Genopolitics and the American priorities
By Kweli Nzito, Ph.D.
The run up to the American presidential elections has been amply inundated with "expert" political analyses and forecasts from an assortment of think tanks and polls each endowed with its own unique margin of error, as to ostensibly render superfluous any added commentary from outside the traditional, entrenched -- mainstream if you will (and White of course) -- sources of wisdom. That said however, a habitual theme of the American presidential campaign should hardly escape an outside gazer's notice and one that warrants some mention: the shallowness of the protagonists, the two plus years of crass showmanship leading to a predictable anti climax; and a conspicuous absence of serious introspection, thus nurturing and sustaining the shallowness. Of no trivial import, is the extravagance unleashed onto this otherworldly enterprise that would in the end give way to four years of yet more surreal political gamesmanship, setting the stage for the cycle to replicate itself. In a manner of speaking, the end of history has paradoxically assumed cyclical dimensions in the land of the end of history, robbing the onlooker of any anticipation, zeal or curiosity as to what may lie beyond the end.
Perhaps this jealously guarded article of faith, this culture that borders on a sect of finality, carries a subliminal power that delivers its devotees to a daze and an accompanying distaste for change. And if democracies were to become inimical to meaningful change from within, only then would the notion of the end of history begin to make sense. But then democracies would cease to be what they claim: vital agencies for change, starting from the inside. On the other hand, if the advent of democracy were to herald the end of history, it would surely presage a stagnant democracy. The return of George Bush to the White House gives the world an added four years of the end of history and the re-emergence of democracy with a self-righteous, fundamentalist twist. Bear in mind that historically, it has been this pious constituency that has embraced Bush, that monopolizes this country's rich and varied traditions of racism.
Dr. Martin Luther King's celebrated notion of White collective amnesia may well constitute a presenting symptom of this malady. He was then referring to the gruesome racist manifestations of his day. At the time, the racist rank and file dedicated itself to the crude notions of White supremacy with equal passion that they now invest in this newly found supremacist ideology of the end of history. Both constructs – the unsophisticated and the fine-tuned doctrine -- are premised on finality that in turn draws its inspiration from a collective sense of superiority, one brute, the other purportedly subtle, scholarly and race neutral. The consequences of the first construct were suffered and continue to be suffered by Native and African Americans at home, imperial adventures in colonizing and brutalizing natives abroad. The brunt of the other is being borne by Iraq, Haiti, Afghanistan, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba, as the bulk of humanity perilously hangs onto the margins of globalization. On a finer level, the elections have become a dreary refrain of the manifestations of this creed of finality that was brazenly executed during George Bush's first coming: his inability to comprehend, let alone care, about the consequences of his reckless war games, his cavalier repudiation of civilized world opinion, his deceit and the doggedness with which he stuck to his lies and his guns, now trained on innocent Iraqi civilians, an estimated 100,000 of whom have perished and still counting.
Inasmuch as racism manifests itself in brutal asymmetries of relationship between the racist tribe and the Other, interaction within the racist clan – the housekeeping variety as it were -- can be equally intriguing insofar as it might reveal the big bang moment of the astounding phenomenon of the sociopathologies of racist culture, mores and norms. Such in-house goings on are off limits even to a select group of sporadically recruited underlings, a la Condi Rice, Collin Powell, Alan Keyes and company, by-products of an affirmative action gone mad with a Republican detour. The insiders' fireside electoral campaign chats are calculated to give fresh expression to a cultural imperative that racism has always been. It is a renovation project for an exclusive clubhouse intended to lend luster to a hideous phenomenon. Racism refurbished remains racism nonetheless. The hustle and bustle of November 2nd presidential elections then provided a fitting camouflage for the housekeeping parties that decisively voted Bush in and Kerry out. Flip sides of the same coin were earnestly engaged in a brawl for legitimacy. The coin's duller, rustier and less subtle side won. The feat was accomplished this time around requiring no help from pregnant chads. We are witnessing the re-inauguration and consolidation of a second republic of post-modern redneckism. The second coming of the messiah president is now upon us. America's very own Bin Laden has put theirs on notice. The latter's kinfolk can now expect four more years of death, mayhem (it has been decided that the Other side shall comprise no innocents), rape, torture, pederasty (and please no leaked videotapes this time!), with a generous helping of White America's gunboat democracy.
The colored native abroad over much of recorded imperial history has unwittingly inspired a glut of epistemological, sociological and literary disciplines among White Westerners. Chief among them is that of anthropology, which until recently was disdainfully defined as the study of savages and their despicable ways. No less figures than the allegedly liberal-minded British philosopher Bertrand Russell and White America's David Thoreau succumbed to the occasional temptation of using these epithets of currency in their time. Regardless, the discipline was an indispensable companion to the process of viciously colonizing the native in order to relieve him of his flawed traits, uncouth personality and behaviors that defied White imagination. The point to be made here is the striking want of anthropological disciplines designed to throw light on a race bent on dominating others whose principal "flaw" has been to live out their customs in all their diversity and differences, unimpeded. They had been held hostage to blank promises of "freedom" from those who subjugated them in the first place. That logic continues to play itself out in the politics of White power, despite the new language invented to disguise the beast. And if there is little to commend in Dubya's triumph, the voting patterns simply crystallized what has always held: racism is alive and well in "traditional America". An in-your-face election yielded nothing less than the predictable in-your-face outcome. It also drew the fateful line as to how far White liberals could go beyond the anyone-but-Bush crap.
It would appear that far fewer studies issue from scholars of color devoting themselves to analyzing White culture, than White studies on the Other. These largely White disciplines followed their natural course in the quest for scientific authority related to notions of supremacy and the Other's worthlessness, culminating in the now infamous bell curve. If it is fair game to bell curve the Other, then the Other should not be faulted for wanting to comprehend the mindset of those who have variably colonized, killed, demonized, dehumanized, dispossessed and patronized his societies. So, might these presidential elections then be manifestations of possible genetic determinants expressing themselves in the political arena? No matter, this unseemly proposition still merits study, since colored folk around the world have had to endure far worse scholastic propositions, including genetic defects, as rationales for their domination and for the express amusement of imperial White academia. At the very least, the cyclical campaign trends leading to drab discourse, two-party festivities, wired candidates addressing a wired public, should arouse curiosity as to possible origins of the arrant recurring nonsense foisted on Americans and the world. It is doubtful, conventional self-serving, self-reinforcing White media analyses would do justice to this complex phenomenon. It is from unconventional outsider thought and study, that campaign and other political ailments afflicting the White mainstream might be diagnosed.
Polls reveal that a decisive element that tipped the elections in George Bush's favor was "moral values". The same polls obliquely connected their findings to the geographical distribution of a constituency that holds those "moral values" dear to them. As the states that favored George Bush (aptly colored red) rapidly filled the TV screen and John Kerry's states in blue slowly embellished the wings of the country, a pattern soon emerged: the Bible and racist belts rolled into one was talking. It is within this belt that racism had historically and stubbornly clung to its cruder edition, taking ages in coming to terms with its untenable ideology and its divinely ordained manifestations, yielding to internal pressure to refashion its language and style, but not its substance. Alas, the red quilt spreading over states in much of the interior of the country was covering vintage cowboy country and former slavery country. But White moral values, so it would seem, went conspicuously deficient of any mention in the unrelenting campaign rhetoric -- curiously referred to as "debates" that had no winners or losers -- the wanton killing, maiming, torturing and invading of the Other in his homeland, the Other having posed no threat whatever to White America. Save for a few faltering steps of Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean in the democratic primaries, any serious opposition to war as a moral issue in the campaign was quickly laid to rest. The surviving moral issue left was gay marriage and abortion. Of course, the disenfranchisement of those incarcerated (the majority of whom are African Americans and other minorities) by the system for a variety of offenses was not deemed worthy of moral consideration either. Should George W. Bush also not have suffered the same fate for his DUI conviction? In fact, the nation was being treated to two versions of the same imperial theme of criminal conquest and subjugation; all was being done supposedly for the safety and security of the world's mightiest and most ruthless war machine, equaled only by its client state, Israel.
Curiously, White American democracy is incensed with changing Others in larger measure than it is likely to concede the need to reform itself. As to the remote possibility of Others changing White America, accumulated evidence would judge this to be a pipe dream. A manifest lack of imagination in the American body politic is abundantly clear since the inception of this political culture: a measly two ways have been devised and instituted to skin a political cat: Democratic and Republican. Social and political upheavals as a rule galvanize a people into initiating action for change, at times requiring grave sacrifices and often with grave results. America has had its fair share of upheavals, none of which appear to have succeeded in dismantling this archaic mirror-image variety of politics. The two-party (others unceremoniously come and go) system seems to have locked its adherents in an uncompromising mode. A comparable pattern of compulsive behavior in any other living system would prompt studies intended to unravel the genetic basis of such aberrant behaviors. The political straitjacket in which American politics plays itself out domestically and abroad, arrogance in dealings with issues deemed uncomfortable and distorting them for comfort and self-esteem, health care abandoned to the ideals of wealth care, constitutes little more than an assured return to the drab routine of spent politics, with a heavy price tag for those unwelcome to the fireside chats.
Devotees innocently declare themselves " I am a Democrat" or " I am a Republican" (with an occasional mutational, usually transient, fray into the other camp), analogous to innocuously identifying oneself as a diabetic. The pattern, with occasional exceptions inherent in biological systems, even displays familial traits ("our family is Democrat or Republican"). A decisive moment in the struggle that African Americans waged to assert their humanity (the so-called civil rights era) in a society that for long appropriated for itself the right to deny them that humanity, was for African Americans to categorically disregard and circumvent the pig-headed barrier that the bipartisan system had placed in their path. The wall of incarceration had to be obliterated to create space and time to impose a telling impact. Thus the possibilities of forcing meaningful change for them laid outside, not inside, a prescribed and intractable system. The result of acquiescence to bipartisan politics that we now see in an era where the struggle for justice and equality for African Americans and other minorities are no less urgent, knocking on the door of the very same system is unlikely to yield much territory. Hence progress toward this end, in the post "civil rights" era has been decidedly slower and likely to remain so if an unwarranted faith in a system hostile to change remains. If democracies are about numbers, then should the voices of significant minorities be allowed to remain buried in the rhetoric of denial? The system has as yet to provide an answer. The answer must therefore issue from the lessons learned from past experience with newer methods to confront a refined version of old ills. The patient must be his own therapist and this cat must not yield to the bipartisan skinning mode.
By Kweli Nzito, Ph.D. (Dr. Nzito lives in Florida)
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This site may at times contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml