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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
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White progressives’ racial myopia: Why their colorblindness fails minorities — and the left

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the lifelong crusader for economic justice now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has serious civil rights movement cred: he attended the historic 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a quarter million people changed the country’s course when it came to race. It would be wrong and unfair to accuse him of indifference to issues of racial equality.

But in the wake of his picture-postcard campaign launch, from the shores of Vermont’s lovely Lake Champlain, Sanders has faced questions about whether his approach to race has kept up with the times. Writing in Vox, Dara Lind suggested that Sanders’ passion for economic justice issues has left him less attentive to the rising movement for racial justice, which holds that racial disadvantage won’t be eradicated only by efforts at economic equality. Covering the Sanders launch appreciatively on MSNBC, Chris Hayes likewise noted the lack of attention to issues of police violence and mass incarceration in the Vermont senator’s stirring kick-off speech.

These are the same questions I raised last month after watching Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hail the new progressive movement to combat income inequality at two Washington D.C. events. Both pointed to rising popular movements to demand economic justice, most notably the “Fight for $15” campaign. Neither mentioned the most vital and arguably most important movement of all, the “Black Lives Matter” crusade. (Which is odd, since “Fight for $15″ leaders have explicitly endorsed their sister movement.) And the agendas they endorsed that day made only minimal mention, if they mentioned it at all, of the role that mass incarceration and police abuse plays in worsening the plight of the African American poor.

. . .
Dara Lind points to Sanders’ socialist analysis as a reason he’s reluctant to focus on issues of race: he thinks they’re mainly issues of class. She samples colleague Andrew Prokop’s Sanders profile, which found:

Even as a student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, influenced by the hours he spent in the library stacks reading famous philosophers, (Sanders) became frustrated with his fellow student activists, who were more interested in race or imperialism than the class struggle. They couldn’t see that everything they protested, he later said, was rooted in “an economic system in which the rich controls, to a large degree, the political and economic life of the country.”

Increasingly, though, black and other scholars are showing us that racial disadvantage won’t be undone without paying attention to, and talking about, race. The experience of black poverty is different in some ways than that of white poverty; it’s more likely to be intergenerational, for one thing, as well as being the result of discriminatory public and private policies.

At the Progressive Agenda event last month, I heard activists complain that they’d been told the same thing: the agenda will disproportionately benefit black people, because they’re disproportionately disadvantaged, even if it didn’t specifically address the core issue of criminal justice reform. (De Blasio later promised the agenda would include that issue.) But six years of hearing that from a black president has exhausted people’s patience, and white progressives aren’t going to be able to get away with it anymore.


The Face of Evil

Watch out, no mourning for the dead allowed

Caring about death is merely a ruse to use against the precious rights of the Almighty Guns.
Say you care about the loss of life? You're lying. You only want to make poor, persecuted gun owners feel bad.

You might say, hey, I know gun owners who think the current situation is every bit as crazy as the "gun grabbers" do, who support increased gun control through background checks and bans on certain high capacity weapons. No, they aren't real gun owners. The only true gun owners insist that deaths like these are mere pretext, because what really matters is the Sacred and Inviolate right to accumulate weapons of death, and to ensure the corporate merchants of death reap unfettered profits. (Yes, gun companies are corporations too, even though they merely profit from murder as opposed to usury.)

God Bless the United States of Guns, where the right to kill trumps all others. In Guns we Trust.

I would like to form a sisterhood

of Our Blessed lady of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

Would it be correct to understand that FSM and IPU constitute a binity, much like the Holy Trinity of the Catholic faith?

(On reflection, girlfriend needs a facial waxing).

Question about the noodly appendage of the one true faith

I'm interested in knowing more about your faith, in worship of the great Ramen.
I have a concern. I see several references online to the noodly appendage. This strikes me as a phallic sort of reference.
Is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster patriarchal like other monotheistic religions? Or am I misunderstanding the noodly appendage?

As a ball busting feminist, I wonder if this can be the light and the path for me, or do I first need to bust some meatballs?

Liberalism is a political ideology that accepts the legitimacy of capitalism

Classical liberalism emerged in the late Enlightenment, in the writings of people like Adam Smith and John Locke. It championed the individual as the true repository of rights and promoted free markets. It is the political corollary of capitalism. Liberalism has long been associated with opening up markets and embracing values of individualism over the common good. It's meaning has changed somewhat in the US to refer to the left of a very narrow political spectrum. The left in this country was imprisoned, deported, purged, and blacklisted from the 1910s through the 1950s. It was destroyed. Leftism has traditionally been oriented toward Marxism, toward a critique of capitalism. Liberalism does not challenge capitalism; it seeks to maintain and perpetuate it by--now in US context--taming its excesses. FDR is lauded here as a great liberal president, and indeed he was. His greatest accomplishment lay in shoring up capitalism by co-opting the frustration of people's movements (led by the Communist Party, among others). The focus on FDR as a benevolent benefactor is particularly pernicious because it creates a false expectation that government works for the benefit of the people. The New Deal was made by people's movements; FDR's noblesse oblige enabled him to co=opt their goals and assuage the ravages of capitalism.

We live in a capitalist state. The nature of our government is to serve the interests of capital. No president--even if he wanted to, and none have wanted to--can undo that because the constitution places the values of individualism, which are central to justifications of capital, at its core. The endless fixation on political saviors like FDR, Obama, or Bernie Sanders works against understanding the problem and collective action. It rests hope in a single individual to transform society. The counterpoint to that is projecting all frustrations with that society onto other individuals, like Hillary Clinton or again Barack Obama. Such a focus on particular politicians blinds people to the overall structures that work against their interests and in support of capital.

The problem with liberals imagining they represent the left is that they ignore a whole world of leftist movements throughout the world and in their own nation's history. I have even had people here tell me Che Guevarra was a populist, when in fact he was a revolutionary socialist. Such comments reveal an inability to distinguish movements that challenge capitalism from ones that accommodate it. Populists rev up the population in pursuit of personal power and the ongoing stability of the capitalist state. Socialists seek to overturn capitalism and replace it with collectivism, as in Cuba. Liberals accommodate capitalism, accept structural inequality, and simply seek to lessen it or regain their own position atop the capitalist world order.

I want to thank the defenders of misogyny

for crystallizing in my mind what the true political struggle we face today consists of. For some time, I have experienced hostility for talking about my concerns about violence against women, rape, and human trafficking. I have not once posted a thread about women's issues without having it called flamebait, divisive, or trivial.
I have learned that no issue I care about has consequence to many here: misogynistic language, trivial; rape, exaggeration; inequality under the law as codified in the Hobby Lobby case, "hair on fire," human trafficking, "already illegal" and not worth bothering about.

Now I see that considerable numbers of people find it impossible to relinquish what they see as their right to verbally abuse women like me (no I am not speaking for all women and certainly not for the ones who prefer abuse to respect). There should be nothing controversial about the idea that human beings deserve to be treated with respect. All human beings, full stop. Yet somehow when those human beings are women, we are told respect doesn't matter.

This comes in the context of political discussions about which issues and segments of the population the party should represent. I have for some time witnessed a politics of exclusion, where a few seek to make the party smaller and smaller so that it represents only people who think and live exactly like them. The banning of a member, one whom I also liked and will miss, has become yet another opportunity to target feminists and women, even though it was a male administrator who PPR'd him. Feminists are again scapegoated by those who lack the courage to confront the people actually responsible for the banning. The fault must be uppity women who refuse to keep quiet and accept their verbal degradation by a privileged minority.

I have learned than when it comes to issues of gender, I cannot count on many of you to champion my rights. I have learned my rights are not merely inconsequential to many here, they are seen as something to target, to eliminate.

Many here have defined the electoral choices as between "Third Way" and "real Democrats' or Wall Street and Main Street. I reject that definition, and I might be more sympathetic to those concerns if my own were not treated with such hostility and contempt. For me the political struggle is about entitled privilege of the few vs. the rights of the many. I will not sit back while my rights are belittled and undermined. When I can't even count on people to treat me as a human being, I certainly can't trust them to make my rights a priority. I now know that I MUST focus on my rights because there are too many who claim to be on the left that seek to erode them. There is indeed an us vs. them, but for me the them is white male entitlement, a desire to take the Democratic Party back to serve the interests of the privileged few over the many. I will not be complicit in that. I will instead stand up for my rights as a woman because clearly they are under assault from all quarters.

I like Sanders. I agree with his policies on most issues, but I loathe the exclusionary politics I see emerging in support of him, likely through no fault of his own. Thanks to the defenders of misogyny, I have learned that gender does matter in a political candidate, as does a history of fighting for women's rights as I understand them. For that reason I will be caucusing for Hillary Clinton, and I may well campaign for her. The discussion over the past few days here and the refusal to concede that women deserve to be treated with respect has shown me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vitriol toward Clinton is the expression of an entitled few desperate to hang on to their own privilege. Clinton threatens male privilege, and that is ultimately a pernicious and deep-seeded form of power. If you all were challenging capital itself, I might set aside my concerns about gender inequality, but there is no such critique here. Instead, there is merely an effort to regain your own position atop the capitalist world order. You all put your own rights first, which is understandable. Now I will put mine first. I will cast my vote in opposition to white male rule.

The term is meant to insult

That is its only purpose. If one did not mean to offend, they would choose a different word. It has a clear meaning, not one some people later determine because they want to excuse bad behavior. I'm sorry that you don't find bigotry an outrage. Clearly you do not share the commitment to human equality that the OP and some others do and you instead choose to promote the privilege of a select, entitled minority. That is precisely how power and inequality are perpetuated. Language signals how people see the world. NYCSkp made a mistake. What is more offensive to me is that so many who pretend to be liberals defend bigoted slurs, thus promoting a system of inequality that benefits the few at the expense of the many. It shows that the concerns some have raised about a politics that excludes the voice and concerns of the majority is alive and well. The language, and most importantly the unyielding defense of language, shows a clear intent to exclude. I find inequality in all its manifestations outrageous. I believe human beings are all equal and worthy of respect. I used to think that was a core believe to anyone who claimed to be a liberal. I have learned that is sadly not the case, which is precisely why many do not feel they can count on a self entitled minority to see to their rights, when they have made clear repeatedly that they see them as less. I find it outrageous that people claiming to be liberals show an ideology identical to the right when it comes to gender (and often race). I find this exclusionary politics for the few and by the few offensive.

NYCSkp was PPR'd by the administrators, but we once again see that feminists and women are scapegoated. His banning is a mere pretext for the performance of power and privilege that is at the heart of restorationist, reactionary politics. I also find it unfortunate, but not at all surprising, that those targeting feminists lack the courage to confront the administrators responsible for the banning. That the go to position is to scapegoat women speaks to the very mentality that leads one to use and defend such words. Scapegoating is often what those lacking the courage to confront power do.

You are indeed outraged, only it is not by bigotry. You instead are outraged that women are demanding to be treated with respect. Your outrage is that we do not stay in our place, the same outrage that leads people to insult a presidential candidate with the foulest word in the English langauge one can use toward women. To pretend the intent it to do anything but degrade and offend doesn't pass the smell test.

The sisters of perpetual outrage are also outraged by the system of inequality that leads 20 percent of women to be raped in their lifetimes and more subject to domestic violence. We are also outraged by the fact that only 4 percent of rapists are convicted. We are also outraged by SCOTUS decisions allowing private companies to treat us as less under the law. We are told all of those issues are less important than the white male bourgeoisie cares about, just as bigotry against us is ridiculed. We are told that equal pay for equal work and EEOC regulations are unimportant. The clear message is that those issues are less because we as human beings are less, which is precisely what that bigoted term conveys.

You go ahead and ridicule bigotry against half the population. Treat is as a joke, just as the right does. But don't for a second think we are going to sit back and do your political bidding, affirm your privilege and promote your interests while you ridicule ours. You and your like-minded friends have demonstrated that you are not our allies, and you do not seek to create a better society based on inequality. So you go ahead and try to carry out your political reform for the few and by the few. You will not succeed, and statements like this and the patronizing attitude shown toward other subaltern groups demonstrate why. Don't expect me to give a flying fuck about your job when you take my equal rights as a joke. I will not be supporting the white male middle-class and upper-middle class' efforts to take the country back. In fact, I will do everything in my power to dislodge the gender, race, and class privilege the self-entitled believe is their birthright. I am making the erosion of white male supremacy my mission.

Thank you for convincing me that I cannot count on men, or women similarly oriented in ideology, to uphold my rights, that even when they claim to be on the left they are fully capable of being every bit as dismissive of my rights and my humanity as any right winger. You have convinced me that gender does in fact matter in a political candidate. The ongoing effort to exclude more and more Americans from the body politic has been going on for sometime, but his scapegoating is the last straw. I will look after my own rights because it's pretty clear the rest of you have no intention of doing so.

Now I shall change my sig line.

If it bothers you to avoid using bigoted speech

Don't sign up for a website with terms of service that prohibits it. If you feel the need to insult people based on gender, race, or sexuality, ask yourself why you see the subaltern as so inferior to the privileged. DU isn't a Hollywood movie. It's a political site organized around support for the Democratic Party, the majority of which is comprised of women. I take this PSA about some movie as a pretext because I seriously doubt you think anyone cares about some random movie and that your post instead is aimed at people who seek to uphold respect in use of language about and to women.

Language is important because it signals meaning. This is not the UK or Australia. This is the US, and it is a website that is supposed to be frequented by people who respect members of the population regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. The only way we know one another is through our words, and using bigoted language signals clear meaning. If language is incidental, so are your posts and those of every other member of this site.

I submit that repeating and justifying such language perpetuates bigotry. It is not acceptable among any civilized people or anyone who has even a modicum of respect for their fellow citizens. If, however, people have nothing to say but merely wish to express hatred, those are the go to terms. That is in fact their purpose. I myself have a pretty foul mouth in real life, but I know when I can use certain words and when I can't. Even so, that particular word isn't part of my repertoire. In fact, none of the foul words I use are about race, gender, or sexuality. There are so many other options, that one only turns to those words when the point is to demean someone for a mere accident of birth. Since I don't wish to convey such meaning, I choose different words. To pretend there is something odd about being offended by words that are in fact INTENDED to offend is ridiculous.

During a time when we have debate about whether the Democratic party is to serve the interests of the white middle class or of the mosaic that makes up America, justifying the use of such language makes clear where people stand on that issue. It contributes to an exclusionary politics, of the few and by the few.

I also find it wholly offensive that people are blaming and targeting women by repeating and justifying bigotry rather than taking their complaints to the administrators. It once again reaffirms my view that too many favor a society that promotes their own interests to the exclusion of the majority, a majority they feel fit to demean with bigoted language. Political views are not separate from language, and we see in this case they mirror each other precisely.

I find it unfortunate that some have used NYCSkp's banning to target the subaltern. Like so many other events that have transpired on this site, women and feminists in particular are again scapegoated, even though it was a man who banned NYCSkp. Thus we see the banning is merely pretext for the far more pernicious performance of privilege.

We live in a world where the population on this site is the minority, everywhere but on this little corner of the internet. In no place is America is the population so white, so elderly, and so affluent. What we witness here is angst about the changing demographics in American society and the fact that people now have to compete on a more equal playing field. So we have on one hand men telling women what their political concerns should be and who best represents their interests, and we have a similar demonstration by whites over people of color. We have post after post recalling the halcyon days of the Democratic party, of FDR and JFK, a party that served the interests of the white middle class to the exclusion of the majority. No matter how many times people have it pointed out that the party also supported Jim Crow in those years and that the majority of Americans were denied basic rights and lived in crippling poverty, a few continue to hearken back to a period when their own group prospered at the expense of the majority. Now we see that same determination to regain lost privilege through language. It is become crystal clear to me that I am witnessing a politics of exclusion posing as liberalism/leftism. The promotion and defense of bigoted language conforms with that exclusionary politics.

I think it would help if self-proclaimed leftists quit targeting ordinary Democrats

and the subaltern in particular as the enemy. There is a clear sense that anyone who disagrees with a select few, or who has different priorities, is "Third Way," engaged in corporate propaganda. I even saw one person insist that corporations had sent women and people of color into the Democratic party to subvert it from its true message, which evidently is to promote the interests of the white middle class only. People claim to resent corporate influence, but spend all of their time at war with other Democrats, usually less privileged than themselves. Many here have made the enemy other Democrats, the working poor, women, and people of color. They claim to do so in the name of anti-corporatism (notably, never a critique of capital itself but only their own resentment that they no longer sit atop the capitalist world order as they think is their birthright.), but in fact they make clear that their enemy is the people, those far less fortunate that them who have issues far more central to worry about than which political elite gets what cabinet positions. My point is that those people who believe that only their way is legitimate, that insult and deligimate huge swaths of the population as not true Democrats, as allied with corporations, are waging war on the subaltern. Their speak from a position of class and race entitlement and treat those who dare to believe their rights matter as inferior. They think they are entitled to decide what real black people want, and when people of color tell them their concerns, they dismiss them out of hands. The irony of these people of financial means, of race, class and sometimes gender privilege attacking anyone who focuses on issues related to their lives rather than forsaking all that for the interests of the self-entitled members of the white upper-middle class as on the side of Goldman Sachs and the 1 percent is the height of conceit. It's the kind of bourgeois elitism that is only possible when one comes from considerable privilege, which makes the arrogance of accusing those far less financially well off and subject to daily discrimination as being corporate sell outs shows a shocking level of arrogance.

They are not leftists because their ideology is one that wages war on the subaltern. It is not coincidental that they target the same people the GOP does. Their project is one of class and race entitlement, which seeks to restore their own privilege and refuse to as much as consider that anyone outside their select circle of self-entitled blowhards could possibly have a concern that matters. We see it in this thread. People of color need to adopt their agenda. They say that's what matters. What others think is meaningless. This group of posters on DU who think of themselves as the only true Democrats are a minority demographic, not only within the party but within the nation. As much as they clearly wish it were otherwise, they only place they are the majority is on this website. They can continue to engage in vitriol against Democratic voters; they can dismiss the concerns of women and people of color by insisting "corporations" have planted them in poor communities throughout America to pretend to be Democrats and contaminate the party; they can defend the Klan to make their illicit case against Democratic politicians and Democratic voters, including those from groups targeted by the Klan, but their politics is one destined for failure. Just like the GOP, theirs is demographic that is dying out, and I say that God for that because those self-entitled elitists are no better and no different from the bankers they claim to resent. They are every bit as contemptuous of the needs of the many as any mega billionaire.

Why would I join with people who insist I have no right to articulate my own interests? Why would I join with people who treat me as less than shit on the bottom of their shoe? Why would I join with people who dismiss and target for removal from the site the handful of remaining posters of color and have already been successful in using the jury system to rid the site of many feminists? Why would I join with people who think the only thing that matters is some fixation they have with the machinations of the political elite and express nothing but contempt for the majority of Americans who care about their civil rights and their basic sustenance? There is no basis for common ground because we do not share the same goals. Their goal is to restore the party and the country to a time of "real Democrats" like FDR and JFK, a time period when the majority of Americans were denied basic civil rights and lived in crippling poverty. They seek to regain what they see as their rightful place atop the capitalist world order. They don't challenge capital or inequality itself but rather merely lament the recent decline of their class. For those of us who care about something other than the plight of the white middle and upper-middle class, there is no common ground to find. There is such a great distance between what they claim to care about and how they treat and talk about the subaltern that it's clear to me that that theirs is a narrow class project. I don't embrace their agenda of elitism, and I will not join in treating the poor and disenfranchised like shit because they don't go along with their bourgeois agenda. I build alliances with people who share my values for social and economic justice and equal rights. There are a few here who share those values, but there are also some very active, self-entitled posters who make clear they have nothing but contempt for the majority of the nation. I find them foul, reactionary to their very core, and their values and actions repulse me. Leftism is not rule of the few by the few, which is exactly what they seek to impose. It is all of us having a voice and a say in our political and social agenda. People who cannot recognize something so basic, who work to exclude the majority from the body politic, advance nothing but their own elitist intra-group interests. Even if I wanted to find common cause with such people, they allow no space for it since their entire political ethos is based on exclusion.

Here's a crib note version: if one's sole or primary concern is where power in the Democratic party lies, he/she must lead a pretty charmed life. Most people think about things related to their daily lives--how to get a job, put food on the table, make sure their kids get a half-decent education and aren't shot by police, or trying to keep themselves safe from domestic and sexual violence. The privilege that enables people to prioritize intra-party politics above concerns of daily life doesn't make you a better person or a better Democrat. It just means you're damn fortunate, and really, you ought to realize that rather than demonizing people who see politics differently.

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