Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

This goes hand in hand

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with the supposed “looting” going on in Haiti. Ten thousand US troops are in Haiti. Ammunition is in abundance. Food, not so much. There are still only four distribution points in all of Port-Au-Prince – a city of two million – and food and supplies languish behind military checkpoints. To wit:

“An airdrop [of food] is simply going to lead to riots,”

said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, four days before they decided to airdrop the food they let pile up behind fences.

“Everything’s just 100 metres away. We can look at the supplies sitting there.”

said Alphonse Edwards, coordinator of the Port-Au-Prince General Hospital, unable to actually use said supplies.

The hold-up is supposedly because of security: They’re worried, like in New Orleans, at what Black people would do when desperate; hence the hang-up with “looting.” Or, to quote David Brooks of the New York Times, the problem in Haiti is

“…a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized.”

So let us beat civilization into these lazy, stupid primitives. Let us teach them that this tragedy is the fault of their own doing, and let us withhold supplies until they get the message. After all, America abhors giving free handouts: It’s capitalism for the poor all the way!

To speak of the vagaries of capitalism, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines have returned to stopping at Haiti’s ports of call so that their revelers can partake in its “pristine beaches,” defended by armed guards, while its people starve. Ahh, the new Gilded Age.

But honestly now – since Voodoo was mentioned – if we’re gonna be totally prejudiced and bigoted, why don’t we look at the Protestantism and charity: You know, the part where a “good person” is one who succeeds with money, begging is abhorred and charity is done by giving to “charitable organizations” instead of directly to those in need? Like how we’re right now doing everything in our power but directly help people – just as Royal Caribbean Cruises donated a million dollars to ease their corporate conscience while they continue to exploit those same people?

Would I go so far as to say that David Brooks is proposing that these people drag themselves up from grinding poverty, worldwide disdain, rampant racism and a huge natural disaster by their bootstraps because of the intolerance of his religion? NO! He’s just a fucking jerkoff!

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  • Published: Aug 11th, 2009
  • Category: Society
  • Comments: 1

The Question of Race

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As the GOP masterminds yet another offensive in their endless campaigns of disinguinuity and disinformation, the question of race rears its ugly head in the presidency and the public.

However, I’m sick of hearing about Birthers and Astroturf rent-a-mobs and the culture of fear, so I’m going to link an article Henry Gates wrote fifteen years ago for the New Yorker wherein he posits, among other things, that OJ was famous rather than Black before his trial, and that he was reverted to Ur-Blackness in a national debate on the rifts of race relations at that time.

Funny then, that Gates’ recent foray into the national stage was prompted in a situation where he wasn’t famous enough to be other than Black when he was arrested, and that the national brouhaha that ensued turned him so. The rifts are indeed still there, in some ways subdued and in others just brimming and biding, but the debate finds new paths to take.

For starters, we have not even begun to discuss politics without identity politics: Obama is the first Black president. Scratch that surface, Obama is the first Hawaiian president from Kenya born to a mixed race family and has spent his youth in a Muslim country. After that we may then add that he’s intelligent and somewhat nerdy.

This has inflamed national debate rather than subdued it. The fear Gates mentioned fifteen years ago is far more potent, and while its purveyors have been somewhat more marginalized, it is given a free ride and amplified yet still. Clinton was treated similarly, what with the endless campaigns to destroy and discredit him, and Clinton deftly exploited identity politics to bouy himself on populism despite being impeached (for a blowjob!), and yet even he didn’t have to deal with the explicit racial elements of which the current campaigns are absolutely slathered.

The framing of the Gates issue speaks to a conservative backlash* which is disconcerting in its scope, especially considering the current fiascoes, and belies a problem that looks like it may well get uglier before it gets better. As the debate rages on.

*This article really is insufferable, in my humble opinion

The Pigs

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Obama called the Cambridge police “stupid” and, later, apologized for his words but, while he failed the cardinal rule of politics (never say what you think), I believe his first instinct was correct.

So clearly correct that the only real complaint on Obama’s statemanship – just as Krugman actually admitted in a recent column on the topic of health care – is not about his views as his politics. It’s politically unfortunate to made any bold statement, no matter how right it is.

Charles Blow sums up what the real issue is about, despite the equivocating from the pundits and the policemen associations closing ranks around their boys. Was it a case of racial profiling? I think the woman who called 911 is most guilty if there is such a claim. Was the encounter racially tinged? Duh. Did the policeman act professionally? Hell the fuck no.

Professional means doing your job, saying thank you and going home. Once you have answered the call and ascertained that, no, it is not a break-in, you turn and go home. The inability for a cop to admit error is what causes this to escalate. Gun justice is why the police are so universally reviled: They are goons. Nobody should be forced to tiptoe around the cop, least of all people who have been historically targeted by same.

I Hate Boston

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Had to move a friend to Boston recently; burnt $80 in fuel grinding a U-Haul up I-95.  I never really had that many positive things to say about Bensonhurst, but now compared to Jamaica Plain I think it can be viewed favorably. That place is a second-story man’s wet dream.

Best parts: The New York movers on Boston, “wouldn’t wanna move there, this life or the next,” the Boston movers on New York, “this was packed professionally? You got robbed.” The cabbie in Boston back to South Station hailed from the Bronx: “Love New York, mon. Always hustlin. Always everybody wan goin figure out ways ta rip you the hell off. You wouldn’t like Boston, mon. Too slow,” said he in a retrofitted yellow cab complete with bulletproof divider and non-functioning LCD.  The cabbie in New York picking me up from Chinatown: “Three hours from Boston*? Musta been tearin ass to get outta there.”

Boston, to me, in the times that I’ve been there and having just gone there Sunday, is irrepressibly parochial. It is a college town in every sense of the term. All the nosiness of small communities, all the exclusion of large cities: As if you’re witnessing a whole people assiduously avoiding having to acknowledge, however implicitly, the existence of other people. They are in their world, and they have meticulously maintained it such that it bears no relation to anything around them. You get the sense that you’re being placed under the microscope at the same time as being purposefully ignored.

New York is, in comparison, provincial: It’s a big city with a big city air, but what people lack in physical privacy they make up in a long, complicated set of protocol not to get in the way of their fellow man. Bostonians, however, got right up in my face with questions that would seem bold to a New Yorker.  The best way I can describe it is like the satirical view of 60s hippie communes: Professing to be all-encompassingly open but ending up being more fascist than regular society in practice, with merely the patina of polite lingo to smooth over an indirect request that you get the fuck out.

Oh, and their pizza sucks.

It is a city of New England brahmin privilege. So it came as no surprise that in the same general time frame of my being there, professor Henry Gates – director of Harvard University’s Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research (the same institute and the same university that chased off Cornel West for being too radical) – was arrested by Cambridge police after a neighbor called the cops on him for breaking into his own home.

Ostensibly the reason was because he was belligerent (in his own home) when the cops came to arrest him (in his own home), as the charge (that later got dropped) was disorderly conduct (in his own home), but if you can’t be belligerent in your own home that the cops are removing you from for breaking and entering, then pardon me, but what the fuck? That’s like arresting somebody for the sole charge of resisting arrest!

Boston, man…

*Fung Wah, man. Live it. Love it. Buses have been stopped by state troopers. Buses have spontaneously burst into flame on the highway. Bus managers have gotten into shootouts and gang battles with competing bus companies, but no passenger’s died yet and you simply can’t beat the price or the speed.

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