Saturday, July 24, 2010

Filler Post

The topic of class distinctions came up in a recent family discussion, and my mother wanted to read this post again. With current events are focused on Shirley Sherrod, Reverse Racism and the NAACP, we can conclude that folks at Fox News and their Teabagging Friends are still gunning for blacks. If Rupert and Rush decided to fight with Wall Street, then maybe there would be reason to worry about the safety of American Jews - but that's not going to happen any more than Congress actually challenging the status quo. The Fox Crowd may bitch about Geithner or Rahm Emanuel since they are Obama's Men, but as Shirley herself reminded us: Oppression in America is not about racial or cultural identity, it's all about class.

It's a school holiday here in New York on account of Yom Kippur which is the culmination of Jewish Holy Week.

Ever since I came to New York City, I've been friendly with lots of Jews. Jesse Jackson didn't call it Jaime Town for nothing. Folks said Jackson was an anti-Semite. Maybe he is - what do I know? I do know that some Jews are quick to holler Anti-Semite. Jews get touchy. Who can blame them? The Jews have been targets of genocidal mania for centuries.

Throughout European history, the Jews worked to remain a distinct people while the rest of us blended together with the conquerors when our regions were seized by another tribe. The Angles and the Jutes and the Celts and the Saxons and the Normans all fucked each other and became one mass of bloodthirsty white Europeans who then proceeded to build empires on the backs of dark people the world over.

This dedication to Jewish community and identity is plain to see in the family of The Artist from the South of France until WWII when his grandfather married a Catholic woman. His family lived in France as Pope's Jews who came into being when the Vatican was transferred to Avignon. The Pope's Jews did business for the Catholics and in turn were allowed to live. Since his mother and grandmother were Catholic, The Artist from the South of France was not Jewish. He wasn't a practicing Catholic either, but I thought dating an Artisit from the South of France would be a big change from the Ukrainian/Polish Jews to whom I gravitate. As it happened, The Artist from the South of France's family was so Jewish there is a street in Jerusalem named after his Great Uncle. So much for me not dating Jews.

I am not going to chronicle all the Jewish men I have dated here because (1) my mother would figure out that I was still married while I was dating a couple of them and (2) the story is too good to tell for free on the Internet. Further, most of my interactions with Jews have been as Velvet's mother and as a teacher. At Firestarter School, for example, there was a large population of Israeli Jews.

I have spent enough time among the Jews to be concerned that Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or somebody is going to blame the Jews for the Wall Street clusterfuck and whip the Crackers into a frenzy.

Maybe Cracker is also a racist term - but it's helpful to use racist terms when discussing racist issues. To clarify racial and class distinctions, I like to look at New Orleans before the flood. During Katrina, you could see that an antebellum social structure had been dominant in New Orleans. The plantation owners became the folks who got out of town way in advance of the flood. Poor blacks and whites were left to die. Cracker Overseers were in minor positions of authority. They weren't so powerful they could get out of town and hang out with the plantation owners - and even if they had the money they were too tacky to come to dinner. But the Cracker Overseers were powerful and corrupt enough to take advantage of the situation.

The South is not the only place with lots of Crackers anymore than the South is the only place with the Klan. There are plenty of Crackers in Pennsyltucky, Ohio and other Midwestern districts where the settlers were primarily white - and Ku Klux has chapters in all those places. Of course, Gone With The Wind shows that land owners were also in The Klan. The need to keep all the wealth and power in the hands of the White Men is not restricted to Crackers. The rich supremacists simply boss around the poor ones, although those hoods must equalize them somehow.

Crackers will never have as much money as Land Owners. God made that clear with the Divine Right of Kings. Although that world view was challenged during the Reformation, the idea that some people are rich because God likes them best runs rampant in America today - from NASCAR rallies to Congress to Corporate Junkets.

Rednecks have nothing to do with anything in this context. Redneck just means you worked outside a lot. Men who stomp around checking on their oil rigs and other property are just as big of Rednecks as hired help - and in point of fact, none of them are necessarily racist or conservative although Rednecks got that reputation during Vietnam. There is plenty of White Trash at every socio-economic level, too, because Trash is Trash - rich or poor, North or South. Two prime illustrations of trash with money are Crystal Allen, played by Joan Crawford in The Women and Dan Packard of Dinner at Eight played by Wallace Beery.

Joan is the bath tub being taunted by Rosalind Russel and Wallace Beery is with Jean Harlow. The Jean Harlow character has always been one of my favorites because she forced her Robber Barron husband to do the right thing in business so she could social climb to her heart's content. The point of bringing these movie characters into the discussion here is to show that rich folks may be ruthless, self-interested opportunists, but they aren't Crackers. There are no rich Crackers. Not for long, anyway. If a Cracker made money off Wal-Mart stock back in the day or by hitting lotto, the family either drank it all or educated themselves and aren't Crackers anymore.

The Teabaggers of September 12th are middle and lower class whites who, by racist definition, are Crackers. I say this with all the authority of the Southern Petite Bourgeoisie. I might have been a Duchess in Beaumont's Neches River Festival, I'll have you know. I'd have been on a float in a parade wearing a tiara and everything.

On this Jewish High Holy Day, I worry because now that Rupert Murdoch and them are stirring up the Crackers with all the fear they can muster about a Negro president, it won't be long before the Jews are the target. If the Crackers get going on the Blacks and the Jews at the same time, nobody will notice anything else about Health Care, Afghanistan, Education, the Environment - nothing.

I'm not worried about Long Island becoming a Jewish Reservation like in the movie C.S.A.:The Confederate States of America because enough Jews are in positions of power and influence in this country to prevent that sort of thing from happening in Reality.

If the people manipulating the teabaggers have their way, then we will become as close to a world like The Confederate States of America as we can legally be. Now that the Crackers are just as broke and without prospects as other minorities in America, they are running scared. Of course they were horrified when Obama addressed classrooms. The last thing Crackers need is more Negroes with education, money and access to power.

The propaganda mongers might be able to find the one black man with a machine gun in Arizona and trot his ass out for the news to make it look like people besides Crackers are riled up - but that blip in the 24 hour cycle is not the first time somebody found a token black to prove a point.

I don't know enough about Zionists and American politicians of every variety working together to protect Israel to even begin to participate in that kind of discussion. I'm just saying that today I'm worried about the malevolence on the loose in our country as we hover on the brink of a class war. I wonder how much longer it will be before Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh starts going after Ron Emanuel. I wonder what they'll make of the Rabbi in Michelle Obama's family.

Michelle Obama's cousin, Rabbi Capers Funnye


Liberality said...

Great post. Also, don't leave out the near genocide that white Europeans committed against native populations but here and all over the world.

Liberality said...

both not but

PENolan said...

My brain automatically read "not only here but . . . "

Beach Bum said...

...that Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or somebody is going to blame the Jews for the Wall Street clusterfuck and whip the Crackers into a frenzy.

"Mainline" Evangelicals have pretty much rejected antisemitism for the idea that the Jews are "God's chosen people" because they play a key role in Jesus' second coming.

Cracker is only a racists term to poor white trash who think African-Americans have all the advantages today and that they are an oppressed group. I have read several historians who have wondered why poor white southerners never developed an "alliance" with African-Americans after the Civil War period up until the Civil Rights movement.

To say they did and didn't would obscure the fact that in some communities such a thing did happen while in most the near fascists sense prevailed with the belief that while poor white southerners may have hated the land owner they at least felt "blessed" by God that they were not "Ni^^ers". Sorry, I do not say or write that word.

One small correction in spelling, "Redneck" is one word. ;)

PENolan said...

Thank you, Beach. I see I used the term a lot without checking. While correcting the spelling, I noticed I felt glad that I did not identify myself as a Redneck. I couldn't possibly since I never worked outside unless you count taking care of kids outside.

See - there's that gender thing too. Race, Class, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation,and Religion - I wish people would stop being such uptight assholes and start accepting each other as humans, taking care of the environment and living in peace. I wish that song Jiminy Cricket sang about wishing on a star were true.

Bret "Ginx" Alan said...

Just some general criticism of your historical outlook:

Plenty of other cultures held their own traditions in the face of their conquerors, both in Europe and elsewhere. Pagan Europeans were so good at it, they managed to get the unwavering Catholics to adopt such things as Yuletide (aka Christmas) and Easter (and English speaking Christians didn't even see the need to remove the pagan goddess's name from this one).

Greeks, Italians, Norse, and even the Celts, which you lumped with the culture adopters, all managed to maintain distinct cultures despite heavy handed attempts at assimilation.

Jewish culture is also not as unchanging as many practicing Jews would like to imagine, just as Christianity today bears little resemblance to Christianity in any given century since its inception.

Finally, I personally think Jews have nothing to worry about this time around. These crazy Crackers believe Jews need to control Israel in order for their absentee sky daddy to come back after 2000 years.

Just thought I would share my outlook on this issue, as I have also made hasty generalizations about these sorts of things prior to spending so much time studying historical theology. One thing I certainly agree with: class plays a disturbingly important role in America.

PENolan said...

Ginx, I rely on people like you who have done the reading to broaden and and enlighten my perspective. True enough about the Celts. Has anyone traced Celtic DNA?

Lisa said...

This is a great post and so timely in my own life. MathMan and I were just talking about this today. As a Jewish man, his take is this - be careful who you trust. It's a lesson learned the hard way by losing family, etc.

He views all this talk from the Evangelicals about the "Chosen" people as smoke screen. If Fox News decided to start pushing hard the idea that Jews are part of "the problem," it wouldn't take much for those who mainline Fox to absorb and parrot the message. A good chunk of them already distrust Jews on their own. They don't really like or trust anyone who isn't just like them.

They just need validation to act on their ugliness. We see it over and over with the Sherrod case being just the latest example.

PENolan said...

You're not Jewish? I thought you were Jewish? So only MathMan is Jewish? But you're raising the kids as Jews even though they're not exactly Jewish?

Velvet is a Jewish on his father's side, so not Jewish unless you ask Hitler. When he was born, I didn't want him to be circumcised because it hurts - but when I considered that he might become a practicing Jew as an adult, I figured it was better for him to be circumcised as an infant. And that was before one of my friends at Playgroup told me my son was Jewish enough for Hitler.
I'm a ShiksaBelle no matter how you slice it, but when I heard my son would have been hauled off and gassed - I became aware of many, many things in the American atmosphere that I hadn't noticed before - like all that Merry Christmas BULLSHIT in the suburbs.

I swear that Christ himself would want to take Christ out of Christmas the way these teabaggers carry on about their right to shove Christmas down everybody's throat. Talk about consumerism run wild. Sheesh!

PENolan said...

But the point is that Shirley's situation highlights just how many discussions we need to have in this country about diversity. Sexual Orientation, for sure, but ERA is still a dirty word. Race is justifiably on the front burner given that lynchings are not ancient history in this country.

The teabaggers - and in my mind Crackers and Teabaggers have become synonymous - are simply trying to hang onto the little socioeconomic status they had. It's not like they are as rich as the Bushes and the Cheneys. Or even the Clintons.

I wish militant teabaggers would see they are being played like the fools they are.

Punch said...

I have read this post several times and cannot arrive at a comment that will not tend to offend. (I have given up on winning awards) So here goes.
First I must say that I am a Florida Cracker. Damn Proud of it. My great grand father defended the Confederacy, when the War of Yankee Aggression was over he joined the Union Army in Mississippi. Like everyone else, I am proud of my roots.
I have to say for a Texan to use Cracker in diminished capacity lacks perspicacity, and it offends.
The video is a pusillanimous joke and I hope it was meant that way. I would suggest that one has yet to find a letter written by a Union Solider saying to his loved one, back home, that he was fighting to eliminate slavery, or one letter from a Confederate Solider saying he was fighting to save slavery. The letters that exist suggest they were fighting for various reasons, slavery is not discussed. The politicians saw it as an opportunity to fund an unpopular war. If the Confederacy had won, we would be living in a severely divided county with Californicate, New Mexico, Arizona all parts of Mexico, Texas a country state and the 13 state of the original CSA struggling to stay afloat, similar to present day Greece. God knows what would be going on in Nebraska.
I would also suggest that Texans and Tea Partiers are closer than Crackers. Texas gave us big oil, corrupt corporations, lying presidents and big empty land that is good for little more than dead and dying animals. It is because of the music from bands like Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Austin Lounge Lizards, that Texas has not been allowed to leave the Union.
May God in Her Infinite patience, continue, to bless America and the Union.

tnlib said...

I've read your post several times along with the comments. All very interesting. The only thing I might suggest is that terms like Cracker, Redneck, Hillbilly, White Trash are all variations of the same theme.

PENolan said...

Punch, I don't mean to get your dander up - although I'm glad it is. tnlib is right in that it's all variations on a theme - which has to do with white slave owners. You're dead right about Texans and Oil. The movie I most personally identify with in that respect is Last Picture Show - and the character Jacy Farrow. As for CSA, I just think it's provocative.

If we're going to start discussing Race in this country with any authenticity, we have to understand our own biases when we come to the table. That's what Shirley Sherrod was saying in the unedited video.

PENolan said...

Further, if some light running, snobby, bourgeois bitch like me thinks Cracker is synonymous with Teabagger, it's clear that Teabaggers are giving Crackers a bad name.
Fortunately for Texans, we had made a bad name for ourselves long before George W. Bush and the current Teabagging bullshit.

Liberality said...

The civil war was not about slavery? WTF!!! Okay, it was economic, which had to do with keeping human labor enslaved. SAME THING! Not that the North was all that much better I know. We are all slaves to the current system I might add, unless you are rich.

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