Unde hic — et sim.?


Full disclosure: The George Zimmerman verdict surprised me. It surprised a lot of other white folks too. As far as I can tell, it didn’t surprise any black folks. This is a seriously important data point.

It comes at an awkward moment for me, since I’ve been inveighing recently against ‘anti-racism’ (particularly of the hucksterish Tim Wise variety) as a political strategy. Was I wrong?

Of course not. That goes without saying. Never happens. But I’ve been doing some head-scratching all the same.

I tend to think of racism primarily as an ideology; and on that level, racism is dead. Next to nobody is willing to say he’s a racist any more, but a few decades ago that would have been a quite different story. Very few people are willing even to articulate the old Herrnstein-Jencks bellcurve bullshit any more. It’s just not respectable. Oh there are probably a few old fools who still believe it, but they know better than to say it.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that if Trayvon had been paler than George, the outcome would have been the same.

The jury consisted of six more or less ‘white’ people — people who would no doubt describe themselves as such.

(As it happens, they were all also female people, a fact now enshrined in the crisp phrase ‘six white women’. There is a certain drollery in this. Does anybody suppose that if there had been a few ‘white’ men on the jury the verdict would have been different? — But that’s a hypothetical; and since I never answer them, I shouldn’t ask them.)

The police did everything they could to sweep this matter under the rug. Forced to prosecute by public indignation, the prosecution did a lousy job, essentially ceding every legal point to the defense. The judge gave a grossly slanted charge to the jury, and of course the jury was stacked. One has to ask oneself: How far are we, really, in practice, from the days of Jim Crow?

Clearly, the answer is, Not as far as we would like. Yet at the same time I want to argue that our foe is not the old foe. We sometimes underestimate how Protean and shape-shifting the organs of domination are.

Racism is such a capacious term that it’s hard to say even what it means. But let’s run with it for a moment.

Does racism persist? Or is it continually re-created? Is it now the same thing in a different guise, or a different thing in the same guise?

Do our rulers still need to segregate? Or do the mechanisms of domination now simply take opportunistic advantage of a segregation that actually exists? Is there some reason why black folks need to be the ‘other’ of choice for smug, isolated pig-ignorant boy-in-a-bubble nincompoops like the infamous Juror B37, or is that just the path of least resistance? Would Muslims do as well? Even as we speak, experiments are being conducted, and though it’s early days yet, the results are encouraging.

After the Zimmerman verdict, it’s kinda hard to say there’s no such thing anymore as racism. But is this racism an autonomous, self-subsisting thing? People often speak as if it were, but I’m skeptical.

More to come on this topic. It’s keeping me awake at night.

33 thoughts on “Unde hic — et sim.?

  1. Here’s some food for your thoughts:

    If Martin had been wearing a business suit and sipping a latte, would he have been similarly targeted by Zimmerman?

    Or, a case geographically closer: Jersey Girl Killed For Her Bike. Was that one an issue of feminism? Were the black males acting as agents of the patriarchy by stealing the bike and dumping the body?

    Sean, from the other thread, is correct in observing that the media are using “race” as a sensationalist issue, here. We know, though, that black people report on, and convict, other black people at a higher rate than they do white people. Black people shoot and/or otherwise-kill black people at a sufficiently high rate to cause alarm. Some old black women are so critical of “thugs”–any sixteen-year-old black male they see in the street–that, only hearing them talk about the boys’ laziness, failed job prospects, irresponsibility, et cetera, you might think they were KKK members until someone brought them out behind the screen, and you realized that they were black slave-descendants.

    None of that changes that, in this particular case, Zimmerman was a stupid, violent, bigoted coward who murdered someone, or that the jurors who acquitted him were the same sort of people. However, reconsider that question from above, about if Martin had been wearing a business suit and sipping a latte. There would have been a difference–and what does that mean?

    Some would say it means nothing. Because, after all, Zimmerman might not have harassed a white kid dressed exactly like Martin, walking exactly like Martin, carrying ice tea and candy, and using his cell phone, right? And that might be true. Zimmerman probably would have, because he’s such a piece of shit, but plenty of wannabe cops would’ve only harassed the black kid, so the point remains: race is some sort of issue.

    The answer to your conundrum is that race remains a reliable generalization about wealth, power, and social influence. Because a black person is more likely to be less wealthy, less educated, and less socially protected, they’re an easier target for cowards like Zimmerman–not because of their blackness as blackness, but because the blackness indicates that they are more likely a member of a group that can be safely picked on. In short, if you need to be an asshole, it’s probably safer to dump poison on a black person than a white person–or a woman than a man, a queer than a straight, a child than an adult, et cetera.

    Ergo there is absolutely no amount of diversity education, sensitivity training, or anti-“racism” that can address the problem. It has always been a problem of social and economic power; the actual disliking of any given group’s appearance or culture is merely a symptom of the despair and anger that arise from the rest of the fucked-up-ness of the culture at large. Chasing symptoms instead of causes, like so many neoclassical American healers, accomplishes nothing good.

    • ET arka

      great stuff

      “any given group’s appearance or culture”
      in the context of ” the culture at large”
      that might be better labeled a group subculture

      but if

      the shared space of these two cohabitating nations
      is not unifying
      and there is no culture at large only bi freighted
      common experiences …….

      the reframing as two unequal co habituating
      inter-struggling nations
      removes the old incubus of race supremacy
      most whites no longer cop to
      and its a grotesque injustice to lay on black people

  2. father notices we have a contradiction here
    two nations intertwined
    each one articulated in the context of the other
    two nations beyond just divisible

    Afronesia libre !

    • the verdict was an x ray
      revealing the boundary between two cohabitating nations

      I think dear sean
      under all his mean strets realism
      has allowed his desire for trans national class solidarity
      to vaporize this boundary

      I submit
      class is an articulation best constructed within each nation
      not across nations
      yes a deeper contradiction a world historical contradiction
      the globe’s wage class shares a common inter related task

      but united by class divided by nation
      is still the reality
      the reality in which the historic struggle must go on
      even if we “know” some day the wage class of al nations
      will be as one

  3. There’s always gonna be groups of people who hate other groups of people for no rational reason. Prejudice, hatred, tribalism… they’re part of what makes us human. See, in my case I fucking hate rural white southerners. Now, I’m sure there are many of them who are fine decent people, but if saw one walking around my neighborhood late at night I’d figure he was a meth addict looking to steal to support my habit. Don’t laugh… there are a lot of rural white southerners who fit the profile. So I’d feel quite justified in popping a cap in his goofy looking face and feel like I’d done the nation and the human race a favor. You can tell who they are by just looking at them, bad teeth, bad haircuts, stupid looking scrawny beards and eyes too close together indicating they’re the result just a few too many inbred generations. They can’t speak decent English. Bunch of meth cooking, cousin fucking white crackers. I hate ’em. I moved out of the south to get away from them and life is much better now.

    I know I know… I’m just prejudiced. Oh well.

    • “Now, I’m sure there are many of them who are fine decent people, but if saw one walking around my neighborhood late at night I’d figure he was a meth addict looking to steal to support my habit.”

      I see Dr. Freud is still distributing the banana peels liberally.

  4. The kind of racism that keeps liberals embattled (in fantasy squads–they won’t lift a finder to combat actual injustice usually)–while I won’t go as far as to say it’s a thing of the past–isn’t particularly significant. And in general I think the utility of racism is transitory–drug out when needed, then laid to rest. BUT–

    I think the descendants of slaves–not even “blacks”, per se–are a special category. Since Abolition and the impracticality of complete repatriation to Liberia or South America as many hoped the prospect of freed-slave self-determination has been an enduring obsession, taking many forms as time goes on. IIRC Lincoln himself decreed, “The negro should never be equal to the white man.” Not to get metaphysical…as with people, for nation-states some character traits seem almost intractably embedded. Along with a zealous commitment to latter day capitalism, this oppression seems to be one.

    • levels of unresolved conflict in this view my friend

      what is distressing?

      you obviously took time and hard think work
      to construct this quite elaborate thought structure here

      I in truth like it

      its a huge shimmering scintillating briary contrivance

      like a xmas decorated floor and roof gyrated

      good luck living in it
      watch out for the bed
      oh and the low hanging beams
      and the huge electric bill for all those flashing stress lights

  5. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe that if Trayvon had been paler than George, the outcome would have been the same.

    Why is that so hard? You have a modern day Gladys Kravitz packing heat. You can’t imagine a tragedy waiting to happen?

    More to come on this topic. It’s keeping me awake at night.

    Don’t you live in the city of Stop-n-Frisk? I find it fascinating to see protests against SYG laws but Bloomberg keeps on truckin’. I would think institutionalized racism presents a greater danger than the possibility of individualized vigilantism.

    • Indeed I do live in the city of stop-n-frisk. And I’m the last person to suggest that the Northeast has any moral superiority over, say, Florida. I sometimes think that every cop in this town is George Zimmerman’s doppelganger.

      There have been protests here over stop-n-frisk. You’re right, none nationally. Nationally, I suspect that stop-n-frisk sounds fine. But we may have gotten to the point where stop-n-shoot isn’t quite so popular nationwide. I would like to think so, anyway.

  6. Institutionalized racism (I.R.) itself is what is supposed to keep racism from becoming a thing of the past, what with the nations laws and enforcement and adjudication thereof being part of that institution.

    Nevertheless – and incidents & resulting outcomes of the topic of this thread notwithstanding – there is a demographic shift afoot. Uncle is marching to the beat of a different drummer, if headed in the same direction.

    The lesson one might have learned as this transition takes place is that a the PTB atop a nation of laws can count on even the most denigrated of its demographic constituency to support their puppets, even though the puppets’ policies are the very things that lead to further denigration.

    Oh yeah, what my meandering have to do with the topic at hand? Racism just keeps paying dividends.

    The next Most Crucial US Election Ever will be all about sane gun laws vs. the freedom to shoot those you’re afraid of. And either way, the same guy* is gonna win.

    *I use that term loosely, if you know what I mean.

    • isn’t it de institutionalized black nation oppression we have here ?

      carried on by agents of these institutions
      thru retained often reinvigorated if modified
      white nation cultural soft ware ?

      • Sorry op, I missed this before.
        I think you’re right, but am not sure about the de-institutionalized part. I’d say the institutionalization has been in no better a state than permanent self-re-engineering, ie. outsourcing by default.

        Sure, the White Nation program, I reckon, as long as we are clear that it is the Landowner & Operated version of the software we’re talking about. It’s perfectly capable of being run by anyone with the “right attitude” and they are none the wiser.

        I mean, institutionalization is not only “established for/within the institution” but “the creation of an institution to envelop people and things you wouldn’t necessarily attribute to it”.

        As in how someone who whiles in a prison or asylum might end up having a permanently institutionalized mind, ie. the shackles that Lincoln spoke of – and how that condition and the laws that led to it seamlessly seep into the consciousness of the subjects at large.

        We are the institution.

        SMBIVA meant to me upon first discovering it that the endless tinkering within the Anstalt was folly. In the 21st century, this folly continues to evolve to include a ratcheting up, if you will, of issues of race and sexuality. It could not have been designed any more brilliantly, not that I am saying it was (though, who knows).

        Back to the shifting demographic: I think the Palestine analogy breaks down when you consider the extent to which Israel is a Jewish state: wake me up when a Palestinian is Prime Minister (tho’ it wouldn’t surprise me to see a similarly effective administration of attitudes/loyalties if that ever came to be).

        So serious Lefties of whatever shade are pretty damn marginal. Ain’ no vanguard to speak of, irrespective of the logic/tenability of having one. Black Agenda Report is the smallest minority withing the minority of a minority.

        We live in an institution. It has minds like that of Al Sharpton so indoctrinated that he is schlepping water for the empire even while he rages against the policies his bosses fail not to embrace.

  7. this site seems to attract
    those bright but dark social pocket prophets

    all too willing to recite their personal catechism of the pre determined necessities of perpetual gloom

    what comrades of the possible ?

    are we not free to struggle ..come what may ?

    sean has latched on to a loathing of left liberals that is deeply warranted

    but its like nursing a former wound site at this point

    maybe a visit to

    • flugnutz is exempted

      appearances by such as he
      are a free swim delight
      a delight that never stales or pales
      even over a full life time

      like the jingling spectre of an arriving good humor truck

    • Yeah, my comment was pretty pointless. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me until after I sent it.

      I live my life with the possible as much as I can and welcome a solid strategy beyond that where I see one.

      But this is SMBIVA, after all.

      • What’s the point of a strategy without troops?

        My own modest goal is to clear my own mind of cant as much as possible, and maybe help one or two others clear their own.

          • The Generalissimo of SMBIVA actually doesn’t want any troops, thank you very much. He wouldn’t know what to do with them if he had them. He does not believe he’s Napoleon, or even Nicias.

        • Troops? Sure, if you wanna put it that way. Where we marching?

          I admitted to a pointless comment, but only insofar as didn’t contain anything anyone wasn’t already aware of, was a lame attempt to put things in a unique perspective, and falls far short and fails to remain on topic. I was going for something akin to your Ratchet Effect updated for the quasi post-racial society. Something more like a vise, I think.

          Still, if I missed the chance to have my mind cleared of cant, that is indeed regrettable. But not as much as my completely missing the point, apparently.

  8. I’ve been meaning to praise Sista Arka’s brilliant take on the situation earlier (her first comments on this topic) but a bike accident that resulted in a concussion has taken the best of me. As she put it succinctly, it is exactly about wealth and power and what that profile looks like to rent-a-pigs like Zimmerman. Hence her comment about wearing a business suite. Take a look at the immigrants and their political affiliations. If they’re well off, you can bet your bottom that they’re right wing racists regardless of their dark skin or religion because their self-identity is with White America who possesses all the power.

  9. The media coverage of the Zimmerman case didn’t surprise me. It’s just the sort of fact-free, frenzied racial propaganda many have come to expect in this sort of thing. It did surprise me that Zimmerman got off. You can’t go wrong betting on a conviction in any trial in the US…you’ll be right most of the time.

    But maybe I’m too cynical. There were in fact two trials in the Zimmerman case: one in the media, one in court. In mass media racial show trials like this the conviction rate is always 100 percent. All you need to know to determine guilt is that the defendant is white, and the victim is black. Facts are irrelevant. Then there was the court trial in the state of Florida, where the conviction rate is a more modest but still very high 60 percent. Apparently, facts are sometimes considered there, as they were in this case, and people are actually exonerated based on the evidence. Shocking, I know.

    It’s depressing the extent to which many people are unwilling to look at the facts in this case. Most people I’ve read are operating from a presumption of guilt and simply take the media’s bogus manipulation of the facts at face value. They seem to think that anytime someone is charged with a crime, they should be arrested and locked up until such time as a trial proves their innocence, even if that takes years. If Zimmerman failed to be jailed and prosecuted at first, it can only be the result of racism.

    I’m not depressed that people think the system works this way, but that they think the system ought to work this way.

    Zimmerman was detained, interrogated for 5 hours, and taken to the scene of the crime the next day where he described his side of the story on video. There was a two week investigation afterwards during which much of the evidence used in the case was collected. Based on that evidence, the local police chief concluded Zimmerman acted in self-defense. The first prosecutor assigned to his case concluded the same and refused to prosecute it, despite the enormous political pressure coming from the Obama admin, Justice Dept, local politicians and the media. That he acted in self-defense was also the conclusion of the jury.

    The idea that a police chief would sacrifice his career to protect an Hispanic guy with a history of antagonizing his police force is absurd. The police chief failed to arrest Zimerman because he had no case against him.

    This was a racial prosecution of a white man who isn’t white. The media went to absurd lengths to paint (literally) Zimmerman as a white man and thus a racist, including lightening his mugshot photos, continuously referring to him as white, editing his call to the cops to make it sound racist and grossly distorting his personal history to make him out to be a white racist with an obsession over blacks.

    Ironically Zimmerman’s best defense against the attempts to smear him as a white racist is that he isn’t white. Not that Hispanics can’t be racists, it’s just that Zimmerman-as-Hispanic doesn’t fit the racist narrative the mass media was selling here, the one where White equals racist equals guilty.

    When Zimerman-as-white failed to convince many for obvious reasons, they started referring to him as “half-white” and a “White Hispanic,” a ludicrous term they never used before. They needed to show that Zimmerman’s bloodlines were sufficiently corrupted by Eurotrash ancestry as to give him the same irresistible urge to go out and shoot black people that “pure” white people apparently suffer from.

    The actual evidence in the case, as opposed to his alleged race, strongly supported Zimmerman’s story, which is unusual when someone is lying. At the time he gave his account of what happened, Zimmerman had no idea there were others out there, including witnesses for the prosecution, who could corroborate his story and there would be such a remarkable match-up between his version and the evidence. He is either psychic or telling the truth.

    We will never know for certain what happened that night, but the evidence such as it is suggests that Trayvon made it all the way home, then turned around and went back to confront Zimmerman because he felt the “creepy-ass cracka” was out to rape him, or so the prosecton’s witness claimed. The evidence suggests it was Trayvon, and not Zimmerman, who was the aggressor.

    I have little doubt what would have happened if Zimmerman had been black and Trayvon white: we wouldn’t be hearing about it. If white Trayvon had beaten black Zimmerman to death in a case that was identical in every detail save the result of the fight, then it might be grist for the racial agitation mill. I can just see the headlines now: “White slayer described highly respected black victim as “creepy-ass nigger” in phone call with friend moments before beating him to death. Black community outraged.”

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