Friday, June 28, 2013

"Change is a motherf*cker when you run from it"

As the backlash develops to what Dr. William Barber II calls the "third reconstruction," I am reminded of how perceptively Derrick Jensen described what we're seeing these days in his book The Culture of Make Believe.
From the perspective of those who are entitled, the problems begin when those they despise do not go along with—and have the power and wherewithal to not go along with—the perceived entitlement...

Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, "normal," chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.

Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.
In other words, this is not some new sexism, racism, homophobia that is showing its face. Its been there all along - disguised as tradition (Paula Deen) or religion (Mike Huckabee). What has changed is that women, people of color and LGBT are developing the "power and wherewithal to not go along with the perceived entitlement." Fear and hatred can no longer be normalized and are thus being exposed.

I think its important that we recognize this so that we see what is happening as the result of progress rather than feed our own fears about going backward. The beast is in its death throes and everyone - I mean EVERYONE - knows how this story is going to end eventually. That's what they're so afraid of.
America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying, thank god, and those who relied on entitlement and division to command power will either be obliged to accept the changes, or retreat to the gated communities from which they wish to wax nostalgic and brood on political irrelevance...

Hard times are still to come for all of us. Rear guard actions will be fought at every political crossroad. But make no mistake: Change is a motherfucker when you run from it. And right now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable...

Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense... And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal. That word, too, means less with every moment. And those who continue to argue for such retrograde notions as a political reality will become less germane and more ridiculous with every passing year. 


  1. The snake bites hardest just before it dies.

  2. "America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions."

    I have been looking forward to this day for so long. The question now is how we orgnaize to speed the arrival.

  3. I believe this is what the new "Organizing For Action" is hoping to accomplish. Keep talking to your friends, get them involved, tell them to pass it to there friends, and so on...

  4. Actually, I had an encounter the other day with a library patron. He's white, and a true liberal, but still seeing things through the scrim of his experience. He's convinced that 2014 will be like 2010, because "we elected Bush twice". Never mind that we didn't actually elect him the first time. And he says Obama was elected merely because he was "white enough" and whites felt good voting for him. Again, never mind that Romney won 60% of the white vote. The tidal wave that began in California and New York is going to wash over the country, and unless the GOP is for an apartheid regime, there's not a damned thing it can do about it.

  5. True and beautifully stated. You are right, progress is being made and rather rapidly in the last 4 years especially. More and more Americans, especially those who had turned their heads and spoken dismissively about "those people" have realized that they are part of the vulnerable 99% and that the emperors, the 1% have no clothes. Our coalitions are becoming wider, bigger, angrier and more focused in the push back. This past week has been one of highs and lows with the results of the various SCOTUS rulings, but I, and many others, feel energized and full of possibilities.

  6. One of the reasons I loved raising our children in Hawaii. While not a perfect place of racial harmony, they did get to learn that most folks actually DON'T look like them, and that there are many cultural routes to love, acceptance and tolerance.

  7. The idea of hope and real change seems to scare many republicans. I remember when Sen. Obama chose his theme of "Hope and Change" in 2007, many on the right ridiculed him. Palin made it her business to mock the slogan every chance she got by asking, "How's that hopey changey thing working out for ya?", and the lemmings copied her. Although neither she nor any other republican will admit it, we have seen real change in the country since 2009--HCR, the death of DADT, the striking down of DOMA's provision that denies same sex married couples the right to the same benefits as all other married couples, many rank and file Americans finding their voice, and among other things, undocumented immigrants standing up and challenging republicans' demonization of them (Yay! DREAMERS!) Sure, political change has been slow to materialize, but I've seen a lot of change, and hope, among the populace, especially, in our younger people, and I think it's all good. Many republicans hate to see anyone think for themselves, but I love witnessing it.

  8. I've thought for awhile that a pound of white privilege isn't worth what it used to be. As a person of color, I'm waiting for a white leader to materialize (while I still do my work) that can speak to the "death throes" but more importantly speak about why white entitlement is poison in the first place. That voice in the larger environment needs to be at the table.


    1. Hard message to get across; I was born in a British colony, and do feel that colonialists are damaged by the experience, but not anywhere near as badly as the colonized, so acknowledgment of the damage to the oppressor often feels like unjustified complaint. But thanks for saying that — it might help. And wouldn't it be good?


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