM) out of America. And not from today’s travesty Tea Party, which is nothing more than a front group for corporate welfare. The original Tea Party was the opposite, as much a revolt against the oligarchy of the East India Company and other corporations of the day as against British rule. In this spirit, today’s revolutionaries must revolt against the capture of the organs of the state by plutocrats from Big Oil to Wall Street, who will never forgo their profits even it means the end of our nation.

To recognize the oligarchs, citizens must free themselves from the consumerism that has become the true opiate of the masses.

We must take back our minds and our wallets from corporate cool. Only then can we take back our country and help our humanity to have a future.”


Sorry about just browsing the article and not answering the question raised in the first place. This one is hella easy, and given the disproportionate sway that the black brand holds over the american brand, it's actually within our means to accomplish it.