Monday, June 29, 2020

Racial Pathology In The USA

1901: Atlanta
 The “Machiavelli of the Black Belt”
A former West Virginia slave and the founder of Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington has risen to become the most powerful black man in the United States. In his widely acclaimed autobiography, “Up From Slavery,” he says he did it by hard work and faith in God, the only antidotes to adversity.
Conservative, wealthy, and pro-laissez faire, Washington puts social equality on the back burner in favor of economic uplift. Accommodation, compromise, and propitiation are the price of survival, he says, so blacks must apply themselves to blacksmithing, bricklaying, and carpentry. Then they can buy their citizenship rights. “The black man who spends ten thousand a year in freight charges can select his own seat in a railroad train.”
Washington’s steady stream of bromides and “darky” tales lets him smoothly navigate his way through white society, dissolving tension in condescending chuckles. One of his cheerful maxims holds that lynching “really indicates progress,” since “there can be no progress without friction.” Another praises slavery for having converted pagans to Christianity, thus teaching blacks to work and speak English.
Adrift in a stormy sea of white-sheeted fury, Washington engineers plodding advance by never showing his dislikes. But no matter how much he moderates his moderation and waters down his water, he still evokes white wrath. “I am just as opposed to Booker Washington as a voter,” rails Mississippi Governor Vardaman, “with all his Anglo-Saxon reinforcements, as I am to the coconut-headed, chocolate-colored, typical little coon, Andy Dotson, who blacks my shoes every evening.”


David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. DuBois, Biography of a Race, 1868-1919, (Henry Holt and Co., 1998) pps. 169, 215, 240, 256-7, 261-3, 274

Noel J. Kent, America In 1900, (M. E. Sharpe, 2000) p. 123

1901: Washington
Tasteless Dining
President Roosevelt invites Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House and a mortified South recoils in shocked outrage.
The New Orleans Times-Democrat complains that, “When Mr. Roosevelt sits down to dinner with a Negro, he declares that the Negro is the social equal of the white man.” The Memphis Scimitar angrily accuses the president of “the most damnable outrage ever.” The editor of the Richmond Times says he has implicitly endorsed Negro-White courtship and interracial marriage. An outraged Memphis editorialist swears that, “No Southern woman with proper self-respect would now accept an invitation to the White House.”


Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt - A Biography, (Harcourt, 1931) pps. 174-6

Clifton Daniel, ed. Chronicle of America, (DK Publishing, 1997) p. 535

1901: Chicago
Clarence Darrow Laments The
Moral Deficiencies of the White Race
“Probably I do not look at the race problem in as hopeful a way as many of our people do, for I am somewhat pessimistic about the white race. When I see how anxious the white race is to go to war over nothing and to shoot down men in cold blood for the benefit of trade, when I see the injustice everywhere present, the rich people uniting and crowding the poor into inferior positions, I fear the dreams we have indulged in of perfect equality and unlimited opportunity are a long way from realization. The colored race should learn this: if the white race insults you on account of your inferior position they also degrade themselves when they do it. Every time a superior person invades the rights and liberties and dignity of an inferior person he retards and debases his own manhood.”

Source: Irving Stone, Clarence Darrow For The Defense, (Signet, 1941) pps. 197-8

1901: Philadelphia
Optimistic Editorial In The Philadelphia Ledger:
“The present war (in the Philippines) is no bloodless, fake, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners, and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of 10 up, an idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog...Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to ‘make them talk,’ and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses. . . The new military plan of settling the trouble by setting them at each other looks promising.”

Source: Daniel Schirmer,  Republic or Empire: American Resistance to the Philippine War, (Schenken Publishing Company, 1972) p. 232-4

1902: Washington
The Lodge Committee Hearings
General MacArthur denies there is a Philippine war at all, merely an attempt by Americans “to govern themselves” in a “tuitionary annex.” To establish the superiority of the self-governing race he reviews the history of America’s “Aryan ancestors” raising cattle and articulating “imperishable ideas.” He attributes the huge disproportion in Filipino and U.S. war dead to superior American genes and marksmanship, adding that “no war in history has been conducted with as much humanity.”
Carefully screened ex-soldiers instruct the committee on the necessity of shooting and burning all Filipinos as a means of coping with their “inability to appreciate human kindness.” Ex-Corporal Richard T. O’Brien testifies how Captain Fred McDonald and his troops annihilated the village of La Nog, shooting down men waving white flags, but sparing the life of a beautiful mestizo mother so she could be gang raped by the rampaging soldiers.
David P. Barrows testifies that the water cure “injured no one,” adding that the Filipinos in concentration camps are “there of their own volition,” and have actually benefited from the war.
Senator Bacon breaks ranks with the optimists, reading a letter from the commander of one of the concentration camps, who calls them “suburbs of hell”: “What a farce it all is...this little spot of black sogginess is a reconcentrado pen, with a dead line outside, beyond which everything living is shot...Upon arrival, I found 30 cases of smallpox, and average fresh ones of five a day, which practically have to be turned out to die. At nightfall crowds of huge vampire bats softly swirl out of their orgies over the dead. Mosquitos work in relays. This corpse-carcass stench wafts in and combined with some lovely municipal odors besides makes it slightly unpleasant here.”

Sources: Stuart Creighton Miller, Benevolent Assimilation - The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903, (Yale, 1982) pps. 213, 216, 240, 243

Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building (Schocken, 1980), p. 317

1902: Washington
The Lodge Committee (2): Civilized Morality
Senator Rawlins (D, Utah): “If these shacks were of no consequence what was the utility of their destruction?”
General R. P. Hughes: “The destruction was a punishment. They permitted these people to come in there and conceal themselves . . .”
Senator Rawlins: “The punishment in that case would fall, not upon the men, who could go elsewhere, but mainly upon the women and little children.”
Hughes: “The women and children are part of the family, and where you wish to inflict a punishment you can punish the man probably worse in that way than in any other.”
Senator Rawlins: “But is that within the ordinary rules of civilized warfare? Of course you could exterminate the family which would be still worse punishment.”
Hughes: “These people are not civilized.”

 Source: Stuart Creighton Miller, Benevolent Assimilation - The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903, (Yale, 1982) pps. 213, 216, 240, 243

1902: Washington
The Lodge Committee (3): The Way of God
Senator Beveridge (R., Indiana): “When a town or barrio has been notoriously known as a rendezvous, place of departure and return of ladrones [bandits], what then would be a justifiable course to pursue?”
Colonel Wagner: “If the town were notoriously a nest of ladrones, if it was impossible to get the rest of the people to yield them up, it would be justifiable and proper to destroy the town, even though we destroyed the property of some innocent people. The Almighty destroyed Sodom, notwithstanding the fact that there were a few just people in that community—less than ten.”
Senator Beveridge: “How strange; I was thinking of that instance of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

 Source: Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building (Schocken, 1980), p. 319

1902: San Francisco
The San Francisco Argonaut On
Development Obstacles in the East
“...the talk about benevolent assimilation is insufferable cant...We do not want the Filipinos. We want the Philippines. The islands are enormously rich, but, unfortunately they are infested by Filipinos. There are many millions of them there, and it is to be feared that their extinction will be slow...The development of the islands cannot be successfully done while the Filipinos are there. Therefore the more of them killed the better.”

 Source: Oswald Garrison Villard, Fighting Years: Memoirs of a Liberal Editor, (Harcourt, Brace, and Co, 1939) p. 141

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Bigotry, Racism and Capitalist Class Privilege

Bigotry, Racism and Capitalist Class Privilege

" The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being." -- Emma Goldman

Class divisions are prime factors in all systems, governing where, how and if people live, work, eat, dress, school and survive. All members of a class share its privileges, not just some few, as in the case of what is called “white” privilege, as though it was experienced by all humans characterized in racist society as “white”. No matter the skin tone, sexual preference or ethnicity of the persons, class status governs whether they live in some degree of physical comfort, are educated, make investments and are able to plan for the future, or live in relative and often severe discomfort, in debt, in low cost housing, ghettos, jails or on the street, with their only future plan being able to survive another day, let alone another week.

Class privileges come before and count for more than sexual privileges, which are very real but are at least based on the organic nature of humanity, while race differences are a filthy lie under which we live in the promotion of capitalist class society, along with all other separations used to divide humans from our commonality.

The lawyer reduced to ambulance chasing still enjoys a more comfortable material standard of living than the driver of the ambulance, no matter the lawyer’s sex or skin tone or the driver’s religion or sexual preference. Those able to  graduate from college enjoy privilege by comparison to the majority who have no such luck and those with enough money or program access to get them into the “better” schools enjoy more privilege than those who go to ordinary colleges, but both groups enjoy a class status beyond that of the majority, of all shapes, sizes, beliefs and skin tones, who haven’t a prayer of attending college unless making deliveries, cleaning its toilets or building a wing on the chem lab or art studio. And a less formally educated class of majority  Americans owe what education they have to their teachers, all of whom are and were college graduates who enabled them to become, according to some political bigots, unsophisticated, ignorant, and even “deplorable” members of a working class.

Being born into an educated and materially comfortable family does not guarantee a person wont wind up a miserable and suffering human, but that suffering is much less likely to be physical and may at least have the assistance of therapists and legal drugs, rather than reduce them to seeing a parole or probation officer for therapy after consuming the only drugs they can get, illegally.

These aspects of material class reality should be understood by all but are still buried by consciousness controllers who sell us the prevailing mythology that sees all social ills as the result of individual problems or blamed on those most visible as members of lower economic classes, frequently and most malevolently but not exclusively called “people of color”, as though they were blue or purple, but in fact covering for a racist history that reduced some of us to even lower economic status by virtue of skin pigmentation.

The horrid story of chattel slavery, in which hundreds of thousands of Africans were transplanted to the western world in chains as the cheapest form of labor, serving as the back bone of capitalist profits for a long period of history, is still almost a secret to many Americans. But while that treatment was uniquely cruel it was a continuation of the inhumanity and abuse of first, the indigenous people who lived here centuries before European colonization, and later, immigrant labor from Europe and Asia which sometimes suffered miserable conditions even beyond some slaves who happened to be owned by benign masters. While the squalor and bigotry encountered by millions of immigrants may not have been as disgraceful as the suffering of slaves, the lesser evilism implicit in such comparisons serves as an example of what passes for our democracy, when voters are frequently reduced to selecting someone who sickens them less than the opposition candidate after an alleged political debate that often amounts to pimps arguing about which one represents true love.

 In a system dependent on individual consumption at the market as the be all end all of human relations that finds a majority of humans the world over relating to life in poverty and misery, class divisions are used by rulers to keep democracy from ever happening. The result can be as ridiculous as people with cancer  seeing people with polio as being privileged, with lesser evilism carried to a point very close to current conditions of working people so divided by ethnicity, sex and skin tones that they keep minorities in power by allowing themselves to be so humanly reduced.

Our ruling billionaire class, smaller in number and richer than any in history, hires and rents a professional class to maintain its rule while those professionals hire, rent, administer and educate the working class to maintain everyone’s status as members of separate classes but all somehow democratically equal. During slavery, the upper class House Negroes sometimes organized and led rebellions when they saw how their people suffered while the masters lived on what they slaved to produce.  But most went along to get along, often hoping to bring change about by slowly working to bring understanding to all concerned, or maybe just making life better for themselves, as most of us do. Their behavior was the same as any other group trying to survive as best it can under circumstances seemingly beyond its personal control. Welcome to 21st century capitalism, the time when the system has never been as unjust but has more people thinking and acting beyond imposed and taught differences but as united humans whose experience is far beyond past expressions of change, though with the same opponents, problems and with even more serious calamities for the future if humanity is not successful.

When there are social breakdowns, as are currently being experienced in possibly the most severe and communicated way in capitalist history, class differences become bolder and clearer than ever. The latest political economic crisis in America is due to a possibly overdone but still deadly virus compounded by another in a long series of killings of Black Americans by white police, highlighted as never before in the age of instant communication, as well as instant mis-communication. Long dominance by major media over citizen consciousness is often countered now by what is called social media –though it is still at times very anti-social – but the views of a dreadful and at its roots social crime is, as too often, treated as the act of a bigoted individual, or group of individuals who perform state services in maintenance of American class society.

The horrid scene of a victim  with a police officer’s knee on his neck causing his death even though he offered no resistance  has ignited outbursts of understandable pain and rage but also sometimes cynical manipulation mostly directed at the police as though they are individually acting out racist behavior in some social vacuum in which the formidable economic barriers between communities originate because of servants of the state, rather than the owners and operators of that state: the ruling class.

A relatively comfortable sector of the population has suddenly been confronted by a nearly shut down society under assault by a seemingly new virus and simultaneously seen the most vile aspects of racism for the first time, which the collapsing system has spread in its lust for private profit at public expense, but still clouded by mind management into placing blame for increasing horrors on evil individuals or “identity groups” deemed guilty of perpetuating injustice all by themselves.

Blaming police for the wretched social reality of communities segregated by economics and alleged racial difference is like blaming the military for the wars that destroy nations and kill hundreds of thousands of foreigners while most of us go to work, school, shop, watch TV, feed pets, eat taco-pizza-burgers or health food, buy guns and demonstrate against wars. The political economic realities that treat some humans as lesser commodities in a diseased culture that reduces everything to a market item to be bought and sold are rarely dealt with let alone confronted. The forces of the market exclusively under minority control can no longer be tolerated by any of us wishing or claiming to be working on behalf of humanity and not just a sector of it.

The present moment of a virus which may get worse with demonstrating crowds breathing on one another may end with more deaths and social division but as long as it pits people against the police it will be just what our rulers want. Sincere comments offered by politicians and celebrities are nice but in substance they amount to the usual speeches about hearts going out to the sufferers of whatever tragedy of the moment is being discussed. They are very much like the hordes of us who demonstrate against a war or another injustice, and then go home for diner while the war and the injustice continue after we vote for another candidate who supports the system of war and injustice.
Our rulers have made even more billions during this pandemic phase of a crumbling system which may yet fall on all our heads if we don’t stop lashing out simply at those employed by them and paid for by us and aim our rebelliousness at the top where it resides.

Capitalism will continue pouring billions into the accounts of the fraction of 1% at the top  while millions lose their jobs, hundreds of thousands lose their homes and  businesses, and well meaning if often misled manipulated “rebels” lash out at working class state servants or a handful of shaved headed bikers or other selected by their manipulators enemies, while the real problems ride around in chauffeured limousines, private jets and soon, even space ships. As we continue pouring wealth into the coffers of Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel, reducing more Americans to crippling debt and poverty while killing more people in foreign countries, the current resident of subsidized presidential housing and some “white” cops are still seen by too many of us as the source of all our woes.

Someof us are reduced to thinking the poor, the homeless and those on the dole are great problems because we not only hear that from our mind managers but frequently see them on the street and under the freeways, while our rulers are never seen unless on major media and might as well be gods. Their upper class servants live in gated communities while they are in walled estates less accessible to common people than the royalty of feudal days were in their castles with moats and drawbridges to keep the common people out and under control. The police certainly serve in the same capacity in some communities but attacking them as the source of our problems would be like feudal rebels attacking the moat or drawbridge while remaining ignorant of the people and wealth they protected.

 We  share a material social reality no matter what our personal comfort level may be for the moment and it grows more dangerous to our future the longer we allow ourselves to be ruled by an unelected tiny minority running a system that works against all our interests. We do not need to simply end poverty and injustice in one or another community: we need to end poverty and injustice for all  by insisting on jobs, healthcare and housing for all people. We do not need to simply stop killing people in the Middle East or in American ghettos: we need to cut military budgets, work for global peace and disarmament, and stop killing people everywhere. That calls for a radically different system than the one under which we live, one that puts the public good before - way before - private profit, and that needed transformation can only come about when we of the majority class unite to bring it about.



Frank Scott’s political commentary and satire is online at the blog legalienate: http//



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Uprising On Main Street

“It really doesn’t matter who gets into office it’s all going to come down to the response of the people.”
       ----------Black Panther Aaron Dixon

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recently wrote that “defund the police” is an ill-advised slogan that will hurt Democrats come November, as though the ongoing mass mobilizations around police brutality weren’t fueled by popular rage at the failure of voting or anything else to offer a path to change. “[If] you take away people’s feelings of personal safety,” warned Brown, “you lose voters.” Ah, feelings! A better word would be illusions. The people for whom the police are a constant predatory menace don’t have any personal safety to lose, and they are in a position to burn the country to the ground, as recent events have shown. If they strike the match, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will not be able to put “personal safety” together again.

Could this alarming prospect be the reason for so much bizarre behavior from those who have long enjoyed the illusion of physical security? Like white protesters in Houston kneeling and praying to black residents to be forgiven their racial sins. Like white police officers in Cary, North Carolina washing the feet of black pastors. Like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer kneeling down dressed in African kente cloth scarves. Like self-flagellating white people all over the country allegedly sickened by a legacy of slavery they know little about, expressing boundless revulsion over their skin color and earnestly demonstrating their utter unfitness to be or do anything. As convincing as their apparent uselessness is, where is the intended benefit?

On the other hand, the Black Lives Matter advice that whites become “allies” of blacks sounds good but lacks clear meaning. Which black people are whites supposed to make themselves allies of? Barack Obama, who recently helped torpedo a promising social democratic revival that could have put real $20 bills in the pockets of the George Floyds of this world, sparing them the horror of fatal police stops over petty or imaginary offenses triggered by poverty? Candace Owens, who dismisses Floyd as a common criminal and drug addict entirely unworthy of our sympathy? The Congressional Black Caucus, which recently voted unanimously to award trillions of dollars in aid to plundering corporations, thus guaranteeing increased suffering for a large majority of African Americans, who had little enough to start with and now must somehow survive with capital consolidating its already massive holdings in the midst of economic collapse and galloping pandemic?

In short, not all blacks are worthy of support, and many whites are so crippled by self-accusation that they are incapable of providing any. Dilemmas like these should make it clear that solving our racial nightmare will demand more than hashtags and sound bites.

One thing that would help everyone is broad popular understanding of the problem. African-Americans are endangered by police, not because of anything they have done, but because of slavery, which was never entirely abolished. The 13th Amendment declares slavery prohibited “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” which allows it to continue under the aegis of the criminal justice system. The state, as opposed to the individual capitalist, has the authority to perpetuate the slave codes, which criminalize black life and masquerade as impartial justice. As a result, our prisons are jammed with black prisoners, many of whom are dispatched to the chain gang, a form of exploitation that proved a boon to rapid industrial development in the late 19th century, and has been enjoying a revival in the era of the “war on drugs.”

Any mention of slavery tends to evoke defensive and dismissive responses from white people, most commonly that slavery is ancient history and hardly an American invention. But in fact slavery was only abolished a century-and-a-half ago, not long in historical time, and was succeeded by Jim Crow, which viciously perpetuated something very much like slavery for another century. And the informal apartheid that exists to this day achieves the same effect as legal segregation did under Jim Crow. Even lynching has not been entirely done away with, as the George Floyd killing attests. The only notable difference between Floyd’s murder and the ritual executions of thousands of African Americans during the Jim Crow era was the people on the sidewalk calling out for mercy: during segregation they would have been cheering the murderer on.

As for slavery in other lands, it carries with it no implications for Americans, and it is Americans we are talking about. In any case, why the constant attempt to evade moral responsibility for slavery? If your child stood accused of burning down the school cafeteria, would you really try to complain that she was being singled out unfairly, since arson has existed all over the world since forever? Probably not.

Discussions of slavery naturally raise the related topic of reparations, some form of which is definitely owed. After all, the industrial revolution was based on cotton, which was produced primarily by slave labor in the United States. Wealth accrued not just to the planter aristocracy of the old South, but also to textile manufacturers in the North and Great Britain, among other commercial and financial beneficiaries forming the core of modern capitalism. As for the slaves, they were not given their “forty acres and a mule” upon their (partial) liberation, which carried severely destructive consequences for the entire society down to the present day.

We can no longer accept refusals to discuss redistribution of the wealth from rich to poor on the grounds that we can’t “just throw money” at problems. Aren’t we doing precisely that right now to shore up capital markets? And aren’t they crashing anyway? It was always ridiculous to claim that the best way to help the poor was to throw money at the rich, but in the midst of an outright depression it’s frankly suicidal. To make a long story short, we cannot confront systemic racism without reversing the gift of trillions of dollars of unearned wealth showered on large corporations in response to the coronavirus crisis. That money should go to areas of popular need, not narrow centers of private greed. Only then can consumption rise, jobs return, and a modicum of justice reign. What are we waiting for?

Equally absurd is the racist ideology underpinning slavery, which posited that Africans needed white guidance to advance on their journey from savagery to civilization. This and other perverse notions took hold of even the most “enlightened” minds. Thomas Jefferson, for example, a child of the Enlightenment and author of the Declaration of Independence, dismissed Indians as "savages" and patronizingly saw blacks as almost equal to whites. They had tolerable memories, he thought, but lacked sufficient intellect to understand Euclid, and were entirely bereft of imagination in his view. Interestingly, brown women attracted Jefferson more than white women, but he was terrified at the prospect of losing racial purity, and looked forward to the day when blacks would be shipped to the Caribbean or returned to Africa, leaving the U.S. “without blot or mixture.”

Elite thought didn’t improve over the next century. At the turn of the 20th century anthropologists placed African Americans somewhere between the great apes and the hominids on the evolutionary scale. Biologists reported that their average brain weight was less than that of Caucasians, and substantially less than that of English-speaking Protestants. Psychologists claimed they were possessed of a primal sexuality and prone to irrationality, especially under stress or in situations of intimacy. Criminologists and eugenicists warned of their allegedly innate brutality and hyper-fertility. Race experts believed they had no mental or physical energy, lacked volition, and worked as little as possible, preferring indolence and sunshine to developing civilized artifacts like architecture or literature. One of the most important books published in 1900 was entitled, “The Mystery Solved: The Negro a Beast.”

Doctors predicted they would die out from disease and perversion.

Today, we see the persistence of such prejudicial attitudes, though now the alleged deficiencies of African Americans are believed to reside in their history or culture, rather than in their very nature. But such explanations “might as well be called genetic,” writes educator Jonathan Kozol, based as they are on presumptions of degradation “imprinted on black people.” Those who continue to disdain them “see a slipshod, deviant nature – violence, lassitude, a reckless sexuality, a feverish need to over-reproduce” as being what they unavoidably are.

But in fact this is not at all what they are, but what a racist society believes them to be. That society, now riven by tribal warfare and in a state of accelerating collapse, will not survive if racism is not rooted out once and for all. 

Fortunately, there are signs of a general awakening to this fact. The popular uprising that greeted the murder of George Floyd has been of unprecedented scope and breadth. Protests more than 100,000 strong broke out in various U.S. cities, with parallel solidarity demonstrations around the world. Unlike police brutality protests of the 1960s, recent demonstrations have included a large number of whites, as well as Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, and people of all ages, along with a large swath of the middle class. A coalition this broad cannot be ignored, especially its central demand: an end to the militarized American police state, which means a change in the very structure of the capitalist state in the United States. 

For the first time in a long time popular forces have seized the initiative and ruling elites are forced to play defense. 


On racist views of African Americans at the turn of the 20th century, see Noel J. Kent – America In 1900, (M. E. Sharpe, 2000); also Willard B. Gatewood, Black Americans and the White Man’s Burden, 1898-1903, (University of Illinois, 1975)

On recent racist stereotypes see Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities, (Harper, 1991)  p. 192
On Thomas Jefferson's views of Africans, see Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire, Vol. 2. (Pantheon, 1987) p. 48

On Jefferson's "without blot or mixture" comment, see Noam Chomsky, "Year 501 - The Conquest Continues," (South End, 1993) p, 22

On possible electoral consequences of protesters' rhetoric, see Willie Brown, "'Defund the police' is bad policy, terrible politics," San Francisco Chronicle, June 13, 2020

On recent bizarre behavior from white people, see Matt Taibbi, "The American Press is Destroying Itself," June 12, 2020
On the economic roots and benefits of slavery see George Yancy and Noam Chomsky, "Noam Chomsky on the Roots of American Racism," March 18, 2015
On the Aaron Dixon quote, see Yoav Litvin, "Living the Panther Dream - An Interview with Black Panther Party Veteran Member Aaron Dixon," Counterpunch, June 19, 2020 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Adventures In White Supremacy

1900: San Francisco
The Chinese
Police harass them. Employers boycott them. Unions shun them.
Widely identified with “gambling dens and slave pens...coolie labor and bloodthirsty tongs,” their civilization is labeled “queer.” The men are said to carry leprosy and the women VD. Whites refuse to have anything to do with them, disdaining “Mongolian coolies” willing to work for the most desperate of wages.
 Segregated in school and refused service in barbershops and restaurants, the Chinese find work in sweatshops, seasonal agriculture, hand laundries, restaurants, and Chinatown groceries. To honor their work as cooks and servants for affluent whites, Harper’s Bazaar praises them as “a yellow blessing.”
In the 1880s anti-Chinese riots drove the yellow blessing from Seattle, Tacoma, Rock Springs, Wyoming, and other cities. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Treaty banned their immigration to the United States. Those already living in the states were denied citizenship. Chinese fathers were separated from their families and if they couldn’t prove their residency pre-dated passage of the treaty they lived in fear of deportation.
Now with treaty renewal pending politicians and newspapers whip up fear of the “yellow peril.” Whites warn that a failure to renew will swamp the West Coast with 400 million “heathen Chinee” and their backward traditions. Alfred Mahan and Teddy Roosevelt decry “race degeneracy” and warn of “race war.” No respectable person can doubt that the Chinese are incapable of citizenship in a democracy.
Bubonic plague breaks out in the City. Mayor James Phelan blames the Chinese. A local labor paper warns of racial conspiracy: “The almond eyed Mongolian is waiting for his opportunity, waiting to assassinate you and your children with one of his many maladies.”17

Source: Noel J. Kent, America In 1900, (M. E. Sharpe, 2000) pps. 105-7

1900: San Francisco
The Japanese
Since the annexation of Hawaii they have flocked to California’s agricultural valleys, where they work on sugar beet, bean, and hops farms, leasing and sometimes buying cropland for truck farms. Labor leaders complain they are taking what belongs to whites.
 Whites see them as greedy, sneaky, and calculating, more energetic and entrepreneurial than the Chinese, which makes them seem even more of a threat to white living standards. According to one labor newspaper, the Chinese are merely a “menace to the country,” whereas “the sniveling Japanese, who swarm along the streets, is a far greater danger to the laboring portion of society than all the opium smoked pigtails.” The U.S. Industrial Commission is of the opinion that “the Japanese...have most of the vices of the Chinese and none of the virtues.”
Speaking at a large anti-Asian rally Mayor Phelan warns that social equality must not be entertained: “The Chinese and Japanese are not bonafide citizens. They are not the stuff of which American citizens can be made.” He insists that drastic action be taken, for the “Asiatic laborers will undermine our civilization.” Stanford Professor Edward Alsworth Ross adds that “it would be better for us to turn our guns upon every vessel bringing Japanese to our shore rather than permit them to land.”
The audience passes a resolution to extend the exclusion treaty to the Japanese.18

Source:  Noel J. Kent, America In 1900, (M. E. Sharpe, 2000) pps. 107-8
1901: Washington
Teddy Roosevelt
War thrills him more than life itself, especially when the “joy of battle” arrives and “the wolf begins to rise in [one’s] heart.” Long will he boast of the Spaniard he killed with his bare hands—“like a jackrabbit”—in 1898.
A passionate devotee of Nordic supremacy, he celebrates settler colonialism in the West as “the spread of the English speaking peoples over the world’s waste of space.” Never has he doubted that the indigenous peoples deserved extermination: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” In his popular book series, “The Winning of the West,” he argued against respecting Indian sovereignty on the pretext that “this great continent could not have been kept as nothing but a game preserve for squalid savages...The man who puts the soil to use must of right dispossess the man who does not, or the world will come to a standstill.”
He has no greater fondness for other non-Nordic peoples. He deems “coloreds” degenerate and looks on Latin peoples as little more than children. When a New Orleans mob lynched a number of Italian immigrants, Teddy told his sister that the lynchings were “rather a good thing,” an opinion he aired at a dinner with “various dago diplomats...all wrought up by the lynching.”
He thinks women exist to give birth, which Nordic mothers should do as often and for as many years as possible. Of serious concern is “the diminishing birth rate among the old native American stock,” so much so that Teddy expresses delight at campaign stops when proud fathers and their depleted wives show up with a huge brood of children in tow. “Did I write you of my delight,” he asked Henry Cabot Lodge the year before last, “at meeting one Hiram Tower, his wife and his seventeen children?”
In his eyes socialism is intrinsically evil and the subjugation of workers by corporations entirely legitimate, although it is “incumbent upon the man with whom things have prospered to be in a certain sense the keeper of his brother with whom life has gone hard.”
Between the captains of industry who starve workers and the unionists who insist they have a right to eat, Teddy recommends government seek a middle ground.24

Sources: Gore Vidal, The American Presidency, (Odonian, 1996-8) pps, 36-8; Robert Shogan, The Double-Edged Sword - How Character Makes and Ruins Presidents, From Washington to Clinton, (Westview, 1999) pps. 58-66;  Page Smith, A People's History Of The Progressive Era and WWI - America Enters the World, (McGraw Hill, 1985) pps. 1-20; Richard Hofstader, The American Political Tradition & The Men Who Made It, (Vintage, 1973)pps. 266-307; Mathew Josephson, The President Makers - The Culture of Politics and Leadership In An Age of Enlightenment, 1896-1919, (Harcourt, 1940) pps. 54-5, 67-8; Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt - A Biography, (Harcourt, 1931), p. 176, 332; Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, (Harper, 1995) p. 293; Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism - A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916, (The Free Press, 1963) p. 76: Walter LaFeber, The American Age - United States Foreign Policy At Home and Abroad since 1750, (W. W. Norton, 1989) p. 158                                  
          1901: Washington
                             The March of Progress
With the U.S. Army converting the Filipino independence movement to mounds of skulls, President Roosevelt delivers the State of the Union address to Congress.
Anglo-Saxons are entitled to direct the affairs of “savages” and “bandits,” he says, because they have evolved to a more advanced state than any other human group. “Our people are now successfully governing themselves because for more than a thousand years they have been slowly fitting themselves...toward this end.” In contrast, not much can be expected of Filipinos because they are starting “very far behind the point which our ancestors had reached even thirty generations ago . . .” Nevertheless, with proper instruction they might become useful in spite of themselves. “We hope to do for them what has never before been done for any people of the tropics—to make them fit for self-government after the fashion of the really free nations.”
 The boundless generosity characteristic of such an endeavor, says TR, marks white America as the most selfless race ever: “History may safely be challenged to show a single instance in which a masterful race such as ours, having been forced by the exigencies of war to take possession of an alien land, has behaved to its inhabitants with the disinterested zeal for their progress that our people have shown in the Philippines.”25

Source: David F. Schmitz, Thank God They're On Our Side - The United States & Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1921-1965, (University of North Carolina, 1999) p. 233

1901: Nationwide
                Negroes: A White Fantasy
One of the most important books published last year was, “The Mystery Solved: The Negro a Beast.”
Anthropologists place them somewhere between the great apes and the hominids. Biologists report their average brain weight is less than Caucasians’ and substantially less than English-speaking Protestants’. Psychologists claim they are possessed of a primal sexuality and prone to irrationality, especially under stress or in situations of intimacy. Criminologists and eugenicists warn of their allegedly innate brutality and hyper-fertility. Doctors predict they will die out from disease and perversion. The expert consensus says blacks have no mental or physical energy, lack volition, and work the least they can get away with. They are bereft of civilized artifacts like architecture or literature and regard indolence and sunshine as the earthly paradise. Their capacity for thought is brutally rudimentary, though exposing them to higher learning somehow threatens to “spoil” their appetite for menial labor.
Summing up the problem Teddy Roosevelt says: “A perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high plane...”
No one thinks he is talking about white people.27

Sources: David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. DuBois - Biography of a Race 1868-1919 (Henry Holt and Co., 1998) pps. 99, 215, 276; Thomas G. Dyer, Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race, (Louisiana State University Press, 1980) p. 110