5/10/2007

...And For My Next Trick I Shall Poke A Killer Whale

For those of you who've seen the really fucking long incredible and astounding True Front of Progressivism post by The unapologetic mexican, have probably become really interested in the possibility of a blow up between Nezua and David Neiwert of Orcinus. Well it ain't happening.

However I'm still gonna take Orcinus' (And note that I'm gonna call Neiwert "orcinus" for the rest of this post for the sole and singular reason that I'm never quite sure I'm spelling his name correctly, but orcinus refers to killer whales, who are cuddly. I get really dyslexic with names and words with lots of I E and As near each other, largely because the bits of my brain that should care about the order the letters should go in, doesn't) complaints and stuff from the Jesus General thread and faf with them for the very sensible seeming (at least to my mind) reason that all the white people who want to play pretend that they live in a cuddly world where Obama Barack is not a token, are looking like they're gonna latch onto Orcinus' reaction to Nezua's post to rationalise their willfull ignorance about matters that no white person has ever had a legitimate excuse to be ignorant about in the first place (other than our innate laziness of course).

So it should therefore be noted that this is not an attack on orcinus, who is one of those blogs that I think does very important and insightful stuff, along with all the other such blogs, and I really really liked strawberry days.

But still, the only way to fight the slimy critters who hide under rocks such as the one Orcinus unwittingly provided for them (for understandable reasons, which I'll cover in a bit), is to pick the rocks up and expose the worst of the bunch to daylight, or to pour salt on them, depending on the slimey critters in question.

So with no further moderation of what I'm about to say let's hit it:

Look, I think Nez's overarching point is valuable, but I'm fucking furious about this.

When the hell was I designated "the face" of the left blogosphere on race?

I spent much of last week traveling and dealing with a family death, and what posting I did was done on the ferry and late at night when I could squeeze a little time in.

When the fuck was it that I was named the White Man in Charge of the Race Discussion? I'm just a guy posting in his garage and I do the best I can.

Nez, not only do you hold me to a ridiculously high standard, but it's one that you're not willing to meet yourself. Where were the links from you when I wrote the eliminationism series, especially the stuff on immigration? You're just getting around to reading it now!

Incidentally, I had been warning about the likelihood of concentration camps resulting from immigration policy well before Hutto came up. See here, here and here for example.

You'd know that if you'd been reading me all along, Nez. But you haven't, so you don't really know what I've been saying. Now you want to come in and tell me what I need to be writing about? I don't think so.


Now this is a comment of rage and fury which is kinda out of proportion to what Nezua actually said about Niewert, which was this:

Reading Digby yesterday, I was enjoying a post called It's Baaack, where he writes that "Via Dave Niewert at Orcinus I see that America's ugly white underbelly is showing again" and goes on to inform his readers that "Niewert's work is very important at a time like this because he has documented how these racists and eliminationists are given permission by mainstream figures to let their bigot flag fly:"

And I thought America's ugly white underbelly is...'back?' Really? I thought to myself where had it gone, then? And I went to Niewert's blog, which so often has very well-researched articles that tie in historically. The man does an astounding amount of research, and also posts very beautiful pictures of whales. Still, I had to ask myself why it was that Digby thought "America's ugly white underbelly" had gone anywhere. Was it because he reads Orcinus to keep up on it?


Now it's understandable that orcinus might get a bit angry about this, Nezua is after all snarking on digby and quite a few other a-listers using a technique known as "taking them at face value, and running with it".

Now you wouldn't think that taking what people say at face value would be that annoying really, after all, Amanda Marcotte and any number of other people have pointed out that it's not very fair to expect white writers to actually be aware of the contexts and subtexts that are contained in and surround their writings - unfortunately they've yet to explain why this is so, but I'm sure they'll do it one day - but nonetheless it is one of the most clever ways to convey snark because writers use subtexts and context to convey thoughts, and actually taking a blog post literally enugh that you fail to engage with the context the writer intended to center the post around, and thereby change subtexts that relied on that context, leads to the entire blog post itself being read in a way the original writer never meant for it to be read.

In this particular instance, Nezua takes Digby's statement that "Niewert's work is very important at a time like this because he has documented how these racists and eliminationists are given permission by mainstream figures to let their bigot flag fly:" and makes you view it from a different angle than the one Digby intended.

Of course, the entire rest of Nezua's post should lead the reader to realise that the context that's being substituted for the intended one is of course the one in which the A-Listers have been soaking in furiously for the past year or so. For those just tuning in, that's the one in which they've been engaging in petit eliminationist tactics towards POC, radical and feminist bloggers, not to mention the careful watering down of truly progressive politics to the end of "passing" as members of the political punditocracy, which goes on top of the overtly racist, sexist, and just plain bigoted stuff those A-listers have been churning out of late, in the name of "progressive politics".

One of the favorite statements by these A-listers to rationalise all that, has been a routine and constant declaration that "they don't have time" (in between setting their threadbots up in the morning and counting their six figure ad revenue in the evening, she said snarkily), either to read the blogs that would give them the information and education they frankly need if they're gonna have any hope of not being such fucking idiots (ffs), or to blog about all those issues... Like hte detention centers, like the intersection of immigration policies, that a lot of their pet politicians support, with reality, and like the more subtle and routinely accepted aspects of the whole wider system of white supremcy and colonialism.

So when an A-Lister declares that a blog is important, because it deals with issues like racism, and eliminationism, well that's a huge fucking statement! Here we have a time poor blogger, who usually just cannot find the time to deal with such things, declaring that not only is dealing with such things very important, but that at last someone, among all the millions of blogs, is finally actually doing what the poor hard working A-lsters are unable to do!

And of course, for those who don't get the other side of teh joke, Nezua is actually mocking the fact you'd have to be pretty fucking ignorant of what Orcinus usually contains to talk about Orcinus' work documenting instances of racism and eliminationism, and at the same time name the blog post "It's baaack!", given that Orcinus makes it quite clear in post after post after post that the racism didn't actually go anywhere, that it in fact has always been there, teetering on the very brink of public awareness.

But given that, well why is Orcinus angry?

Well lets look at his next comment, and deal with this whole "safe" issue he raises:

As I said, I think Nez's underlying point is important. You know, I think a lot of white folks who are sincerely progressive about racial issues like to think that it's not "their issue" -- they leave the advocacy up to the minorities who they see as that constituency. I happen to think racial issues affect us all and are the provenance of every progressive. I'm kind of baffled that I'm one of the few who does talk about those issues consistently, particularly the immigration debate.

But really, it's against my nature -- and part of the parcel -- to bang my shoe on the table when no one pays attention. You know, this idea that I'm an "A-lister" really doesn't hold up: I get about 3,000 hits daily, which is very healthy, but far below what the General gets, or Digby, or many many others. And frankly, the more I've talked about immigration, the more traffic, and more especially my links for the real A-listers, has tapered off -- but that hasn't changed my focus.

What really dismayed me, though, and still does, is being described as "safe." What I do isn't safe. Confronting neo-Nazis and racists isn't safe. Pointing out the flow of extremism into mainstream conservatism, and calling it for what it is (namely, fascism) isn't safe -- what happens, actually, is what has happened to me, namely, that you get tagged an alarmist and a race-monger. Again, that hasn't changed my focus.

Being called "safe" really takes for granted the many risks I've taken over the years and continue to take, both personally and professionally. And I insist on taking them when necessary because it is, after all, my job.


Now aside from that most inexplicable reading of Nezua's post, where I'm confused as to where exactly orcinus is called an A-Lister in that post, let alone where Nezua makes (rather than mocks) any assertions that Orcinus is the spokesperson for anti-racist blogging or something, the whole "safe" issue is the crux of the whole affair.

You see, one of the things is that Orcinus is the most well known anti-facist blogs. in part this is due to his status as some who blogs about the extreme end of the far right, the neo-nazis and skin heads, the violent nutters and the vocal eliminationists. In short, orcinus is very emotionally safe for a lot of the "I'm not a racist but..." types on the left, because he does focus on the overt and the unsubtle aspects of white supremecy and racism.

This focus makes him highly accessible, to some extent, to people that cannot read blogs like Bfp's or BA's or Silence of Our Friends or The Unapologetic Mexican, because all of them focus quite heavily on the day to day insults and hatreds that get thrown at POC, and all of them make no bones about attacking the subtle bigots right alongside the more overt ones that unfortunately seem to be in charge in the government and media. Which, as you could imagine, would be something of a major turn off for people who themselves are those subtle bigots and unreconstructed Class White Folk.

Orcinus does not require that a reader face their own bigotries and prejudices, and therefore, orcinus is quite clearly far far "safer", emotionally, for those leftwing assholes to read and to praise as doing "important work".

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Orcinus should suddenly change tact and start attempting to talk about what it's like to be a black woman in a white man's world (to grossly insult all WOC who's blogging could be summarised as such, but I'd have to stab you in the neck if you did), largely because A) Orcinus as it is works, it does everything you could want such a blog to do and B) I don't think Orcinus could be that sort of blog and work anyway, wrong sort of writer, wrong sort of blog.

But just because I cannot fault Orcinus for being what it is, and being damn good at the same time, doesn't mean that it isn't what it is: emotionally safe for the closet racists to view and point at and say "look at them righties! Oh what nasty nasty peopel they are! Unlike us, and please please vote for Barack 'the eloquent negro' Obama!"

But WHY IS ORCINUS ANGRY!? You cry, after I avoid the question again, well I'm getting to that.

Now I want it noted that I read through Nezua's post, and I asked myself at several key points; is he talking about me? Do I need to...err...blog harder about...erm...stuff? (and then thought: That was a really stupidly phrased thought, is the Synonym Lobe drunk again?)

When non-white people talk about white people, there is that nasty tendency to assume that they're talking specifically about you, becuase there's always that fear that you are just that bit more racist than you realise, that bit less self-aware than you thought you were, becuase you walk around day after and see all the unreconstructed white racists who are convinced, absolutely fucking convinced for no discernible reason anyone can make out, that they're not racists, that they're Nice Guys and good and pure and the model of Die Colorblind Ubermenschen.

But they're not, and their unslain buddhas hangs over you and you wonder... are they talking about me? In that wonderfullly self centered way that members of The Normative Groups for some reason excel at, that makes it all about MeMeMeMeMe.

However, I'm someone who has already killed a shit lot of buddhas, when people talk about JG or World O' Crap's comments being cesspits, I know what they're talking about because I was one of those strange beige turds that are so often found in such public toilets.

"Mann coulter" and similar jokes, check.

Michelle Malkin manatee + ping pong balls jokes, check.

Been there, want to hurt myself at the memory, got the T-Shirt that says "What an Asshole" on it.

Yes... you mutter, your point?

Well back when I had more buddhas, the biggest, and always the worst, the ring leader of all the other buddhas in fact, was the one that puts it's arm around your shoulder whenever people criticise you about certain, shall we say, hegemonically approved behaviors and attitudes, and calmly says to you "hey baby, you ain't gonna take that are you? Did you hear what they called you? Whatcha going to do about it hmm?" and will spend a heck lotta time reassuring you that you're the one who was wronged here, they said this! They said that! How dare they insult MeMeMeMe!?

That Nezua was essentially talking over Orcinus, and pointing to the "safe for tender white tuckuses" anti-racist blog's own language to basically say "Wow, he's right, Orcinus really is saying stuff that needs to be said, which really is interesting and useful... shame the A-Listers didn't actually read it eh?"

But if Nezua had mentioned me by name in the way he mentioned Orcinus, well yes, I'd have assumed he was criticising me personally until I caught myself thinking in so utterly self centered a fashion.

Admittedly I am, at all times, just about barely restraining myself from killin someone for irritating me, and thus probably not exactly the best example from which to judge what's normitive in this matter, but nonetheless, the reaction, being as it is a hugely self importance misreading of Nezua's post, is all white privelage (those assumptions that it's all about us, and that we are probably not really at fault, not really, that excuse us from double checking to see if we're actually being attacked before reacting to it), all buddha, and a shame really, because it feeds the problem that Nezua was attacking, and which Orcinus is quite firmly against in the first place. But it's not even really his fault, expecting perfection at all times is a good way to find nothing but disappointment, and it must be said that he came off it far more gracefully than I would have (thought, again, note the whole "barely restraining myself from killing people" thing), but still, fundamentally, he was chatting crap, but at least would be the first person to object to the slimey tools who want to forgive blatant and rampant willingness on the part of the Big Name blogs to avoid talking about serious issues like racism and immigration, because it's a matter that they fucking well should make time For, because it has to be dealt with, because as everyone for whom racists damn well makes time to oppress will tell you; only a total idiot would think that it wasn't fundamentally important, otherwise what the fuck is the point of all this blogocubing business in the first place?

Also this post of donna's is really really good.

...And now I shall stop speaking for Nezua *cusses*.

27 comments:

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

No, no no no thank you. That was brilliant.

Thin Black Duke said...

When non-white people talk about white people, there is that nasty tendency to assume that they're talking specifically about youv

Thank you, and I beg you to say this as often as possible because I'm out of breath from trying to get people to understand this.

Anonymous said...

I read both the Unapologetic Mexican and Orcinus, and it sure seemed kind of uncalled for to me for Nezua to single out David Neiwert like that. Reading his follow up comments I understand that I didn't interpret it correctly at first, but it sounded like someone not at all familiar with Orcinus and the years of work he has done researching and writing about the Minutemen as well as other hate groups pointing the finger for not working hard enough to the one guy in the mainstream/white blogosphere actually doing the work, because it happened to support the rhetorical groove he was on to do so. Making a fucking absolutely correct and righteous point about the progressive blogosphere, that still sure read like an unnecessary potshot at David when the real dig was at Digby for not doing his homework. Digby was the one who said the ignorant comment, yet anyone unfamiliar with all three blogs would come away with an unfair impression of Orcinus as yet another safe progressive blog covering the usual topics. Of course David was upset about it. And here's you, Mildred, continuing to beat on Orcinus as a convenient example of Overly Defensive White Guy. And yet, any defense offered couldn't possibly be sufficient, could it? My question is, why go after Orcinus, whose entire reason for being is to cover these topics, when other liberal blogs are far far far more guilty of what you're talking about?

Do we really need these intrablog shenanigans? Nothing keeps me farther from participating in the blogosphere besides a few overly long anonymous comments than the feeling that I need a phD in Blog History to keep up with the grudges and alliances and who is legitimate to discuss what topic.

R. Mildred said...

My question is, why go after Orcinus, whose entire reason for being is to cover these topics, when other liberal blogs are far far far more guilty of what you're talking about?

Reread the post.

No, seriously, I answered this point in teh very first paragraph... look here:

faf with them for the very sensible seeming (at least to my mind) reason that all the white people who want to play pretend that they live in a cuddly world where Obama Barack is not a token, are looking like they're gonna latch onto Orcinus' reaction to Nezua's post to rationalise their willfull ignorance about matters that no white person has ever had a legitimate excuse to be ignorant about in the first place (other than our innate laziness of course).

I wrote this post for the sole and singular reason to stop people, people who sound remarkably similar to you (though I'm sure you're not such an idiot, mon cheri), from whining and kvetching about how, oh, even though nezua's post was so nice and well written and important, they still just cannot help, gosh darn it, from hyperfocusing on nezua's snarky sideways attack on A-Lister blogs, that happened to use Orcinus to make a point, to such an extent that they miss out everything else in the post, and end up mounting what, by a striking and freakish coincidence, happens to, in effect, end up becoming a sideways defense of the A-Listers Nezua was attacking.

One that, by yet another astounding coinkydink, happens to be best summarised as "Oh, nezua would be so much more easy for white folk to relate to if he weren't so shrill!"

Do we really need these intrablog shenanigans?

Well you obviously think we do, I mean, nezua didn't attack Orcinus, I have explained, for the hard of thinking, how he didn't actually attack orcinus, and have been very careful not to myself actually attack orcinus.

And yet here you are! Declaring there to have been attacks on orcinus!

So what? Do you want me and nezua to not attack orcinus even less than we already were? Or are we not allowed to mention Orcinus at all ever, because the word instantly becomes dirty in our mouthes?

I mean, in short, what exactly are you fucking talking about you crazy person!?

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