[-empyre-] performance, street

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Nov 15 00:42:06 EST 2014

(Thanks, thinking about what Yoko wrote)

I want to bring up a current issue here, in the U.S., our President, and 
the racism that seems to follow him and ingrain itself deeper in this 
country on a daily basis. I remember Boehner saying that if Obama tried to 
push immigration reform, he'd "get burned" - and no one would use an 
expression like that if Obama were white. This kind of cant-talk, hidden 
talk, this performance of racism, this _racism,_ occurs daily here; you 
can hear it on talk radio, on the shortwave, in the streets. When we were 
in Halifax, a friend of ours told us about a tour bus driver, a friend of 
his, who drove cruise ship passengers around Halifax. They were almost all 
white and from the U.S. He was asked what the passengers talked about, and 
he said it was about "the n- in the White House." I hear stuff like this 
and you know it goes on across the U.S., Ferguson being a great example of 
performance-America so to speak. I cannot personally imagine what it's 
like growing up Black here, what's it's like being Latino, being "illegal" 
(the real illegals were the whites who came here and seized Native Amerian 
lands, as Roger Williams was fond of pointing out), being anything other 
than a white Christian male - and these last dominate the culture, no 
matter how many tokens are found everywhere. Performance? Look at the 
performance of erecting racial barriers, from the US/Mexican wall to the 
redrawing of voting districts, to increasing requirements for voting in 
order to exclude anyone who's not white. These are performances, and the 
hatred is palpable. The U.S. is now statistically the 2nd most religious 
country in the world, after Saudi Arabia (of course this depends on what 
parameters are used), has the greatest prison population in the world (2.3 
million as of last count, 25% of the world's prison population in 
general), etc. etc. I don't know where I'm going with this, but I'm old 
enough to have participated in demonstrations in the 60s, and feeling, 
finally, that the country was turning around to a more just and open 
society; now, while there are some important victories (extending marriage 
rights for example), we seem to be sliding backwards. Our prisons are 
privatized for example, and there was an article a couple of years ago in 
Mother Jones about the better treatment in Iranian prisons than here.
We perform. We perform _white_ as a country. We have the greatest 
disparity between rich and poor in the world. We perform Occupy, and I 
think that, basically, all that leftists have left is that - the ability 
to perform on the other side, to make very little difference at all. Obama 
(whom I love) is now going for that immigration reform, and he will be, he 
will be burned - "RANGOON, Burma - President Obama on Friday refused to 
change his plans to overhaul the immigration system through executive 
action even if the move sets up a showdown with newly empowered 
congressional Republicans who have vowed to fight him." yes yes yes, and 
the next things to tackle are climate change (there isn't any, it's not 
our fault), evolution (created as a conspiracy to DOUBT THE WORD OF GOD), 
etc. etc.

Apologies for this rant, which may have no place here, I'm frightened of 
this country; our greatest performance is the transformation of social 
change into non-performance, is adopting coded language, is adapting that 
language to gather strength, to gather white male Christian strength 
(which is increasingly a minority position in the U.S. but with 
corporations now defined as persons, who cares?), to purify on a slow 
burner what ISIS is doing on a hot.

(Obviously the differences are enormous, but here we are now, making fun 
of the left and Democrats, taking apart everything some of us once stood 
for, that everything which made a difference.)

- Alan

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