Guns, racism

White Washing Gun Violence


Another day, another public shooting that has devastated a community, this time Virginia and this time love on WDBJ TV. This time the shooter defies statistics and is black. Watch the media and conservatives say that the shooting in Virginia by a black man is “about racism” because of his brain fart of a suicide note. These are the same folks who have said and will continue to say that the “motives” of a “lone wolf” white shooter are “irrelevant” and that one is “being insensitive” bringing up race at a time of tragedy. The white power structure in our society has decided that a black shooter is a representative of the “problem” of “black culture” but that a white shooter can only ever be insane, or misguided, or somehow a free radical in the healthy white body politic. A white person with a gun is always a good guy until he shoots the wrong people, then he is a “lone wolf”. A black person with a gun is always a “thug” and is representative of black people everywhere. I am sorry for the people who died at the hands of this asshole but I am sick and tired of the narrative that will turn these folks into martyrs for myth that black people are “violent thugs” white people need to arm themselves against. A white person shoots a up a black church to start a race war, not a peep from the right or the media about motive. A black man shoots two white people supposedly because he feels he is IN a race war a white shooter started? Now THAT’S relevant. Makes me sick, the hypocrisy of our culture.

It is already happening online and in the conservative media regarding this shooting. Watch as it spreads and the Black Lives Matter movement is “blamed” for this somehow. Watch as the media clutches it’s collective pearls over the “outrageous racism” that motivated this attack, while they will bend over backwards to say that the next of 20 more white male shooters this year is somehow “damaged” or “misunderstood”. I am sick of it. White people commit murder in the US, they only make “mistakes”. We have black people to blame for everything else. Fuck this country…seriously.

history, Immigration, Politics

The Great Wall of Trump


There has been a lot of blabber lately, from the far right in general and Donald Trump worshipers in particular, about building an enormous wall between Mexico and the United States so as to “stem the invasion of the ‘illegals'”. The Great Wall of China is often named dropped as an example, or rather, THE example of how a wall can be used successfully to maintain the supposed integrity and security of a large nation. You see, there is just one little problem w/ using the example of the Great Wall this way: It didn’t work, or at least not the way people have been led to believe.

China (or more accurately, the areas of China populated and controlled by the Han ethnic and cultural group) was invaded successfully by the Mongols, the Hsi Hsia (Tanguts), the Tibetans, and the Manchu. The wall, or rather serious of walls (made variously of stone, wood, and earth at different places along its length) and border forts linked by trade and communication networks and manned by pickets and conscripted militias along with the Imperial military, was basically a giant propaganda tool and a way to martial large amounts of labor resources and maintain control of frontier regions, protect against bandits, and control import/export trade. So, long story short, walls don’t work as ways of keeping large amounts of people out of large nations and they are almost never effective at “controlling” the flow of migrants. People are like water; they will always find a way through even the most tough and powerful looking barrier.

Also (talking to you here Mr. Trump and your supporters) China never made the other nations that were meant to be kept out by the wall pay for the wall. China tried the whole bravado/middle finger technique against the Mongols, and, well, the Mongols invaded China, killed 20 Million people, burned many of its largest cities to the ground, and ruled it as conquerors for 150 years. So there’s that. Unless we are willing to post tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of armed to the teeth soldiers on and around the 2000 mile border permanently (like the Israelis in Palestine, the Soviets in East Germany and North & South Korea on the DMZ) said wall is not going to solve the “problem” of unregulated immigration into the United States from Mexico and Central America. And even THEN, as the China examples shows, it wouldn’t work. Only a “giant loser” would think otherwise. 

art, Film, music

Art and Pain

Painting By Francis Bacon

Painting By Francis Bacon

I am a fan of N.W.A., and I am looking forward to seeing the bio pic about their career “Straight Outta Compton”. I think their music & poetry is some of the most revolutionary & genius of the past 50 years. I also think that Dr. Dre is a woman-beating piece of shit. Believe it or not, it is possible to appreciate the art of someone who is a more often than not a terrible person. We do it every day when we listen to a Phil Spector produced Beatles track or read a Norman Mailer manuscript (the former was convicted of murder and the later stabbed his 2nd wife). There is nothing hypocritical about that…what IS hypocritical, though, is pretending that the artists who produce the works we so enjoy and love are flawless, paragons of virtue. They are not. The never have been and they never will be. This is not a problem with rappers, or rock gods or misanthropic writers…this is a human problem. When we choose to go underneath the surface of the art that inspires us, we must be prepared to confront that sometimes distasteful, sometimes downright horrid behaviors, ideas, and fantasies of the people who create it. Great art can and does come from great pain, both experienced and inflicted. We owe it to ourselves and to those who were victimized by the gross human nature of our heroes to not sweep the facts under the rug. In that spirit I am posting a link to this excellent, heartbreaking, and very revealing interview with music journalist Dee Barnes, who was brutally beaten by Dr. Dre at a party after an interview she conducted with former N.W.A member Ice Cube. We can love the art, but hate and condemn what the artist has done to others. Again, this does not make us hypocrites, it in fact makes us human

Civil rights, Politics

We White Liberals Need To Listen & Learn

Marissa Johnson, left,  Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Sen. Bernie Sanders, far right  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Marissa Johnson, left, Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Sen. Bernie Sanders, far right (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I will say upfront that I like a lot of what Bernie Sanders says he stands for: I support his position on student debt relief and free college tuition, he says the right things and supports the relevant bills regarding financial regulation and the breaking up of the big banks. He seems to be supportive of LGBT Rights and has a relatively sane point of view when it comes to foreign policy (with the exception of a little too friendly attitude to Israel, who I actually see as an enemy to the interests of our country). I will consider voting for him in the Illinois Primary next year, and I probably will end up voting for him as I will cut off my own hand before voting for that hawkish corporatist shill Hillary Clinton…

Here comes the “But”…

I am concerned about the response Bernie Sanders has had to the black activist movement in particular and the Black voting bloc in general. African Americans are THE key voting block that lets the Democratic Party get into power at all. Without the almost unified Black Vote in presidential elections, every President after Lyndon Johnson would have been a Republican. Bernie Sanders seems to have the “all lives matter” mentality when it comes to his policy prescriptions i.e. if we reform the economic and regulatory systems of the US everyone will benefit and advance equally. US History has shown that is never the case. From the New Deal to Federal Housing Assistance to the Great Society to Welfare Reform in the 90s, every upgrade or expansion of the welfare state has either passed black Americans behind, ignored them entirely, or in the case of Housing actively held them back. I am not saying that Bernie Sanders’ remedies will have the same issues, but there is no historical or logical reason to believe they will be any different. If Sanders wants to really address the true institutional racism problem in the US he will embrace the Black Lives Matter movement’s values totally, and start an ongoing dialogue with the black communities across the US in order to understand what THEY think must be done to address the deeply racist United States government and society. He is a older, White, Upper Middle Class, man in a position of power.That is a fact, not a condemnation, and this fact comes with its fair share of privilege and biases. Take his tone deaf response to the Black Lives Matter disruption of his appearance at the Netroots conference:

Instead of addressing the actual concerns of the Black Lives Matter protesters or even debating them on the merit of their positions, he let his privilege get the better of him and he scolded the activists. A quote from a Salon article on the Netroots debacle quotes Sanders as saying this in response to the Black Lives Matter disruption: “But I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights. If you don’t want me to be here, that’s okay.” He then went on to “remind” people that he “marched with MLK” and was a big supporter of Civil Rights back in the good ol’ days of white liberal activism. This is the political rhetoric equivalent of the “but some of my best friends are black” argument against examining ones own privilege. Sanders repeated this sort of defensive white liberal guilt speak when he was confronted once again at his speech in Seattle. When interrupted by protesters who said they were with the Black Lives Matter Movement (which is very much a grassroots and decentralized movement) he reacted like a deer caught in the headlights and eventually left the stage. Instead of saying he respected the fact that they were outraged over institutional racism and that he would devote his campaign to addressing the concerns of the one voting block he CANNOT afford to alienate if he wants the nomination, he harrumphed off stage and muttered aloud “I guess I’m not wanted hear.” One could almost hear the collective black political activist head slamming into the desk. Black voters are savvy, perhaps THE most savvy political bloc in the entire country (Black Women especially vote at a higher rate than any other group in the nation). They know when they are being pandered too, and also when they are being taken for granted. The response of White Bernie Sanders supporters online is not helping. When I deigned to criticize (rather gently) Sen. Sanders’ response to the disruption, I was inundated with dozens and dozens of responses saying that black voters should “know why their real friends are” and that “Bernie is the ONLY person” who can “solve” structural racism. Some even said that “those people” are not acting intelligent and don’t know how to protest “the right way” so as not to “force” white voters to not support black issues. Talk about taking a group for granted…

Political activism is messy, it is often annoying to outsiders and unpleasant. It is rarely polite or even civil. That is exactly the point though: activism is never effective unless it galls and disrupts, especially those with authority, especially those who actually have the potential to do something and the willingness to listen if pestered enough. Black Lives Matter doesn’t bother protesting Donald Trump or Rick Santorum for the same reason SNCC or MLK didn’t bother showing up at Strom Thurmond or George Wallace rallies: those on the racist and bigoted Right and Far Right will NEVER care what black protesters and activists have to say, not matter what they do or how much they disrupt or protest. They have already decided that black people are the enemy and nothing will change them. It is a waste of time, creativity, and energy to try and get the attention of folks who already see you as less than human. You make REAL change happen by embarrassing, manipulating, disrupting and petitioning moderates and liberals, people who may actually do something concrete if they see that the political stakes are too costly to ignore. But no establishment leader, no matter how progressive, will act on the issues important to a oppressed minority, even a politically essential one, unless they are MADE TO. This was proven over and over again during the Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ and Clinton administrations. Black activists have never gotten the desired results for themselves and their communities by “playing nice” with the white liberal savior of the moment. Bernie Sanders is on point with a lot of things, but he is not the “only person who can save us” or the “solution to institutional racism”. SNCC and MLK had to agitate against and antagonize liberals all over the country, from the White House and the Justice Department on down, before they deigned to do things like send in the national guard to desegregate schools or sign the Voting Rights Act. These things did NOT come about because of the beneficence of White Liberal politicians.

The great political commentator and activist Imani Gandy  got right to the heart of the issue of White Liberal privilege and political entitlement in an article on her “Angry Black Lady Chronicles” blog (which I will link to at the bottom of this post):

“As a white liberal of adult age in the 1960s, [A White Liberal was] politically required to do these things, right? And if the answer is yes—and we all know that it is—why the hell are you tossing Bernie Sanders’ record of doing them in Black people’s faces in order to shut down conversations about structural racism, police brutality, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement?”

White Liberals may have good intentions and many good ideas, but they DON’T understand what is “best” for the black community and black activists, who are as varied and diverse in their interests and issues as any other segment of the population. We have to realize that it is not Black Lives Matter who needs white liberals, but white liberals who need Black Lives Matter.

Here is a Link to the positively genius article Imani Gandy wrote about Bernie Sanders and his supporters response to Black Lives Matter: 

UPDATE 8/10/15

At his 27,000 person rally in L.A. tonight Bernie Sanders opened by inviting #BlackLivesMatter activists onto the stage to speak to the crowd. This information comes from Los Angeles Times politics reporter Kurtis Lee. I have to say, that is a very impressive and prompt response to the criticism leveled against him by #BlackLivesMatter and people on the far left like me. Very Impressive.

history, opinion, War, War Crimes

A Word on the Atomic Bombing of Japan in 1945


The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.” —-Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff To President Truman

“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.” —-Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet

“[T]he widespread image of the Japanese as sub-human constituted an emotional context which provided another justification for decisions which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.”—Historian James J. Weingartner, The Pacific Historical Review

“I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”

—–President Dwight David Eisenhower in his memoirs, “The White House Years


I do believe that what the US did Atomic Bombing Japan in 1945 amounts to a crime against humanity on par with the Holocaust or the Rwandan Genocide. No one “needs” to atomic bomb another nation, lives “saved” by using a bomb instead of an invasion is a non sequitur argument and is based on the racist, propagandistic and self serving assumption that the Japanese people (a sophisticated, advanced, and as philosophical and moral a people as any one Earth) would fight to the death to a person. We murdered 300,000 people, maimed hundreds of thousands more, and terrorized millions. Added to the 1 Million+ killed in the Napalm Firebombings of 67 large and medium sized Japanese cities this amounts to a genocide, even within the context of war, as over 90% of those killed in the bombings were civilians and non-combatants.

We condemn, rightly, the Wehrmacht and the Imperial Japanese Army for their atrocities against civilian populations and non-combatants, but we do not hold ourselves to the same standard because from our perspective, we were the “good guys”. In the case of the war with Imperial Japan, there were no good guys: Both nations, U.S. and Japan, were brutal, hegemonic, imperial and colonial powers in the Pacific, and both were fighting for influence in South East Asia and the South Pacific for its strategic location and natural resources. The Japanese were brutal and committed genocidal acts during and before the war. So did the United States. One does not excuse the other. However, we must acknowledge the part we play in the course of human events, and we must, if we are to hold on to any claim of being a moral nation and people, acknowledge the evil that we have committed and which was committed in our name. There were no winners in the Pacific War, none save for those at the very top of the military, political, and business worlds.


An Ichthyarchy


Blessed be the wrath of me

my fervor an aeipathy

febrile and sweet sweat

a cotton cloth well met

high mound of dead flagblenny

remains of ichthyarchy

down nepenthe, drown regret

So much I must forget

on down upon bleeding knee

I intone the rosary

Drag on glass by teeth wet

blood Sherry I pay my debt

want and wish and mourn for slavery

instead of man mart bibliopoly

qat on tongue blemish bet

I know it is niff a loo debt

witch watt in the right race cavity

deposit something else white gravity

they fool themselves and fear the Tet

align themselves with the hellbound set

they decry their wholesome scaevity

at mount mass Abraham’s thysiastery

blessed be the wretch who let

the space where her grapes Zion blet

essay, Guns

NIU ’08: My Experience With Gun Violence


I have been a life long opponent of gun culture in general & open carry/unlimited access in particular. I have studied the issue for years but one thing that cemented my hatred of guns, though, on a personal level was my experience as a student at Northern Illinois University in ’08. I lived at Neptune East Dorm, which was about 100 yards from Cole Hall, where most of the big general science classes were held on campus. I had a GEO 101 class that got out @ 2pm. I walked back to my dorm. I remember looking out my window of my dorm & seeing an armed SWAT guy and I also remember that I saw my own dorm window on my TV, live and broadcast from a helicopter camera. I ran out into the lobby just as people started streaming into the dorm. They were panicked and some had blood on them. The dorm went into lock down and I found out later that the shooting had happened at 3:05, only about an hour after my class ended. I am autistic so my feelings can be hard for me to express and to understand.

I felt numb over it for weeks but I sort of convinced myself that it had not bothered me at all but I think it sent my depression into overdrive, in an indirect way (or maybe direct? At the time I didn’t see it that way but in retrospect I can see that was probably very naive of me) & I left school soon after. It had been a while in coming, and many other things went into my decision to leave school, but I think the shooting may have made me feel unsafe. I had thoughts of being shot in my class, but didn’t talk about it because I felt I didn’t have right to feel traumatized as I wasn’t hurt and didn’t know anyone who had died very well. I also probably had a bit of PTSD-ish sort of feelings. I don’t talk about that time in my life very much anymore, but it confirmed my belief that any gun designed only to kill or maim a human being is an evil tool that has no place in a civilized society, especially not in schools.

Cole Hall was a packed auditorium classroom & I can’t IMAGINE how much worse it would have been had some open carry people decided to fire back. we can’t control the actions of people who want to do harm w/ a gun but we can make sure that guns are not readily available in public folks who are scared & filled w/ adrenaline are NOT people you want firing back at assailant. No gun class or gun range prepares someone for that sort of situation. A “good guy” w/ a gun in Cole Hall would have led to more death/chaos. SWAT is trained to be calm under pressure, especially not  Mr. Weekend Warrior who thinks his 9mm can protect everyone around him. A “good guy” w/ a gun in Cole Hall would have led to more death/chaos. A SWAT Officer is trained to be calm under pressure. Mr. Weekend Warrior is not. The NRA is wrong & only wants to sell guns to enrich its clients in the Gun and Ammunition industries. One should never have to worry if a firefight will break out during a shooting, if the guy next to you will hit you or those you care for out of some surge of macho entitlement or a misguided savior complex. A gun doesn’t make you a superhero, it doesn’t make you more responsible for the safety of others and It certainly doesn’t make you a “good guy”. So when people tell me I don’t know what I am talking about regarding guns and that I should be quiet I respond by saying: I do the research, I pay attention & I lived through a shooting.