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American History X

“American History X” (1998) is a Hollywood film where Edward Norton leads a gang of skinheads in Venice Beach in Los Angeles. But then after serving three years in prison he sees the light and tries to save his younger brother from becoming a skinhead.

The part after he gets out of prison is in colour, the part before is told in black-and-white flashbacks.

A neo-Nazi Stacy Keach plays the Bad Angel of Racist Hate (based on Tom Metzger). Avery Brooks, a black teacher Norton had in high school, plays the Good Angel of Reason and Truth. The two battle for his soul.

After Norton’s father is killed by a black drug dealer, Keach uses Norton’s anger at blacks to have him start a skinhead gang. Young whites quickly join: they are sick and tired of living in fear of the black and Mexican gangs that have moved into “their” neighbourhood.

Norton tells them that America is Venice Beach writ large: blacks and Mexicans are destroying “our” country that “hard-working Americans” have built. They are “parasites” and free-loaders that the government unjustly spends billions on.

One night two black armed robbers come to his house to take his car. Norton shoots them both dead. The judge gives him three years in prison for “voluntary manslaughter” – but would have given him life if he had known the whole truth about  how he killed them (the infamous curb scene).

In prison Norton assumes whites are his friends and blacks and Mexicans are his enemies. He expects blacks to beat him up, even kill him. But they never do. Instead it is whites who give him a hard time and in the end rape him.

Avery Brooks, his old high school history teacher, comes to visit him in prison. Brooks said he once was full of anger and blamed other races too. But then he saw that it was not making his life any better. He leaves Norton some books.

We never find out what those books are, but Norton comes out of prison a new man. He puts his skinhead days behind him. But now he must save his 16-year-old brother from going down the same bad road….

I do not know enough about skinheads to know how true-to-life the film is. Norton’s arguments sound more like the Republican Party than, say, Stormfront. Even Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, used “hard-working Americans” in just the way he does.

What separates him from ordinary Republicans is not his thinking but the Nazi images on his body and on his bedroom wall, his willingness to use the n-word and violence. A wolf in wolf’s clothing.

The film plays it safe by condemning the sort of racism that most whites have agreed is wrong since the 1960s – the racism of open hatred and violence. It leaves untouched the sort of racism most whites still practise, the respectable, more subtle racism of looking down on those who are different and not questioning the built-in advantages society gives to whites.

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Nous sommes tres belles

A guest post by Ankhesen Mié about the beauty of African women:

Growing up in the Cameroons, I adored the Fulani – we all did. We still do. There are over 27 million of them in Africa, but they’re a minority wherever they go because most of them are nomadic, and while they are indeed a beautiful people, they don’t all look alike.

As a child, I liked a milk delicacy they make (and only they make). It was so popular that whenever one casually strolled by (they’re an extremely laidback people), our parents would send us out to flag/him her down. They’d pour it from a gourd and we’d run home, bouncy and hyped like lottery winners.

As an adult, I tend to adore the Fulani fashion sense. A predominantly Muslim people, there’s a trade-off. The women will willingly cover their hair, etc…but if a Fulani woman sees something she likes at the market, her husband can’t play that “honey, it’s too expensive” ish.

The lil sis and I have Hausa family members on our mother’s side (I mean, really, who doesn’t?). There are over 35 million of them in Africa, and like the Fulani, they’re all over. Their language is actually one of the most widely spoken in Africa. Like the Fulani, the Hausa don’t all look alike, but their women do maintain an impeccable fashion sense. In addition to also being predominantly Muslim, they share so many similarities with the Fulani that members of the two groups often confused for each other.

The resplendent and mighty Zulu trace their ancestry all the way back the pharoahs. Some say they migrated south as the deserts expanded. Much of what people know (or think they know) about the Zulu is usually about their men. But I think we should pay a bit more attention to the women. Faces like these are perfectly worthy of being immortalized in statues and busts. Their fashion style is not as in-depth as the Hausa or the Fulani’s, but like many of their African siblings, the Zulu incorporate strong color and ornate beading into their looks.

Let this be testament to the vanity of women. Some of these Maasai women live out in the middle of nowhere, but you best believe they’ll be pimpin’ regardless. As with the Zulu, the focus on the Maasai usually falls on the men. Mais pourquoi? This lovely woman has such a pure, angelic demeanor. I find her picture mesmerizing. Her choice of colors flatters her skintone exquisitely. I don’t usually see silver in African apparel; the women often go with either gold or colors, or both. But the nighttime purple on her, coupled with the silver, is absolutely heavenly. They even go with the red dusting on her face, which I never would’ve guessed would match.

*sigh* Black women, seriously…you got to get your heads on straight. Look at us. Look at all of us. We are so beautiful! Nous sommes tres, tres, tres belles!!!

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Monster’s Ball

“Monster’s Ball” (2001) is about a black woman who has an affair with a white man who, unknown to her, was the prison guard who put her husband to death. It stars Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry, who won an Oscar for Best Actress, the first black woman ever. Sean Combs and Mos Def also appear.

Spoiler alert: I cannot give away the whole film in 500 words, especially one whose main strength lies in its performances, but I do give away the ending.

Leticia Musgrove, played by Halle Berry, is a waitress in a small town in Louisiana. Her husband (Sean Combs) is on death row, her son is dangerously fat, her car is dying and, with her husband in prison so long, she is about the lose the house.

Then her husband dies in the electric chair.

Then her son is hit by a car and killed.

End of Act One.

Colonel Hank Grotowski, played by Billy Bob Thornton, is a prison guard. His wife is dead. He tells his son he hates him, who then shoots himself in the heart.  He puts Leticia’s husband to death. He, by a twist of fate, drove her and her dying son to the hospital.

She is a waitress at a late-night diner he frequents to drink black coffee and eat chocolate ice cream with a plastic spoon. But despite that and despite her beauty, he tells the police at the hospital that he has never seen her before.

Then one night he is at the diner and offers to drive her home. He tells her that his son died too. She invites him in. They talk and drink whisky. Then suddenly she bares her breasts and throws herself at him! Naked sex scene of pure lust follows.

Next morning he sees her husband’s picture hanging on the wall and understands who she is. He throws up in the bathroom. And then carries on with the affair without telling her who he is.

Later she meets his father by accident. He informs her that in his younger days he liked “nigger juice” and that a man is not a man until he “splits dark oak”.

While Hank is not as racist as his father, he does call a black guard the n-word and reminds him that he could fire him – while saying nothing of the kind to a white guard who did the same thing as the black guard. That he did not know who she was at the hospital also speaks to his racism.

She loses her house and moves in with him. At the end of the film she finds out who he is – and stays with him!

The End.

Vanessa Williams and Angela Bassett turned down the lead. Bassett said:

I couldn’t do that because it’s such a stereotype about black women and sexuality…. Film is forever… It’s about putting something out there you can be proud of 10 years later. I mean, Meryl Streep won Oscars without all that.

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Remarks:

Yes, Nona Gaye is Marvin Gaye’s daughter.  This song is from 1993. I doubt  it ever charted. It sounds for all the world to me like a Janet Jackson song from the early 1990s.

Lyrics:

The Things That We All Do For Love (Yeaheee)
the Things That I Would Do For Love

i’d Walk A Thousand Miles Just To See You Smile, This Is What You Do To Me.
and It’s You; You’re The Reason Why So Won’t You Stay Awhile So That I Can Make You See.
just How You Make Me Feel, And I Wonder If This Is Real
cause It’s What My Heart’s Been Waiting For Now That We Know What We Are Looking For.

chorus:
the Things That We All Do For Love
we Compromise It Just Because,
we Want The Best That Love Has Got To Give.
the Things That I Would Do For Love
cause Basically I’d Make It Out With You, This Is What I’d Do.

i Let You Play Your Games, There’s Only Me To Blame
i Guess I’m Just A Fool For Love
but I’m Safe, Safe From Letting Go And Not Afraid To Fall As Long As U Will Fall With Me.
tell Me U Feel The Same Ooh Boy, (Tell Me That U Feel The Same Baby).
stay Through The Joy And Pain, Cause It’s What Your Heart’s Been Waiting For, Now That U Know What You’ve Been Searching For.

chorus:
the Things That We All Do For Love
we Compromise It Just Because,
we Want The Best That Love Has Got To Give.
the Things That I Would Do For Love
oh Baby Cause Basically I’d Make It Out With You, This Is What I’d Do.

only You Control You, Here’s The Moment We’ve Been Waiting For
so Love Me So Slowly, And Please Don’t Rush The Feeling Through The Door.
don’t Compromise, Just Give Your All Let Me Know That This Love.

instrumental

tell Me You Understand Ooh Boy (Tell Me That U Feel The Same Baby)
love It Is In Your Hand It’s What My Heart’s Been Waiting For, I Know What You’re Waiting For

chorus:
the Things That We All Do For Love
we Compromise It Just Because,
we Want The Best That Love Has Got To Give.
the Things That I Would Do For Love
oh Baby Cause Basically I’d Make It On With You, This Is What I’d Do

tell Me (The Things That I Would Do For You)
what Would U Do? (The Things That I Would Do For You0
would U Send Me Kisses? (The Things That I Would Do For You)
would U Send Me Your Love Or Would U Break It To Me

Teflon Theory of History

The Teflon Theory of American History says that anything that took place over 30 years ago is Ancient History. It has Absolutely No Effect on the present. Or not much. Unless it was something good like the light bulb or the Declaration of Independence. Therefore those who make a big deal of the bad stuff in the past, like slavery, are Living in the Past and need to Get Over It.

For example:

Jim Crow laws were overturned by the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Therefore according to Teflon Theory the Jim Crow period is now Ancient History. It has Absolutely No Effect on how White Americans alive today think and act. None whatsoever. Or not much. So racism is pretty much dead.

Instead of Jim Crow’s effect slowly weakening over time like you would expect, Teflon Theory would have you suppose that it  just disappeared like magic one afternoon sometime in the late 1960s.  Even though many White Americans alive now were alive back in Jim Crow times. Even though many others were brought up and shaped by those who were alive back then: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, writers, film directors, television producers, news editors and so on.

Few sit on a mountain top to come up with their beliefs all on their own. Instead most people pretty much go along with what everyone else already believes with maybe a few twists here and there. Such beliefs come from the past.

So then why is Teflon Theory believed?

  • Because of how American history is taught:
    • American history is taught as dates and people and facts that have little to do with each other. Sometimes the Effects of the the Civil War or Industrialization are studied, for example, but not so for the evil stuff – like how slavery and genocide led to present-day White American wealth, power and racism.
    • American history as taught rarely comes up to the present day. History becomes something in the past, in a book, not something we live in right now.
  • Because of the needs of White American self-image:
    • White Americans want to think they are Basically Good and their society is Basically Just. Without Teflon Theory that becomes laughable since it flies in the face of history, common sense and human nature.
    • White Americans avoid honestly facing up to their past because deep down they know it is ugly. Teflon Theory acts as a guard against having to take it seriously.
  • Because middle-class whites are protected from the ugly present:
    • Those who live in Apple-pie America rarely see first-hand the injustice that their comfortable lives are built on. And what injustice they do see on occasion, like black ghettos or wars on television fought overseas in their name, they have already learned to not see as injustice. But being protected from the ugly present makes the ugly past seem like another world, like it truly is ancient history with no bearing on the present.

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Raymond Bonner

Raymond Bonner (1942- ) writes for the New York Times and the New Yorker. He is best known for writing about El Salvador.

After getting a law degree at Stanford he practised law, first in the Marine Corps in the Vietnam War, then under Ralph Nader, then in San Francisco.

Then he wanted to be a journalist. So, without any training, he travelled Latin America and sent articles to the New York Times, some of which they printed.

In 1981 he came to El Salvador. Marxist guerrillas were fighting in the hills to overthrow the military government. America, fearing a communist takeover, trained the army on how to fight guerrillas and supplied it with helicopters and M16s, an American-made machine gun.

In January 1982 guerrillas showed him a town: El Mozote.

The town was empty. The church and the houses were burnt out. Instead of people there were bones and skulls and bodies. At the edge of a cornfield were the remains of 14 young men, women and children. On the ground about seven paces away were spent M16 cartridges.

It was the same in nearby villages.

The villagers showed him a list of the dead. It had the names and ages of 733 people, mostly women, children and old people.

They said it was the army: they came in helicopters and wore uniforms – things the guerrillas did not have. The men and older boys fled for their lives, many of them guerrilla supporters. They never dreamed the army would gun down defenceless people. But they did. Even babies.

In El Mozote only one woman lived to tell the tale. She hid in the trees and heard her nine-year-old son cry out, “Mama, they’re killing me. They’ve killed my sister. They’re going to kill me.”

Bonner wrote down what he saw and heard and sent it to the New York Times. After they were sure it was true, they printed it on January 27th 1982.

The Wall Street Journal and others on the right said Bonner was being used by the guerrillas to spread their propaganda. They questioned his character. The US Embassy said it found no proof of a mass killing (but never looked hard).

A.M. Rosenthal, the editor at the Times, took a great deal of heat from the Reagan Administration. He never printed four articles that Bonner later wrote on Nicaragua. In August he brought Bonner back to New York to become a business reporter. He later put James LeMoyne in charge of covering El Salvador.

Bonner took a leave of absence to write a book, “Weakness & Deceit: US Policy and El Salvador” (1984). And then he quit.

Alma Guillermoprieto, who reported El Mozote for the Washington Post, was later sent to cover – suburban Maryland. She also quit.

Bonner did not return to the Times till the early 1990s. By then the United Nations had proved him right: it found the bones of more than 500 bodies. It found that over 100 children were in the sacristy of the church where they were gunned down with M16s.

See also:

James LeMoyne

James LeMoyne (c. 1953- ) wrote regularly for the New York Times from 1983 to 1990. He was their top reporter in El Salvador from 1984 to 1988.

Noam Chomsky said:

James LeMoyne is an absolute crook, he’s one of the most dishonest journalists I’ve ever seen.

Some examples:

1. Voters shot dead by guerrillas:

Before the elections in El Salvador in 1988 LeMoyne reported that two men registered to vote and later had their registration cards put in their mouths by guerrillas who then shot them dead. The State Department used this story to show Congress how the guerrillas were undermining the elections.

LeMoyne reported the story as if he had been in that part of the country. Which was odd because the military did not allow reporters to go there. Stranger still: LeMoyne was not even in El Salvador at the time!

What LeMoyne did not tell us is that he copied the story out of a newspaper in El Salvador – and then left out the part that it was just something some army officer said!

As it turned out, one of the two voters was very much alive and the other one had never been born!

2. Nicaragua supplying arms to the guerrillas:

After peace was made in Central America in 1987, much against American wishes, LeMoyne reported there was “ample evidence” that Nicaragua was supplying arms to the guerrillas in El Salvador. He and others at the Times repeated this over and over again. But they would not say what the “ample evidence” was. Because, as it turned out, there was no ample evidence: it was just hearsay.

3. Weakening support for the guerrillas:

In 1988 most observers said that 20,000 came out for the May Day parade in El Salvador, yet LeMoyne said it was only 3,000. He said this showed weakening support for the guerrillas since two years before 40,000 came out. Except that two years before LeMoyne himself said that it was 20,000.

At each turn his printed lies supported the American foreign policy favoured by the US Embassy, the rich and powerful in El Salvador – and by his editor back in New York, A.M. Rosenthal.

In 1989 he wrote an article on the civil war in El Salvador for Foreign Affairs magazine.

Next he works for the United Nations.

In 2001 the UN said:

Mr LeMoyne has worked in peace processes, complex crises and peace-building for 20 years. He has been involved with the processes in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Guatemala and Colombia.

His part at the UN does not become big enough to make the news, however, till 2002 when Kofi Annan sends  him to Colombia to try to make peace between the government and the FARC guerrillas.

He is now at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Switzerland, which employs people good at stopping wars.

LeMoyne was born in Germany. He grew up in Europe, Latin America and the States and is an American citizen. He went to Harvard, Oxford and the London School of Economics. He wrote for the Harvard Crimson from 1974 to 1975.

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PBS NewsHour

“PBS NewsHour” (1975- ) is the evening news show on PBS, America’s public (tax-supported) television network. The show’s name has changed over the years:

  • 1975: The Robert MacNeil Report
  • 1975: The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
  • 1983: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
  • 1995: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
  • 2009: PBS NewsHour

The show grew out of MacNeil and Lehrer’s award-winning reporting on the Watergate hearings in 1973.

Ownership: the “NewsHour” is privately owned, mostly by Liberty Media, which in turn is mostly owned by John Malone, a right-wing American businessman.

Follow the money: while it gets money from the government and viewer donations, it also gets money from banks, agribusiness, insurance companies, foundations and others. They do not place ads, but their names and logos do appear at the beginning and the end of each show.

News sources: like most of the American press it gets most of its news from government and business. But PBS was supposed to be different. According to the government act that created it in 1967, it was to:

provide a voice for groups in the community that may be otherwise unheard … help us see America whole, in all its diversity.

Here is what America looks like in terms of race and ethnicity:

  • 67% white
  • 15% Hispanic
  • 12% black
  • 6% other

Here is what it looks like on the “NewsHour”:

  • 82% white
  • 1% Hispanic
  • 11% black
  • 6% other

That 1% Hispanic comes at a time when Arizona is passing laws against them.

And that 11% black looks pretty good – but half of it is President Obama.

In stories on crime, however, America is no longer 82% white but, suddenly, 64%.

Among live guests, 55% are Republicans – even in 2010 with the Democrats in power. Among those from think tanks, 80% are right-wing.

For every 100 businessmen it shows only 3 from labour.

And it gets worse.

In April and May 2010 when they covered the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico it took two weeks before we heard from an environmentalist.

During the same period they covered the war in Afghanistan. Most Americans are against the war and Obama’s own men are badly split. But on the “NewsHour” nothing is said against the war – just on how well it is being fought. And even on that question they avoided the most damning statements made by General McChrystal in his interview with the Rolling Stones.

On the issue of Israel and the Palestinians, in May and June 2010 they showed 11 Israelis but only two Palestinians.

In June when Israel broke international law by boarding Turkish ships in international waters and started shooting and killing civilians, the “NewsHour” brought on two legal experts: one defended Israel, the other merely said Israel should have waited till the ships landed in Gaza.

Even though some of its guests were clearly against the whole idea of Israel cutting off Gaza from the rest of mankind, the “NewsHour” never presented those opinions.

Because it is an hour long it can and does rise above the sound-bite news common on television, even on cable news, but it does not allow enough time to fairly present views beyond those of well-to-do white Americans.

See also:

gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where you destroy someone’s faith in their own memory and judgement through a pattern of lies. Done long enough it can destroy their self-confidence, lead to a nervous breakdown or even cause them to take their life.

It is most commonly practised by men who beat their wives or are covering up an affair, but authority figures can do it too, like managers and policemen. White Americans use it to hide their own racism.

The name comes from “Gas Light” (1944), a film in which the husband tries to drive his wife mad in order to control her fortune. He does it in part by turning down the gas lights bit by bit over time and when she notices the house getting darker he says she is imagining it. The term has been used by psychologists since at least the 1970s.

The gaslighter does it to control others: if they doubt their judgement they will more easily agree with him and do what he wants. It also wears them down, which also makes them easier to control.

Gaslighting can be partly physical, like moving or hiding stuff to make someone believe they are losing their memory.

For it to work well on you, you cannot know you are being gaslit and you need a reason to give into the gaslighter, like fear of being alone or being fired. And it does not work right away – the gaslighter must stick to it and over time wear down your confidence in your own memory and judgement.

Some signs you are being gaslit:

  • You constantly second guess yourself.
  • You have a hard time making simple decisions.
  • You feel hopeless and joyless.
  • You feel like you used to be a different person – happier, more confident, more at ease.
  • You keep asking yourself “Am I being too sensitive?”
  • Despite all the good things in your life you are not happy and feel like something is terribly wrong but cannot say what.

Gaslighters make you feel like you cannot do anything right, that you are not good enough. You are always telling them sorry – while hiding their behaviour from others!

Because racism is also an abusive relationship, gaslighting can appear there too.

This is most commonly done by White Americans telling blacks that they are being oversensitive, that they are imagining things – trying to get blacks to doubt their judgement. The Anything But Racism argument can be gaslighting too.

To a degree it is hard to gaslight blacks: they can compare notes among themselves and see that they are not simply imagining things like whites say.

On the other hand, whites control what gets reported as news, as history, what gets seen as important and what gets overlooked. Not just about America or the world in general, but even about blacks themselves. And in that way they can gaslight blacks profoundly, making them doubt what they see and think and feel for themselves.

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David Fagen

David Fagen (1875-?), sometimes written Fagan or Fagin, was a black American soldier who deserted in 1899 during the Philippine American War and fought for the Philippines.

The American War Department doubted that blacks:

if brought face to face with their colored Filipino cousins could be made to fire on them.

In the end it sent over 6,000 black soldiers. Fagen was one of them. He was a corporal in the 24th Infantry, a black regiment based in his home town of Tampa, Florida. It left San Francisco in June 1899, sent to help crush Philippine independence.

White soldiers called the war “nigger killing business”. They called the Filipinos “niggers” and other names day after day. They spat on them, pushed them off the streets, kicked them, hit them, felt no need to respect them.  They burned down their houses and drove them off their land into “protection zones”, where thousands died. They shot down men, women and children.

Black soldiers wrote home calling the war “an unholy war of conquest”, “a gigantic scheme of robbery and oppression”. One informed Booker T. Washington that:

These people are right and we are wrong and terribly wrong.

Another said:

The future of the Filipino, I fear, is that of the Negro in the South.

This was at a time in America when two blacks on average were being lynched every week.

Twenty blacks deserted – surprisingly high compared to past wars. Some had even served in the army for 20 years or more. And they did not simply desert: many joined the Philippine Army. One effect of this was better shooting on the part of Filipinos, who were poorly trained compared to Americans.

Five black deserters were later caught:

  • Lewis Russell – hanged
  • Edmond Du Bose – hanged
  • Garth Shores – life in prison at Fort Leavenworth
  • William Victor – life in prison at Fort Leavenworth
  • John Dalrymple – “killed while escaping custody”

Fagen deserted on November 17th 1899. For two years he fought under General Alejandrino. After a year he made captain and led 350 to 400 men, who regarded him as a hero. He spoke Tagalog and had a Filipina wife.

He fought the Americans at least eight times, particularly against General Funston, who wanted his head. One time Fagen took 20 Americans prisoners. Another time he led 150 men to take an American river boat and made off with its guns.

He made the front page of the New York Times, which informed its readers that he was:

cunning and highly skilled guerilla officer who harassed and evaded large conventional American units.

In 1901 when General Alejandrino at last had to surrender he refused to give up Fagen:

The surrender of Fagan is an infamy I cannot commit because I know that if you get to catch him, you are capable of dousing him in petroleum and burning him alive.

Alejandrino gave Fagen 12 rifles and Fagen disappeared. Into the mountains of Nueva Ecija.

Funston put up wanted posters in every town of Nueva Ecija. He offered a reward, “dead or alive” of $600 (1,100 crowns).

Fagen was never found.

See also:

Remarks:

Santana’s 2010 cover of the old Beatles song from 1968. I like this version way better.

Lyrics:

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it need sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you
how to unfold you love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
they bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know how you were diverted
you were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
no one alerted you

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

Oh, oh, oh
oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
yeah yeah yeah yeah

See also:

white man’s burden

The white man’s burden (1899) means the moral duty of whites to uplift the other races of mankind. The idea allowed whites to view their rule of Africa and Asia as right and good. The phrase has fallen out of fashion – even white people now see how racist it is – but the ideas behind it live on, as shown by the American war in Iraq and Mighty Whitey films.

The phrase comes from a poem by Rudyard Kipling: “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands.” It appeared in February 1899 in McClure’s Magazine. It urged White Americans to take over and rule the Philippines for its own good. It starts out like this:

Take up the White Man’s burden –
Send forth the best ye breed –
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild –
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

At least some white people, like Mark Twain, saw through this self-serving lie. A few weeks later “The Brown Man’s Burden” by Henry Labouchere appeared. It starts:

Pile on the brown man’s burden
To gratify your greed;
Go, clear away the “niggers”
Who progress would impede;
Be very stern, for truly
‘Tis useless to be mild
With new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

Pile on the brown man’s burden;
And, if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old-fashioned reasons
With Maxims up to date.
With shells and dumdum bullets
A hundred times made plain
The brown man’s loss must ever
Imply the white man’s gain.

Pile on the brown man’s burden,
Compel him to be free;
Let all your manifestoes
Reek with philanthropy.
And if with heathen folly
He dares your will dispute,
Then, in the name of freedom,
Don’t hesitate to shoot.

This was the truth that the idea of the white man’s burden hid from view. In particular:

  • Whites destroyed the civilizations of the Aztecs, Incas and West Africans.
  • They robbed Africa of its riches and made its people into slaves.
  • They wiped out the people of North America and Australia and took their land.
  • By 1900 they ruled most of the world, robbing it of its wealth and freedom.
  • They turned on each other in two world wars, killing tens of millions.
  • They undermine democracies in other countries and keep bad men in power when it suits them.
  • They underpay blacks and Latinos in America – and then see them as a drain on society.
  • They spent $2.3 trillion (400 billion crowns) on Africa over the past 50 years and yet over a million die of malaria every year as if it were some strange, incurable disease.

Despite all that they still think they are better than everyone else, that they are a force for good, that they are well-meaning.

Power corrupts. The West is powerful enough that it can believe whatever it wants about its motives – with no one to tell them otherwise who will widely be believed.

See also:

Philippine-American War

Mark Twain: "... we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world. . . And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one - our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones."

In the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) America crushed Philippine independence, leaving between 200,000 and a million dead. Theodore Roosevelt called it “a war to extend Anglo-American progress and decency”. America ruled the Philippines till the 1940s.

In 1898 America went to war with Spain. It mainly wanted Cuba. But Spain also ruled the Philippines. There America destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. President McKinley said it was to protect Oregon and California.

America backed the Philippine Revolution, which overthrew Spanish rule in the countryside. America took Manila.

McKinley said he did not want the Philippines. But then one night in the White House, when he was down on his knees praying to God, it came to him:

  1. That we could not give them back to Spain – that would be cowardly and dishonorable;
  2. that we could not turn them over to France and Germany – our commercial rivals in the Orient – that would be bad business and discreditable;
  3. that we could not leave them to themselves – they were unfit for self-government – and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and
  4. that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.

In 1899 America made war on the Philippines to prevent the anarchy and misrule of self-government. To uplift and civilize and Christianize the Christians of the Philippines:

  • In Samar, American soldiers were ordered to make it a “howling wilderness” and kill “everything over ten”.
  • In Batangas province a third of the people, 100,000, died.
  • In Caloocan all 17,000 people were killed, wounded or driven off, men, women and children, their houses set on fire. A common practice of the Americans.
  • Thousands of ordinary Filipinos died in American “protection zones” (prison camps).
  • One reporter saw Filipinos put up their hands up to surrender only to be taken to a bridge and shot down one by one, their bodies falling into the river.

Secretary of War Elihu Root:

The war in the Philippines has been conducted by the American army with scrupulous regard for the rules of civilized warfare, with self-restraint, and with humanity never surpassed.

Black Americans, wanting to fight for their country, got there only to hear White American soldiers call the Filipinos “niggers” day after day. Many white officers called the war “nigger killing business”.  One white soldier said:

Our fighting blood was up, and we wanted to kill niggers. This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all to pieces.

Some black soldiers, like David Fagen of the 24th Infantry, deserted and fought for the Filipinos.

The Filipinos were outgunned, but they could keep going through guerrilla warfare so long as they had good generals. The last of these, Miguel Malvar, surrendered in 1902. Some fighting continued till 1913 but the war was over.

America teaches a class in civilization. From left to right in the front row: the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba.

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Dialects of English in the 1300s

Standard English, the sort of English you learn at school and read in books, the kind I am writing in now, was born in the government offices of London in the early 1400s and given shape by London printers in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

In the 1300s there was a great poet – Chaucer – and a famous translation of the Bible – Wycliffe’s. Either one could have led to a standard, a model of written English that most people follow. It was not to be: Chaucer’s English was too different than spoken English, even back then, and Wycliffe’s Bible became suspect when he got in trouble for his religious views.

Likewise, there is no proof that England’s two great seats of learning, Oxford and Cambridge, had any effect on creating a standard.

Instead the standard was formed by those who produced the most written material in English: the government and the printers in London.

Most well-to-do people in London (but not the poor) spoke in a East Midlands dialect because that was where most of them came from: the East Midlands region north of London. In those days people in the south of England could not understand those in the north – but everyone could understand people from the East Midlands. So that made middle- and upper-class London English a workable standard.

Standard English began to take shape about 1400 among the clerks of the Chancery. They wrote legal documents that went to courts all over the country. Being used to writing in Standard French and Standard Latin, they tended to write English in a standard way too, preferring certain forms and spellings over others. They wrote English in their own dialect, the London English of the well-to-do. It became the language of government.

The spellings graciously, humbly, said, these, them and any, for example, go back to the Chancery clerks. So does -ly, as opposed to -li or -lich. That was where and when the k and e in knife were said and therefore written. And the same for all those other silent letters. To us English spelling is half mad. To them it was how it sounded. Even see and sea sounded different to them – and so to this day we write them differently.

Chancery English, as the language of government, spread beyond its offices so that by 1450 it became hard to tell where most pieces of written English came from.

In 1476 William Caxton opened the first printing press in London. Others soon followed. Each printer produced books in its own particular sort of London English, each loosely based on Chancery English. Over time their English became more and more alike so that by about 1525 there was a clear standard, which by then had become unstoppable.

In the 1600s its spelling and grammar became more or less fixed in its present form. In the 1700s people began to see it as “good” English, everything else becoming “bad” or “dialectical” – even though Standard English itself is just as dialectical.

– Abagond, 2010.

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The following is based on chapter 11 of James W. Loewen’s excellent book, “Lies My Teacher Told Me” (1995):

American history runs with blood and the important issues of life – but in high school it is made as dull as dishwater and filled with what schoolbook authors know to be lies. Why? Loewen says it is mostly because of teachers.

It is teachers –

  • who mainly sit on schoolbook adoption committees;
  • who are trusted by parents to teach their children history;
  • who are seen by schoolbook publishers as their main customers.

History is made dull on purpose: dull history is way easier to teach. Names, dates and facts are easy to test for, especially at the state level. And if those facts are “safe”, or seem to have little bearing on the student’s life or are lies that avoid unpleasant truths, then it makes it easier for the teacher to control the class: because they avoid heated, open-ended questions, like about race relations, religion or divorce. But even dull high school history takes 55 hours a week to teach.

But there is more:

In the eyes of most teachers, parents, school boards and even the historians who take part the creation of schoolbooks, the aim of high school history is not to understand the nation’s past but to create citizens who respect authority and have pride in America.

Thus all those eagles and flags on the cover and words like “triumph” and “freedom” in the title. Thus the feel-good history built on lies and silence about the country’s ugly past. What 16-year-old could be proud of America, the thinking goes, if we told him the truth?

The books are not even thoroughly fact-checked – because truth has never been their selling point.

In America the ugly truth is saved for university history courses. But for eight out of ten Americans – and even six out of ten history teachers – high school history is as far as they ever go. And these people have the vote!

There are two main kinds of history books printed in America:

  • those written for schoolchildren whose aim is to make them proud of their country
  • those written for historians whose aim is to understand the past and make a name for the author as a historian.

Publishers are ideological whores: they will gladly print both kinds even though one shows up the lies of the other. Most publishing companies are owned by rich white people, but have little trouble with printing books that make rich white people look bad – so long as they turn a profit. They are far more interested in making money selling books than in pushing a particular message.

But publishers are to blame to a degree: there are plenty of school boards that want, say, more space given to blacks, and publishers could make money doing it, but they are not interested because that is not where the big money is.

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