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On the DENIAL of White Supremacy RACISM

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Reinforcing democracy in the face of an ongoing attack (supported by a horrifyingly large minority of the US citizenry) will require unceasing effort and patience from all of us. This is not just the work of decades, but work for all foreseeable centuries that just might* lie ahead for humanity. This is more than political work and the work of institutions. This is the work we must all do within ourselves: a struggle sometimes regarded as “spiritual” — as “jihad”.

One of the ironies of democracy is also something inherent in what it means to be a conscious human. We all have the “right” to live in our own version of “reality”. This “right” is identical to the “freedom” we all have to tell lies and to lie to ourselves. Of course, this undeniable characteristic of humanity is a source of both great promise and frightful danger. It is one reason why democracy will always be fragile and why popular authoritarianism (fascism) will always fester in fetid corners, ever likely to spring suddenly into the center of our politics, our state, or the halls of the Capitol.

In the versions of “reality” shared by the most fervent trimpulists, there is no such thing as white supremacy racism. Of course, these people tend to deny anthropomorphic climate change and killer pandemics even as they ravage their own communities. Their arguments have no merit or truth and present a special kind of challenge where notions of “evidence”, “discussion”, “debate”, or “fact” have little purchase.

The denial of white supremacy racism is certainly one deadly part of the viral code infecting our politics and threatening our democracy. The willful persistence of this type of ignorant denialism signifies utter contempt for the idea of democracy and human decency. It is of the essence of fascism to use the forms and ideals of democracy (such as free speech etc) to mock democracy and to attack it.

Everyone has “the right” to surrender to hopelessness and futility. This the dark heart of what Camus tried to confront in his two trilogies. The first of these was center-pieced by “The Myth of Sisyphus” and concerned the problem of suicide. The second trilogy was fronted by “The Rebel” which was an attempt to deal with the human propensity to commit murder.

Murder and suicide both are undying specters that humanity can never fully escape. And BOTH (witting or not) are fundamentally savage attacks against humanity itself because both (witting or not) are abject surrenders to hopelessness and futility. But this type of abjectness still retains a sacred quality that justifies the language of human “rights” up until certain communally established “limits” have been broken. Camus’ concept of “limits” gets to the heart of liberal (constitutional) democracy which is actually “the rule of law” as created and amended by humanity itself. If we remember that “freedom” is also “self control”, we can see that “freedom” is finally the ability to create and test self imposed limits.

People who deny white supremacy racism (in the face of Himalayas of evidence) have willfully chosen a special sacred role in human society. These “monsters” invite and deserve the protections, pity, and disgust uniquely reserved for certain types of pariahs that have always been with humanity in forms similar to unclean hermits or obscene village idiots. What makes some of them so revolting and so contemptible is what makes all of them so deserving of everyone’s protection because, of course, none of us is ever completely immune from being overcome by their kind of self revulsion, bitterness, and the resulting outrageous propensities to nastiness or even injurious viciousness. Still, most of them as individuals are generally harmless enough -- even though as a collective they continue to enable all manner of vile atrocities.

“Every snowflake in an avalanche loudly protests its ‘innocence’.”

Secular democracy, unlike too many existing forms of religion, cannot cope with exclusion. This is an irony of democracy so easily exploited (witting or not) by the enemies of democracy. Neither democracy nor humanity has bright prospects if we cannot overcome our liabilities toward exclusion, vengefulness, and violence. This is immensely difficult because the very idea (mirage) of “self” hood (or “identity”) is based on exclusion. (“I” am not “you”. “We” are not “them”.) Ideas of “self” and “identity” can easily be mistaken as being “existential”.

People who chose the holy role of “fool” (whether on a lofty hill or in the cesspit of a latrine) deserve their own sacred form of “respect” which in their case is hard to distinguish from “horror”. Of course “respect” is not (as commonly misunderstood) synonymous with “honor” or “trust”. All humans must be unconditionally respected and even loved. Not all of us can be trusted or should be honored.

Not all of us value friendship. And certainly not all of us are willing or able to participate honestly, honorably, or decently in worthwhile discussions concerning human nature, values, or democracy. Some of us will always choose to mock and defile all values (including democracy), and we MUST find ways to preserve such individuals, respect them, and see them for what they are in the hopes that we can all be redeemed from what always threatens to transform each of us into something abject and terrifying.

Denying white supremacy racism in the face of easily presented and readily available evidence is a pathetic way of mocking and attacking human value. On a technical level it is an attack on the very human ability to “know” anything. It is a vicious and malicious attack on something much deeper than what we call “science”. On another level it is a spiritual attack. It is the blithe, contemptuous, and reprehensible desecration of the memory of every victim of slavery, Jim Crow, Lynch law, and related forms of brutality and dehumanization. It insults their denied humanity again while also actively victimizing them AGAIN — even in death! I can think of few transgressions more craven or despicable. And then there is the petty dismissal of the heroism of all those who were martyred in the ongoing struggle to redeem all of our human dignities so menaced by the atrocities of white supremacy racism. Racism denial is the paltry dismissal of human giants by spiteful mediocracy.

Esteem and respect are not synonymous. Those who attack the very ideas of humanity and values (however abject or contemptible they present themselves) are challenging us (and therefore helping us) to understand the limits we must self impose in order to preserve what somehow might make any of us worth any possible esteem. That is the one value they can NEVER strip from themselves or desecrate — no matter how much this might infuriate them and cause them to gnash their teeth and foul their own space.

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