Shortcuts & Delusions: The Unbearable Male Whiteness Of Being
It should be no surprise that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is taking flak for wanting to revise Title IX, the federal statute which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Here is the “Dear Colleague” letter the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights handed down in 2011 which states, “The sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with students’ right to receive an education free from discrimination and, in the case of sexual violence, is a crime.” Credit to the New York Times for rounding up opinions by right, center, and left writers, rather than just reprinting critiques from lefties. The comments from right-wingers were predictably concerned with due process, and left-wingers were predictably apoplectic about how Trump and DeVos hate rape victims and are trying to prevent their white male rapist base from being prosecuted for sexual assault.
I’d like to take this opportunity to add my own three cents: the real problem with the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter was that it didn’t go far enough; it only included sexual assault as a crime actionable by college administrations, but surely there are disparate levels of equality between male and female victims of other violent crimes. I refuse to believe that there is an equal number of male and female victims of theft, assault and battery, and murder victims on college campuses. The “Dear Colleague” letter rightly points out that students can not be expected to competently execute their academic obligations if they feel unsafe due to the looming threat of sexual assault; should the same not hold true for all other violent crimes? How much homework and test-taking can a student complete if he/she/other is in constant fear of violence?
We’ve all heard the statistic that one in five females will at some point during her college years be the victim of sexual assault, but did you know men stand a 17% chance of a cafeteria food fight turning into a fist fight, while only a 4% chance for women? Or that 7 out of 10 male dorm students will have their Che Guevara or Scarface movie poster stolen from their room? And while true that only 1 in 1475 college students will be victims of a homicide, an astounding 84% of those murdered are male.
This is terrifying data, and all the more reason why college campuses should be due-process-free zones. Students need to feel safe, and the only way to safeguard that safety is by having all violent crime adjudicated on campus by college professors and administrators. Our academic and social betters are much more better suited to handle the difficult process of convicting and punishing the accused, no matter how much evidence and testimony proving their innocence is presented. A jury of peers pales in comparison to a tribunal of intellectuals when it comes to levying justice against someone accused of anything by anyone for any reason. Be honest, dear readers: who is a better judge of the guilt of a defendant? Some jerk plumber or housewife with a 10th grade reading comprehension, or an English professor who can explain the queer and gender themes prevalent in Beowulf?
It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.
His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built…
It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power…
But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.
Like much of what Coates writes, these statements immediately wither under the light of scrutiny (and not even a harsh light; I’m talking about a soft 40 watt bulb), and it’s no secret Coates is a one-trick pony who can analyze an issue only through a racial lens.
The premise of his article is that the foundation and point of Trump’s presidency is the whitewashing of President Obama’s achievements, if they can be called that. Nevermind that the backlash against Obamacare was preceded by the backlash against Hillarycare in the 1990s; nevermind that no one anywhere who is skeptical of man made climate change is so because they advocate white supremacy; nevermind that there are plenty of white Congressmen working for criminal justice reform.
Herein lies the problem with identity politics: Coates and his fellow-traveler progressives who wish to be viewed as public intellectuals can not help but conflate the deliberate and malicious with the coincidental and casual. Note that Coates doesn’t list “nigger interventionism in Syria and Lybia,” “nigger bank bailouts and corporate welfare for failed solar companies,” nor “nigger record number of deportations of illegal immigrants.” Those are part of President Obama’s legacy. Those may not be typical progressive policy/actions, but a black guy was president when they occurred. Would Coates complain if those were “whitewashed?” Most likely Trump will continue those bad executive actions, but what if Rand Paul or Ted Cruz won the nomination and election? Would they be white supremacists for overturning Obama-era legacies?
And this obsession with identity politics and race and the absurdism contained therein leads me to Act III of this little immorality play.
From the “That’ll Show ‘Em!” department comes a story about an artist/activist collective (that very word sends chills down my individualist spine!) called INDECLINE, which hung eight effigies wearing KKK robes over clown costumes from a tree in Joseph Bryan Park in Richmond, Virginia.
“Ku Klux Klowns” is “in protest of the White Nationalist uprising in the United States.” Around the neck of each effigy is a placard that reads, “If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler.” Shirley hearty guffaws were heard in and around Joseph Bryan Park in the middle of the night as the effigies were being hung.
Kudos to INDECLINE’s savvy marketing department; the collective (ooh, that word again!) picked the perfect time to unveil this…art installation, I guess you could call it, since Stephen King’s It is now in theaters (quick aside: former Shortcuts intern Ajit “Why Does This Saxophone Reed Taste Funny?” Matharu said to me the other day, “Hey, I’m going to the theater Friday, there’s a movie I want to see, do you want to see It with me?” To which I replied, “I would like to see it with you, Ajit. Tell me, which movie would you like to see?” Ajit said, “It.” “I would like to see it, as well, friend,” I said, “though I’m still waiting for you to tell me the name of the motion picture we shall view.” “It.” “Ajit, while I do appreciate the invitation to enjoy a film screening with you, I do not appreciate this vague response. Now, one last time: what is the name of the movie?” “It!” Ajit yelled. This went on for another two hours).
Is there really a market demand for ridicule of the KKK and other white supremacists at this point? It’s the current year; is there anyone on the fence regarding their feelings about the KKK that will be swayed by “Ku Klux Klowns?” Unless you’re a sociopathic moron, you are not yourself a racist, nor do you support racists. What goes on in the heads of members of INDECLINE and “artists” like them? Did they have a meeting wherein they decided that the only way to roll back the tide of rising white nationalism would be with “Ku Klux Klowns?” Do a bunch of nine-year-olds run INDECLINE?
Actually, I’m surprised they hung the effigies from tree branches, since that might trigger snowflakes into thinking about lynchings.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
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