Sunday, November 13, 2016

Obligatory Post Election Blog Post: Part 6--The Racism Issue

Part 2: I think I've Become Very Out of Touch
Part 3 I Was Wrong. I Was so so so SO Wrong
Part 4 All the Reasons It Seemed Donald Trump Could Never Win
and Part 5: All the Reasons Donald Trump Actually Won

As I wrote back during the Brexit issue, one of the cool things about living in the expatriate community is that I get to hear a lot about British politics from the perspective of my British co-workers.

One of the disturbing things about the post-Brexit election was that the racists started coming out of the woodwork immediately.  I would hear personal stories from my British friends and co-workers.  For example, one of my British co-wokers had a friend with a Polish last name.  The day after Brexit, she got several messages asking her when she was going to leave Britain.
Stories of racial minorities and Muslims suddenly getting harassed all over Britain were immediately on the news.

Now, it's not the fact that everyone who voted for Brexit was a racist.  Far from it.  There were good sound democratic reasons to be concerned about how the European Union.

But what DID happen is that the racists interpreted Brexit as a legitimization of their views.  They used to think they were in the minority.  Now suddenly they thought they were in the majority, and they suddenly started acting as if they didn't have to be ashamed any more of their hate.

When Trump got elected, I, and many people, wondered if the same thing could happen in the US.

On Wednesday morning, I thought about writing this post as a pre-cautionary tale.  But since then, unfortunately, events have over-taken me.
Now, there have been numerous reports of racist incidents happening.  Some anecdotal on Facebook and Twitter.  Some have been widely reported on the media.  You've all seen the news as much as I have, so I'm not going to waste time recounting everything here.

Again, this is not for a minute to say that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.  But this is to say that there are some racists in this country, and that they are interpreting this as a victory.  And they are now coming out into the open.

This is happening.  The age of subtle racism is over.  The age of overt racism is coming back.  The question is now what to do about it.

* It's funny how we sometimes think everything that happened before we were born is ancient history.  I always thought Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement was a long ago part of our past.  But Martin Luther King was assassinated only 10 years before I was born.  And ten years is nothing.  Ten years go by in the blink of an eye.

But because it was before we were born, it sometimes feels like 10 years might have been 100 years.   Me and my whole generation grew up thinking that racism was a problem of America's past.  We thought America used to be racist, then we had the civil rights movement, and now America has  moved on.

The fact is, however, that we are still within living memory of the Civil Rights movement.  Those white supremacists who beat Civil Rights protesters in the 60s, and those Klansman who murdered freedom riders--many of them are still alive today.

Racism was never eradicated.  What happened instead was that racism only lost the culture war.  It became unacceptable to be identified as a racist, and so people resisted doing anything that would cause them to be identified as a racist.

But the moment these people perceive that the culture is shifting back again in their direction, then we are going to start seeing racists come out of the woodwork.

We saw a preview of this with the Tea Party.  Now, it is getting worse.

And it will continue unless these people realize, once again, that they have lost the culture war, and that this kind of behavior is not accepted by the rest of America.

And the only way for them to lose the culture war is for us to win it.

It's not enough just to get  into Twitter wars with these people.  They need to be shut down entirely through organized action.

In other words, we need a new Civil Rights movement.

Of course it's very easy for me to sit on my fat ass and blithely make proclamations like this.  To actually organize a new Civil Rights movement requires a lot of hard work, boring meetings, waking up early and organizing, marching in hot weather, etc.  And I'm all the way over in Vietnam, so I'm not going to be doing any of that.  So it's very presumptuous of me to tell other people to do this.

So, fine, call me a lazy hypocrite if you want  to.  I won't deny that I'm not pulling my fair share.

But what I will say is this: Unless some people start organizing something, the racists will not just go away by themselves.  They think they're winning now, and they're going to continue to push forward.


I've linked to Phil's post before, but I'm going to bring it up again, because I want to quote from it:

My Burkean friend likes to say that there is no teleological progress within history.
This was something I thought I knew. I didn’t really know it.
There is no progress within history. There are better deeds and worse deeds and better words and worse words (words being a subset of deeds). And that’s it. This train isn’t going anywhere. It was never a train. There are no tracks.

I'm also going to quote myself from a post I wrote in 2010

There's been a lot in the news about race since Obama's election.
As someone who's been involved - in - protest - politics - myself, I'm somewhat sympathetic to the fact that the Tea Party can't always control what nut-cases show up to their events. So it would probably be unfair of me to paint them all as racists just because some of them are.
However there's another equally dangerous fallacy. A number of media commentators have been implying (or straight out said) that since white America has elected a black president we now live in a post-racial society, and any discussion of racism in America is now taboo.
However the pendulum of history can always swing back unless we stay vigilant.
For example, when Benjamin Disraeli became the first Jewish prime minister of Great Britain in 1868, it did not mean the end of antisemitism in Europe. Or even the end of antisemitism in Great Britain itself.
For a time in 1919, Rosa Luxembourg, Karl Liebknecht and other Jewish intellectuals were among the most powerful people in Germany. But this did not mark the inevitable decline of antisemitism in Germany.

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