Monday Reads: Domestic Terrorism and White Nationalism

Elaine de Kooning, Portrait of Fairfield Porter, 1954

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I hope you have the same kind of sunny spring weather there that we have here in New Orleans!  I actually made a trip to Walmart yesterday!  I can’t even remember the last time I’ve been there and it use to be at least a 2  or 3 trip a month destination for me being the poor old semiretired prof that I am.

I could tell that every one has spring fever around here by the number of obvious hipster transplants parading all over the neutral ground yesterday.  I was rather hoping the herons would bomb them away but I just went to my room and took a nap hoping it would be over by the time I had to work on line. The demographics of my neighborhood these days disturbs me.  Where did all this young white people come from and why do they keep bringing this burbie breeder vibe to my hood?  

The Walmart in Chalmette is amazingly diverse because of the number of immigrant diasporas that have landed there.  It’s still rather rural even though it feels more like an exurb in many ways .  However, it’s more working to middle class that bougie rich.  There are Somalians and folks from South America.   There is still a Vietnamese presence although a good deal of that community lives in the east and on the Westbank. And, of course there are many Black Americans there that are descendants of the slaves of the now way gone Plantations as well as transplants from around the Caribbean.

So, it was great just watching the elderly, young families, and others pour into to do their weekly shopping like there was no pandemic.  However, there were still adjustments.  The benches by the front door are gone.  The Walmart greeters are busy sanitizing the carts and pointing you to the hand sanitizers before you grab a cart.  Then, you get a pretty good view of what a wide assortment of masks there are available these days.  If you forget to bring one, Walmart gives you a disposable one.

Elaine de Kooning: Harold Rosenberg, Art Critic (1956)

So, I went with a friend and she was stuck in the checkout line.  I got to stand for quite awhile where the benches used to be and watch the comings and goings.  It was a pretty smooth operation until 3 white guys loaded themselves out of a big red pick up truck with this poor black dog on what could barely be called a leash. The two with the dog had masks on. The one with the weird razor cut and hitler moustache didn’t. I was like okay, here it comes.

At that point, white male boundary pushing and  dominance achievement techniques began.  The dog was just an emotional support dog so of course he should be allowed in to wander the grocery aisles.  Said dog had no usual orange vest of either of a service or emotional support dog let alone the credential card. Guys started screaming at the poor woman saying no to the dog.  Then the guy without the mask just started moving pass her to the station with the masks and a few more women who all eventually called for security back up.  Fortunately, these women were not playing and were obviously experienced.  Dog got sent to some one’s girlfriend for a walk in the parking lot and the mask guy eventually complied.  I guess the beer run was more important than facing down all these middle aged women of various sizes, deportment, and race.

Meanwhile, every one else just tried to go about their day. All I could think was welcome to America where most of us are a community of folks just trying to live. Then, there are those guys come in and do their performance art of white male rage/fragility.

So, today’s artwork actually has something to say along these lines.  This is the work of “Elaine de Kooning, Portraiture, and the Politics of Sexuality.”  It comes from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  It’s part of the gender archive and the portraits are of highly sexualized men.

De Kooning’s portraits of men are fascinating because she reverses the standard male artist/female model dynamic and in many of her portraits she captures the sexual power of her subjects, challenging the male privilege of looking and female role of object to be looked at.  She was not, however, attempting to reverse the power dynamic by placing men in the western tradition of the passive reclining female pose, nor was she dismantling the anonymous male body by employing an Abstract Expressionist style.  Rather she records her clothed male friends and lovers in an upright position with their legs spread apart, acknowledging and relishing her active role in depicting this socially accepted pose that asserts male sexual power, a pose that would not have been deemed appropriate for a “feminine” woman in the 1950s to highlight. 

Robert de Niro by Elaine de Kooning (1973) (c)Elaine de Kooning Trust

There’s a lot of ‘those guys’ in the news today. So, here I go …
Adam Jentleson –Author of “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate”–wrote this at The Atlantic today: “How to Stop the Minority-Rule Doom Loop. The next two years might be the country’s last chance to protect the basic democratic principle of majority rule.”  I think we can safely say that the Republican Party is the epicenter of White Male Dominance.

The doom loop consists of four interlocking components. Candidates who represent white conservatives—Republicans, in our ideologically sorted era—begin every election cycle buoyed by a sluice of voter suppression and gerrymandering (what I call electoral welfare), which makes it easier for them to win. Then antidemocratic features of the American system that have always existed but never benefited one party over the other in any systematic way help those same candidates take control of institutions such as the White House and the Senate, despite winning fewer votes and representing fewer people than their opponents. Once in control of these institutions, these newly elected officials use them to entrench their power beyond the reach of voters. If they are eventually voted out of power, they retain a veto over the agenda of the majority, which they use to block change and feed the conservative case that the government is “broken.” This hastens their return to power—along the very path they greased with voter suppression.

The loop starts at the ballot box, where Republicans are making it harder than at any time in recent history for those who are unlikely to vote for them to vote at all. According to Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida and one of the nation’s foremost experts on voting laws, “We are witnessing the greatest rollback of voting rights in this country since the Jim Crow era.” The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder unleashed a new wave of voter suppression targeted at reliably Democratic constituencies such as nonwhite voters and young people. The pace of suppression has only increased since the November election. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks voter-suppression efforts across the country, 47 states have seen 361 bills aimed at restricting voting rights since the beginning of the year.

Republicans don’t just have an easier time winning elections; they have an easier time piecing together individual election wins to gain control of the institutions that govern American life. Here, too, the doom loop gives a big boost to candidates who represent predominantly white conservatives. Over the past half century, demographic shifts have rendered the antidemocratic features of American government newly vulnerable to exploitation, but especially by candidates who represent white conservatives.

Elaine de Kooning
Portrait of a Young Man

They’ve been on this path a very long time. At the very least, it started with the policies of Ronald Reagan with its racist signaling campaign opener of “welfare queens”.  Here’s a 2013 NPR article “The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original ‘Welfare Queen'”  exploring Reagan’s earliest attempts at dog whistling following the Nixon era “Southern Strategy” to pull Dixiecrats into to the Republican fold.  I watched it spread through the state parties in the midwest like wildfire mostly by the ground work of those weirdish white evangelical christian churches with no real affiliation, southern baptists churches, and some catholic parishes.  They started showing up with marching orders to take over the party structure and just basically kept at it until coming full circle in the Trumpist regime.

This all goes hand in hand with the gun fetishists and the groups of armed militias sprinkled around the country.  This is from today’s Washington Post: “The rise of domestic extremism in America Data shows a surge in homegrown attacks not seen in a quarter-century.

Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right, according to a Washington Post analysis of data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The surge reflects a growing threat from homegrown terrorism not seen in a quarter-century, with right-wing extremist attacks and plots greatly eclipsing those from the far left and causing more deaths, the analysis shows.

The number of all domestic terrorism incidents in the data peaked in 2020.

“What is most concerning is that the number of domestic terror plots and attacks are at the highest they have been in decades,” said Seth Jones, director of the database project at CSIS, a nonpartisan Washington-based nonprofit that specializes in national security issues. “It’s so important for Americans to understand the gravity of the threat before it gets worse.”

More than a quarter of right-wing incidents and just under half of the deaths in those incidents were caused by people who showed support for white supremacy or claimed to belong to groups espousing that ideology, the analysis shows.

Victims of all incidents in recent years represent a broad cross-section of American society, including Blacks, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, Asians and other people of color who have been attacked by right-wing extremists wielding vehicles, guns, knives and fists.

Let’s also not forget the victims of domestic violence for they also are part of this increase in violence and search for control over others.

An absolutely horrifying police shooting of a young black man in Minneapolis happened showing just how out of hand the use of power and suppression is in the nation’s police force also.  There was also an incident of pepper spraying a young black Army Lt. and his dog in Virginia.  Both were responses to simple traffic stops. Both officers have been fired but this only brings into more focus the unequal treatment of the largely white male police force around the country and its inability to police without responding differently to people of color.

Pele No. 1,
Elaine de Kooning, 1982

Another blow was dealt to the likes of the “Hillbilly Elegy” narrative as we see in this Washington Post article written by Eugene Scott on “Data about the Capitol rioters serves another blow to the White, working-class Trump-supporter narrative” for The Fix.

After a Donald Trump campaign event in Mobile, Ala., in 2015 attracted about 20,000 attendees, a narrative emerged that his popularity centered on White working-class voters in small towns in red states. Books such as “Hillbilly Elegy” rose to the top of bestseller lists as a way to help more Americans understand this group of voters that got behind the wealthy reality star from Manhattan. And cable news networks regularly featured panels of journalists asking these voters why they continued to back such a widely unpopular leader.

But new data supports something that some critics of the former president were confident of from the earliest days of Trump’s presidential campaign: The Ivy League graduate from New York City got to the White House with the support of more college-educated professionals than is often acknowledged.

Robert A. Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, worked with court records to analyze the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington aimed at overturning the 2020 election.

“What we know 90 days later is that the insurrection was the result of a large, diffuse and new kind of protest movement congealing in the United States,” the political science professor wrote in The Washington Post. “Those involved are, by and large, older and more professional than right-wing protesters we have surveyed in the past. They typically have no ties to existing right-wing groups. But like earlier protesters, they are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties.”

While Trump often spoke about jobs and factories being shipped overseas to manufacture American products — it wasn’t solely economic anxiety that drew many of his supporters to the wealthy real estate developer who allegedly avoided paying taxes that could benefit low-income Americans. It was cultural anxiety — regardless of their economic status — that was a consistent factor in support for Trump. While concerns about changing views on faith, gender and sexuality were often expressed by many of the former president’s most die-hard supporters, fear about America becoming less White — and less “great” — was at the root of at least some of the loyalty to him.

I don’t want to spend too much time on these two but both Tucker Carlson and Matt Gaetz are in the news again basically still trying to play their white male privilege cards as entitled little trustfund babies.

From CNN: Embattled Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is denied a meeting with Trump. Ah, poor little boy denied daddy time!  I guess Trumperz thinks he’s damaged goods now and not an asset to the Family Crime Syndicate.

Elaine De Kooning-Portrait of Scott ,Chaskey,number-3, 1983

From Tom Porter at Insider: “Tucker Carlson is repeatedly using his platform to downplay white supremacy and violence, critics say

In comments on his show last week Carlson appeared to endorse the white nationalist Great Replacement conspiracy theory, prompting outraged responses including a call from the Anti-Defamation League for him to be fired.

Before this Carlson had for weeks argued that the Capitol riot had been overblown by liberals as part of a plot to persecute conservatives, and he has said there is “no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6.”

The facts say otherwise, with law-enforcement agencies having charged close to 60 members of far-right organizations, including the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and Proud Boys, with involvement. Rioters were pictured in the Capitol bearing Confederate banners, wearing far-right insignia, and chanting far-right slogans.

At the heart of Carlson’s persona is a challenge to those he portrays as smug liberal elites, who he claims have sought to disenfranchise ordinary Americans for decades. It’s a stance that made him one of the defining conservative voices during the Trump years.

But when applied to downplaying the threat of white nationalist violence, it’s a view that has imperiled lucrative advertisement deals on his show.

And as BB wrote yesterday, this is all from the Heir of Swanson Foods.  That should be a boycott-worthy situation. We’re learning Georgia is sure getting it over voting rights as 100s of CEOs figure out what Voter Suppression Laws will do to their bottom line and the attitudes of their customers and workforce this week.

The Biden/Harris administration continues to churn out appointments and policies that seem quite normal while still facing total Republican opposition.  Some of the usual sources are asking the same damn questions that shouldn’t be asked during this first 100 days.  For example: “Can Biden Be Our F.D.R.? The president wants to change the trajectory of the country. He’s off to a good start b

Anyway, I have to work today and grade today and do stuff around the house and I still can’t adjust to fake time so I’m running late again.  Y’all take care!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


13 Comments on “Monday Reads: Domestic Terrorism and White Nationalism”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Black while using car air fresheners gets a death sentence now …

  2. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      I don’t doubt for one minute she tells him like it is, and I hope he truly does appreciate her insights.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    I love the paintings!

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

    They cancelled the Red Sox/Twins game tonight because of the police shooting in MN.

  6. NW Luna says:

    “the beer run was more important than facing down all these middle aged women of various sizes, deportment, and race.”

  7. dakinikat says: