RURAL, WHITE, CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM: “On Rural America: Understanding Isn’t the Problem” / Forsetti’s Justice / MUST READ ☮

White Christian Fundamentalism

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides-”Democrats failed to understand white, working class, fly-over America.”  Trump supports are saying this.  Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this.  Even  some Democratic leaders are saying this.  It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem.  The real problem isn’t east coast elites don’t understand or care about rural America.  The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out.  They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because the don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America.  You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites.  I spent most of the first twenty-four years of my life deeply embedded in this culture.  I religiously (*pun intended) their Christian services.  I worked off and on, on their rural farms.  I dated their calico skirted daughters.  I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons.  I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop.  I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epitaphs that were said more out of ignorance than animosity.  I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past thirty years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people.  The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

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MUST READ: “North Korea Proves Your White Male Privilege is Not Universal” / La Sha ☮

Otto WarmbierOn the Revocation of White Privilege in North Korea

 

“That’s what the hell he gets. Good for him!” My mother had uttered those words in her typical matter-of-fact tone one morning as she watched the news. “He” was Michael Fay, an 18-year-old from Ohio who had confessed to vandalizing cars in Singapore, and was subsequently sentence to six lashes from a rattan cane. I was in sixth grade and all I could imagine was how horrible the pain would be. My mother was unmoved at the thought, remarking, “He earned that.”

I thought about my mother’s words a few days ago while watching video of 21-year-old Otto Warmbier, another man from Ohio who last week was convicted of subversion for stealing a propaganda banner in North Korea, and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. Just as in Fay’s case, I was shocked by the severity of the punishment. I’ve tried to imagine spending a decade and a half performing what the North Korean state deems hard labor and I can’t. But I’m not 11 anymore, and now, my mother’s callous reaction to Micahel Fay’s sentence is my reaction to another young white man who went to an Asian country and violated their laws, and learned that the shield his cis white male identity provides here in America is not teflon abroad.

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SOCIALISM: “What It Means to Be a Socialist” / Chris Hedges / MUST READ ☮

We live in a revolutionary moment. The disastrous economic and political experiment that attempted to organize human behavior around the dictates of the global marketplace has failed. The promised prosperity that was to have raised the living standards of workers through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources, exploits cheap, unorganized labor and creates pliable, corrupt governments that abandon the common good to serve corporate profit. The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. The citizen has become irrelevant. He or she can participate in heavily choreographed elections, but the demands of corporations and banks are paramount.

History has amply demonstrated that the seizure of power by a tiny cabal, whether a political party or a clique of oligarchs, leads to despotism. Governments that cater exclusively to a narrow interest group and redirect the machinery of state to furthering the interests of that group are no longer capable of responding rationally in times of crisis. Blindly serving their masters, they acquiesce to the looting of state treasuries to bail out corrupt financial houses and banks while ignoring chronic unemployment and underemployment, along with stagnant or declining wages, crippling debt peonage, a collapsing infrastructure, and the millions left destitute and often homeless by deceptive mortgages and foreclosures.

A bankrupt liberal class, holding up values it does nothing to defend, discredits itself as well as the purported liberal values of a civil democracy as it is swept aside, along with those values. In this moment, a political, economic or natural disaster—in short a crisis—will ignite unrest, lead to instability and see the state carry out draconian forms of repression to maintain “order.” This is what lies ahead.

We will, as Friedrich Engels wrote, make a transition to either socialism or barbarism.

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ATHEISM: “Ann Druyan About Her Husband Carl Sagan” / MUST READ!

Ann Druyan About Her Husband Carl Sagan h/t: Richard Dawkins Foundation Facebook