November 27, 2014

Drove to Smith Mountain Lake for family Thanksgiving, delayed for a day by the snow further north.

Listened to the first couple of episodes of Serial in the car. OK, yeah, it’s pretty compelling radio. I have seen (but not read) some bloggers talking about their discomfort with Koenig’s whiteness vs her subjects’ non-whiteness. Perhaps I will seek some of those critiques out & read them.

I’m less concerned about racism or cultural tourism than I am about her frequent foregrounding of her lack of distance, though. But at least she gives her subjects the opportunity to call her on that.

We are in cabins in the state park, so we’re blissfully free of TV (and Wi-Fi), and plenty far removed from the world of commerce. Best of luck to everyone out in Ferguson and elsewhere who are actively protesting at stores, and to everyone else who is boycotting.

Our family is small, and all of my grandparents are dead. Even when they were alive there wouldn’t have been much in the way of heated political arguments around the dinner table. I was picked on plenty at school growing up, for being a smartass and then a nerd and then kind of a freak, but I never had to argue with my own family about politics or society or anything else, and for that I’m eternally thankful.

November 27, 2014

November 24, 2014

It’s not as though the lack of an indictment was any kind of surprise. It’s sad that Bob McCullough couldn’t reconcile his conflicting allegiances, but hardly surprising. Prosecutors & cops are two sides of the same coin.

I look forward to reading the book[s] that will emerge from the 4700 pages of grand jury testimony released tonight, though.

I have successfully insulated myself, social-media-wise, such that I don’t have any friends in any of my various timelines making racist remarks – instead I follow folks like @YesYoureRacist on Twitter, who takes care of injecting that stuff from any of an infinite number of highly racist strangers.

It’s sad to see Barack Obama’s limits exposed – the limits of his ability to speak out as president, even one in his second term. Or the limits of any black American who is part of the power structure to speak out. Or the limits of his own empathy, as someone who is no longer young, no longer poor, no longer close to the streets.

People (mostly people in power) want to call for calm, for peaceful non-violent protest. They choose to ignore the fact that it has consistently been the police bringing the violence to the people. 

As tragic and uncontrolled and, yes, short-sighted as they are, though, rioting, burning & looting have their place. They send the message to property owners that the mere fact of their property ownership aligns them with the police & the capitalist power structure, against the workers, against the people, particularly the people who have nothing.

Listen to the rhetoric in the mainstream news, or on White Twitter. The consistent underlying theme is that property trumps human life, and specifically that any threat to property is de facto justification for taking human life.

This is how it has always been, ever since private property was invented. It’s certainly the story of America from the very first moment any European set foot here.

So horribly apt, then, to be writing this a couple of days before Thanksgiving, that most American of holidays, when we ostensibly commemorate the native peoples’ willingness to share what they had with the Pilgrims. A favor that wasn’t exactly reciprocated.

November 24, 2014