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Sunday, May 06, 2007

The True Front of Progressivism

SOMETIMES YOU WONDER if blogging is a component of Real Change, done for distraction, provided as a social experience, or is just a game. And of course, it is all these things at different times. In their better moments, blogs can affect people and their views profoundly, just as a Great Book might, when dropped into your hands on a crucial day. In a "blogswarm," the People are given voice—the computer literate, Internet-connected, and blog-using People, that is—and companies can be informed of how many support or do not support their products and sponsored efforts. Money can be directed to politicians who in turn (at least in theory) are accountable to the views of those who sent them money.

Just recently Michelle Malkin struck a great victory against Verizon, and with her work, musical Artist Akon will no longer be represented by the corporation. She was upset with this partnership, feeling Verizon was letting its customers down by partnering with this man who held a dance contest where apparently a 14 year old girl was the winner, and to win she had to "dance like a whore." Now, I wasn't at the Akon concert, I don't know his music, and I'm not trying to validate his "Freaking" (as Malkin put it), but when I see Malkin getting roused and righteous about this Verizon partnership because Akon held freaking-dance contests in many places, and one time he let an underage girl take part, I have to wonder. I have to wonder why, on her far-reaching blog, I see more venom and calls to action about that, than I did for stories such as this from CNN:

In an interview with the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigative Division in June, Spec. James P. Barker, 23, said that he held the girl down while she was raped by another soldier, Sgt. Paul Cortez, during an incident in March in Mahmoudiya, according to testimony from CID Special Agent Benjamin Bierce.

Barker said that he then attempted to rape the girl himself, before she was shot to death by former Pfc. Steven D. Green, Bierce said.

Yes, in Exceptions, not the Rule, she has a paragraph damning well as hoping they pray for the rest of their lives for forgiveness, or "rot in hell." And then she moves on to remind us that they do not damn-by-association either the war effort, Bush, or validate the "Anti-war zealots." This is the only post containing Mr. Cortez's name, and it seems that was enough to carry her message.

That's right. There are more entries and more energy expended in keeping Verizon in line with its fine corporate standards than in following a story where United States soldiers killed an entire family in order to rape a girl, and "poured kerosene on the girl's bullet-ridden body" before trying to hide the entire deed.

This is a stark example—and there are many—where I have to wonder "Is blogging just a game?" If so, it is a dangerous one.

I think of the Goethe quote None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free.

But we are all selective. And we all have blind spots. That is why situations like JC's here are good. He has many guest bloggers, and they all bring their points of view. He does not edit, he does not pressure, he does not in any way censor inflammatory posts, and he lets the Whole work its business when he brings in those voices. This is a good way to avoid blind spots and evidence of a true progressive nature in action.

In the "Brown Blogosphere," as we sometimes call the non-mainstream blogs that preference the issues and viewpoints of Mexican Americans, Latin Americans, blacks, Chinese, Koreans and others, Michelle Malkin is thought of as a "white POC." I'm sure you grok when I suggest that "white" and "brown" views need not be attached to skin color. Here is a relevant quote from a great, albeit sporadically updated, blog called The Silence of Our Friends:

But there are POC who will tell white people what they want to hear in order to get ahead, and there are POC who have been socialized and acculturated to believe in the all-American racist stereotypes. I know some personally. Is it really that hard to believe that a Native American who was raised in a white middle class neighborhood might absorb racist stereotypes about his/her people as well as other POC? That person might believe that the reason they got ahead was because of hard work, and not see that better schools in their middle class neighborhood helped, or that money and their parents white connections helped, and that person thinks white and acts white and is seen as "safe".

Now usually, I come to JC's place, our amigo "The General," and I bring my organ grinding pals and huge, magenta sombrero with which to entertain a crowd I know has a different viewpoint, overall. Also, I generally assume that the regular crowd comes here for laughter. I know I do. But even so, it would be stupid for me to assume that there is any "one" viewpoint shared by such a crowd, or that some of you do not agree with these sensitive points I make. Some of my favorite commenters or readers have come over to my place[] from here (O, what hath become of thee, L.G.?). There are no walls that cordon off thought, and heart is the nimblest border-jumper there is.

But I do know many who read "mainstream blogs" are invested in, for the most part, a different way of seeing things. You may begin to bristle at this implication, but those of the Brown™ who weed through their daily junk-comment-pitchforks as I do understand what I mean. This dynamic is evidenced, for example (though not necessarily a mirror of the depths to which the hate can travel), in posts like this, where a huge comment count commences because even through my satire, readers of a mainstream blog understand my views are attacking, apparently, bastions of conventional American thought, even if they are not entirely sure what is being attacked that bothers them so. (More on the reception of this post later.)

Sometimes this reaction moves swiftly and undercover, and it takes a while to suss it all out. Any black or brown person who becomes political and stands vocally for Brown or Black Pride must become adept at handling the inevitable response. When people's bedrock views on race and place and culture and national identity are offended, they do not always respond directly. In fact, as we all understand on an intellectual level that it is Wrong to Hate on Minorities for being a Minority (exercising rights that whites expect defaulted to themselves) it is the one motive that is never stated, even when it is involved. I know this because I deal with many of these responses in the course of my writing. To the one dropping the comment—For you, talking about race is a necessity; for us, it is a luxury was a mild but telling one—their words are very cutting and original. But they do not realize how many times we see and hear these familiar hateful shapes dressed loosely in various iterations of transparent garb.

It is like my time training in Tae Kwon Do. To an untrained person, a fight becomes scary (and actually, I suppose they always are) because they are so unpredictable. But after a while of training, you prepare your eyes and brain with the knowledge that people "telegraph" their intentions and even their specific blows moments before they launch them. Your training brings you to a calm place where you stop nurturing a white-hot ball of panic in your belly, but instead silently and smoothly find the balls of your feet, loosen up your limbs and watch very carefully your adversaries tense spots, how they hold their hands, what parts of their body is moving and how, and where their eyes are targeting.

Writing in ways that offends the White Lens is like this. At first, the insults and dehumanization and even subtle, smart, digs seem terribly swift and unknowable, and hurtful. But after a while, you realize they really only take a few forms. And you can not only watch for them, but can pick them out of a bundle of words intended to destroy your calm and your points and your reason. This is also like studying logic, as many on the 'Net know. Once you can recognize an attack Ad Hominem, you no longer have to be swayed off course by one.

Regarding this reaction that travels a continuum from nasty comments to Minutemen rallies, I often quote a brilliant passage by the author Derrick Jensen on this in my post titled Let's Have Nexus:

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.

—The Culture of Make Believe, Derrick Jensen

A great example of this can be found on any of the comment sections of unmoderated "brown" blogs, or in the moderated (and never made visible) comment junk bins of "brown blogs." For example, a friend Marisa runs a site called Latina Lista ("Smart Latina") which is top notch in terms of a News blog that focuses on "brown" issues, Mexican American issues, and does so without the heavy editorial tone you might get from mine. Hers is a rather impersonal (not a put-down, works great with her style and content), straightforward newsy blog. It simply doesn't buy the typical White Lens view. But next to my admittedly "radical" blog, hers is quite conservative for a "brown" blog. (She is sometimes linked by the bigger blogs because of this, yet I do not see her on their blogrolls). And yet, you will not see White Males get uglier than when responding poorly to a woman who is smart, educated, otherwise powerful, and especially brown. I have watched the haters at her place for a long time now, astounded that she even gives them room to talk.

When Marisa commented on the recent Homeland Security tactic of intimidating this year's Cinco de Mayo gatherings, which led them to be cancelled, an anonymous commenter referenced the recent gestapo tactics (teargas and rubber bullets fired into) a crowd of marching Mexican Americans in LA (now being investigated by the FBI for use of excessive force):

Personally I wish it was real bullets and we can only hope our government ends this invasion with superior force ending it for good, helped by a huge strong wall at the border.

Do not think that is rare. Do not "Other" that commenter and say he is a sleazy, sick strange individual. Please believe me when I say I could fill this entire post with similar and even worse sentiments. From Left- and Right- wing typists. Just as Jensen said, when the typical invisible structures in place are violated by those who no longer wish to go along with them, the rhetoric gets very ugly, and will eventually turn to violence, when that rhetoric fails to dampen these "transgressions." Any "mainstream" blog you read that does not bear these vicious tirades simply keeps away from the controversy. The lack of the hate does not equal a lack of racist thought any more than a lack of lynchings in our society indicates the struggle for Civil Rights is over. And this is why we all need to be concerned with this.

Donna again puts it well:

Back to white POC, I think it's easy to see the conservative POC this way, but there are also liberal POC like this. Many of the most linked to and accepted POC in the liberal blogosphere are like this, the same goes for those POC who blog on mostly white blogs. There are exceptions, Steve Gilliard comes to mind. I think he is popular because he has a variety of viewpoints about issues that white people are interested in. He hasn't changed his writing to agree with white people, but he also does not concentrate his posts on mostly racial issues. That alone does make him "safer". Also Wampum, I don't think it will hurt MBW or EBW's feelings to say that alot of their popularity comes from the Koufax Awards. They have both mentioned it already themselves, that their readers spike during the awards, but only the usual suspects are commenting on their meatier threads.

I won't name names, because I am not interested in starting a new flame war. But these white POC bloggers tend to not write about racial issues but say things like, I am glad I can talk about anything, and not race, because my readers are colorblind.

Psst, the only reason your readers are colorblind is because you do not talk about race.

You're not off the hook with an occasional safe foray into talking a few words on race, and then letting it go, she goes on to say. And I say she is right. We know what happens when a large blog that normally has a good amount of rational conversation peeps out from under the White Lens, and dares to think humanely in a fashion that, consequently, offends the typical racist and barely-submerged thought that predominates our American culture. We know what happens when seemingly COLORBLIND blogs suddenly show that they can see color, and what it signifies in terms of struggle. Just see the Brad Blog for a recent example. "Eliminationist Rhetoric"? Plenty to spare. Seemingly sane and "LIBERAL" humans, sometimes called WHITEPROGRESSIVES suddenly advocating decapitations, mass-murder, and every kind of hateful harm you can summon. Because suddenly, they have a target that is not human in their eyes.

But...what happened to being "progressive"? What happened to being "liberal"?

Liberal: marked by generosity : OPENHANDED <a liberal giver> b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal>

I find it very interesting, as a hallmark of this "White Lens" that I continually speak of that one group of people is allowed to decide the reality for another group (or many groups), as well as what is best for them. True, it's infuriating, but more than that, it's sad. It's frustrating. It's challenging. Because the very dynamic that continues harm on the Brown™ prevents the mind suffering behind the dynamic from coming to awareness of same. So tricky.

This "knowing what's best for all" is typically White® and what I call "the colonizer's" view. If you grok my use there, you understand better the controversial post I wrote about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's transracial adoption habit, titled Nezua's 2006 Colonizers of the Year.. When understanding this "colonizer's view," as I call it, we can just hear Kirk on the bridge, talking about some good but primitive group of aliens that need the Federation's intervention to find their way. This is part of why some grow so very offended and befuddled by my take on Jolie. In their eyes, I am attacking benevolence. How gross. What on earth is wrong with me? How DARE I posit that placing a brown baby from some "third world country" and immersing them in the home and culture of an American celebrity, giving them a snazzy new name and a place in the roost of our collective dreams—American celebrity—was not THE MOST bestest thing you could ever do? What am I? Some kind of Jolie-hater? Some kind of woman-hater? Some kind of commie?

A recent comment on the post asked me "where's the data to support the claim that kids uprooted from their 'true' cultural/ethnic heritage and raised in the US suffer/are alienated/resent their colonizing parents?" And I have to assume they did not read the thread. And thus, don't really want to learn about what we are discussing.

"Data" they want, so they say. And what would this be? Books housed in accredited libraries, perhaps, they want. Science journals measuring the fractions that add up to a pile of sharp-edged and fractured identity and pain in an individual. I don't have that data. What I do have are numerous blogs that swarmed to link to me after that post. Blogs like The Transracial Korean Adoptee Nexus and Twice the Rice and Racilicious. I got letters from transracial adoptees thanking me profusely for making the post. I dug up wounds, and posts ensued where memories, and pain and anger poured out, and others reading got to understand a bit of what was behind such a seemingly benign and benevolent act as the wiping out of a person's culture in the name of "colorblindness." Those who wanted to understand, that is. Because like that commenter's rebuttal to the post, most challenges such as this—"prove to me that my view on others is wrong"—come in the form of an impossible request. There is no "proving" to these people that their views on others are not the end-all-be-all on that issue. If I point them to personal stories, they say that this is "largely speculative and anecdotal." Very snazzy English. Very arrogant Deciders. They refuse to consider that they may not understand everything in the world, even when at issue is the lives of others, the thoughts of others, the feelings of others.

This is the White Lens. And it will not be pried off. This is why my brown friends do not engage in trying to change any minds on it. The owner must one day turn and realize there is a painful glare in their eye. Then, they can do the work of tearing it away themselves. And just as my verb choice indicates, there will be pain in this loss of vantage point, as it implies a loss of privilege.

To that commenter I simply replied that they could find that data they wanted by reading blogs by brown people who experienced similar stories. Do you think my words will matter to them?

A commenter on that Brad Blog post I linked had some very insightful things to say about today's immigration issue, and I quoted MarcG in my post The New N•••••• in Town.

It's a shame that the so-called US progressive movement isn't involved with what is obviously the true front of progressivism in the United States in the 21st century. The struggle for human rights led by immigrants.

As in the 60s, so many so-called political people stood on the sidelines or contented themselves with reading about how King and activist blacks fought for a more free USA, the progressive movement of today is for the most part, only watching as the real progressive movement, mostly latinos, fight for further realization of the USA some say exists right now and others say used to exist but certainly that we all want.

And this is really, the crux of my post today. No funny stereotypes of Mexicans, no cleverly-metaphorized lessons in Mexican history, no soft-pedaling my stance. I know I am bound to kick up lots of hostility by this, but hell. I do anyway. Even when I'm doing my best to play GoodBoy.

We, right now, are facing a struggle for HUMAN rights that could not be more obvious or pronounced. With each move the US Government makes against Mexican migrant workers—from jailing children in prison camps, to breaking up families that labor for America and pay taxes never retrieved, to allowing hatemongers to frame the mainstream debate, to bringing inappropriate, unwarranted violence on those exercising their First Amendment rights or those reporting on the demonstrations—the silence from the mainstream blogs becomes egregiously deafening. Do these blogs hide behind the pus-riddled logic that litters the threads like at Brad Blog's recent foray into this front? Do they tell themselves that REMEMBER, THESE ARE ALIENZZZZ? Or do events like this just not make a blip on their radar? Are they afraid of rousing the ire of their mainstream audiences? Which of these would be a more damning conclusion?

Question: If the crowd at LA were mostly made up of WHITEPROGRESSIVES , rallied and organized by or DailyKos, and instead was marching on Washington, would there be this silence when riot police marched in lines and fired from rifles into crowds that had even mothers and children in strollers in it? Would these blogs follow the issue with passion day after day? Or would they let it pass by, excused by trollers bold enough to threaten death on Mexicans? Would these blogs bother to post enough to say "the teargas and rubber bullets were justified because a) a small group threw water bottles at the cops, b) some marchers wouldn't get back on the sidewalk, c) whatever the next excuse is" or would they not make a peep at all?

What is blogging? Is it a game? Is it real change?

Reading Digby yesterday, I was enjoying a post called It's Baaack, where he writes that "Via Dave Niewert at Orcinus I see that America's ugly white underbelly is showing again" and goes on to inform his readers that "Niewert's work is very important at a time like this because he has documented how these racists and eliminationists are given permission by mainstream figures to let their bigot flag fly:"

And I thought America's ugly white underbelly is...'back?' Really? I thought to myself where had it gone, then? And I went to Niewert's blog, which so often has very well-researched articles that tie in historically. The man does an astounding amount of research, and also posts very beautiful pictures of whales. Still, I had to ask myself why it was that Digby thought "America's ugly white underbelly" had gone anywhere. Was it because he reads Orcinus to keep up on it?

At Niewert's blog I found his impressive series on Eliminationalism in America and these passages struck me, takne from the first installment:

What distinguishes eliminationism -- and particularly the rhetoric that precedes it and fuels it -- is that it represents a kind of self-hatred, especially in an American culture which advertises itself as predicated on inclusiveness, egalitarianism, and equal opportunity, since it runs precisely counter to those ideals. Eliminationists, at heart, really hate the very idea of America.

It has its origins, like slavery and war, in some of man's most ancient and most savage impulses: the desire to dominate others, through violence if necessary. However, in contrast, it goes largely unnoticed and largely unexamined, perhaps because it is a side of human nature so ugly we prefer not even to recognize its existence. So much so that only recently have we even had a term like "eliminationism" with which to frame it.

And I thought, hell yeah. This is important stuff. This applies to the Immigrant issue for sure. Then there was this:

What, really, is eliminationism?

It's a fairly self-explanatory term: it describes a kind of politics and culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas for the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through complete suppression, exile and ejection, or extermination.

... Rhetorically, it takes on some distinctive shapes. It always depicts its opposition as simply beyond the pale, and in the end the embodiment of evil itself -- unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus in need of elimination. It often depicts its designated "enemy" as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and loves to incessantly suggest that its targets are themselves disease carriers. A close corollary -- but not as nakedly eliminationist -- are claims that the opponents are traitors or criminals, or gross liabilities for our national security, and thus inherently fit for elimination or at least incarceration.

It's beautiful, right? Speaks to the time, to the issue, and to my heart. Here is a (white) man doing academic studies and discussions of an issue that I am tied to because of my lineage, my relatives, my family. Here he is doing a wonderful counterpoint to the very visceral and personal essays that we do in the "brown blogosphere." I don't need to go into "cockroach" jokes or how both these paragraphs could apply directly to today's Human Rights struggle as embodied by the Mexican Immigrant issue. It's all right there. As well as two posts reporting on the Hutto Concentration Camp for Kids, which makes great sense, given Neiwert's work on the Japanese Internment camps in the past.

But only two posts? On such an "Important blog" as this? Yes, good work, driven by a good man, and a good writer. And itself, and without those other blogs I mention—the ones that connect his data, discussion, and analysis to a human experience—how "important" a blog is it to read "in this time"?

I looked for Neiwert's take on the LA violence perpetrated on marching Mexican Americans and undocumented workers and found....nada. I looked for Digby's take on it, and found...nada. I look on Firedoglake, and find...nada. I look on all these Big and Important Liberal blogs and find...nada. There are, of course, notable exceptions, and they matter. Especially when they tie in to the larger issues, which—again, I say—you would think would be on all our front burners:

From Phoenix Woman's guest post on FDL:

Funny how the national media, which had their own cameras, somehow missed in real time most of the happenings that the local folk managed to document.  (Except, that is, when it was their own people getting beaten up by the cops.)  Marisa Trevino of Latina Lista looks at this — and the police beatings of persons acting to document the events — in the context of a post on World Press Freedom Day.  Brad Blog also has video of the police attacks.  Once again, we have the poor and the not-so-powerful standing up to the rich and powerful.

So it is good that these big blogs who, perhaps, are not comfortable speaking endlessly on issues a bit "foreign" to them, feature guest posters. But we cannot do it alone. Because I am speaking of a regular, enduring and committed eye on this issue. Sure, sure, I can already hear Atrios' dismissive and mocky tone, responding that he does not need to be concerned with any one groups' MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE EVAH...but in case it's not clear, I am preempting that "logic." This "group" is Liberals, is Progressives, is Feminists, is Americans. Remember the Dream?

Let me add some more:

1. From The Primary Contradiction, (which is a great original blog, but this happens to be a quoted article):

As Saladin Muhammad of the Southern-based Black Workers for Justice stated so well, the Black struggle is fundamental to any struggle for justice since it is African slave labor that created the economic base and the political base to control the vast stolen wealth in this country. That struggle makes this national liberation movement of an oppressed people permanently attached to the general working class struggle for liberation. This is why it became the standard bearer and representative of all the struggles for self determination of oppressed people and labor rights here in the U.S.

The demand for self determination was dramatically highlighted by the immigrant community, led by Latin@ workers on May 1, 2006. And, by calling for a boycott and utilizing aspects of a general strike, it made it clear that this was also a labor issue—linking it, like the Black liberation struggle, to the overall struggle for working-class liberation.

2. From a commenter "Alfonso," on a great, deeply-researched and intelligent Mexican-American blog called Para Justicia y Libertad

I was there and tear gas was used in the far end of the park, away from where the rally was being held. when that happened people started running towards the park. The police directly infront of us didn’t say anything, no instructions, warnings, etc; all of a sudden a bunch of motorcycle cops decended on us (by the 99cent store) folowed by police on foot (they were shooting the rubber bullets and bean bags) we ran north, at which point the cops entered the park pushing people around, the people at the park didn’t know what was going on because they were isolated from the intial confrontation.

3. From Artist Clinton Fein's SFGate blog:

Perhaps if the Warriors fans were tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets, there would be the appropriate righteous indignation. The right to peaceful assembly and free speech is, and should be, a cherished First Amendment right. One worth defending and fighting for. Where, please tell me, is our outrage?
In the wake of Don Imus’ firing, if the censoring of words that make decent people uncomfortable represents an attempt to establish or maintain “civility” in an online environment, the results appear to be nothing more than meaningless, trivial niceties that do little more than inspire, at best, silent apathy.

3. From a favorite blog Having Read the Fine Print..... written by a young, black, very intelligent woman ("Blackamazon") who brooks no bullshit:

When people do things it became very clear to me early on that it was about them. How it feels to feel good about them, about how they think of themselves.
And the truth is ..

I feel little to nothing for the sisterhood anymore.

It doesn't exist.

And I thank god for it everyday.

Don Imus and VT showed that to me loud and clear.

Suddenly race was on everyone's lips.

No one asked the sistas.

And I mean the poor ones the ones who were degraded. Not the ones who looked good and had pedigrees.

No one asked the loudmouths, the protesters,the women who had stopped buying hip hop albums long ago and had been flipping their shit since time immemorial.

As Donna says in her post that links to the one I quoted above, I could quote Blackamazon's entire post. But I'll stop there, because it brings me back to my thoughts on deciding for others. Why are none of these amazing (brown) writers "very important at a time like this"? This is not even a comprehensive list, but when you gather them all, and read them all, you could never be under the impression that America's "White underbelly" has gone anywhere. Why are these writers not on Niewert's blogroll? Why are they not on Digby's blogroll? Or on the Crooks N Liars blogroll? Is there an answer that won't smack of the type of elitism that is driving so much of the Right wing today? Why are these voices that live in the thick of it not being asked or referenced more often? Sure, some Left wing blogs are now "brave" enough to use "fuck" or "shit," but that ain't bravery. That's just spice. Bravery is daring to do that stuff your conscience/belly/heart tells you you should, but that you know may make even your friends curl their lip at you. We are in some serious shit, my friends. And we need some very brave voices out there. This is what I am getting at when I talk of connecting philosophies, or the "broader view." I do not think it is enough to chase Bush and his lies around. I think we need to dig up the whole lid. We need to talk about why we allow the persecution of humans in a way that is inarguably inhuman. We need to look at why we avoid it. We need to check ourselves, and how we benefit. Even by remaining silent. Especially by remaining silent.

Massive blogs like Hullabaloo and Crooks N Liars link to Orcinus' zombie-obama post with the quickness. My brown friends would sigh and tell me it is a White Boy's Club, and that Niewert represents the safe face of today's racial discussions. It is cynical, yes. Is it true? These same friends mostly have given up on "making white people understand," but perhaps because I spent a decade or so of my life trying to be something I was not, I still empathize with how easy it is to not see important things. I still hold out hope I can convince some holdouts. Because I know that some of you are understanding of what I'm saying. I've read your comments that show as much. So I am appealing to your braver, better natures. And I need everyone to know that this is not a slander on Digby, Orcinus, or Atrios, or anyone else. Yes, I hold Orcinus to a higher standard on these issues, but I'm sure it's obvious why. However, if a reader wants to see this post as nothing more than "jealousy" or "slamming" other writers, well....there's nothing I can do about that. Those who want to understand my point by now, will.

I, and my friends in the "brown blogosphere" are important blogs to read at a time like this. That is why I have done so much linking with this post. There are many more on my sidebars, and I suggest most of them strongly (some are still on because I just haven't weeded the few out who I no longer want there!). We are connected—perhaps not by data or reams of research, all—but by family, and occupation, and our very histories and lives. My father is a first generation Mexican American author who teaches and writes and has written on these issues for decades. His mother, my nanita, is gone from this world. But she wanted more than anything to become an American, and her Social Security card, once she did, was a document that brought her great pride. My familia fought in America's wars so that she could come. This was her American Dream, and she lived it. I now live to see the land that she toiled in the fields for, the land she loved perhaps more than Mexico, look at our own people as subhuman. Ignore their plight. This is why you may want to read blogs like mine if you care to understand this "underbelly." Yes, I burn hot, as many of the "brown blogs" do. Just as the feminist blogs do. Just as the anti-ablist blogs do. But change and truth are not lukewarm entities or processes, and nobody has to agree with all I write. I am sure JC doesn't, and I'm sure Glenn Greenwald doesn't, but they both read and blogroll me. It doesn't mean we haven't had rough moments, adjusting viewpoint pangs, or disagreements. But—to me—it means they earn the name "progressive" if only for their effort and willingness to move outside the mainstream boundaries. (And of course it shows they have damn good taste.) But this is not about me. I have plenty of exposure. I am happy at my place, and happy to guest post here, and happy that my words get out there.

I am not happy, however, to see how contained these points of view and discussions are in the "mainstream" blog world. My point is that there are many who are connected to this struggle. You want to talk about race? You want to talk about eliminationalist rhetoric? You want to talk about LEFT vs RIGHT....but that leaves no room for others, does it? Is there only Left and Right? Is it really so simple?

What, really, is eliminationism?

It's a fairly self-explanatory term: it describes a kind of politics and culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas for the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through complete suppression... ....

Dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas. We need more of this. More as it relates to one of the most important Human Rights issues today in America.

If this reads at all as confrontational, feel free to consider it as much, Mainstream Progressive Blogosphere. I am throwing down the gauntlet. I am slapping your soft cheek with my gritty cotton glove. We need not duel, but if we are not seeing the ILLEGAL ALIEN issue as one that concerns all of us who profess to be interested in Progressivism and Human Rights, then we are at odds. I don't write this to castigate or denigrate any of these blogs I mention. Because we need you. We need your interest. All of us do. We need your attention to this issue that is crucial to today's Human Rights struggle, to our modern-day Civil Rights struggle. I don't need you as adversaries. There are always adversaries waiting in the wings, and there are too many nowadays. But movements that result in honest to goodness progress stirs the waters, challenges convention, brings pain. And also much pain is visited upon that workforce that makes our American engine hum—those human families—by our pretending the issue fades away between Obama posts on Big Box Blogs.

So is blogging a game? Or about real change?

update:Dave Neiwert has taken issue with some of the points within my post as they relate to him, and offers a few links in his Haloscan comment below, which I would put here, but the links jump away from my mouse whenever I approach them.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez blogs as The Unapologetic Mexican and sometimes becomes speechless with the pain of considering jailed and scared children. Other times, like today, he has no problem running his mouth.


  1. Anonymous5:38 PM

    I can't believe I read the whole thing.

    Stay in our face, hombre, if you please. A little discomfort is good for the soul. If this government's Black Helicopter Troops are shooting at children, and mothers, we need to know; after all, we white liberal types will be ducking with them, soon enough.

  2. Go to & click on BUMPER STICKERS

  3. This is brilliant. Yes, it is long, but taking the time and giving it a close reading will be very REWARDING. Nez, you have given us many complex and important ideas to gnaw upon. It also deserves a wider readership than it will get here. I wish I knew the big guys, email them, slap their faces and tell them, sit down, take a half-hour and read this. It may be the most important essay I've read all year.

  4. Anonymous2:03 AM

    Wow. Thank you so much, my friends.

  5. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Thank you. I do not blog, I barely comment, but let me say we are all brown. I don't know what will change, or how or when, but something's got to give. Yesterday I saw Max Ophuls' "A Sense of Loss" about the "troubles" in Belfast in 1972. He's more famous for His "The Sorrow and the Pity" about the Holocaust. Sense is not available on DVD in the States and was never shown on the BBC which commissioned it. There are many reasons to seek out the film but the one that strikes me as most apt is the comment of a working class catholic who lost his job when the truck factory that employed catholics was burned down, presumably by the militant protestants. He told how, as a boy, he would ride on the backs of lorrys or try to sneak into a theatre and would run from an unarmed bobby. The kids now (1972), he said, throw stones at soldiers in riot gear inside tanks shooting rubber bullets. Thus it is still. We are all brown.

  6. Anonymous3:21 PM

    great stuff, call a cab. i'm going to look for that flick.


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.