Imagine stories around a campfire…
a mystical möbius hopes to create a space that feels like sitting around a (digital) campfire.
So that no one misses the point
Last week (see American civil war revisited?) I drew a clear line in the sand regarding one of the patently immoral portions of the MAGA phenomenon. I linked to an opinion article by Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper man, Eugene Robinson, entitled, “Trump is shouting his racism. He must be stopped.“ Robinson beautifully and concisely captures something that has fueled my writing here on the blog these past four months or so. He writes [my emphasis]:
But Trump is intentionally aggravating our racial divisions rather than making even a halfhearted attempt to soothe them. And his Republican supporters and enablers, who see what he is doing but do not call him out, richly deserve to share history’s blame.
Since the killing of George Floyd in May, the country has been rocked by protests demanding a reckoning with centuries of structural racism. In response, Trump has gone beyond denying that systemic racism against African Americans exists. He has taken the position that it is White people who are somehow being persecuted and should feel aggrieved.
Well, that describes some real Trumpian chutzpah right there!
Robinson rightly observes that Trump basically shouts: White people … are … being persecuted [by being confronted with the reality of our (extant) systemic White supremacist racism] and [therefore, white people] should feel aggrieved.
How dare anyone call-out over four hundred years of very dark and oppressive history that resulted from White supremacist ideology!?!
We recall that this is not really a complicated matter as America was conquered and colonized by Europeans. White supremacist ideology originated in Europe and organically traveled to the United States of America through immigrants.
Important to note, the racialized notion of “Whiteness” originated in modernist Christian theology (cf., Race: A Theological Account, J. Kameron Carter). Carter writes:
“This prelude engages Irenaeus’s critique of and response to Valentinianism in such a way as to show how his diagnosis of the Valentinian approach to knowing reality (Gnosis)—indeed, to knowing the human in multiple natures—provides a way of similarly diagnosing how modern racial discourse generally and whiteness in particular (as the point from which to organize and ‘know’ the world) was born within and subsequently functioned inside the discourse of theology, thus making theology in the modern setting, certainly from the perspective of the subaltern of the colonized and enslaved, a discourse of racial-colonial death.” [p 13]
The American iteration of White supremacy (e.g., justified/driven by religion) put U.S. racism on steroids—e.g., our legacy of White Christian nationalism.
How dare anyone decry the systemic and institutional artifacts of White supremacist ideology—especially the strange fruit, e.g., normalized/institutional (lethal) violence done to black and brown bodies that has always been the case, but is now so regularly caught on video tape!?!
Yet, Trump’s political technology shouts: “White people …. should feel aggrieved” that justice is persecuting ‘Whiteness’ by challenging the U.S. White Christian nationalist legacy. It’s another way of Trump saying, *I alone can protect white Americans from any discomfort that White fragility might cause them in a climate of BLM protest* [and its righteous demands for justice]. Again, some real chutzpah there, essentially shouting down the anti-racism protesters with charges of being racist against white people.
So, I am in full agreement with Robinson that Trump’s “…supporters and enablers, …. richly deserve to share history’s blame.”
Structural (institutional) racism
Institutional White supremacy lives-on in the way our democracy works, for one. For example, please watch this amazing historical footage and learn about “White rage” and its manifestations—this video is embedded in Gene Robinson’s story under the sub-heading…. Opinion | Voter suppression never went away. It evolved:
“The vote is the most powerful non-violent instrument or tool that we have in a democratic society, and people should be able to use it.” —John Lewis
Why it is so important
An interview last week with Financial Times journalist, and author of the new book, Kleptopia, Tom Burgis, provides the thirty-thousand foot (follow the money) view indicating the gravity of what is happening—cf., 1A interview: ‘How Dirty Money Is Conquering The World.’
These two brief [edited/abbreviated] clips from the interview provide a concise summary of the problem, e.g., efforts toward “the privatization of power,” [i.o.w., drain all the power out of your vote] and the difficulty in exposing it:
It is, obviously, crucially important to all Americans that voters understand this ‘follow the money’ (privatizing power) dimension of the choices on offer in this election. We can argue about revolution vs reformation, about how well fit Joe Biden is for this urgent moment in history from a politics and policy standpoint. However, from a strictly moral point of view, and from the point of view of preserving our democratic experiment, Joe Biden is the obvious and only choice. Let’s consider a couple of reasons why.
The collective importance is clear for all those who would like to see our experiment in democratic governance continue. Two key issues, 1) a house divided cannot stand, and 2) even our sturdy institutions in the U.S. are not immune to being hollowed-out by corruption. Too true, and yet let’s set aside the macro and look at the micro implications. How are YOU made vulnerable in all this?
OK, imagine fifteen years from now. The emotional trappings of D.J. Trump and his shiny-object reality-show presidency have faded with time. Imagine that history has, by then, painted a picture that accurately tells the real story of the immorality, cynicism, contempt, and human indecency that hallmarked Donald Trump’s transactional “leadership.”
That true story will leave no doubt that the ideology of White Christian nationalism was native to many who coalesced into the MAGA imagination. Trump exposed many things and, sadly, one of those things is that the ideology of White Christian nationalism may be found in many quarters of the American church.
So, when your (then to be) grown child—as in fifteen or twenty years on—asks where you stood in relation to the racist political coalition that Donald John Trump assembled as a base for his political exploits and presidency, what will your truth constrain you to say?
What about your grandchildren, what will your truth reveal to them about you and how you regarded humanity when we were at a crossroads and it really mattered?
Gaming it out
Some political scientists teamed-up to imagine possible scenarios and then game-out the 2020 presidential election [“What’s the worst that could happen? The election will likely spark violence—and a constitutional crisis“]. There was only one scenario they ran that did not end in serious consequences for our society. The article states: “A landslide for Joe Biden resulted in a relatively orderly transfer of power. Every other scenario we looked at involved street-level violence and political crisis.”
So. I hope you know what to do.
At the very least, please avoid getting the mark of White supremacist racism on your personal future. Failing to plainly and overtly distance yourself from that part of MAGA (even if you’re not getting completely clear of Trump himself), your personal, human legacy will be indelibly marked.
a mystical möbius puts it in writing
Right here I’d like to register a prediction on how this (hopefully) comes out.
For me, a great deal hinges on how the 2020 election unfolds. Regardless of what scenario occasions it, if Trump somehow holds onto power, then [for “dirty money and corruption” reasons (so Burgis)] the future of our democratic system will indeed be in great peril.
If the voters elect to make a change in presidential leadership and a successful transition somehow occurs, then, even though great damage has already been done to our norms and institutions, I do feel our democratic system (and the center) will hold. In fact, I feel the disruptions [e.g., Trump and Covid-19] that have shaken our systems to the core may provide an opening for meaningful change.
One thing seems crystal clear in the context of a coronavirus pandemic, very significant change is both needed and inevitable. The open question is will we thoughtfully manage intentional change, or, will chaos animate and drive what will likely be very unwelcome change (e.g., poverty and violence something like what Burgis describes in Nigeria). That will be up to American citizens to either consciously engage and accomplish, or not. Of course, there will be a future. The pertinent question is: What kind of future will it be?
In any case, in very personal terms, how you stood (right now) in relationship to the overt White Christian nationalism (White supremacy) of Trump and his MAGA vision will be forever recorded in the words that you speak and the actions that you take NOW.
It is not as though you have not been warned—please consider this your warning if necessary.
So, as the Grail Knight counseled Indiana Jones and the Nazis who sought the grail, I counsel YOU: “Choose wisely.”
a mystical möbius ~ Racism archive
Links to all of the a mystical möbius pieces (16 out of 114, or 14%) related to White supremacy and racism (from earliest to most recent): “Like a rainbow;” “Gag on political speech” (subhead); “Beauty and protest?;” “He took a knee;” “White privilege” (subhead); “Relentless is change;” “Is the POTUS a racist?;” “It’s déjà vu again again again;” “Whitefish | systems thinking?;” “Hate-fighting imagination;” “white Americans are *fragile*;” “Cancel culture and Donatism;” “Polemic: kw integral error?;” “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down;” “American civil war revisited?;” and, now, number sixteen: “Will you be indelibly marked?“
Next week: Cards are on the table. Come and see.
[this post approx. 1,700 words (7 min. read)]
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say? Note: I know, trying to introduce a big-picture idea like Spiral Dynamics (a complex developmental anthropology) in this format is ambitious. So, I’m using a serial-approach. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).