Our team is an embarrassment, faux!


Coates-of-one-color edition:
We've been trying to read the latest piece in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The assignment isn't easy. The essay begins as shown below. Do you have any idea this means?
COATES (10/17): It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.
Do you have any idea what that highlighted chain of words means? To cite one example, did Abraham Lincoln "make his way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them?"

More to the point, do you have any real idea what such claims might mean?

Would they mean that Lincoln couldn't have reached the White House if he'd been a woman, or if he'd been socially defined as black? Each statement is true, of course, but each can also be easily stated in a clear distinct way.

Instead, Coates resorts to a chain of words which conveys a vast great powerful sense of grievance and, truth to tell, little else. In our increasingly pitiful tribe, we defer to such silly plays.

It's hard to force oneself through the big bag of air which is the current version of Coates. Our culture runs on celebrification, and celebrity tends to destroy the mind. Coates was reinvented as a celebrity in the aftermath of his book, Between the World and Me, which started with a lengthy, sobbing story about the way he was mistreated on one of the Sunday shows in November 2014.

Out in the actual world, the program in question was Face the Nation. Coates didn't name the program in his book, perhaps to lessen the likelihood that anyone would bother to fact-check his ridiculous claims about the way he was treated.

On a factual basis, Coates' account of what happened on the TV show was baldly, blatantly false. In his book, there followed a very sad tale, in which he hurls himself, sobbing, through the streets of New York, so upset is the great bag of air about the (nonexistent) way he claimed to have been mistreated.

This blatant deception was the way he chose to start a book he dedicated and addressed to his teenage son. Rather than marvel at the oddness of this behavior, our liberal world bowed and scraped and hurried off to offer him many prizes.

Earlier, Coates had written that the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman had been legally appropriate. He had noted, in some detail, that Trayvon Martin could easily have killed Zimmerman in the incident which ended with Martin's killing.

These assessments were offered for all to see, perhaps at a time when Coates didn't realize that claims like these would be treated as poison within our pitiful tribe. (He had just returned from Paris.) Apparently as a result, he rather quickly reversed himself on the matters of hand, failing to offer any explanation for his rather dramatic flip.

Celebrity tends to harm or destroy those on whom it's bestowed. Today, it's hard to read work by Coates because you'll quickly encounter passages like this, from his current third paragraph:
COATES: It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.” The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuck casts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”
The word "cuck" is indeed derived from "cuckold." Does anyone know why we're being told that, as used by Bannon, it means that the so-called cuckold's wife would get it on with someone who is black?

Our team is pitiful, pathetic, faux. We're becoming more so every day.

Tomorrow, we'll return to the recent works of our fiery assistant, associate, adjunct and even full professors. Our team is increasingly bigly sad. Sadly, others can see this.


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  3. Abraham Lincoln was a descendant of settlers who had taken the land from the indigenous people by force and guile and lived off the unrequited toil of African slaves, so of course he "made his way to high office through the passive power of whiteness." He knew that, he knew it was unjust, and he understood the Civil War as divine retribution for it.

    On the other hand, Coates' racialization of "cuck" is gratuitous.

    1. Jeez impCaesarAvg, park that limousine liberal shtick of yours for a minute and take a walk on what you'll think is the wild side -- the land of honky apologetics:

      [QUOTE] Some people died of starvation, of thirst or dysentery, and some people died -- of just having had it....

      For those who survived the ghastly ordeal of the Humboldt there was the sudden miracle of tumbling water again, and tall shade trees and rising hills. But these blessings were a warning of the last huge hurdle. Some Europeans had never heard of it. They thought the last great mountain range was the Rockies. But rearing up beyond the foothills was the great granite fortress of the High Sierras.

      The later parties learned well that they must get through the Sierras before early September, when the heavy snows began. They had heard fearful, true anecdotes about impatient companies that had been tipped off to smart shortcuts. Some of these daredevils froze in snow-blocked passes. A train that had refused to break up into manageable teams, a company of four hundred, with a hundred wagons and many cattle and mules, went far south to race across Death Valley.

      They lost or killed and ate all their animals, wandered for weeks in an ocean of sand and out into scarlet canyons and emerged at last, half crazed and gnawing, as their rescuers recalled, 'on poor ox meat but little better than basswood bark, and the marrow in their bones run and looked like corruption.'

      This was the time when the freewheeling companies no longer scorned the prim precautions of the companies that had dept to a strict military discipline. The Charlestown Company came through unscathed. Like the rest who made it before the snows, they tumbled down the western foothills into deep grass and around the golden buttocks of mountains with live oaks dotted over them as in a medieval tapestry. And they came at last to the American River. The called the last stops Pine Vista, and Cool, and Lotus. But it didn't turn out to be Lotus Land for most.

      The rich diggings had been seized early on by those California ranchers who were to become the founding families, the 'Nobs' of San Francisco. They retired to that shanty town on nine wind-blown sandy hills and replaced its tents with shacks and then, as the gold poured in, with mansions on what is still called Nob Hill.

      These were the few who had the luck and the muscle and the guile. Many others were bilked out of their strikes and gladly exchanged a bag of gold dust for a ship's passage home. The rest pounded up and down the river valley hoping to grab a little land and sell it a year later at an inflated price. Or they turned into retailers for the stage-coach line that came down from Oregon with eggs at two dollars apiece. Or they stayed on as artisans and saloon keepers in little villages to which they gave either grim or hilarious names, according to their mood, their luck, or their sobriety: Brandy Gulch, Chinese Diggings, Humbug Canyon, Knock'Em Stiff, Rich Bar, and Poverty Hill.

      [John] Sutter's huge acreage was invaded and his livestock burned when he tried to hold off the invaders. [James] Marshall, like Daniel Boone, was swindled out of every claim. He was intimidated by armed guards posted by the Nobs. And when he went to court, he found the Nobs sitting there as judge and jury. He died in total poverty thirty-seven years after his discovery and was buried within sight of his sawmill. Five years later, the state made belated amends by erecting a statue of him made of bronze.


    2. [QUOTE] It is a tremendous story. It took courage, or stark insensibility, to walk two thousand miles across the empty continent. But historically it was a freak. The forty-niners were what you might as well call 'sudden adventurers.' Their aim was not to settle Mr Jefferson's open West. they looked on the American continent as a vast intermediate nuisance between them and a fortune.

      The 'gradual settlers,' the families pushing the frontier steadily west, from the Appalachians and slowly on through 'the dark and bloody ground,' were still the real pioneers -- the best of them neither adventurers nor scoundrels but small, grim people of a puritanical strain who journeyed only to find good soil and achieve nothing more than 'their useful toil, their homely joys, and destiny obscure.'

      I think of a family who started a farm on rocky soil in Kentucky: a dim, shiftless rolling stone of a husband married to an illegitimate girl from the Virginia mountains. He tried five or six farms and kept moving on, a man afflicted, we'd say today, with a character neurosis who thought that by picking a new place, like a movie actress who keeps picking a new husband, he would somehow change the plot. He didn't, of course.

      They plodded into Indiana and did a little better. In time, they had a barn and a few animals, a little corral, a rail fence, and they planted corn and flax and beans. But then the neighbors went down with 'the milk sickness,' picked up from cows that chewed on snakeroot. Our farmer's wife died. So the vagabond father and his dour son moved on to a new state and new ground, the son passing from an almost animal boyhood into a bleak manhood. Yet, out of that frail woman and her listless husband and the poorest ground, there came something strange and wholly admirable: the slow-moving son who seized the Republic and held it through its first cataclysm -- Abraham Lincoln. [END QUOTE] **LINK**

    3. Sounds a bit romanticized, CMike.

    4. Which part sounds romanticized 10:37 AM- the bit on the end about Lincoln seizing the Republic and holding it together?

  4. The main problem with seeing everything through the lens of race is that it absolves the individual of responsibility for the outcomes in his or her own life. While that can soften the disappointments, it also robs someone of the pleasure of the victories. Agency needs to rest with the individual in order to encourage striving. Passivity is bad for people.

    So, no matter how accurate Coates might be, historically or sociologically, he is doing people a disservice when he attributes so much to racism and sees everything in racial terms.

    On the personal level, we need to cherish the incidents where people meet one-to-one as human beings and where there can be small triumphs that result from personal striving. These make us feel competent, real, capable of achieving our goals, respected by others and hopeful for our future. Coates works against this when he writes this stuff.

  5. Coates use of the word, "cuck," is not gratuitous. It's the usage that our people on 4Chan have given us. I'm not sure why Bob hasn't followed Alt-right usage over the last few years, but the racialization of the phrase is spot on.

    1. God help me, I wrote Bob an email explaining how the term has become racialized and why Coates' usage is, as you say, spot on. One of the most awkward emails I've ever written, but there you have it.

    2. I will make a sad prediction.

      Somerby will not acknowledge this correction.

      The error will stand, uncorrected.

  6. Well said AnonymousSeptember 12, 2017 at 9:04 PM.

    A problem with seeing everything through the lens of racism is that this view leads to ineffective actions since racism isn't really the main problem. We read about demonstrations of black students demanding that some statue come down. But, where are the demonstrations of black students demanding more computer and math courses?

    1. " But, where are the demonstrations of black students demanding more computer and math courses?"

      Reminds me of the whining during Ferguson that blacks could be agents of change by voting in elections, from the same folks who had no problem with ACORN being shut-down for helping blacks do exactly that.

    2. 12:22 - you make a debater's point, which may or may not be fair. But, here's the reality. While you and I bicker, many women, Jews, Asians, Mormons, etc. are quietly seeking computer and math courses. These people will succeed. They are individually doing what will lead to success in today's society.

      P.S. Are you not aware that ACORN was shut down because it was caught breaking the law on video-tape?

    3. David, that some people are able to succeed despite obstacles does not justify those who discriminate and try to hold others back. It should not be necessary for women, blacks, or anyone else, to have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to reach the same levels as those without such obstacles.

      You keep throwing Mormons into the mix. There is no evidence of discrimination against Mormons, especially in places where they are more numerous demographically, such as Utah, Idaho or California. You also seem to subscribe to the "model minority" myth about Asians, who experience considerable discrimination in mid-career since they have difficulty being promoted to higher levels of management (glass ceiling).

    4. "Are you not aware that ACORN was shut down because it was caught breaking the law on video-tape?"

      No. I am not aware that actually happened. I remember the edited tapes which made it look like they broke the law, but those tapes were edited to do so, so again, no i don't remember any proof that ACORN was breaking the law.
      Can you provide me any info on ACORN actually breaking the law? Thanks in advance.

    5. "While you and I bicker, many women, Jews, Asians, Mormons, etc. are quietly seeking computer and math courses. These people will succeed. They are individually doing what will lead to success in today's society."

      Sounds awesome. Now I totally see the benefit of the government providing free higher education to any and all people who want it.
      Now my question, what are we (the government) waiting for to provide free higher education to all citizens who want it?

    6. David in Cal,
      Are you really not aware that ACORN was shut down because they were helping the disenfranchised get political representation in the government?

    7. David in Cal belongs to a political party that is committed to disenfranchising as many black voters as they can get away with. He's cool with that.

      David in Cal has also argued in the past that AA in this country were much better off in the 40's and 50's before all that Civil Rights and Voting Rights crap started holding them back.

      That is who you are debating.

  7. Actually Coates was speaking in metaphor about his appearance on Face the Nation. He makes clear in his book that "the black body" or by extension "his body" is a motif for viewing history.

    Thus, if a person asks him "Why do you hate America?" They are asking about "his body". Not directly, of course. Not like they said "tell me about your body" or "well, I guess it would be nice, if I could touch your body .." But to him, all of history and society can be looked at as how "black bodies" are controlled. For example, page 42 (how ironic)

    "'White America' is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies. Sometimes the power is direct (lynching), and sometimes it is insidious (redlining). But however it appears, the power of domination and exclusion is central to the belief of being white, and without it, 'white people' would cease to exist for want of reasons."

    I am not sure who started it, but I have started seeing the word "bodies" used in quick descriptions of history.

    Coates seems oblivious of the fact that whatever tailwind their whiteness may have given to the Presidents who won the elections of the past, that they had to beat other white men in order to win, that is other white men WITH THE SAME tailwind.

  8. Somerby asks "Does anyone know why we're being told that, as used by Bannon, it means that the so-called cuckold's wife would get it on with someone who is black?"

    Yes, it is because the white nationalists believe that the mongrelization of the white race involves the intermixing sexually of the races, which will dilute white races until they are no longer pure. When someone with dark skin marries or dates a white woman, the result is cuckolding of white men, who cannot compete for their own women because they are not sufficiently alpha. The main desire of brown people is of course to marry and date white women. Does Somerby really not know this?

  9. Coates for President!

    Why not? The current President rode caring about the victimhood of his ethnic group all the way to the White House.

  10. "Does anyone know why we're being told that, as used by Bannon, it means that the so-called cuckold's wife would get it on with someone who is black" A simple pornhub search will give you the answer.

  11. "Does anyone know why we're being told that, as used by Bannon, it means that the so-called cuckold's wife would get it on with someone who is black" A simple pornhub search will give you the answer.

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