This little item came along, happily, as I was pondering the dissociation of consciousness that my incurable-Obamaphile friends seem to be practicing. They won't actually defend any of the things I enjoy mentioning to them -- rocket attacks on Pakistani villages, for example. But there's a look on their faces that suggests I'm somehow being pedantic, or silly, or rude.Whether progressive or soi-disant leftist or some other minor form in the Linnean bestiary of willful complicits, there is a marked tendency, when confronted with the indefinable nature and ultimate futility of popular notions of progress, to throw up the American Civil Rights movement as a sort of ultimate trump argument--The Most Benighted Minority, through soul-force satyagraha and a few lucky turns with Les Suprèmes, making marked improvement in their collective life-station. I am reminded of Sartwell's apt moniker: Martin Luther King with a nuclear arsenal. Which is to pose a question about the nature of progress, the nature of success. Blacks now have the option of "success," such that Condi Rice and Colin Powell and, more yet, Barack Obama can terrorize Pakistani tribesmen and render tender bodies to other nations for torture.
This is why I'm sometimes tempted to argue that people like Obama are actually worse than people like Bush, at least for the moral character of liberals. Back when Bush was kidnapping and torturing pro imperio, my liberal friends were quite willing to deplore these things. But now that Obie is doing it, it's sorta tacky to bring it up in good society, and there seems to be a tacit agreement that it would be asking far too much to demand that he stop it.
-The Genuine Mister Smiff
Meanwhile, of those not fully coopted into the imperial system, can we really say, they're better off? Let's define our terms. Is a young black man living in Anacostia or West Baltimore or Homestead really living a less constrained life? Were more killed per capita by Southern lynch mobs, or is that far outstripped by the endemic urban street violence that came with the prohibitory drug-war regime? Aren't more in prison now than then?
Notions of progress and those who disseminate them stubbornly resist examining the premises of progress because perceived gains are so often revealed as counterbalancing equal losses. You know, change, to take the current talisman, isn't an unfettered good; it largely exists any kind of qualitative, good-bad judgments we might make anyway.