Magnum Opus Parvum Opus

Parvum Opus MO

So the elites will maintain Christmas, stall the homosexual agenda, make sure the American Flag and the Ten Commandments hang in every classroom, keep pregnant sluts from safe abortions so they will have to suffer the consequences of their sin, fight foreign wars to employ the poor young men, and generally throw meaningless sops to working people to keep them from noticing their decline. Smart, huh? At least until the mobs come for the elite

Before working for 25 years in high school classrooms teaching foreign languages (Spanish, Latin and Russian), I worked 20 years in social services. That whole time was spent in South Phoenix, what people call slums, inner city, ghetto, the poor part of town, the urban environment, whatever. I dealt with people discharged from the insane asylum (no p.c. here) and the county psych ward. I worked in Child Protective Services investigating and servicing cases of child abuse and also investigated and licensed foster homes. I worked in a training program for the hard-core unemployed and one of my assignments was the people just up from Mexico who knew no English and had no job skills. Most of those jobs included visiting the homes and also consulting in the schools, public and religious (Catholic). My last teaching assignment was five years in a Catholic school.

I don’t want to miss anything here because it is important to understand that my familiarity with people in poverty and minority groups, while pretty much restricted to the Phoenix, AZ area, is extensive. So when people make statements about such groups, I tend to turn a critical eye on the topic.

In that vein, I would wonder how anyone could know that I have been married to a Black woman – as I stated, I am White – for 52 years as of June 13, in what was until the invasion of the snow birds from the upper Midwest in the 50s, including me, a Southern city and state. I have described the circumstances my wife and her family and per force me lived under. How exactly was all that to go away with the signing of a civil rights bill? In talking to an ex-Mormon, I told the story of how we found out that the LDS leadership had reversed its stance on Blacks in the Church and she said that in Utah the resistance to that was massive. You don’t change people overnight. As MLK said, laws won’t change your heart but they can keep you from lynching me.

And that is what so many Whites do not like, the open concession that, yes, White people can be violent. The Bundys are LDS and engaged in two terrorist acts: threatening federal marshals on lawful business and carrying out an armed occupation of federal land, both occasions highly televised. Can I insist that the President label that “radical LDS terrorism”? And also the mob s attacking busloads of illegal immigrants in California…… why not label those actions terrorism? Because those who carry it out are White? Is that what gets you labeled a terrorist, being unwhite? No, because Obama was accused of “palling around with terrorists” when he served on a commission with an elderly White man who had belonged to a terrorist student group in the 60s but had done nothing in that line since, a tamed terrorist, you might say. Can you forgive me for being confused?

Back to poor people: they have all the same problems other people do except theirs are magnified by poverty. Laurie Clarcq describes it so well I won’t go over it myself except to warn you, reader, not to challenge me on things I have lived, personally and professionally. I did a stint counseling in a woman’s shelter the people referred by the police on domestic abuse charges. The setting was in one of the country’s ritziest towns, Scottsdale, Az. The people referred to me were neither poor nor minorities. There were only two differences: they were White and they had money. Otherwise we were dealing with the same things. While those clients sat in a counseling office because they had money for a diversion program the people I was working with on my day job were sitting in jail on the same charges.

And back to my contention that the Barbados culture suffused the Deep South and laid the foundation for the current environment:.

“”The second paper, by the economists Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote, was titled “Why Doesn’t the United States Have a European-style Welfare State?” Its authors — who are not, by the way, especially liberal — explored a number of hypotheses, but eventually concluded that race is central, because in America programs that help the needy are all too often seen as programs that help Those People: “Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”

Now, that paper was published in 2001, and you might wonder if things have changed since then. Unfortunately, the answer is that they haven’t, as you can see by looking at how states are implementing — or refusing to implement — Obamacare.

For those who haven’t been following this issue, in 2012 the Supreme Court gave individual states the option, if they so chose, of blocking the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a key part of the plan to provide health insurance to lower-income Americans. But why would any state choose to exercise that option? After all, states were being offered a federally-funded program that would provide major benefits to millions of their citizens, pour billions into their economies, and help support their health-care providers. Who would turn down such an offer?

The answer is, 22 states at this point, although some may eventually change their minds. And what do these states have in common? Mainly, a history of slaveholding: Only one former member of the Confederacy has expanded Medicaid, and while a few Northern states are also part of the movement, more than 80 percent of the population in Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery before the Civil War.

And it’s not just health reform: a history of slavery is a strong predictor of everything from gun control (or rather its absence), to low minimum wages and hostility to unions, to tax policy.””

Why do I watch MSNBC? Just now, as I prepare to send this “essay” out, Chris Hayes had David Kay Johnson on. Johnson is an expert on taxes and has blown the cover off the machinations of the top one tenth of one percent wealthy, their tax dodges, off-shoring, etc. During Romney’s campaign, he showed how such people take over companies, gut them, costing thousands of jobs, and ship the skimmed money overseas and leave detritus behind. But Romney is Mormon, dedicated to his Church and the moral life, right? One night as someone questioned Johnson on the ethics of Romney’s affairs, Johnson explained what he taught in his financial ethics classes in the Temple……. !!!! Johnson is a high ranking Mormon!!! Holy Golden Tablets!!

So tonight (May 6) Johnson was on explaining what Trump doesn’t know. If the American people would watch MSNBC instead of outlets that feed them pap, they might avoid falling into ignorance. Sadly, they will stay tuned to shows that stress the spectacular and bizarre, leaving the difficult details, like reality, to CSPAN, PBS………. and MSNBC.

Lopez’ 3 punches…In Dog Whistle Politics, Lopez lays out the tactic: first coded race talk. But the talk is always in terms of ethnicity, not race; race is defined as blood. Ethnicity and culture are behaviors, whether it is the Obama food stamp dollar bill with fried chicken and watermelon on it or family structure or not knowing how to behave toward a policeman, it is not race. When liberals accuse them of racism, they are righteously indignant, having never used a racial epithet or maliciously labeled a group. What, me racist? YOU are the racist for injecting race into this. Accused of injecting race (the kick of the punch-parry-kick tactic), many liberals back off, nonplussed. Oh, the Obama food stamp dollar bill had Kool-Aid on it, too.

With voter restrictions at the state level only the feds are left, just like before, so why do you keep asking us to pretend the 50s are long gone?

Is it because you are naive? C/coservatives have not only admitted on camera they are restricting voting in order to keep various groups like college students, minorities, etc. from easy access to the polls. The former head of the RNC even apologized to the NAACP for the Southern Strategy, yet we still have people denying the Right is suppressing the vote and there is no voter fraud.

 

In Another POV I mentioned the fifteen year old girl in S.C. who was yanked out of her chair for defiance. Two things: her mother had died and she was in foster care. Do you think the teacher should have known that? If she had known it, did she approach the situation properly? Will the girl’s doubtlessly traumatized state be seen as the proverbial conservative “excuse” or seen as an explanation?

Second, it was mentioned the officer’s girlfriend is Black. That illustrates the total misunderstanding of race as a power relationship. Remember I said race is a social construct? Remember my wife’s Nigerian doctor who reports she is treated one way on appearance and another when her accent reveals she is not African-American? One time Jim wrote, “Please! This is not the 50s.” I would write, “Please, understand these massively complex issues at a high level, not some silly, playground level like, “Oh, his girlfriend is Black so he can’t be prejudiced.” He treated the girl that way because of the power relationship in which her Blackness and his Whiteness played only a part.

Another canard you find on venues like Fox is that Blacks say, “I do not have to speak standard English; that is not Black and makes me deny my Blackness” and that is followed up by grave head-shaking, “that person will usually not be able to achieve as much as others who do [speak standard English]. So silly. Again, some campus radical from the sixties gets quoted ad nauseum to prove Black problems in education and employment are due to their “attitudes”. Such crap.

How might Black people mischaracterize White people? I certainly heard some odd questions back when it was possible for a person to operate almost entirely in a Black environment due to segregation. White people are cold. They are unfriendly, even with each other. They are not religious. They love only money. They neglect their kids. They smell funny. They can’t dress well and they surely cannot dance.

OK, let’s come to the rescue of the reputation of White people. First of all, Norwegians, according to Garrison Keilor, will jump a mile high if you come up behind them and touch them on the shoulder. They will jump only half a mile high if you touch them on the shoulder from the front. Touching a lot is not common in SOME cultures among White Americans, very common in others. But not touching is not a sign of a cold heart, just of different customs around physical touching. Unfriendly might be applied to the more formal relationships among people in the White community – interestingly, in a book on the actual Norwegian culture in Norway, it was pointed out that Norwegians do have that reputation until you get to know them personally; only then do they let their guard down. Just custom, again. My wife’s cousin attended a Unitarian church service with us, a very upper Midwest, extremely Norwegian crowd. As the singing commenced, I was standing behind her and saw her switching her hips back and forth, trying to find the beat. After I got over my giggles, I leaned forward and whispered, “There is no beat in this church.” Norwegians love God just as much as Black people do, they just express it differently.

Foreigners often remark on the poverty of conversation in the homes of their American hosts. It’s all about money. The truth is, Americans judge each other, for the most part, in terms of their income. We hope other dimensions enter in. Neglecting their kids is interpreted by them as making their kids independent. If a way can be made, then it makes sense to let your kid make his own way; but if you know road blocks abound for your kids, it makes sense to have a bed ready for them and a hot meal if things go bad…….and especially for their kids, your grandkids.

Smell is a matter of diet. Europeans thinks Americans overdo the deodorant. Dress style varies by culture and Norwegians do not dwell on it the way, for example, Italians or Hispanics do. Blacks like flamboyant dress and colors and I still find it fun to go to church and see the old guys in beautiful white or chartreuse or beige or even orange suits with matching hat. Very sharp. And no, White people cannot dance…….. well, actually, that canard is going by the way, too. as Whites have grown up with African-American rhythm and gone to school with Black kids and learned the moves. Working in high school since 1986, I noticed that. But at the reunion, I believe I have told this, of my brother-in-law, one of the Black alums asked me why it was that back in their day the White girls danced on their toes. I asked them to think of Polish and Norwegian dances (maybe that’s where I got this Norwegian thing from) and how they are vertical while African dances are with the hips and they move more horizontally. My quarrel with teachers who do not like twerking has been so fun because I send them links to Christian gospel choirs in West African where the good Christian ladies bend over and twist their bottoms in praise of Jesus. Love it. It’s just a dance style – it’s not fucking! as researchers in California found out when they did in-depth – very in-depth interviews of high school kids who had spent the night twerking – no more sex than anyone else, including the researchers when they were kids. It’s a dance style!

Here is an issue, just one, where the Right simply lies. I worked in a Catholic school for five years after working 20 years in a public school. Over and over I heard and read at the private religious school that students cannot pray in public school. That is a lie, pure and simple, and they know it’s a lie. We had a Christian club, the students prayed in a circle around the flagpole, my wife sponsored the Christian club at her school (and she is not even Christian), kids asked to pray in class and I said silent prayer was fine; once two kids wanted to pray out loud and they stepped out into the hallway because other kids were cramming for the test they were praying to pass. NO PROBLEM! Yet Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and all the phony pundits on the Right repeat this lie about public schools and they know it’s a lie. Why do they lie? Because the charter and private school folks are paying them to lie to jinn up support for private schools and take money away from public schools so they will indeed give poorer service and support the C/conservative contention that our schools are failing. Anyone with half a brain can study this and see that only schools in poverty areas are struggling; schools in middle income and affluent areas get test results commensurate with those of Singapore and Finland.*

The real question is, why do conservatives not bother to go down to their local school to see if their kid can pray. They either don’t or they go as part of a contentious group intent on finding public schools guilty of anti-religious bias. In short, they are lazy sheep following their Fox News talking heads.

Just one example among many I could give of the cesspool on the Right. I focus on race because of my personal perspective as well as professional experience. In education I have worked in only two schools as a teacher. I have never been in the military but my son is a veteran. My wife worked in a lot of different schools as a counselor and early on as a second grade teacher. I’ve already delineated my non-school experience. And then there’s the library – a good source of accurate information for those who want it.

If we gave the states the right to do whatever they wanted in all spheres, no federal protections of Constitutional rights, in the slave states we would see laws prohibiting homosexuality (because they are so stupid they think it’s a choice); we would see laws regulating every aspect of a woman’s sex life because women are the vessels and helpmeets to men and have no right to a life of their own or to make their own decisions, according to the Bible as interpreted by the Reverend Billy Bob; one political party would dominate because that was the nature of politics in a slavocracy and that has been carried down – first the Democrats, now the Republicans, but no free play because that might challenge authority; religion would be highly regulated with Baptists ascendant and Methodists as the fringe faith – all others would be relegated to tightly controlled spaces and then only Christian denominations; the most outlier of Biblical interpretations like Dominionism would be taught in the schools; unions would be disallowed due to their challenge to authority; Douglas Blackmon in Slavery By Another Name showed how the slave states used convicts as unpaid labor and they would return to that following the practice of towns like Ferguson; the police would be unrestricted in their practices as long as they ignored enforcement against the “quality folk”; and so on. Libraries would be heavily censored as would bookstores and theaters. Cable TV would be imported from outside the South but that and the internet would face scrutiny. Strangely enough, a lot of Black people would decide to stay for all kinds of reasons. No one would be under the protection of the Constitution.

Ian Haney Lopez describes the tactics behind the Right’s newfound color blindness. Being color blind means you do not recognize color, so when it is pointed out that Blacks are more likely to be stopped in traffic, “profiling”, conservatives say, “Why are you injecting race into this?” When the reply comes, “Because minorities are disproportionately stopped,” conservatives respond with, “Why do you pay so much attention to people’s race? I don’t even notice and I am sure the police don’t either.” It’s part of a one-two-three punch developed in the 90s that has turned the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement around to protect racist policies like racial profiling while accusing those pointing out the injustice as either race conscious or race hustlers. Clever.

Lastly, to show I am entirely capable of distinguishing Conservatives from Fascists, I will lay out the defining characteristics of the latter* and you can compare them with Kirk’s 10 principles of Conservatism.

One: powerful and continuing nationalism. (why I oppose most formulations of American Exceptionalism – see mine)

Two: Disdain for the recognition of human rights – a major reason Conservatives oppose Trump.

Three: Use of scapegoats (the reason Trump’s denigration of Mexicans and Muslims is so not Conservative)

Four: Supremacy of the military: (why I argued with the person who said the U.S.S.R. was a military dictatorship; it wasn’t because, like us, the military is totally dominated by civilian control)

Five: Rampant sexism: (that does worry me when I see the obsession with sex that C/conservatives are possessed of)

Six: Control of the Mass Media (we see the media increasingly reduced to a few megacompanies and that is worrisome)

Seven: Obsession with national security (while some people get alarmed, most focus on their daily lives and recognize we are not under general attack)

Eight: Religion and government intertwined (while lots of people think they would like that, they wouldn’t; the Baptist would discover the Methodists had taken over)

Nine: Corporate power protected (Sanders’ campaign issue and it is an issue)

Ten: Labor suppressed (unions still exist but weakened. Few Americans realize the role of unions in “making this country great”)

Eleven: Disdain for intellectuals and the arts (we are still strong there. The Conservatives make a great effort to establish their own academic and think tank institutions)

Twelve: Obsession with crime and punishment (much reduced from the 90s. Punishment is woven into our culture but is in many others as well)

Thirteen: Rampant cronyism and corruption (depends on how you define it. Lots of cronyism under Bush II but not characteristic of our society as a whole and corruption even less so……… unless you count Congress)

Fourteen: Fraudulent elections (not yet)

So we are not there. Jim asked what are some good things about the U.S., or “the best good things current and past”. In a word, freedom. Any mature understanding of freedom includes responsibility. Does that sound like a Conservative? Yes, but unlike Conservatives, I am serious. I do not apply the responsibility rule only to other people but also to myself, or better, to me and mine. I take care of my responsibilities in every area: my home, my family, my job, my personal behavior, and so on. What we have been treated to by conservatives is a mockery of this, their personal lives being a morass of corruption and personal deceit, lack of personal integrity, and they press on with a quick prayer for forgiveness and keep on doing bad. No problem. People like that are funny to me, people like Newt Gingrich, a total scumbag and phony. Now we have Trump, a total scumbag and phony. Who voted for him? People who think making cracks about women’s menstruation is great fun. The guys down at the pool hall who can’t understand why that hardworking Mexican got the job instead of them. Angry, bitter, resentful, high on meth, lost souls.

This freedom we have means we can do something for those people. Do you really think it’s Blacks who are wallowing in poverty? As I’ve stated, it’s the White working class that has been shafted right along with Blacks and Hispanics. If you look at that book, Jim, the Triple Package, you will notice that those ethnic groups do want to be accepted and fight for it, but not to the detriment of their own success. They have not only an inferiority complex that drives them but a superiority complex. The working class White, the Black, the Hispanic, do not have that. And when community organizers try to instill that same superiority complex in them, you complain that they are teaching separateness and radicalism and condemn people like Rev. Wright who preach Black Liberation Theology. You can’t have it both ways.

American accomplishments? Legion. We pulled together for WW II; we built great dams to harness rivers and open up the West to agriculture and settlement; we spurred growth in science via our universities; our inventors and entrepreneurs not only developed all our resources, they spread that around the world. Even in an area where some maintain we have not done so much, the arts, we actually have contributed mightily.

But we are faced with challenges. Many Americans question our food supply, our water supply, how we husband our resources, how we educate our citizens. And at every step of the way, we have the C/conservatives wanting to own things and sell things to the detriment of the nation. Haliburton took over the war effort, hedge fund managers are trying to control our schools, and pharmaceutical companies want to make a buck off our illnesses. They have the freedom to do that and we have the freedom to curb them. We just have to elect people who will refuse to be bought.

Michael Moore, hated to the core by C/conservatives, displays our third world in our own backyard, places like Flint, like the rural areas, like the inner-cities. Isolated, left behind in crumbling infrastructure because no one can figure out how to make a buck off them, so over the cliff they go. So much for the Christian spirit. That’s why I didn’t put religion among good things about America. If you get nothing else out of this Magnum Opus and Parvum Opus, look at these blasted human and natural landscapes and think back to our colonial heritage, the part of it where we came for gold and killed off the inhabitants and imported slaves to scrape what we could off the land. This exploitative and extractive approach to our country is only part of our heritage: we have the New Englanders, the Midlanders, and elements of the other “nations” that make up this country. We can harness this heritage to rebuild our country, our infrastructure, our middle class, our race relations, our public education………. we just have to curb the C/conservatives.

One example of a great thing about America at its best: when the Twin Towers came down in the terrorist attack September 11, many brokerage houses lost personnel, equipment, and communications. Their rivals – yes, their rivals – came to their aid, some employees of rival firms even joining the distressed firms for a while to get them on their feet. That is the America of Yankeedom, of the Midlands: building community and true competition, from a level playing field, not putting a kid in a crumbling school and telling him to pull up his pants and stop listening to his music. Where is this American spirit now?

I have not mentioned American religion as an accomplishment. We founded several: LDS, Christian Science, and others. But to me, the religion of the South is a not unique but amazing blend of European religions brought here by the settlers, the Native American religions the settlers found here, the practices from Africa of the slaves, and a unique emotional response to spiritual needs. The best tutorial in this is a wonderful movie written, produced, and starred in by a son of my wife’s region, East Texas, Robert Duvall, one of the great American actors. What he depicted there, in all its strangeness, obsession, love, violence, and even savagery, is the religion known variously as Holiness, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Born Again, Holy Rollers, Pentecostalists, and other sectarian names. Having attended such a church, one whose congregation originated from the same area, East Texas, I was amazed at the skilled actors who put on a revival until Duvall in an interview mentioned those were real Holiness revival ministers. The depths of need this apostle ministered to was made patent in the movie, a world many know little of but which represents more and more of America. In The Unwinding, George Packard draws a nice sketch of Sam Walton, a real entrepreneur, for a number of pages, and then ends it all in the last paragraph with, to paraphrase, ‘And when Sam Walton died, America woke up and saw that he had created the same blasted and devastated landscape of America that he had grown up with in Arkansas.’

 

2 Comments

  1. Interesting piece. I found myself enjoying the overview of American politics and history. Conservatives have been the bane of this country’s existence for decades. They may teach dominionism over evolution..but in the words of a friend of mine, evolution as a concept doesn’t mean anything if it’s not happening to you. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      It’s nice to see someone reading stuff I published some time ago. I think my Magnum Opus deserves some attention. My wife is reading Loving right now and I’ll read it after here. Cashin, the author, details the process by which the planters and other high personages in the slave-holding areas (i.e. slave societies vs societies with slaves, which existed in the North) defined persons of European origin as White vs the slaves, who were Black. This distinction had not been so strong but the slave-holders were outnumbered by slaves in many areas and they needed to convince the poor Whites, who often had much more in common with free Blacks and slaves than they did with the plantation aristocracy, that they lined up “naturally” with their fellow Whites. IOW, she’s saying, as does Stuart in Sugar in the Blood from which I took a lot of the material for my Magnum Opus, that the very idea of Whiteness is a social construct.
      Thanks for reading my Opus.

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