November 25, 2007

Ignorance, Sheet Sniffing and Racism

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my experience at the BlogWorldExpo political panels, and noted the alarming moral degeneracy among the conservative attendees. I was helped in this by the notes taken by K T Cat. He made my point for me by condensing several examples of this government's behavior (warrantless wiretapping, shredding the Constitution, going to war on lies, etc.) that I find more offensive than words for sex and body parts into the dismissive phrase "Bush administration policies," then promptly declaring that sexual attitudes should be the top priority of society.

Right. Because when thousands upon thousands of your fellow citizens are being made homeless by the perfidy of our banks and financial institutions or remaining homeless because the Bush administration abandoned the poor of the Gulf Coast, or are living in debt peonage, or when police violence and impunity continues to escalate across the nation, or while the country is being bled dry to feed Halliburton, Bechtel, CH2M, Lockheed Martin and Blackwater, that's the time to rail against the horrors of one of our species' most basic biological urges. Unless it's time to rail against the horror of knowing that you helped pay for a kid's bone marrow transplant, which ought to make you mad, for some reason.

That's the sort of problem you get when your ideological peers are grimly ignorant, and proud of it. You end up saying racist things, then claiming that you didn't mean it that way, which doesn't mean by a long shot that it wasn't a racist thing to say. Or, you might end up saying stupid things, like that people would stop having sex if they had fewer rights and no government assistance. And that might be embarassing once you step outside your usual circles.

Which is no better than the ignorance displayed by someone in the audience at a Friday panel at Blog World, from the near unnavigable site Democast, who insisted that the Tamil Tigers were just another example of a dangerous Muslim group bringing fascism to the world, after I mentioned that they were the original suicide bombers. But the Tamil Tigers are a nationalist movement just as I'd said, spurred by the racist policies of a Sinhalese government instead of religion, and they happen also to be Hindu. Not Muslim. Not Arab. Tamil Hindus.

Wingnuts. They'd almost be cute if they hadn't seized control of the government by means of vote fraud and a corrupt court. Also, if they weren't so racist. Really dampens the charisma potential.

So, on to this quote that Ron at Centerface* rescued from a previous version of K T Cat's original posting:

... Blacks in America have become the perfect laboratory for the consequences of annihilating traditional sexual mores. At 70% illegitimacy, they have destroyed civilization at the molecular level. Still think it doesn't matter? Live it up, guys. Enjoy. ...

Can I pause for a moment to reflect on the fact that it's as cruel to describe human beings as illegitimate as it is to describe them as illegal? Well, I will anyway. And I promise to make this digression go somewhere.

There was a time in this country, not even a century past, when a birth certificate would note whether a person was illegitimate. In a day and age when the only job security most women could hope to have was as a spouse, being illegitimate made her unmarriageable to 'nice' men with decent incomes. Does it take a social sciences genius to predict that such women would have been more likely to end up in poverty, or with so-called illegitimate children of their own?

That's sometimes traced to the Victorian era (and back) upper class horror at the shocking proclivity of poor people to breed. Though it seems likely to me that it was also a publicly negotiated standoff position. It would certainly be one means to keep upper class women looking the other way while their husbands maintained entire second families with their mistresses, comforting themselves by being allowed to declare the competition illegitimate. 'She gets his affection and discretionary income now, my kids get every other financial and social benefit when the bastard keels over.'

Anyone want to bet against that exact thought having run through more than a few women's minds? And criminy, but wouldn't it be nice if we could move beyond the punitive social attitudes of a bunch of miserable people suffocating in a web of prudery and material entrapment? It's a lot easier to raise children with a partner, but that doesn't always work out for everybody.

Back to race, Blacks in America were never part of the upper class or its striver hopefuls while these attitudes were being set up as publicly acceptable morality. Nor had they any hope at the time of so being. It had always been more or less expected in those not so long gone eras for the men of a household to make free (as the inappropriate saying went) with female servants and hired help who weren't actually slaves. Morality only applied to the upper class women whose legitimate heirs stood to gain property from the death of the only man they were allowed to bed. Lower class people whose lives were consumed in constant toil, privation, and the treatment of their bodies as the property of the well-off, for either entertainment or destruction, often took what they could get around the edges.

That was also the way White people treated each other. Even before we were called White people, which started so that all the Germans, Irish, Polish, Italians, hereditary serfs, etc., wouldn't realize that they had more in common with the incoming Black slave class they were meeting up with in the New World than the wealthy landgrabbers.

You've at some point read or seen Much Ado About Nothing, right? The whole plot hinges around how completely acceptable sex with an unmarried female servant, whose sexuality had no value whatever, was mistaken for completely unacceptable sex with an unmarried female aristocrat, whose sexuality was the valuable property of her father and future husband. Crimes against sexual morality were originally seen mainly in the light of property crimes, specifically, crimes against men who owned sexual property. Religious attitudes then, as now, were ideals that were only really enforced when something important was at stake. Like inheritances.

When it came to Black slaves, it was the norm for the males of the household to take whatever they wanted from their property. That's what having property means. So they had 'illegitimate' children with their slaves, who would then also be considered slaves in what can only be described as a pathological inability to care for one's own children. They would pick partners for their slaves or break up established pair bonds at whim. They treated the Blacks in their wholly illegitimate possession no differently than if they'd been bright, dextrous cattle. (And, btw, it should be noted that syphilis and gonorrhea are the enduring legacy of the fact that certain White males somewhere in our collective, murky past 'made free' with the sheep and cattle, too.)

Slaves weren't allowed to marry, and that was the legal status of most of the Black population of this country for most of their history here. Then after that, they could still be lynched at will for all too many years, a practice that disproportionately affected men. Even today, Black men are the most likely segment of the working age population to be unemployed, because a Black man with a clean record has a harder time getting a job than a White convict. Black men are the most likely to be or to have been incarcerated, not because they do drugs or commit crimes any more often than anyone else, but because they are arrested, prosecuted and convicted at higher rates than anyone else.

Having low rates of stable partnerships in conditions like those isn't a matter of the morals or society of the people living in them, it's an inevitability. If it's an indictment of anyone or anything, it's the intentional and systemic injustice to which they've been subjected. Sniffing nastily about their desire under such circumstances to have sex and children anyway borders on saying that they should just go ahead and die out.

But some people can live in a country about which all these things are true and believe phenomenally stupid and ahistorical things such as that Black people are destroying society. White society, presumably. Because it's ours. And we built it ourselves. Except for all the cheap slave and permanent underclass labor of the people whose families, community ties, educational traditions and collective wealth were erased as though they never existed, time and time again.

So who was it that destroyed whose society, again? Who funded whose kidnapping from their home countries? Who was it that spent five hundred years making sure that the Black experience in America was systematic rape and murder and helplessness, then a bunch more decades after that making Black men a focal point for the projected fear that they'd turn around and act the same way the minute they got the chance?

Who was it that destroyed whose goddam society, so their ignorant descendants could look down their noses at the morality of a group of people whose living memory still includes relatives being lynched at Sunday picnic outings? Who was it that stole whose work for their own profit, so their ignorant descendants could mock those so mistreated and impoverished for their lazy destitution? Whose ignorant descendants try to pretend that 'I've got mine' is an expression of blessed gratitude, rather than a transparent load of blinkered, self-serving inhumanity towards their fellows?

Who. Destroyed. Whose. Society? So their descendants could be in a position to piously declare all debts wiped clean. Anyone?

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Anyone who's more alarmed by sex between consenting adults than by fraud, kidnapping, murder, rape, pillage, collective punishment, injurious lies, and grinding poverty, is never going to convince me that they've got the moral chops to be put in charge of so much as an unsupervised grocery till.

Also x-posted at MyDD

* I originally credited that link to Jon Swift, though it's actually a link to a post by Ron at Centerface, which I owe Jon Swift a hat tip for.

Posted by natasha at November 25, 2007 10:27 AM | Wingnuts | Technorati links |

Wow. Just Wow. I don't think I've ever seen such a clear and impacting piece on this subject from even the most scholarly sources. I'm going to go and share this with my classmates (with sources obviously!) at PCC and PSU. Thank you for writing this.

Posted by: Oregonian37 at November 25, 2007 05:10 PM

Natasha, thanks for all the traffic. You really didn't have to correct that link...that's not being modest, by the way. Roy at alicublog was the first one to quote our little statistician sans comment. I carried out the hit next, and Jon helped spread it after that, then Simon got on. Glad we could assist in getting even...too easy to hang him with his own words, aint't it?

Wish I could have been as eloquent and sharp as you were in making mincemeat out of his priorities and theories!

Posted by: Ron at November 26, 2007 06:28 AM

It is a rare occasion indeed that I have read such a huge load of codswallup, Natasha. (Btw, that is a fancy word for “Bullshit”).

You seem to be missing at least 100 years of history Natasha. From The Reformation to the Sexual Revolution, or thereabouts.

During that century, there were very low rates of illegitimacy amongst the black population, with some year’s numbers being even lower than those among their white counterparts. Family and church were the most important factors in the Black community. Women and mothers were respected as heads of the domestic front.

Fast forward to LBJ’s Great Society and the redistribution of wealth via free money for sitting around and doing nothing. Women losing their respect at wholesale rates and their being used as sperm receptacles. Why should men worry about their children? The government will give that woman money to raise it.

If you would bother to look up the charts for illegitimacy rates, which is something I would hope someone attempting to damn the whole of European/American society would have done, you’ll notice a spike starting at the beginning of those social reforms. Illegitimacy rates went up across the board for all races, not just the one you'd like to point out. Why is it still so high for Blacks is a good question, but not one to be answered by your simple excuse. There is simply too much time between your "cause" and the "effect".

However, in your rush to judgment you probably didn’t worry about actual facts, Natasha, and just went ahead and spewed forth whatever felt good to your weakened mental state that blind hatred brings on. But hey, what are facts to a person filled to the brim with their self-created righteous indignation!?

And since you consciously did not bother to do your research, you have consciously made up a lie and are spreading said lie about the world. Unfortunately, from the comments, I see that your lie will be taken to local universities where others, also too stupid to do their research, will listen to and believe your lie.

So how does it feel to be a propagandist, Natasha?

Until you and your cohorts learn to stop judging people by their race, there will be no progress. And instead of doing the right thing and ignoring those ignorant of facts, such as “KT Cat”, you will continue to make the same mistake as he does: That ignoring someone’s race is more respectful than using it to define who they are.

Posted by: Phil at November 28, 2007 08:12 AM