Strange juxtapositions and odd outcomes are common, and they are not really all that odd, for history is "Koo - koo crazy
" as Frank Sinatra used to say.
So if Condoleezza Rice's face on a Nazi Wehrmacht
poster seems at first to be odd, well, Brothers and Sisters, it ain't odd at all when one takes history into account. I teach part time at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, and sitting last week in my little cubical at the college, the downtown campus, in the faculty office, tapping away at my computer, I overheard two Social Work professors discussing the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas in May. Now, Wayne County Community College is a predominantly Black, Jr. college with a Black, Latino, Arabic, and African emigre student population and faculty. The two fellow faculty members were both Black. One of them said, "It was an assassination, is what it was." The other professor said, "Well, I hear that he got what he deserved, you know, because they say he was a baby killer--he killed thousands of babies." "Yes, I guess that's true," the first professor responded.
A Social Work (of all things!) professor exclaiming "I hear" and citing the fact that "They say"? Who they hell is "They," my fevered little Marxist brain hummed in my ear. What the-??
My heart leaped right up into my throat; I got a sharp, sharp pain in my chest. I wanted to stand up and cry out, exhorting them both to stop saying reactionary crap like this-- mindless blurb-talk taken directly
from FOX NEWS sound bytes. But I did not. I sat there, my blood running cold, and realizing that one reason I must constantly gird myself for intellectual battle when I walk into a Wayne County Community College classroom and argue against a vocal minority of Black and Latin and Arab young people's unimaginably reactionary, medieval, and downright insane mythological beliefs and their blurb-talk mimicking the talking points of the republican party, fascism, patriarchy, and reductionism, is because some of the faculty too, share these lazy habits of thought and share the same anti-intellectual, racist, sexist, and simply put, Christo-fascist volks
beliefs espoused by our students.
It ain't just students who sit in flickering darkness watching the Black Calvinism of African American TV evangelists preaching a degenerate capitalist distortion of Joshua's (Jesus') message. These dogged materialists have jettisoned Joshua's gospel of love and peace in favor of a completely philistine ministry of wealth, consumption, and 'B*L*I*N*G that has nothing to do with The Nazarene's life example. Juanita Bynum (whose 4.5 million dollar multi-structure estate was put on auction after her 2007 bankruptcy), T.D. Jakes (whose TDJ Enterprises is in no
danger of bankruptcy with millions in assets, and whose reported 30,000 member congregation in his Dallas "Potter's House" evangelist community are very familiar with his bragging about his 'stable of luxury cars' and with his
so-called 'prosperity theology' that teaches God gives material gifts to the faithful), Creflo Dollar (whose ministry preaches that God wants his people to be financially prosperous and who has
targeted Battle Creek Michigan for a future home base to a planned 500 church world wide denomination), and a long list of other Black money grubbers like them, enjoyed a heyday during the Bush years. Because Bush and the Republicans shrewdly siphoned public dollars away from social services and public works and redirected those dollars toward so-called 'faith based initiatives', these jack-leg preachers got squarely on the dole and queued up for Washington tax exemptions, local Republican party gifts of building permits and easy zoning exemptions, and for pump- priming from the federal budget to launch their feverish wave of 'entrprenurial spiritualism'. The result: many of these mega church pastors and TV thumpers became shills for the Republican Party, launching dogmatic, racist, sexist, homophobic, and reactionary radio shows across the country that did and still do function to pour
vitriolic Black conservatism into the ears of urban Black audiences. The tragic fallout is evident now: the Black professional class has a hard-cast, recalcitrant minority who espouse bare-faced Republicanism by advocating draconian police state policies, punitive sentencing guidlines, and classically conservative socially reactionary laws, public policy, all in the name of 'morality'.
I sat there in my cubical realizing that it isn't just young people and college students who wander every Sunday into those cavernous, new-age post modern Venturi-style steel and glass 'mega churches' that dot the urban devastation of the Detroit cityscape to listen to reactionary chicken fried, socially backward PTL Club yackityack-points. The neo-afro-primitivist, T.D. Jakes and his ilk have been busy on both sides of the street.
I sat there in my cubical, and in my heartsickness resolved that I would not run like a crazy man through the hallways shouting, "Wake up! Soylent Green is people!" but will simply, and rationally, continue fighting anti intellectualism and Christo-fascism in the classroom when I teach, and will also devout more of my own writing and journalism to the fight, in order to reach a general population from which, presumably, my fellow faculty are drawn (though I sometimes seriously consider the possibility that one or two have been drawn from some pickle jar of the mind in Birmingham, Alabama somewhere. No, really. Seriously. I wonder sometimes).
In the classroom at least, I routinely must re-argue the theories of people such as Freud (some young people no longer accept that the human mind features anything like an 'unconscious'), Marx (some young people reject the idea of egalitarian socialism and assert that competition and the profit motive is the only 'successful' and 'efficient' way to order human societies), Einstein (some young people reject outright the concept of relativism for, as some of them assert in the classroom in response to literature, there is a God-ordained absolute right and wrong
, as well as one God-ordained, epistemologically correct
point of view that trumps all other cultures, religions, modes of thinking, epochs, and all other points of view), and Darwin (the universe is 'intelligently designed,' and humans did not 'come from monkeys' those particular students smugly assure me).
These names my students so blithely and largely ignorantly toss into the roach clip ash tray of history are, it so happens, the towering minds that gave us modern thought and thereby freed us from the European version of the dark ages (Huh? All you afrocentrists and asiatic triumphalists shut up and sit back down, because you are whack in the sack if you think pre-colonialist Africa and Asia did not
experience their own dark ages: Sundiata, Mansa Musa, Sidartha, Hapshepsut, Hypatia of Alexandria, and Confucius, for example, were all ancients who to greater or lesser degree fought darkness and ignorance and spread enlightenment in Africa and Asia) .
This struggle that many university professors are waging right now in this country to defend modernity in the classroom (and yes, I have to do the same thing at Wayne State, where I teach on the faculty of Africana Studies and where students, Black and White, object to the idea that studying Caribbean history and culture should be about something more serious than reading tourist brochures and talking about steel drum music!) is an ongoing struggle to shore up a backlash against modernism, and that much is bad enough in itself. 'But-but-but-wait, it get's worse', as the rap group ONYX used to chant: I find I must even defend Copernicus, Newton, and hell, that heathen Socrates too, all of them none too acceptable to some students inasmuch as these thinkers all claimed the world and the cosmos are a machine, the parts of which can be taken apart and the workings understood (the universe is whatever you believe it is, Professor Waller," one young Black woman in my Logic course assured me, her eyelids characteristically at half mast).
As for Dr. Tiller, FOX's drumbeat reporting leading up to the day of his murder in the anteroom of his church in Kansas claimed that Tiller was a 'baby killer,' and this horrific offense against the principles of journalism was not just a propagandistic distortion of the truth, but even crossed over into bald-faced unreality: FOX NEWS commentators claimed, over and over,
that Tiller had 'killed thousands of babies," which was not only reactionary on its face, but indeed actually unashamedly fascist in that it was demonstrably a factual lie
: days after his cold blooded murder MSNBC did a logical and mathematical calculation of the average number of therapeutic abortions Dr. Tiller performed per month multiplied by the exact number of years that he functioned as a care provider of therapeutic abortions for women, and proved that it was mathematically impossible for him to have performed 'thousands' of these procedures.
Never mind the fact that he performed late term therapeutic
abortions, not late term abortion on demand, and not contraceptive abortions (for you all in the back near the exit sign, that means he performed abortions for women in extreme psychological and physical distress who would not, and even could not safely, bring to term and deliver fetuses that were implanted in their wombs by rapists and incestuous family members, or that would have gestated into deformed babies without brains, without spines, hearts, lungs, etc., or with evolutionary throwback traits
such as reptilian anatomical features, with no ability to live outside the womb, etc.). Never mind that even when discussing legal, first trimester abortion, a fetus
a 'baby'. Never mind the fact that because late term abortion is generally not legal in most states and is never a procedure doctors take pleasure in having to perform even to protect the life of the mother, and therefore Tiller was one of the few and dwindling number of doctors in the country who decided to make himself available to women who medically and psychologically require late term abortions. Never mind the fact that one reason the number of care givers for women needing late term therapeutic abortion is dwindling is because crazed, Christo-fascist nuts keep assassinating them (often they kill these doctors in their homes, in front of their family members, or in public places surrounded by friends and acquaintances, as was the case with Dr. Tiller).
Never mind all that. What we ought to find most repugnant about the whole thing is the very reason I posted the above Wehrmacht
poster ala Condoleezza: some Black people, apparently drunk on T.D. Jakes juice, argue totally irrational things, such as "abortion is genocide against Black people by definition because the US government has practiced forced sterilizations of Blacks." Another mundane logical fallacy is that the medical procedure of abortion itself
, is genocidal despite the fact that it is, objectively, like heart surgery, a medical procedure that is a right of women who wish to make decisions about their own bodies, regardless of the religious beliefs, dogmas, and delusions of other people, specifically men, whose bodies are unconnected to the bodies of women who make a decision to abort a fetus.
To see the fallacy more clearly, imagine this analogy: the fact that chains were used to bind African slaves does not justify arguing against hardware stores selling chains. The fact that chains bound slaves does not justify arguing that chains should not be used to secure a fallen log to a crane so that the log can be lifted off of the automobile of a woman whose car has been crushed by the log, thus saving that woman's life.
History is also predictive.
Naomi Wolf, author of "The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot," gave a lecture at the University of Washington-Seattle in 2007 in which she admitted that before she did a great deal of historical research and reading about fascism, reading which led to her book, "The End of America," she would disregarded the warnings of a friend's mother as she would sit talking with that woman, an elderly holocaust survivor. Wolf would think the woman was 'nutty' because she'd look at and be alarmed by trends, events, issues, government policies, and entertainment industries in America, and would keep repeating over and over, "They did that Germany," and "The Nazis did the same thing in Germany," and "That happened in Germany." One day, Wolf says however, the old woman was fed up with Wolf's callow ignorance, and: "Finally, she sat me down, she gave me a stack of books, and almost physically said, you know, Read!"
"And I started reading," Wolf said, "And honestly, my hair stood on end, because I saw that she was right, and she was not being rhetorical at all, because not only were there tactical echoes from the
past, but I was seeing actual scenes recurring, imagery recurring, language, sound bytes recurring in modern events America. I saw that she was right!"
"And she wasn't talking about the later years--National Socialist outcomes, but she was talking about the early
years, 1930-1932, when Germany was a modern, parliamentary democracy...it would have been recognizable to us...Germany had pop stars, and Bauhaus architecture, and Paris fashion, and sex education, civil rights organizations and gay rights organizations, gossip columnists...she was talking about the legal pressures on a democracy by people who were intent on closing down that democracy."
Wolf saw that America is paralleling the early development of Nazi Germany, and that we can all see equivalents among us and around us that alert us to the ultimate meaning of religious conservatism, of the destruction of education, of the destruction of journalism and of newspapers, of public and widespread illiteracy and cultural dumbness and intellectual laziness as well as anti-intellectualism and something we see quite a bit of right now, among our friends, among our family members, and among our students, our co-workers, our colleagues: belligerent, obnoxious, hyper nationalism along with an apologia for cruelty, violence (both state sponsored violence and also rhetorical violence and dehumanization perpetrated by even the victims of oppression who raise up the principle of violence and anti-thought in ironic imitation of their own oppressor).
Ergo, the neo Black nationalists who have no idea who Malcolm X really was and what he really said, and who disregard the true message of the Black Panther party in favor of gratuitous denunciation, ad hominem, and invective (i.e., the so-called "New Black Panther Party") and callow youths on YouTube who buffoonishly call for 'armed struggle' against a nuclear power rather than calling for a paradigm shift away from the very patriarchy, poisonous hyper masculinity, and erotisization of violence that is the cause of our oppression in the first place. This critique I make includes the anti
-nationalists such as those who are oppressed who freely join the project of state sponsored violence against revolutionaries (whom they reductively label 'terrorists') to support their own oppressor in oppressing the rest of the world.
Ergo, Condoleezza Rice--may woe be upon her.
Historiography has it that the Sudetendeutsche
, the ethnic Germans who lived in a region of Bohemia/Czechoslovakia, were denizens of an ethnically indefinite region that came to be known as Sudetenland
(named after the Sudeten mountains) before Hitler invaded the region. Despite Hitler's widely known contempt for Slavs and Czechs alike (he saw them as genetically inferior sub humans destined for extermination in his new world order), some of the Czechs in this region who had begun to feel a sense of German nationalism, though they were not truly German, were actually welcoming toward the Nazi invaders, for, they seemed to be confused about who they were to the point that they cheered the invasion of sudetenland by Hitler's storm troopers. In Leni Reifenstahl's nazi propaganda film about the 1930 Nazi Party Conference in Nuremberg, Triumph des Willens
("Triumph of the Will), some of the Nazi standard bearers who march by the camera are carrying banners proclaiming, "Sudetenland", and are showing their fierce pride that Hitler trusts them to take charge on the front lines.