Tuesday, June 23, 2015

White Economic Banditry Against Black America and Dylann Roof's White Racial Terrorism

I would like to continue with giving thanks to all of the kind folks who donated to our June fundraising drive. I have 8 or so "thank you" notes remaining to be sent off. Again, your kindness and generosity mean a great deal to me. If you can, are able, have the resources, and value my online work here and elsewhere, please do throw some change into the online donation pile and begging bowl if so moved.

Shameless self-promotion. I will be on Ring of Fire TV this evening. I did my best to drop a bionic elbow on the corporate news media's dishonesty and intellectually flaccid thinking about the Charleston Massacre. We cannot talk about the white domestic terrorist murder Dylann Roof without talking about the relationship between racism, the Right-wing media, the GOP, guns, toxic and aggrieved white masculinity, and Right-wing domestic terrorism. We tried to do that on Ring of Fire TV. The interview went about 15 minutes, so it may be edited down for broadcast (the full interview should be available online).

In these times of trouble and tumult, it is important to practice mental self-care, disconnect from the Internet, and do the things that make you happy. The ultimate goal of elites in this era of Austerity, Cruelty, Neoliberalism, Surveillance, and Necropolitics along both sides of the colorline is to exhaust, mentally and physically, their victims. The herd is more easy to manage when you alternate punishment and pleasure while playing them to exhaustion and extinction.

A trip to the local used bookstore is one of my small pleasures. There, I made some great finds. I picked up The Blitzkrieg Myth, a much discussed and controversial book on World War 2 military strategy (the first chapter has got me raising my eyebrow in some consternation....and I am just a hobbyist grognard), a neat gem called Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Man, Roger Ebert's autobiography (I will cry while reading it), and Gunning for the Red Baron, which is a gift for a friend.

I love the treasure hunt and surprises to be had in used bookstores. Online sellers like Amazon can never create the experience of discovery in the same way. Books have personalities and lives all their own. As I was picking up Roger Ebert's book, a felt an urge to look over my shoulder. Looking at me was a book called A Hammer in Their Hands.

As a child, I was raised on the great black inventions, quotes, thinkers, and trouble-maker genre of books by my parents and god parents. I have a natural affinity for books like A Hammer in Their Hands. We are old friends. I had to open it.

[Perhaps, because of that and many other reasons, I have never felt a natural deference to, intimidation by, or fear of white people and Whiteness. What would noted child psychologist Dr. Benjamin Spock say?]

In the middle of the book, was the following page detailing the Confederate Patent Act of 1861:

The universe is always talking to us; we would learn so much if we only choose to listen.

The Confederate Patent Act was a way of stealing the intellectual labor of black people owned as human property:
The creation of the Confederacy, though, offered slaveholders a chance to square this circle. Through their new government, Southerners sought to institute legal structures that would allow them to deploy their human capital most efficiently -- whether toward manual or intellectual labor -- securing for slave owners the profits from that work.
With Jefferson Davis at the helm, the Confederate States enacted a patent law in 1861 that formalized slaveholders’ ownership of slave inventions. 
If the “original inventor” was a slave, the act read, the owner of the slave may “have all the rights to which a patentee is entitled by law.” 
Such legislative labors ultimately proved unnecessary. Of 274 patents issued by the Confederate Patent Office from August 1861 to March 1865 -- including improvements to rifle and cannon technology, submarine and torpedo models, and a new type of artificial leg -- none appears to have been the product of slaves. Montgomery’s case proved to be a rare exception. 
Still, even after the war, some Southerners continued to promote and seek profit from the ideas of onetime slaves. One Southerner marketed a novel agricultural implement using the following testimonial: “I am glad to know this implement is the invention of a negro slave -- thus giving the lie to the abolition cry that slavery dwarfs the negro mind. When did a free negro ever invent anything?”
Dylan Roof is a terrorist: he used violence to advance a political agenda by creating a sense of fear and vulnerability in a target population.

The media is focused--again--on the spectacle of black pain and suffering (there is also something very prurient in the White Gaze's relationship to black suffering and the violence rendered on the black body, a troubling dynamic that needs to be spoken about much more clearly in our public discourse).

The victims in Charleston, as well as many folks around the country, have retreated to religion and faith as a way of making sense of Dylann Roof's violence. Religion is a form of mental self-care, hypnosis, and mass psychosis. It is therapy. By manipulating the God part of the brain, be it by praying 3 times a day and conditioning one's motor responses, self-flagellation, fasting, chanting a certain series of words, singing gospel songs and laying hands, handling snakes, or believing that water magically turns into wine, people are made to feel good and connected to something greater than themselves.

I (obviously) believe in the metaphysical, collective group consciousness, and that we are luminous beings and not this crude matter. I am also a political materialist. Dylann Roof's white racial terrorism exists as part of a long history and continuum (into the present) of individual and State sponsored violence against black and brown Americans. This violence pays a psychological wage to White America. It also pays a substantial material wage as well. Together, they are key elements in what George Lipsitz incisively described as "the possessive investment in Whiteness".

Dylann Roof killed 9 black people by repeatedly shooting them. He hates black people. Roof, because he is a white supremacist, also wants to guarantee the ability of white people to economically and politically dominate and exploit non-whites at will, and without restraint from the law.

White Right-wing civil libertarians like Rand and Ron Paul are the polite face of such dreaming. The Republican Party as a whole is mainlining that political heroin and meth while denying their addiction. By comparison, Dylann Roof and his overt white supremacist brethren are unapologetic and honest about their agenda.

In his unique voice and through his deft mastery of the craft of writing, Ta-Nehisi Coates described the war on black folks across the colorline by White America as a type of economic plunder.

Because I am not as deft as he in bending the English language to my will, I will simply call white supremacy a type of (semi)organized economic banditry.

While it is appropriate and not incomprehensible that many Americans will primarily feel compelled to talk about the Charleston massacre, and its relationship to pain, loss, suffering, redemption, and forgiveness--what a tight story arc and narrative, is it not?--it is essential that we do not overlook how Dylann Roof's and white racial terrorism's goal is also the securing of a particular arrangement of money, power, and resources for the exclusive benefit of White America, and at the expense of everyone else.


seeknsanity said...

Nice find. Now imagine all those who never sought to give blacks credit for any of their ideas. Neither as inventor nor in being sounding boards while being servants, likely into the wee hours of the night. The study of anything, science, technology, or the law, to the level that many of them achieved, takes the sort of time that maintaining a household just does not readily afford. Were it not for the negro servant or laborer, or maid, a great many of them would not have achieved the accomplishments they are currently lauded for.

Also, had the negro had the luxury of ruminating on theories while others attend to his every day needs, he too might have produced much more than they would ever be willing to give him credit for. This is what allows them today, to sit back and make claims that blacks are less intelligent, when it has been shown that giving them the same conditions, if not more stressed, blacks have produced heart surgeons, scientific, and scholarly men.

But, your last point on economic banditry, is as is and as has been with all of their dealings across the globe.

chauncey devega said...

Colonialism and Imperialism are/were theft--unfortunately too often enabled by the opportunists in their own countries. Sight. I am gonna go back and buy that book later today. We need to reinforce how both black physical and intellectual labor was stolen under white on black chattel slavery. I am always surprised by the ignorance of people who only believe that slavery was 1 dimensional and just in the fields as opposed to being an institution that stole black labor across the economy and in the skilled trades too.

Wild Cat said...

I don't know if you read or agree with this, Chauncey, but I'm very glad Ms. Gay spoke honestly about her feelings:


What I felt somewhat upset about was that quite a few NYT's readers in the comments seemed to dismiss her feelings, as though her feelings and her own fears existed in a vacuum.

Some feedback:

"[I] will simply call white supremacy a type of (semi)organized economic banditry...."

Yes, to a grave extent, and Coate's and yourself have written and documented some aspects of this quite well. But with Mr. Roof and his "You Rape Our Women," meme, which must go back 300 years or so, wealso have to explore the socially accepted pathology of the Holy White Vaginia, whch still reigns in most of the White conscious and brought Europe to it's knees in an orgy of destruction from 1933--1945.

Jim Wagner said...

Excellent stuff on Salon this morning, Chauncey. I can only imagine the Sisphyean frustration of being compelled to explain once again -- over and over again, for over thirty years now -- the import of Lee Atwater's infamous dissection of conservative language games or Reagan's paean to states' rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi (to say nothing of the plethora of Confederate ur-texts collected the other day by Mr. Coates). You are doing the hard intellectual labor that this country so desperately needs. I know that mirror is heavy, but it must be held up.

I imagine the work only gets harder from here on in, as Republicans bow to cowardly expedience and rush to denounce the flags and sculptures they had so ardently defended right up to yesterday morning (just as they now denounce the president's use of a word that has been an integral part of their vocabulary for two centuries running). As the obvious visual symbols disappear, we will still be left with the myriad "invisible" ways in which racism continues to structure everyday life in America. How many more black bodies will it take before my fellow white folks en masse begin to take those more serious affronts more seriously?

Dan Kasteray said...

With any luck, Dylan roof can get some justice in prison. I'd love for some fellow inmate to take a bit of electric cord and choke the life from the great white savior.

Some part of me thinks that turning to religion is the wrong thing after a tragedy like this. Prayer won't make all the roofs of the world go away. It won't turn off fox news and their fraudulent war on Christianity.

I suppose the thing to do is make a lot of noise regarding the problem. Take control of the narrative

joe manning said...

"I am glad to know that this implement is the invention of a negro slave--thus giving the lie to the abolition cry that slavery dwarfs the negro mind." Classic Orwellian doublethink--the ability to hold in mind two contradictory notions simultaneously. He admits that his slave is not his inferior and yet still insists on his supposed white superiority, even asserting that the institution of slavery is more intellectual stimulating than freedom. That's just crazy. Talk about a sick, perverted, predatory mind. These guys really need help. Up with public ed.

joe manning said...

First they insisted that it was a war on religion then when the Roof pix went viral they staged a PR coup vowing to take down the flag as if that is a big concession.

seeknsanity said...

Indeed. Which continues into the present, just well disguised.

Jim Wagner said...

The take-down-the-flag domino effect has been mildly infuriating to me. On the one hand, of course I'm glad that this country seems to have suddenly decided that Confederate symbolism is wretched and unworthy of gracing our civic spaces and online retail outlets. But the fact that everybody who matters suddenly experienced their own come-to-Jesus moment in the span of a single day makes it abundantly clear that these people have always been perfectly aware of just how odious these symbols are. It was simply never politically expedient for them to make an issue of it; indeed, more often than not, it was more politically expedient for them to argue *for* Confederate "heritage." Nine black bodies and souls had to be mercilessly executed so that they would have an excuse to finally stand up and announce what they have always known. If that doesn't turn your stomach, I don't know what will.

joe manning said...

Just because they're hanging up their flags and KKK robes doesn't mean that they're any less racist for it. They astutely perceived that upgrading to a more sophisticated colorblind racism was long overdue. I don't see Lindsey Graham firing his neo-Confederate chief of staff.

Nick Johnson said...

"we are luminous beings and not this crude matter"

From one nerd to another, A+ for the Yodanic wisdom nugget there. Lucas may have been an awful script writer, but is there any situation in life, especially matters of faith and the attempts to live a life of goodness, that CAN'T be expressed in a Star Wars metaphor? I think not.

And your own advice - to keep doing what makes us happy, to soak in the good in our daily experiences despite living in a culture where we are ceaselessly barraged by the ignorant, the insane, and the cruel - is wise as well. Cheers!