I'd like to talk about the day when I most hated my country. It's a day(in fact, several weeks) that's not very often remembered- unlike the yearly fear holiday 9/11. It's not commemorated with more than a paragraph in each 'liberal' news media paper every year because the only thing to commemorate is a massive failure of the government to help it's own people, and the disgusting, deeply enraging aftermath. I have always rated hurricane Katrina and the response to it as the most devastating and troubling thing that happened in the United States during my lifetime.
(You know how when something 'earth-shattering' happens in America, Americans say they remember 'exactly where they were' when it happened? Well I remember where I was for hurricane Katrina, down to minute detail, and I normally have a bad memory.)
When it happened, I wasn't an activist, nor even a very good contrarian. I had a general suspicion of my own country and government which I was told was patriotic by my 'liberal'(read: Democrat) parents. I was still living under my parents roof. I was the high-school graduating class of 2005. The summer after my graduation(which I did not attend[that was the kind of battle I thought was worth fighting]) I quit my part time job, and was just watching my parents television all the time. They handled it gently- they asked me what I wanted to do with my life, made suggestions, and asked me to help around the house. I never intended to be the 'guy who's still living with his parents' but I didn't want to go to college and didn't want to do anything else until I was sure it was the right thing to do.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, the news was pretty bland- lots of nerdy talk about the power of the hurricane. It was in the days after when I got really pissed off. I turned the television to the corporate media 24-hour news channels and was surprised to see their raw coverage. Whereas the Iraq war was condensed by news channels into the footage of townspeople dragging Saddam Husein's effigy around and the footage of Neo-Conservatives publicly claiming success- the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was shown in all it's shame.
The footage(from news helicopters, evidently unable or unwilling to help) was of people stranded on rooftops, calling directly above them to every aircraft for help. They called by writing pleas for help on their rooftops, jumping up and down to command attention, and by waving American flags. There was footage of human corpses floating around in the new rivers that surrounded every home after the levees broke. And there was footage of people sailing makeshift rafts or swimming to storefronts to take whatever resources they could to survive Until they were rescued. This was in the very apparent calm after the storm. That's a crucial thing to remember. The hurricane hit, left hell on earth, and then that hell on earth simply stagnated and grew more hellish. Clearly, news helicopters had no reserves about flying, so where in the fuck was the help?
I watched this, as much as I could, for several days.
I can't say some white-lie about how 'I didn't even notice' most of the people were black, because I definitely noticed. All of my illusions, some of them self-invented, about the 'progress' of the United States and an imaginary post-racial America were immediately shattered. Race relations were no longer Richard Pryor and Chris Rock jokes as I had once known them. Race relations were as toxic at the waters surrounding New Orleans. Race relations in America were murderous.
It was all the more evil now to see the United States engaging in neglect instead of abuse. Abuse shows a sort of perverse respect- a fear- an acknowledgement at least. Leaving poor blacks and poor whites to die on their roofs or swim in disease to scramble for food and resources while you have the entire command of the largest military on earth at your disposal? That's just sick.
A couple days in, my father came home after work, saw me watching the footage and said, "Want to steal a bus and rescue those people?"
He wasn't ridiculing me; he had clearly been troubled about all this himself, I could hear it in his voice. Regardless, we didn't do that, although we should have. My most recurrent thought while watching the immediate aftermath of Katrina was 'Is this really America?'
Believe it or not it the most grotesque part about hurricane Katrina, to me, was the handwringing afterwards. After survivors were eventually rescued and given minor aid by the Coast Guard, promised trailers by FEMA and more-or-less forgotten about- the talking heads went on talking as if one of the worst tragedies in the continental United States hadn't just happened. People had the audacity to say 'residents could've left' and 'they didn't have to loot afterwards' in public. The hate was all out in the open in America in those days. Conservatives made apologies for the Bush administration, claiming that Katrina was just too devastating to deal with effectively; or pointing to the firing of Michael Brown as proof that government works. Liberals used the failure of the government as a talking point against the Iraq war- saying that America got caught with it's 'pants down' while fighting in Iraq, and didn't have the resources to help those in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Liberals, like usual, got it half-right. The United States wasn't caught with it's pants down. The commander-and-chief or even several underlings could've taken all 'our troops'(how politicized has that become?) out of Iraq where they were bombing and shooting brown people in someone else's country and moved them to the U.S. to help black people in this country anytime they wanted. The nauseating truth is there was never a time when they wanted to.
And that, more than any other event, was my 'Kennedy assassination moment,' or what's been dubbed by moronic baby-boomers my '9/11 moment;' This. When Black People pleaded with the United States to help them, 6 years ago, and the United States wouldn't.
November 28, 2011
November 21, 2011
Pictured Above: Never Forget.
I've started doing an on-and-off thought experiment these past few months which is highly upsetting. I consider how I would feel about Americans and America if I were a native of another country. Well, what would you think of Americans?
It's not good, is it? I can't blame any other country for not liking America. This is a bad country. We are bad people. This country is still what American abolitionist, guerrilla fighter and player-hater John Brown called
"this GUILTY land!"
I catch myself reading about lone-wolf American-born people turning against America and joining Al-Qaeda and my honest reaction is 'I get it.' I see these expatriate men and women, who can now be drone-missled by Obama for simply speaking 'heated rhetoric' against the United States, as sensible people. Declaring war on the United States is always understandable. In 1860 and in 2011. But I have to laugh. Because Islam is wrong even when it's right.
It's funny that politicians continue to make appeals to Americas sense of unity. Are they living in the same country I am? (Honestly, they're not) Americans hate each other, they always have, they always will- and they'll always have good reason to. They've taken arms against each other in guerilla fights over differing visions they have of America. They've assassinated each other for political gain or purpose. The Civil War never ended properly, since Southern reconstruction was dropped, and that is where we live today: The most imperfect union imaginable.
This is why I always chuckle when a Confederate or a wall street Democrat calls the Occupy movement 'Un-American' like they're channeling Joseph McCarthy. It's not funny because they're wrong; it's funny because they're right! I am delighted and grateful to have such an Un-American movement essentially resonating and succeeding on it's own terms in America.
The Occupy movement occupies public space indefinitely . They didn't let the Bonus Army do it forever, and they won't let the 99%er's do it forever- the powers that be won't allow shanty-towns to exist in America, because it makes an eyesore. Normally Americans are too proud and simultaneously ashamed to make their troubles and struggle known to other Americans. They suffer in silence and die quietly. Airing out your dirty laundry in public, and receiving another person's compassion, is extremely Un-American.
So is being rude. Though different groups of Americans have different tribal hatreds for one another(overlapping all over the place; It's almost impossible to find another American you can't hate for some reason), in public they put on the guise of working together and agreeing to disagree until they work towards compromise. The people's mic, a technique lifted from the general assembly in New York City(which echoes the quakers and and some native american traditions) to build consensus, has now ironically been turned into a weapon- and I won't call it anything less. Just watch this:
Mic-Checking Karl Rove
Shouting down an individual by chanting a prepared statementt? Not only is it rude, it's a bit emotionally violent, and so Un-American. It reminds one immediately of 'mob rule.' The founding fathers/rapists of this country hated the prospect of 'mob rule' because mob rule had a 100% chance of stopping slavery. (It also led to the Salem With Trials, but now we have camera phones and the internet if you haven't noticed, so everyone can blow a whistle instead of pick up a pitchfork.)
What's funny about the Above video, is Karl Rove's criticism of the Occupy movement is absolutely correct. No one gave them the right to Occupy America. They just fucking did it. It's American to wait your turn, to engage in gentle debate, to eat your peas, to pull yourself up by your bootstraps(or starve quietly,) to leave a park because of anti-camping laws. It's extremely Un-American to shout over and interrupt the voice of a war criminal to accuse him of being a war criminal without proper private-sector due-process, including writing a book and getting on a pundits show. It's Un-American because it's... Brave. And Unified.
Well-meaning small-D democrats will Gush about how the Occupy movement is so wonderfully patriotic and about how 'dissent is patriotic.' I don't see it that way. This is a war. There is a second America- an America that has been muzzled, co-opted, silenced, teargassed, and assassinated all last century for telling the truth and refusing to be dominated, and now it's all bubbling to the surface again.
I love the Occupy movement because I see it as unpatriotic. America is a bad, guilty land. I love my fellow countrymen who're opressed, but I don't love this country, and I want a new one.
November 16, 2011
I can't say I hate 'America's Only Humor Site Since 1958' since I have read a lot of it, and laughed at the content, if not the tepid joke in it's header. Yet whenever I continue to read past whatever article someone posted a link to on facebook, I begin to cringe, for these reasons:
1. "5 reasons, 7 things, 6 bad-ass something-or-other..."
Titling every article with the promise that the article will be broken down into tiny, easy to understand pieces is condescending, because it assumes that the reader(me) is lazy. It's also lazy on the part of the writer, as he is only promising to make one point over and over again, like I'm doing now! Every article might as well be titled " Paragraphs repeating [this point]"
2. " Paragraphs repeating [this point] about the Zombie Apocalypse."
Will this boring folklore ever die? It's been done, it's dying, it's dead.(Get it, Huh? Cracked.com Gold!) Maybe it's just me,(all of my peers have assured me that it's just me,) but I think Zombies are a played-out subject and that the Z-apocalypse will never happen. I get the lure: it's much more difficult to admit to yourself that your life will be filled with boring alive people who are incapable of bringing about the apocalypse for the next EIGHTY FUCKING YEARS.
But have some faith in the destructive power of average humans!
3. Paternalist tone.
Scratch the surface, or read between the lines of any more political article, and you'll find a pudgy, cowardly boogeyman typing from a basement behind a mask like the phantom of the opera - A generation-X member.
These people, just like your annoying and ignorant older brother or sister, were never asked to fight in any wars, had an unlimited supply of LSD throughout middle and high school, and had decent white-collar jobs available to them but decided to become ravers or indie-rock musicians instead because their parents house wasn't being foreclosed on yet.
It was these same people, along with the baby-boomers, who turned an ironic, too-smart-to-raise-a-fuss blind eye to our country while it circled the drain and flushed everyone under 30 today along with it. And now they want to give us life-advice?
4. Refusal/Aversion to profanity and the mythical 'obscenity'.
It's easy to notice the network-TV-safe 'yay titties!' beavis-and-buttheadist appreciation for sexual content on Cracked.com, and I guess they have to try to be work-safe, but c'mon: it's the INTERNET! Act like it! Elementary-school students everywhere are exploring the internet now and you better bet they'll pass up Cracked.com for hardcore Slave-rape stories(I guess it's not rape if it's a slave? I dunno... historical context... Thomas Jefferson, etc.).
Todays internet 'standards' are that you have to use all the 'seven dirty words' the late George Carlin used plus advocate an unpopular, illegal activity(like robbery or kidnapping) explicitly. Keep up, nigga.
Hell is other commenters on the internet. Other people, IRL, are actually pretty decent by comparison. I can't completely blame Cracked.com for this one, because since internet immemorial shit-talking commenters have observed that shit-talking commenters use the anonymity of the internet to post shit-talking comments they wouldn't own up to in person. However, one glance at Cracked.com's comment section reflects on its readership- at least the readership that would be proud enough of having read to actually register to comment. Comments on better-written articles hosted by other sites are merely stupid.
Cracked.com comments can induce an out-of-body yet somehow still-nauseating experience.
Pass that shit!