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Progress Report

Progress Report

Happy New Year and best wishes. It’s been quiet in this space while I hack away at a multi-part project. Even with the quiet of this unusually quiet holiday, work has been slow, but an outline is taking shape. Thought I’d share a quick summary and get your impressions.

The first four posts are mostly finished. A few excerpts are posted below. The rest remain to be completed. This could take a couple more weeks.

Dawn of Post-White America: It’s Better and Worse Than You Think

            It is easier to destroy a founding myth than to replace it.

White Supremacy Lives in System 1

            White Supremacy is a mythology, a collection of shared narratives, many of a religious or spiritual nature, out of which our mental model of the world is formed. What it gives us, in addition to our innate definitions of “us” and “them,” is an evolutionary burden we call “implicit bias,” unconscious attitudes or stereotypes which distort our reasoning.

Why We Need Shared Myths

            We inherently distrust information from people who reject our core mythologies. Absent a shared mythology we cannot even a share an empirical reality. People will not trust a set of alleged facts unless they share a mythological framework defining truth.

Half Devil, Half Child: The World Through White Eyes

            We have to understand why we invented whiteness in the first place, and quickly, if we’re going to replace it with something better. That begins with understanding what white supremacy is, and what it isn’t.

           White supremacy isn’t a policy preference, a statement of fact, or a personal preference. It isn’t a set of beliefs, though a belief system often grows out of it. White supremacy has no rational basis, no dependence on facts or evidence. White supremacy isn’t bigotry. It isn’t hatred of blacks. White supremacy is a mythology attaching superior value to cultural artifacts defined as “white,” and inferiority, immorality and threat to anything seen as “black.”

           At the core of this mythology is an unconscious aesthetic. Like our innate emotional response to certain colors or sounds, or our reaction to facial gestures, white supremacy embeds cultural cues, categorizing inputs, concepts or values we see as “white” as inherently good. Anything perceived as “black” is inherently menacing, corrupt, criminal or dangerous.

How White Supremacy Evolved

Why White Supremacy Failed

College and the Toxic Myth of Merit

Wokeness Is Missing a ‘Theory of Us’

The Coming Wave of Political Violence

A New American Mythology

44 Comments

  1. I look forward Chris to your posts and am intrigued by the notion of “replacing our narrative”. The key takeaway from my civics lessons growing up was E Pluribus Unum. That is the prism through which I navigate the news and stories and commentaries I read. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really appreciated how radical our founding documents are and why we paper them over with our national myths and legends (white supremacy). I can’t stomach talking heads shows right now but accidentally stumbled into hearing Anand Giridharadas on The Last Word this past Friday. I am attaching a link to Youtube of the 3 to 4 minute discussion he had with Lawrence O’Donnell. He begins to tackle the the topic you are outlining with this post. I found some solace on his take of recent events but agree with you that the violence is not over.

  2. It’s official. Trump will not attend the Inauguration. I say Good! I’m glad he’s going to stay away. Even before the Beer Belly Putsch, he had already made a mockery of the peaceful transition of power concept with his past 2 months of whining, lying, and brazenly attempting to cheat. Him going through the motions now would be adding insult to injury IMO. Let him go cheat at golf instead.

  3. The House will impeach the tyrant sometime next week. Clearly, the monster from Kentuckystan wants no part of convicting the tyrant, and I don’t know if there would be time even if he was motivated to. So my question: Can the Senate convict the tyrant after Jan 20th, thereby ensuring the tyrant can never hold public office again?

    1. The impeachment will occur during the 117th Congress. Even though the subject of the impeachment will no longer be in office after Jan. 20, the impeachment would still stand and can be acted upon. I also believe, but perhaps incorrectly, that the rules require the Senate to give a presidential impeachment priority.

      Of further interest is that the GA SoS, has until Jan 22 to certify the election. Then the certification needs to be transmitted to the Senate. Jan 22 is a Friday. So my expectation is that Ossoff and Warnock, will be sworn in sometime during the week of Jan 25, though it could slip to the week of Feb. 1. Normally the Senate does not meet on Monday, so the earliest possible date is Jan 26. Also Harris will probably resign from the Senate on Jan. 20. Her replacement Padilla will probably be sworn in at the same time as Ossoff and Warnock. At that point, Schumer will become Majority Leader and will have scheduling control. He will be able to proceed with an impeachment confirmation proceeding should he so choose.

  4. So…..guard rails held, huh?

    13 days to go. While the tyrant breathes, the Republic is at extreme risk. The tyrant has in excess of 250 million dollars, and counting, to spend on whatever he wants, plus, at least 2 media sources happy to out-insane each other.

    There are 138 traitors seated in the Senate and the House, all still loyal to the death cult. They are not going anywhere.

    Imagine this little scenario. Today, you are on the Joint Chiefs. You are handed one hour old satellite photos showing troop movements towards chinese ports near Taiwan, and multiple navy assets, including amphibious assault ships, firing up. Who do you give the photos to?

  5. James Comey thinks it would be good for America to leave Trump alone:

    https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/05/james-comey-donald-trump-prosecuted-saving-justice-new-book?CMP=edit_2221&__twitter_impression=true&utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

    There are a number of people who really need to just STFU and go away, and Mr. Comey is very high up on that list. I get that prosecuting your defeated opponents solely because they had the temerity to be your opponents is the stuff of authoritarian shithole banana-republics. But you want to know what else is, Mr. Comey? Failing to hold people accountable for wrongdoing. This plea for mercy and moving on was said in the wake of Watergate, and I can see the point, even if I don’t agree. But enough time has passed to analyze that choice- GOP gets a big pass on Watergate, and then we get Iran Contra. No real repercussions over Iran-Contra, and we get the GOP’s bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq. No heads roll over this costly and unnecessary war, and now we have Trump’s brazen corruption. The GOP Senators decline to convict on a most impeachment offense, and now Trump is lying about the election results and stirring up violent nutjobs. It is glaringly obvious that giving the GOP a pass on malfeasance only encourages them to up their malfeasance game. Enough! The corrupt Trump regime MUST be investigated and if there is evidence of crime, people MUST be charged and tried. Even if it’s Trump. Make the process as transparent as possible, but cease with the excuses.

    1. I am watching on TV the anarchy real time. I have asked the question before. I asked what was worse, a functional leader of a death cult, or a martyr.

      The only rational answer is to arrest, try, and execute the tyrant. This death cult will take years to wither, but it will wither faster if the leader is dead.

  6. Raphael Warnock defeats the cowardly corrupt insider trader Kelly Loeffler!!!!! YES!!!! Both of the GOP Senators in GA are slimy scumbags, but IMO she was the viler one. Ossoff is clinging to a lead, so fingers crossed.

    To steal a powerful point from a commented on WaPo: “ The irony, of course, is that Warnock the good reverend and Ossoff the young idealist will do more for the hate-filled, grievance-filled, struggling whites of Georgia than Trump and these two craven suck ups would ever do.”

  7. So, given that we have DonnyDumbAss on tape trying to extort the GA Secretary of State to manufacture 11,780 votes for him, can we presume that Biden isn’t going to dissuade the DoJ from investigating, no matter how badly he might want to “move on”?

    We all know Trump is stupid and arrogant, but he yet again found a new low.

    1. Unless he wants to politically neuter himself for the rest of his life and sentence the American Idea to being anything but a cruel joke, he has no choice.

      After the end of the Civil War, President Grant erred and pardoned traitors in the name of wanting to move forward when he should’ve put a steel-toed boot on the throat of a broken Confederacy and snapped their necks, both literally and figuratively. President-elect Biden needs to avoid that same soft thinking and go after these bastards with all the righteous vigor of an inferno. They’ve more than earned it and then some.

  8. Dinsdale,

    There is a certain group of Republicans that anti-Trumpers sometimes call the Vichy conservatives. The Vichy cons are also sometimes referred to as anti-anti-Trumpers. The hallmark of the Vichy-cons is their equivocation of things that are not equal. For example, bringing up the fact that a handful of congressmen and senators protested the 2004 vote count b/c they felt that some constituents were disenfranchised, as a basis for supporting Senator Hawley in his coup attempt. This, without acknowledging the very real differences, like the fact that Kerry conceded, and that no lawsuits were filed challenging the result; or the fact that the objecting senators and congressmen made no attempts at actually overturning the election. In short, these things are not equal. Yet, Vichy-cons will employ this whataboutism and then conjure up some ridiculous caricature of the left (“At least Trump isn’t a communist like Obama”) in order to justify their support for the GOP’s increasing madness. Fact is, AOC and Bernie Sanders are leftists, but they’re leftists within the paradigm of a democratic republic. The same is not true of Louis Gomert, who is not only further right than AOC and Bernie are left, but also is not a proponent of a democratic republic.

    The close cousin of the Vichy-con is the centrist who won’t take sides. This group’s idea of fairness is calling the same number of violations for both sides, often without regard to severity, or the fact that one side is committing more violations, and doing substantially more harm. The upshot is a slow triangulation toward the bad actors.

    You never see or hear ppl like even Sen. Sanders complaining about JK Rowling. No serious Democratic politician validates the insanity of the handful of far left crazies the way that Ted Cruz does the Crazy Kraken Lady. On the left, those ppl routinely lose their primaries. As for safe spaces, I went to college not long ago, and never saw such a place. The whole idea, though, is that you can say things that don’t get you “canceled.”

    Who does get canceled? People like David Frum, Bill Kristol. Conservatives who won’t go along with the GOP’s insanity.

    1. As I said earlier, the right wing fascists have many decades of a head-start on the left wing extremists, especially in the political arena. So it is not surprising there is no elected officials from the far left in the House or Senate. BTW, people like AOC or Sanders would be considered left of centre, but not “out there”, in the civilized world.

      Now, I have little faith that there will be any kind of democracy left in the u.s. within 4 years, so these left wing loons will indeed never get a toehold in Congress. But in the few bastions of democracy left in the world, after it falls in the u.s., we shall see what how these nutbars manage. I expect they are in for a very very hard time when the fascism finally takes over in the insane states of muricastan.

    2. @ Phillip:

      Sorry. We were both wrong. The woke idiocy has indeed reached the highest levels of Congress. This is the insanity of today:

      This is from the Committee on Rules for the 117th Congress:

      “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral”

      Here is the overall link:

      https://rules.house.gov/press-releases/pelosi-and-mcgovern-unveil-details-rules-package-117th-congress

      Those words include: “mother, father, son, daughter, husband, wife, mother-in-law, father-in-law”.

      You want to know why the loser party keeps losing? It is over madness like this.

      1. Here’s a nice article on the ultimate effects of the change. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article248264460.html

        It’s also notable that while you may refer to the Dems as the “loser party”, they only have the power to implement these changes by not losing. And while there might be some aspects of the policy, here and there, that I take issue with, on the whole these are good changes, and completely appropriate in the 21st Century First World. Nor is it “far left” or “woke”. It’s something that most hospitals are addressing, and have been addressing for a while. It’s coming to corporate America. Turns out, misogyny isn’t great for business.

        This is the “Why can’t we call black people Negroes anymore?” of modern times. Suffice it to say, times change. The real crisis is in the right labeling this as a “far left” concept. It isn’t. Unless you’re stuck in 1985– which is where most of the GOP is living, these days.

        My reaction to it is, so what? Seriously…nobody under 50 cares that much. Does the left sometimes take issues like this too far? Sure. But perhaps more of Danielle Crittenden and less of Ted Cruz, on issues like this, is what America and GOP need. Crittenden has excellent critiques on this very issue.

        But we never get that discussion b/c the bigot caucus can’t stop pandering to their butthurt Baby Boomer base (that was a little harsh, but it was too alliterative to forgo). This is the future. Conservatives need to be the vanguard, not revanchists, on it.

    1. It’s interesting you mention that. And along with it goes the treatment of women. Not sure how to fit it in exactly.

      The problem is comparison. Until about the past three decades there was little or no difference in the treatment of non-cis communities in the US and elsewhere. In many respects and in relative terms, the US (at least parts of it) was a haven. Ironically, it seems like the chaotic environment of the US may have allowed those communities a degree more room to survive and organize than in many other parts of the world, even in Europe.

      When MA legalized same sex marriage in 2004, there were only two other countries that allowed it (Holland and Belgium), along with the Canadian province of Quebec. When same sex marriage became legal across the US, it was still not allowed in places like Germany, the UK and Australia.

      There’s an awkward potential explanation for why the US didn’t lag on this civil rights issue – laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation can potentially impact a white man.

      The story with the treatment of women is similar. The US granted women’s suffrage at almost the same time as the rest of the democratic world, in the years just after WW1. Before the war there were only a handful of places that allowed it, led by Australia and NZ. Poor treatment of women has been a nearly universal feature across cultures. Until the past few decades, the US was relatively progressive on the issue of women’s rights, especially divorce rights. Before Roe in ’73, abortion was more or less illegal everywhere in the world outside the Soviet Bloc.

  9. Your project is quite interesting. Just attempting to describe myth and its impact can be heavy lifting.

    Will you consider the heavy manipulation of our national myths? And those responsible for it?

    I thought my small high school in northwest Ohio in the 60s was an outlier, a non-teacher of the Holocaust and the interment of Japanese-Americans. Slavery? Unpleasant, but that was about it, no big deal.

    I’ve been surprised over the years how many people — boomers, I guess — had similar educational experiences.

    Who wrote those textbooks? Why did so many school districts choose them? Was it the work of a mythic band of boosters who flitted around the country like locusts?

  10. I eagerly look forward to seeing the first posts of this project. It’s going to be excellent as always, methinks!

    Just one small suggestion: For the sentences “White supremacy isn’t bigotry. It isn’t hatred of blacks,” I suggest adding “just” after “isn’t” for both of them.

    1. The pieces go into this in more detail, but it’s important. How many Trump voters have you met who genuinely carry no animus toward black people. For me, the answer is “a lot.” And whether they actually do or not, almost all of them think they don’t hate black people. That’s important.

      White supremacy is a mythology, an aesthetic. It may inspire a lot of racial hatred, but it doesn’t need it. You can’t recognize Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign as a White Nationalist project if you expect that white supremacy requires explicit racial animosity.

      1. I see it as a “soft bigotry”. It really shows in the whole kneeing during the national anthem controversy. The conservatives I know can’t grok why people making a ton of $ aren’t satisfied. But wealth isn’t enough to guarantee security.

    1. Almost exclusively, they’re attacking it because it feels threatening to them. I think there’s an issue that I don’t see anyone discussing.

      The weakness in wokeness is the weakness of any transformative system at that early stage – it’s all about Balkanization, breaking down an incumbent system in which the only valid identity was whiteness, especially white maleness, and allowing a kaleidoscope of new identities to emerge. That has to happen, but it leaves a vacuum. This blooming of a thousand Us’s does not create a new us.

      Democrats are starting to notice the problem, but I see little sense that they understand it. At some point in this arc, a new us needs to emerge, a mosaic to replace a pile of broken glass from a smashed ceiling. It’s easier to break something than to replace it.

      1. Dinsdale, yes, the woke morons- not all woke ppl, but the ones that are inane- are bad. There are two differences, right now, between them and the right wing ppl. First, the right wingers are more violent. You don’t seem to see them committing mass shootings or storming state capitols with firearms. Without fail, almost every mass shooter or other domestic terrorist is a white dude. And this does a heck of a lot more damage than protests that get out of hand. But conservatives are trained to fear the latter while not minding much of the former.

        Second, the extremists own the GOP. This was true, by the way, even before Trump. There is no difference between Josh Hawley and Madison Cawthorn. Given the choice between white supremacy and moving on from Trump, Hawley has decided to continue to perpetuate the myth that the election was stolen. While Cawthorn might be that dumb, Hawley isn’t. He has degrees from Stanford and Yale. He knows better. But he also knows he can’t win without the deplorables. They own the party, lock, stock, and barrel.

        The left, by comparison, nominated Biden. You didn’t see any Biden-Harris signs and stickers at the protests, over the summer. You didn’t see or hear any serious Democratic frontrunner proposing to defund the police- those candidates lost, and very early. Woke-ism is a wing of the party, but it isn’t the party.

      2. Philip. I am a centrist extremist. I would happily eradicate both ends of the spectrum.

        Are the insane right more obvious in their violence? Of course. You don’t see the birkenstock social justice dilettantes showing up at a street fight with anything but their cell phone. Yes, the fascists totally control what was the republican party. But give it time. They have headstart on the woke nutbars that can be measured in decades.

        The right wing fanatics have been into banning books for who knows how long. The left wing fanatics are getting it done at a faster clip that any religious nut could ever dream of. Plus, the woke fanatics have infiltrated “mainstream” educational and media institutions at a frightening clip. They are more competent that the right wing fascists, and that makes their version of fascism just as dangerous.

      3. Dins, you’re gonna have to elaborate on what kind of books the “left wing fanatics” are banning, as well as what you mean by “woke fanatics” that have “infiltrated” educational and media institutions that you deem “mainstream”. Can you give me some real-world examples of this left-fascism that scares you?

        Because right now, the language you’re using is more akin to what I’ve seen from the alt-righters that try to stoke fears of “SocJus indoctrination” when all they saw was a transgender character in a cartoon or a videogame.

      4. https://quillette.com/2019/09/24/my-book-defending-free-speech-has-been-banned/

        https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/09/08/professor-suspended-saying-chinese-word-sounds-english-slur

        I am sure you read about the “whiteness chart” at the Smithsonian. That was apparently one step too far, at least right now, as it was removed after its idiotic statements.

        There have been a number of writers at the NY Times or NY Times Magazine that have quit or been forced out in the past 2 years. Andrew Sullivan is likely the one with the highest profile. Or the guys that left Vox. Or Bari Weiss.

        I have read comments from the insane ones that now refuse to acknowledge J.K. Rowling as the writer of the Potter series, though they love that series.

        And institutions that I deem “mainsteam”: How about Ivy League schools, major newspapers like the NY Times, How about any place that creates a “safe space”, for anyone that has their feelings hurt, because they were “threatened” by something they read or heard.

        I am not even going to get into the utter madness of critical theory, which permeates so much of this.

      5. I got fired from Forbes for talking about the Southern Baptist Church’s relationship to slavery. None of the ‘campus free speech’ champions came riding to my rescue.

        There is no such thing as cancel culture. No one writing conservative columns at WaPo or the NYT except David Brooks and George Will would have a writing job at all but for the white/right affirmative action that carves out slots for them. Don’t even get me started on Bari Weiss.

        The whole cancel culture industry is just conservative whining about their declining public appeal.

      6. You want another example?

        I just turned on to one of the cable channels that I thought bypassed a censor. The movie is “Silence of the Lambs”, which by any standard, is an iconic movie.

        Here is the warning slapped on the movie. I have paused it to get this right:

        “The following film is presented as originally created. It contains homophobic or transphobic language and depictions, and non-consensual sexual activity, that may be upsetting to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.”

        So glad they are actually not cutting the movie to pieces. (But we shall see what they actually censor out.) And if the writer of this tripe thinks that it is “transphobic” to have the serial killer actually be a wanna be trans, well, that writer is too far gone to actually to discuss anything with.

      7. I’d love to see you write more about wokeness. I struggle sometimes. Like the whole amen and a woman thing ? I’m not religious but even I know amen has nothing to do with man. Why give conservatives red meat like that?

        I watch Bill Maher and sometimes I think he has a point about political correctness going overboard. (like the whole thing about worrying so much about fat shaming that we cannot say anymore that a BMI above 30 is obese and NOT healthy).

        Honestly, I also struggle with the pronouns. I can barely remember people’s names. Trying to remember their pronouns too… And then I worry that if I say it wrong they think I’m ignorant and don’t respect them when in reality I just couldn’t remember.

        Then sometimes Maher likes to push some buttons on purpose himself and I wonder if he is still just pissed that his show politically incorrect got canceled.

      8. I lost my woke card at work for complaining about the granularity of our language policing. We were having an internal planning session to role out some training, which I was pretty enthusiastic about. When the professional diversity trainer explained why using the term “diverse” should be avoided for its discriminatory implications I lost it. My concerns were not appreciated.

        The whole woke thing is in danger of becoming a performative exercise in class signaling. Who can master the latest woke language is the new who knows which fork to use.

        And the Waterloo for wokeness is going to be the insistence, coming almost entirely from biological men transitioning to become women, that any language connecting genitalia to gender must be scrubbed. That’s where their reach will have exceeded their grasp and this whole thing could come crashing down.

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