Archive for the A Rendezvous With History Category

Facing the Truth about Racism

Posted in A Rendezvous With History, Cultural Matters on October 4, 2017 by playthell
Mike Barnnicle holding forth on “Morning Joe”
 On Racism, the Media and American Exceptionalism
 Listening to Mike Barnicle – a grizzled old wag and serial plagiarizer who was fired by the Boston Globe but is now a regular on “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s morning show hosted by Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman from the backward, violent, racist state of Florida, where I came of age – was asked what should we tell our children about the state of the nation? What can we realistically tell them, when the nation is plagued by gun violence and mass murders are common place, racial tensions are rising as black Americans oppose racism in and ongoing struggle that spans centuries.
Added to this is a president who embodies ALL of the vices and NONE of the virtues of American civilization…a despicable braggart, bunko artist, narcissist, sexist, racist, shameless charlatan and avaricious ASSHOLE!!!!! Barnacle’s response to the question was a passionate screed about how we should just tell them to “study American history” and they will see that “America is the greatest nation in the history of the world!” SAY WHAT?? His pronouncement had that air of unassailable truth, like when my grandfather George Benjamin used to say: “And that’s the gospel truth…jes a sho as the lawd is sitting up on his throne wearing a crown of gold in heaven!” The panel was all white, apparently clueless, thus there was nary a voice of dissent.
Alas, one of the persistent problems I had working in the major news media was having to constantly correct the ignorance of my white colleagues. It was a situation that inevitably became redundant because I was a former Professor of history in the WEB DuBois Department of Black Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; thus I possessed a world of knowledge which they were wretchedly ignorant of. Most believed in “American Exceptionalism,” the idea that the US is the most enlightened nation on earth; a nation whose greatness is matched by it’s goodness; a nation that has always stood for freedom justice and equality for all people, and this is evidence that America is the most favored nation of God.”
I on the other hand, armed with the facts of our history, view American Exceptionalism as dangerous bullshit, a self-serving myth for a narcissistic white Euro-settler population that invaded North America, engaged in the greatest land theft in history; committed genocide against the indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans for 250 years, and a hundred years thereafter subjected them to a legal caste status based on an ideology and a system of laws that were adopted by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis!
That is a capsule of US history that moved the great Irish writer George Bernard Shaw to remark “America is the only nation in the history of the world that went from barbarism to decadence…without EVER passing through CIVILIZATION!” Now that is true American Exceptionaliam.  Hence I disagree with Mike Barnacle that studying American history in search of a “Golden Age” of American justice and equality will make white kids feel better about either themselves or their civilization. But it might make them want work to realize the “American Dream” of freedom justice and equality for all!
Since Barnacle, like his co-panelist on Morning Joe, the Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan, is Irish-American, and both are dumb as cake dough regarding the role of the Irish in America’s horrid bloody history of racism.  This shameful tale of a poor peasant people, force to flee Ireland because of British oppression, and immigrating to the US where they became among of the worst oppressors of black people in their quest to be recognized as  “white,” is told in the learned path-breaking book: “How the Irish Became White.”   
Before recommending that children “study our history,” Mike and Peggy should heed his advice read this book…it is an excellent place to start!
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Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 4, 2017