Thursday, February 08, 2007

We Haven't Come All That Far, Have We?

Yesterday I was doing a drive by on the computer, checking the news, killing some time waiting for a producer to fax me some rewrites. I saw this at Shake's Place. She had just gotten a dream job as a netroots coodinator for John Edwards campaign. After a long period of unemployment just about any job is welcome, but, for Melissa to be able to land a job she was so perfectly qualified to do for a candidate she supports in her big heart was serendipity. Perfect.

Then the trolls come out. For the record, let me say that I am not impressed at the way the campaign has handled this. There is far, far worse down the road in this process. The culture warriors and the religious conservatives are running scared. They see all their hopes and dreams blowing up and burning in Iraq. They see their brightest lights having to be "cured" of their homosexuality. They see their dreams of power being dashed. They are desperate. Sun Tsu (5 b.c.e.) in the oft misquoted Art of War spends quite a while on the delicacy of dealing with a desperate enemy. He warns against full out assaults, he counsels the wisdom of always leaving an avenue of escape, he puts forward the wisdom of sometimes not fighting at all, because Men will fight the hardest from an indefensible position. Less philosophical but also true and germain was Clint Eastwood's title character in The Outlaw Josey Wales. "Sometimes it all looks lost, if that happens you gotta dig deep inside and just get pure mad dog mean." That's where the opposition is. They will be trying everything they can think of to disrupt the process of electing somebody who actually isn't insane and blatantly corrupt and willing to follow their dictates on what god wants us all to do. In short, they're nuts people.

In the comment thread of Paul the Spud's piece cited above I noticed the trolls coming out. I saw one, in particular, that was ripe for a little nudge. Sometimes, that's all it takes for them to reveal themselves in all their rampant batshit looney venom. The troll in question was posting under the name "whitebuffalo." I know nothing about this person. I've never seen them post anything before. Here's what I did know, just from the name. It was the "white" that was important to him.

The Souix and other plains nations have a very sacred figure called "White Buffalo Woman." There is no comperable Christian deity or parrallel. White Buffalo Woman brought the sacred pipe to the people. No Native American who respects himself, his culture or the cultures of other nations would do something as trivial as blog under that name. It was very obvious that what was important to this person was the "white."

So, being the brat that I am, I nudged away. I wrote:
oh and i almost forgot, blow me whitebuffalo. as an apache to see a fuckwad like you typing away under the name of something sacred, well, fuck the virgin mary running, it's offensive.

And, just like I knew it would, the shit started to fly. Someone else began to post under the name "Geronimo Was a Pussy." I was counseled to "not get my wigwam in an uproar." I was invited to "smokey peace pipe."

The funniest part was that one of them actually thought I was one of them, and in on the joke.

The racism we face in this society, the separation along lines as stupid as skin color is still here, and clearly drawn. It won't be pretended away or ignored into nonexistence. It only takes a nudge, a little poke here or point of the finger there and out they come in all of their foaming at the mouth glory.

To those who rose to my defense in that thread. I thank you. You showed your colors as clearly as the assholes did theirs. I will be very proud to stand beside all of you in the coming fight. Make no mistake about it, this election is going to be a face to face knife fight. It's gonna get ugly ya'll. Remember though, we can be in beauty even when there's ugliness all around. In the words of the Apache prayer of the dawn

Y'o-sen, bihil hishash aaii diji jooni

(god, may i walk today in beauty)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little chagrined that I was in class, and unable to defend you in this thread.

Still, you're a class act and always handle yourself with dignity on the blog, MB. I'm so glad to have you as a commenter at Shakes.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you said what you did. The 'whitebuffalo' thing took my breath away, and when I saw 'Geronimo was a pussy' I turned off my laptop. It's unbearable.

- Tata

Thank you for your kind words on the loss of my beloved catfriend.

10:04 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

it is not only unbearable, but so very real. it's a dance we do here in arizona all the time. growing up in the fifties i caught lots of shit as a "half-breed" (which was about the nicest thing they could think of to call me) when i moved back home, one of the first things that struck me was the firm and intense separation of the races here. everybody has their own place and is expected to stay there. when the segregation is de facto rather than de jure it is even more pernicious.

also, the apache wars, historically, weren't all that long ago. what "geronimo was a pussy" didn't know was that go-lah-kah-yeh (geronimo's apache name) was my maternal uncle (several greats preceding) and his biggest enemies called him a devil, a demon, a ghost, a scourge, a curse, yet, never once a pussy. ones like that are easy for me to chalk up.

as far as not being there spudsy. class is far more important. i'm so very glad that you're studying what you are. you'll be very good at that, and you will be doing good. i really didn't need any defending. i knew what kind of hornet's nest i was poking with the broom. i also know that you're ready and willing to rumble when there's no other choice. your absence was announced. you were there already my friend.

10:12 AM  
Blogger litbrit said...

Just wanted to stop in and say how proud I am to know you via Shakes.

You're a class act indeed, MB. Bravo.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

The racial division shit is indeed ridiculous. Grew up in B'ham in the 50s & 60s, my ex-wife's father was Robert Shelton's (Grand Dragon, KKK) attorney, and one of my HS classmates was Bull Conner's (turned the firehoses and dogs on the blacks in Birmingham) nephew, and I still can't figure out why a guy like Obama (black father, white mother) is considered black in America.

MB, clear something up for me so I am comforted in the belief I can read - are you Geronimo's nephew or did you just have an uncle named go-lah-kah-yeh?

12:07 PM  
Anonymous horsedooty said...

Looks like the girls may not have been fired or were re hired
yo soy Horsedooty!

2:37 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

geronimo was the brother-in-law of my (5 greats)grandfather taza. he was originally a white mountain apache who married into the chiricahua under cochise (6 greats). the different bands of apache, navajo, hopi, and comanche intermarry quite freely. a lot has to do with the very rigid rules that are in place to prevent incest (the greatest crime in our traditional view). so, yes, i am a descendant of geronimo. i have relatives who are closer in lineage. although, in our way of looking at things, the important ties are the ties of clan. one is born to the mother's clan which is where you are brought up and raised, and for your father's clan which is used for negotiating the ties and things socially. i was born to the súl (flute) and for clan cassidy of antrim. (there wasn't any risk of incest there but the ties had to be stated and understood).

i am very proud of having come to know you all. the fight is only just begun. i will be there on the deck with johnny paul, just getting ready to really rumble. i will be pleased and proud to stand with you.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous shades of blue said...

When I went back and read what that shit for brains wrote I unfortunately wasn't surprised. I know what my own kids went through. My daughter being taunted with 'buddah' cause the asshats at her school couldn't tell Kanaka from Chinese. My son being told he was just another shade of n****r.
You behaved with dignity. That is way more than I have, and would have, been able to do.
Fuck them.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so WASP it's not funny, but I completely agree about minstrel boy being a serious mensch. I should be so classy! (I sometimes adopt a Jewish way of using English, but I'm not the slightest bit Jewish, although there's definitely a part of my mind that could be, should I ever decide to convert, which is not happening any time soon.....)

In any case, I didn't get involved in that particular exchange because I didn't even know what to say in the presence of such raw bigotry. I know none of us is totally free of bigotry, but in the presence of such naked stuff, I'm wholly out of my league. Give me religious bigotry and I'm likely to have a reply (if not always an effective one), but naked, explicit racial bigotry is out of my ken.

The older I get (now that I'm 47) the more strongly I believe that the fear of "the other" is a hard-wired facet of our instinctive thought processes. I struggle with it when I am in the presence of a transexual (because I find the gender ambiguity uncomfortably disorienting), and it takes a lot of conscious thought on my part to make the discomfort go into the background.

I expect there was a long time when such a mental faculty served a truly significant selective advantage (from an evolutionary point of view). It doesn't now, but unfortunately that's because we have become such an influential part of the Earth's ecology.

- oddjob

11:05 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

indeed, friend oddjob, "the other" has always been a source of fear and dread. one of the things that i notice about our country that i find disturbing is that we don't learn the languages of the others. growing up i needed english, apache and spanish to negotiate my immediate family. my grandfather when he passed 80 up and decided he wasn't going to speak english anymore. he said it gave him a headache. you could speak to him in english and he would reply in apache. when i was in viet nam most of the time i was the only one in the unit who could do more than negotiate a blow job in vietnamese. the thing with languages that happens is you begin to get a relationship with the way the people think. verb structure has a lot to do with one's thought patterns. a house to house street fight like they are doing in bagdhad right now is about as ugly as war gets, but to be doing it without being able to understand the words that are being screamed at you from the inhabitants brings a whole new level of danger to the situation. having to completely rely on native speakers for interpretation opens up whole new levels of security risks. there have been whole wars started on faulty translations.

of course, if the language barriers were hauled down we would instantly rely on the old standbys of skin color and even more nuanced levels of sexual preference and identity. i often sit next to a transexual in my noon AA meetings. after about a month of attending this particular group i noticed that this woman was being isolated and shunned. having grown up mostly isolated and shunned i instantly felt and affinity to that soul. now, we sit together, we make snide remarks about the rest of them.

9:40 AM  

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