Monday, March 13, 2017

This Week in White Supremacy

It can be hard for a white person to recognize white supremacy. Cue the analogies of fish and water, forests and trees. We don't even know we think we're better than everyone else because we've been told it constantly from the day we were born.

But here are a few more obvious examples.

Iowa Rep. Steve King tweeted yesterday in reference to the Dutch nationalist candidate Geert Wilders:

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.
Restore civilization? Has civilization been destroyed? Whose paranoid worldview is that?

But the bigger problem with King's statement is that, since any one individual can have no more than 10 or 20 children personally, what other kind of children is there than "somebody else's babies"? Oh, I see, Rep. King doesn't mean somebody other than his babies personally.  He means somebody other than white people's babies.

What else could it mean? He knows which "we" he's talking about, and so should the rest of us.

But maybe he didn't mean it. Maybe he mistweeted.

Nope. King went on CNN this morning and was asked if he really meant what he said. He said that he did, and "refused repeated questions on whether he views all Americans as equal and said ‘certain groups of people’ contribute less to society,’” He even said this:
“I’d like to see an America that’s just so homogenous [sic] that we look a lot the same, from the same perspective.”
Oh, and as a throwaway, he spat out this bit of stupidity: “There’s AN American culture.”

None of this is surprising for a guy who said most of the young people who got quasi-legal status under the DREAM Act were hauling "75 pounds of marijuana across the desert" and have "calves the size of cantaloupes" and who said on live TV that white people have contributed more to civilization than "any other subgroup of people." (Here's a summary of King's supremacist comments through July 2106.)

King's tweet has so far been endorsed by Klansman David Duke, the Daily Stormer Nazi newspaper, and neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.

Most of the folks I follow on Twitter weren’t approving:
To the voters in Iowa, if Steve King is your district, condemn his racism! His office number is 202-225-4426.

In the ugly future when the history of the rebirth of American eugenics is written, it will be titled Someone Else’s Babies.
—Jelani Cobb

The USA is the most creative, prosperous and powerful nation ever created. This US Congressman has absolutely no idea how that happened.
—Garry Kasparov

My ancestors were brought here in chains. I’m the daughter of a veteran. But to Steve King, my family and I are just “somebody else’s babies.”
—Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)

If you can watch this clip of Steve King and think he has any business in Congress, then I don't know what to say to you.
—Jared Yates Sexton

So Steve King making racist comments on Twitter isn't new but getting CNN time to actively propose ethnic cleansing seems new and alarming.

Not to mention the fact that diversity *within* our species is what preserves us from extinction.
—Ebony Elizabeth

Came home from [watching the movie] "Get Out" to Steve King’s tweet about "somebody else's babies." We built this nation by enslaving somebody else's babies.
—Joan Walsh
Some of the comments turned to how King’s white supremacist statement was being covered, especially in the New York Times, which said King has a history of making “inflammatory statements viewed by many as insensitive or outright racist.” Anand Giridharadas wrote in a series of tweets:
A journalistic norm that's gotta go: refusing to call white racism white racism, outsourcing the job to "critics." When journalists use "inflammatory," "incendiary," and "controversial," it is often a way of avoiding saying what the thing is themselves.

We don't need to say "critics said" something echoes white nationalism. That is a factual observation that we should let a reporter make. To call a racist statement "inflammatory" is to judge it by the effect it has on others, causing inflammation, not by its intrinsic content.

A racist statement is a thing. A factually observable thing. Summon your courage, reporters, and call it when you see it. Finally, racism, when uttered by a congressman talking of policy, is an ideology. It is irresponsible not to tell us that this is happening.
Others criticized the Times this way:
The way it's written makes it sound like the “story” is people were outraged instead of it being about what he said.

So much craven hedging:
“Inflammatory” = racist;
“Seen as” = are;
“Echoing” = embodying;
“White nationalism” = white supremacy.
—Gordon Gartrelle

Meanwhile, a young, brown-skinned woman named Shree Chauhan was at an Apple store in the D.C. area a couple of days ago when she happened to come in contact with President Turnip's press secretary Sean Spicer at the Genius Bar. She says she wouldn't usually say anything to a public person like this (having come across people like Sonia Sotomayor and Chuck Grassley in the past), but she felt a responsibility to all of us to use the opportunity.

And, like any good millennial, she got a video of the exchange on her phone. If you watch it, you'll see that she asks him — in what I hear as a pretty calm, nonconfrontational voice, all things considered — “Have you committed treason too, like the president? What can you tell me about Russia?” He turns away from her and a little while later, she asks, “You know you work for a fascist, right? How do you feel about that? How do you feel about destroying our country?” As he completes his transaction and starts to leave, her voice goes up a just a bit, the way a reporter’s might as a politician avoids interaction. But that's it. Nothing physical, not even yelling or even sounding upset as much as I know I would if I were in that situation.

At some point during the exchange, Spicer says to her, semi-audibly, “Such a great country that allows you to be here.” It’s around the 18 second mark. I didn’t hear it the first time I watched it, and neither did Chauhan. But he clearly says it.

As she wrote in a post about the confrontation, “It’s one thing to have a Twitter egg say you do not belong in America, it is quite another to have the Press Secretary of the United States of America do so.”

So that's what Sean Spicer really thinks: A brown woman is lucky to be "allowed" in this country.

There were lots of thoughts on this from Twitter, of course:
In which a white man who happens to be White House press secretary tells a brown woman that America is great because it lets her exist.
—Anand Giridharadas

When Sean Spicer gets questions from a real American, he says the U.S. "allows" her to be here. Because she's brown.
 —Anil Dash

(I hear this from white dudes on twitter every time I write anything)
—Nichole Chung

"Allowed": a diptych:

–Daniel José Older
Now I imagine this young women will be subject to all of the hatred and threats that come to anyone (especially women of color) who dare to speak. I wish her safety, and thank her for speaking for us.


One last quote from Steve King on CNN this morning:
[They're] living in enclaves, refusing to assimilate into the American culture and civilization. Some embrace it, yes. But many are two and three generations living in enclaves that are pushing back now and resisting against the assimilation.
King was talking about immigrants, but turn that statement 90 degrees and he could just as easily be talking about white evangelicals like Betsy DeVos, with their kids in Christian school or home-schooled, supporting Christian colleges. Who's the bigger threat to "our" culture?

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