Friday, September 17, 2010

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Credibility is an expanding field... Sheer disbelief hardly registers on the face before the head is nodding with all the wisdom of instant hindsight."
Tom Stoppard

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Emerson for the Day

“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks.”

Photo: Emerson's house in Concord, from the NY Times story on the new caretakers. I can't help but wonder how Emerson would react. But couldn't miss the opportunity to really make this Emerson of the day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

White Makes Right

For white dominance in America, it's the end of days. That's the demographic truth. And for a certain segment of white America, it's a cause of fierce fear.

Among those exploiting it is Newt Gingrich, first with this "Final Struggle" retread video and lately with his jibe that President Obama's worldview is "Kenyan, anticolonial" (to which Obama should reply, no--it's American anticolonial.") Why I single him out here is the imagery--there's pale powder puffy Newt with the super-whitest woman you can imagine, even whiter than Mrs. McCain. I don't know if this is the new wife that Newt left his old wife on her deathbed for--that was a long time ago now--but her bright whiteness seems even enhanced in this photo.

So what's that all about? Few people in America are ever going to admit to being racially prejudiced, and some of them are mad about being censored that way. There are a lot of white people who may not even admit it to themselves. But it's so clearly behind so much of the emotion and so many of the phenomena leading up to the 2010 election.

It twists together several strands. There's the economic fear that regularly gets projected onto the newest race or nationality in the labor market, especially at the bottom. So that's the anti-Mexican immigrant piece, that gets fueled by those folks being brown, not white. (It was the same in earlier downturns, when the emnity was turned on blacks. In the 80s it was an undercurrent in the fear of urban crime, cf. Willy Horton.)

There's the Christian Rabid Right, that sees their brand of Christianity as the only truth, and therefore Islam as inherently wrong and now evil. It helps that Muslims tend to be brown or black. So there's the Islamaphobia element, currently the ugliest and most virulent.

And at the center of this perfect storm is Barack Obama, the first black President who looks a little too much like Malcolm X, and with his brownish skin color, a little too much like a Muslim. He's driving these folks crazy, and there's really very little he can do about it.

Because for them, when President Obama talks about the American Dream as opportunity to move up to the middle class, get a good job, educate your kids, he's talking about paying special attention to blacks and browns. They believe that's his agenda--special treatment for non-whites. And taxing white people to pay for it. That's the country they're taking back---the white country of white people.

These folks are a small minority of the soon to be white minority. But they are loud, and thanks to conflict-hungry media with no sense of proportion, just greed, plus the new politics of constant campaign season, they are what the media talks about--because that's what the media now does mostly, it talks and talks, offering opinion after opinion-- off-the-top-of-my-head, first thing out of my mouth, as well as plenty from the other end--with little patience for presenting or evaluating facts, and certainly for perspective.

The good thing is that while the so-called Independents (who generally speaking are the most easily influenced, ill-informed and generally brainless bunch still able to find a voting booth) swell their numbers in polls, their ranks haven't grown so much as revealed themselves. The voting public has not changed so radically since 2008--it's that so-called "enthusiasm gap" that's the problem. If the same people vote in 2010 as voted in 2008, Congress stays Dem, and the white crazies stay out of power, until they gradually die off. (Here's a cogent piece on why the enthusiasm gap matters.)

The bad thing is if their Last Stand becomes the apocalypse. If the proud-to-be-prejudiced, wish I was even more ignorant, thinking with my Rabid Right reptile brain, all intolerant Christian all the time, climate crisis denying, white supremacist Tea Party crowd becomes the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, the next two years could be devastating to the future, as well as providing us with the familiarly insane present we remember all too well from the not distant enough past.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"One day she woke up understanding clear as the air that as long as a person was willing to forgo credit, there were very few limits on the good it became possible to do."
Thomas Pynchon
Against the Day
Painting by Georgia O'Keefe