Thursday, September 30, 2010

White America Has Lost Its Mind

From the Village Voice courtesy of
This Modern World:

Anyway, as boomers age, they get more politically active. That's just human nature, and their 40-million-strong AARP is the nation's biggest lobbyist. But as they try to wield that power, they're running into the growing, and less white, younger generations.

"Like tectonic plates, these slow-moving but irreversible forces may generate enormous turbulence as they grind against each other in the years ahead," writes Brownstein.

At some point, when tectonic plates build up enough tension, that destructive energy gets unleashed in a major earthquake, which is a pretty good metaphor for what happened on November 4, 2008. A black man got elected president, and suddenly every aging white boomer in this country turned into Carole King—they sure as hell felt the earth moving under their feet.

Meanwhile, the brother moving into the White House inherited the kind of mortgage that even Wall Street executives might hesitate to call "subprime."

A devastated economy. Two wars, neither being fought with clear goals. Housing markets that resembled war zones. A health system crippled with costs. An auto industry cratering.

But surely, in a time of crisis, the country could pull together to fix this mess, right?

Can you help a brother on health care?

The economy?

Financial regulatory reform?

National security?

Now, some black folks can be forgiven for thinking, as they watched the political drama in Washington unfold over the past two years, that this was just another form of the same old thing they'd put up with in one way or another in this conflicted multiracial country.

But there is another explanation.

White people have simply gone sheer fucking insane.


Great essay. It doesn't really say much that's particularly new, but it does put it all together into a very nice overall contextualization of the insanity of our era: the fact that gradual demographic shifting will soon result in minority status for white Americans coupled with electing a black president has driven many, many white Americans over the edge into total irrationality. And the essay names names. Like I said, not new names, but it's good to get them all into one article.

Go check it out.

I would add one idea to the essay's main thesis. A great deal of the white insanity we're enduring today has been inevitable for a very long time. Indeed, the conservative hysteria of the 90s, seemingly driven by electing draft-dodging, wife-trading, pot-smoking, baby-boomer Bill Clinton to the Oval Office was very clearly a fear based reaction to the political upheaval of the 60s, a large component of which was the Civil Rights Movement. Indeed, you couldn't have the rise of modern conservatism if the GOP didn't have a handy target to beat up on in the South, the post Jim Crow African-American.

In so many ways, it appears that we've never stopped fighting the Civil War. I mean, the fighting between armies ended, of course, in 1865, but the segment of American culture that arose in the antebellum South in order to justify the barbaric "peculiar institution" known as slavery never went away. Sure, it's evolved, rolling with the changes as it were, but many of the base line assumptions of pro-slavery Southern culture exist to this day, and have expanded well outside the original slave states. American means white. Property rights are absolute. Labor is owned by capital, and therefore has no rights. Guns are not simply a necessity, they are glorious. All that government does is take away private property. You could almost write a Tea Party manifesto or a GOP campaign platform using these ideas. Really, what the American left ought to do is work its ass off to identify today's politics in terms of an unfinished Civil War.

And then finish it.