Friday, July 18, 2014

A Potpourri of Political Ugliness and Fantasies: Of Ancient Aliens, "Illegal" Immigrant Children in California, White Nativists, Know-Nothings, White Supremacists, the Fictive Viking Origins of America, and Fox News Hate Talkers

I do hope you have a nice and safe weekend. As is our habit, do treat this as a semi-open thread to discuss and share news items or other topics which you think would be of interest to the readers and friends of WARN.

I have been thinking a great deal about the potpourri of ugliness which has been directed at the "illegal alien" children and refugees in Murrieta, California (and elsewhere) by the Right-wing hate machine.

Some random (but related) thoughts:

1. I wonder how the White Right and its allies and sycophants would respond if it was white children who were sent on a hellish journey to the United States in order to escape rape, murder, sex slavery, and other torments? The Tea Party GOP nativists the love iconography and slogans of "real America" and its nationalist mythologies. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island implore America to:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I guess such platitudes and commandments do not apply to black and brown people.

2. Black and brown children are not allowed the luxury of childhood. Adultification is the rule for people of color in the United States. Whiteness is innocence, safety, security, and obligatory empathy. For example, if a white child is in crisis the world is expected to stop. The suffering of black and brown children is expected, thus the world keeps on turning.

3. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has done yeoman's work calling out the overt lie by Right-wing professional sewer dweller Jim Hoft that refugee children from Latin America will be housed in a "resort". Unfortunately, the White Right's clumsy grey and black propaganda works despite being exposed as a set of lies and distortions because their public is indifferent to the world of facts. Movement conservatism, the white racial frame, white supremacy and authoritarianism are powerful intoxicants--they are political meth.

4. Friend of WARN, Werner Herzog's Bear also has a great piece on today's White nativists and Know-Nothings in the Tea Party GOP. Do check it out if you are so inclined.

5. The Fox News echo chamber and overt white supremacists both live in a world of fictions, delusions, and conspiranoid thinking. Conservatism is a cult-like religion; overt white supremacists have a high place in their temple. Both traffic in made up fantasies about "Christian America" and its historical origins.

When I survey the White Right's websites and other media I want to laugh at the bizarre alternate reality which they have constructed for their jihadists and zealots. I choose not to laugh because the Right-wing noise machine is killing people and poisoning the United States's political culture.

Reality is to movement conservatives as the History Channel is to ancient aliens.

6. Speaking of such matters, Jason Colavito, historian and archaeologist, has a great site where he destroys the White Right's myth making, the foolishness of "ancient aliens" aficionados, and other assorted fantastical thinking. This post on white supremacists and their obsession with Vikings is priceless and fun reading.

7. Do the nativist mouth-breathers in the Tea Party GOP know that their histrionics about plague carrying immigrants from Latin America and how "changing demographics" are "destroying" "the American way of life" echoes earlier white panics about immigrants from Germany, Norway, and other now "white" European countries. The smears that the White Right is throwing at the refugee children and their families in Murietta, California are very similar to how the former's ancestors were treated upon their arrival decades (or centuries ago). Of course, the White Right claims an ancestry back to the founding, the American Revolution, and Jamestown. How so few families could spawn so many Right-wing troglodytes at present is a miracle of reproduction and demographics.

8. Benjamin Franklin was far smarter than the Right-wing Fox News types of today. His smearing of German immigrants is an A-list example of political rhetoric:
"Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation…and as few of the English understand the German Language, and so cannot address them either from the Press or Pulpit, ’tis almost impossible to remove any prejudices they once entertain…Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it…I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties...In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose, they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious."
Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion. 
9. Another fun factoid. Service in World War One was an opportunity for newly arrived "white" immigrants to prove that they could be assimilated into the American political project. For example, Norwegian immigrants were very concerned about how their progress towards "full Americanness" could be derailed because their culture was thought to be too similar to that of Germany, America and the allies' enemy during the Great War:
The outburst of American patriotism that accompanied the United States’ entry into World War I presented immigrants with a demand for patriotic conformity. Norwegian-American leaders mobilized to prove their American loyalty within an ethnic context. Carl Chrislock defines the war’s threat to uncritical norskheten (Norwegianness) in his book Ethnicity Challenged: The Upper Midwest Norwegian-American Experience in World War I. Chrislock reminds us that in addition to the war effort’s general anti-foreigner sentiment, Norway’s immigrants were especially vulnerable, since their language, culture, and religion were seen by patriots as too similar to those of the German enemy. In addition, the troublesome neutrality of the old country, its seeming cowardice in the monumental struggle between American democracy and Teutonic barbarism, had to be explained and excused.

One typical expression of the challenge appeared in a column by Julius Chambers in the Brooklyn Eagle in June, 1918, which described a local Norwegian-American family: pro-German immigrant parents and their American-born brood of “shirkers.” The whole family, the journalist concluded, were “worthless, ungrateful creatures.”

In response to such nativist propaganda Norwegian-American leaders called for an end to foreigner-baiting while launching a strong campaign to demonstrate Norwegian-American loyalty...
10.  I am not religious. However, I think that folks who publicly claim some type of religion, and thus want to have their faith intrude on the public sphere, should be held accountable to the standards set by their mythological godhead(s). Are white nativist bigots, and white Christian conservatives more generally, troubled by how the "historical" Jesus Christ would be against every position on public policy they endorse and believe in?

How are Christian Evangelicals, Dominionists, Reconstructionists, etc. able to maintain--and function on a day-to-day basis--such a high level of cognitive dissonance?

Drugs, brainwashing, a community of like-minded people who reinforce their beliefs while punishing heretics and non-believers? I recall reading about how women who participated in Christian fundamentalist prayer meetings would often have an orgasm while speaking in tongues: their moment of religious ecstasy and revelation was in fact a healing and pleasure filled release.

Nativism is a similar process for Right-wing authoritarians and their populist trolls. Excluding the Other, and indulging in fantasies of violence against them, are precursors for eliminationist violence. The Tea Party GOP's Know-Nothings are public political masturbators and arsonists, who again, are having an orgasm through acts of meanness and cruelty to other human beings.


wisconsinreader70 said...

As a 72 year old white male of Norwegian heritage - I must say I agree with everything you wrote in this commentary. . . If anything - you are letting the "white supremacists off far too easy. . .

BobbyV said...

Throughout our history, immigration has historically raised fears of disease and crime brought to our shores by the world's unwashed, especially so if those arriving were black, brown, or yellow. One can see these fears driving the hateful response to the tragedy unfolding on our southern border. A primarily white gang of citizens impeding the emergency treatment of frightened, brown-skinned children whose only crime is their fleeing the violence at home fueled by America's failed war on drugs. We can't avoid our complicity in the violence that is destabilizing Mexico and Central America.

Gable1111 said...

1. It would be considered a "humanitarian crises" and Obama would be criticized for not asking for enough money to take care of them.

2. The essence of childhood is innocence, and black people are descendants of Ham, thus the suffering of black children is "what God intended."

3. "Truth" is whatever they need to believe to avoid confronting their delusions.

4. If I had a hammer...

5. The world they live in is false at its very foundation, but again, it has to be to support the fantasies that define the world as they wish it to be, without which their very existence as they see it comes into question.

6. Lawd hamercy.

7. History repeats itself: this is the Nazi party and the Brown Shirts of the 30s, complete with all its hatred, lies and propaganda and mindless puppets.

8. "We hold these truths to be self evident..."

9. How is this any different from the mob made guy handing the sycophant the gun, and demanding he "make his bones"?

10. Mathew 7:5,6 - "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

They don't want to remove that "log" for fear of what they will see reflecting back.

chauncey devega said...

I was being nice. When you were growing up did you hear anything about your people's anxieties about assimilation and nativists?

chauncey devega said...

Remember Jesus loved guns and Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs. Once you accept those facts everything else makes sense.

CrystalCo530 said...

Hey all, I spent over two hours yesterday talking to nativists at a protest against the Central American children here in Portland, OR. They staged it in front of our Mexican Consulate, which struck me as kind of odd at first. I went down there to ask a few of them why they had chosen that location.
I had one woman tell me that Mexicans represent "South American culture," to which I told her that Mexico isn't from South America, and these kids are actually from Central America. She told me they more on a whole "represent that culture," and so I had her define that "culture" for me. She said it's because they're all Spanish speakers.
I asked another man (who was wearing a kilt, because Scotland is okay, Brownland not so much) why they were protesting Central American children at the Mexican consulate. He said it was because Mexico lets them in, Mexico hates the US, blah blah blah. He was very rambling and just seemed like he had a beef with life in general.
I talked to another old lady from NumbersUSA, a well-known anti-immigration org., who told me that she thinks Mexicans are disrespectful to Americans. She said she drives by the auto dealership near her house, and they fly the Mexican flag at the same level, sometimes higher than, the American flag. These are rules, she said, you can't fly flags higher than the US one. I asked her if seeing the flags flying like that scares her, and she thought about it for a second before launching into a story about how her Oaxacan neighbors "terrorized" her and her husband. Individual instances of crimes committed by non-citizens is a staple of Nativist rhetoric. There's always a time when a brown person committed a crime against them, so no more brown people should get to come here. She earnestly and genuinely told me the story about how her husband went to the immigrants' house when they moved into the neighborhood, and shouted at them that if they wanted to live here, they needed to be respectful of our laws. She said the next day there was nails in their driveway, which they ran over and popped their tires.
White victimhood, sticking to (dubious) rules they deem necessary to a functioning society, bagging on disrespectful outsiders, insisting brown people are dirty, kilts. Sounds like a nativist function!
The message of the day was unclear and confusing. Many times, us supporters were yelled at because it was assumed we were part of the anti-children protest. We had people shouting at us "You should know better, La Raza!" and "Come on, La Raza, help your people!" I found it interesting that the passerbys who disapproved didn't direct their anger at the white people, who were the actual anti-immigrant protesters. Just us.
Anyway, I have a lot more to share about this, but don't want to take up space from other commentators. My twitter handle is @crystalco530 and I have pictures and commentary from the protest as it happened. Feel free to check them out, thanks all!

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

How are Christian Evangelicals, Dominionists, Reconstructionists, etc. able to maintain--and function on a day-to-day basis--such a high level of cognitive dissonance?

Chauncey, to overcome the apparent cognitive dissonance, like what would Jesus do?, the Christian Right's strategists and leading theologians re-define that Jesus. Working with white nationalists, they propose that undocumented immigrants are not wanderers to be welcomed, but criminal invaders to be deported; they propose that Jesus called for secure borders to protect their culture; they define the absolutely unfettered free market as the embodiment of God; they argue that Jesus was the first militiaman; they argue that the Bible calls for the establishment of militias based on the ancient example of Israel; they argue that poverty and other shortcomings are the result of immorality; they are argue that all man-made law must conform to God's law; etc etc etc.

That is why the Christian Right has worked feverishly and invested billions to propagate a "biblical worldview."

We have in America are three-part division regarding religion: there are atheists and secular humanists; there are Christians/Jews/Muslims of whatever stripe that believe in the separation of church and state and a more inclusive, empathetic, and caring God; and, there are those Christians who have a God with no empathy, only viciousness and hatred.

I have long believed that the atheists/secularists are making a strategic mistake by alienatating their potential Christian/Jewish/Muslim allies who also perceive the threat from the Christian Right but do not see atheists/secularists as allies, even convenient ones.

An interesting book is about the four Gods that Americans hold in their head.

But, the reason why my first chapter in book one of three books is on the epistemological break with reality is because the Christian Right's leadership and their followers in thousands of churches do operate in an alternate reality with an alternate morality and an alternate "science."

chauncey devega said...

Thanks for your sharing. Please share more if so inclined.

chauncey devega said...

Number 3 is great. That could be the basis for an editorial cartoon. Maybe someone will do a two or three panel version and submit it so I can post it here on WARN and elsewhere.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

please, I'd love to hear more. It sounds like you were talking to my parents and our family is from Mexico. Old immigrants from about a century ago, but still...

joe manning said...

Another school of thought is that the right is acting rationally, albeit pathologically. They see that imminent crises threaten mankind's existence and they feel that their best option is to be a member of the most ruthless amoral gang on the planet.

They fancy themselves as an elite that must propagate destructive myths for their own followers and for mass consumption. A more sociopathic use of "Christian love" could scarcely be imagined.

However, the rightist recipe is that of implosion. Most anthropological evidence argues quite the contrary; that hate and conflict are maladaptive, while love and cooperation are adaptively essential to survival. Rightist myopia doesn't resonate with the majority since it entails that they agree to their own winnowing out.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Thanks for the link, Chauncey. I can speak from personal experience that Fox and talk radio are major instigators of rightist extremism. Friends and family who were conservative yet reasonable have become paranoid and radical if they listen to this garbage. It is impossible to have a political conversation with them, since they spout false facts and refuse to question them. My wife and I used to joke that a relative who adored Glenn Beck was a cult member in need of rescue.

Justin M. White said...

In answer to your opening question, I submit that de-whitening (for lack of a better term) has existed for people in eastern Europe who have been escaping atrocities, poverty, and government incompetence for a long time. Children of any area who are in such straits fall into the realm of "non-white" quite easily, regardless of pigment.

I've been reading The Wars of Reconstruction, and it has reinforced to me how malleable the walls of "respectable" white middle-class women and "nigger-teachers" can be. Even if there were a "white humanitarian crisis" going on, I don't think there would be a rapid response if those children weren't already American citizens (especially if they came from an "undesirable" country). I think class would trump race in that specific situation. Children would immediately become "foreign" of some description.

The whims of power can shift with ease.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Courtney H. said...

Speaking of fools who think that immigrant children are bringing diseases to this country ...