Saturday, April 08, 2006

Racism Without Race

Someone needs to take Glenn Beck's land, force him into a reservation, and then speak patrionizingly about his cultural loss. Ai sina taiguihi mohon, magof yu' siempre...

Why are things such as ethnic studies necessary? Because even though "race" has supposedly been taken out of the realm of law (for example, Civil Rights legislation), racism has not at all disappeared. We now have what Balibar has called, "racism without race." We can see it in the following report, and all around us, such as the news coverage around Hurrican Katrina. Although racism cannot openly be admitted to, as such, it nonetheless seeks out particular moments for justification, and latches onto them. Zizek discusses one such moment in his article "The Subject Supposed to Loot and Rape," where unverified reports from New Orleans after Katrina, claimed massive beatings, killings and rapings were taking place, were simply reported by the News Media. It later turned out that the majority of these incidents had never taken place. But the veracity of these reports didn't matter, since the rumors matched the racial commonsense of the black urban poor. These rumors of societal breakdown in New Orleans matched the racial logics or fantasies that the country supports. (that these people are in excess to the United States, they don't actually embody it, rather they represent its limits, the moments it breaks down. Why are educational and economic statistics for blacks so low? Common explainations will usually involve "culture" in some way, as the thing which prevents them from realizing like "the rest of us" the American dream.)

What becomes the issues now is race and readability. What do these racial images and fantasies, supposedly contained in the dark recesses of our mind, only allowed out when some "evidence" supports it continue to enact in concrete and very real terms? In Zizek's article, he connects how this racial logic hindered and delayed the arrival of aid to New Orleans since people and companies across the country imagined it to be crawling with violent black masses.

Take a recent example with Native Americans, since my post originated as that. Why is it that whenever someone makes disparaing remarks about Native Americans, it is almost always easily readable? Easily undersood, very tangible, apperently correct? During his campaign for Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, developed a number of ads which portrayed Indians in California as "freeloaders" since they don't pay taxes to the state, and promised to make them pay their fair share. What was more disturbing then this proposal alone, was my discovery that most people seemed to feel that they should pay something, that they are freeloading off of non-Indians, and that they are basically getting away with everything. Getting "special treatment."

To anyone with any knowledge of history, or any understanding of what justice should mean, then this should be an insane position, since the United States has been freeloading off of this land and numerous other lands for centuries. To draw a line in the sand now, devoid of history and devoid of the injustices of those histories is insane. But, it will always take place and always be common based on the racial fantasies of the United States, in which the Native American is always in some way, cheating us in some intolerable, no matter how much this country has brutally cheated them.

From http://www.mediamatters.org

Glenn Beck: S.D. Native Americans "have found something that can be more profitable than casinos, and that's abortion clinics"

Summary: On his nationally syndicated radio program, Glenn Beck said of Native Americans who are considering circumventing a new South Dakota law banning nearly all abortions by opening an abortion clinic on an Indian reservation in the state: "Indians will have found something that can be more profitable than casinos, and that's abortion clinics. And then, look out, man -- exploiting everything illegal for profit."

During the April 4 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Glenn Beck falsely accused Native Americans of wanting to open abortion clinics for profit on a reservation in South Dakota, where they could potentially be exempt from a recently passed South Dakota law banning nearly all abortions, except where the woman's life is at risk. Alleging that Native American culture has degenerated into "gaming, alcohol, fireworks, and abortion," Beck warned that by circumventing the new South Dakota law, "Indians will have found something that can be more profitable than casinos, and that's abortion clinics. And then, look out, man -- exploiting everything illegal for profit." Beck's remarks came in response to Cecilia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, an opponent of the South Dakota abortion ban who recently expressed interest in opening an abortion clinic on the state's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation if the law goes into effect.

Fire Thunder told AlterNet columnist Rose Aguilar that the proposed clinic would be "for all women because right now, if a woman needs an abortion, she needs to go all the way to Sioux Falls," more than 300 miles away from the Pine Ridge reservation, where South Dakota's only abortion clinic is located. Fire Thunder recently criticized the impact the South Dakota ban would have on poor women. From an April 4 interview with Aguilar:

AGUILAR: How do these laws directly impact the poor women on the reservation?

FIRE THUNDER: Women of color and poor women have always known that regardless of what happens, women with money will have access to abortion. Women with money will have access to contraception. No matter which way you cut it, it's always on the backs of poor women.
An elder on my reservation said, "So they don't want you to have contraception or abortions after rape? Are they going to step up and take care of that baby?"

AGUILAR: Do you think the pro-choice movement does enough to reach out to poor women?

FIRE THUNDER: Yes and no. For the most part, we have to empower ourselves. We're becoming much more politically astute, and we're getting a lot more young people involved. We love to get people riled up.
Fire Thunder added: "We're going to go ahead with the clinic no matter what. If nothing else, we need to establish a place where women feel comfortable."

Beck also criticized the once "proud Indian" for "using the whole 'you took our land' " argument and for deciding to "turn our precious land into a place where we can build some slot machines."
From the April 4 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Whatever happened to the Indians? You know, they were celebrating Mother Earth and Father Sky or whatever it is, and that was beautiful and special. Now, it's about gaming, alcohol, fireworks, and abortions. I mean, what happened to the proud Indian?

[...]

What fork in the road did Native Americans take? When did they decide, "Ah, crap, it's just not worth it any more. Why don't we turn our precious land into a place where we can build some slot machines?"

[...]

I mean, you know, I'm bringing this up not because I have, you know, huge opposition to keno -- casinos and Indian trinket shops; don't get me wrong here. I bring it up because, you know, the Indians are using the whole "You took our land [sobbing]." I think they're taking that a little too far, don't you? I mean, South Dakota about to pass the no-abortion thing, so the women in the tribe -- in fact, let me get this straight, the -- it's Fire Thunder, that's her -- I don't know whether that's her last name or her middle and last name. It's Cecilia Fire Thunder. So -- anyway, she says she wants to open up the abortion clinics on the Indians' land, and I mean -- how good do you feel about giving away the sovereignty now? I mean, when I say we gave them sovereignty, I mean it's, you know, more in a way like, you know, we took their sovereignty and then loaned them a little bit of it back, but you know what I mean. I hope that contract isn't iron-clad -- when are we gonna get out of that contract with the Indians?

[...]

But I mean, can you really set up anything you want now on these reservations? South Dakota really -- they have their hands tied, you know? Otherwise, the Indians will have found something that can be more profitable than casinos, and that's abortion clinics. And then, look out, man -- exploiting everything illegal for profit. That's what -- I mean, is that what the Indians have turned into?

—B.F.

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