Workout 16 Feb: Delta #721
Workout was 20 minute conductus to Beethoven’s Third symphony. Most of today’s post shall be about the 16 July incident on Delta Airlines Flight 721 in which a white man slapped a crying infant of color.
I think that in light of far more serious events including a seemingly unbreakable chain of miserable shootings with children involved, white males worldwide are undergoing a collective mass psychosis especially in the USA and Europe as a result of China debt and the election of Obama. There were very few child victims of 9-11: they were children on the doomed flights because alQaeda’s overall intent was to target government and financial operatives, and their children. Whereas from Timothy McVeigh in 1995 (the Oklahoma City building attack) to Breivik and beyond, for example at NewTown CN, the attackers seem to have had a special hatred for day care, Sesame street, Dora the Explorer and who knows what as long as it reminded them of childhood’s vulnerability.
Retail, one on one therapy won’t work to end this ape savagery, and its failure to work will result in more mass shootings: it’s a waste of therapeutic time and may be compared to the captain of a Boeing 747 reading Playboy while believing his plane to be on automatic.
I cannot, even as a white man, imagine for a single minute getting personal gratification from breaking the gracile-divine bones of a child’s face with a bullet, a fist or even reddening his face with a slap. The one and only time I spanked (on a vacation in La Push) I was weeping and beating my fists on the car, (it felt, given my own history, so wrong) like a beast who tears at his flesh.
I don’t care if the brat on the flight was blacker than my boot and has howled from Hell to Huddersfeld. And I don’t care if African blacks burn gays to death with tires in a practice called “necklacing.” But white on black brutalizing was what happened on Delta 721, adult brutalization happened at Newtown and that’s what’s happening every day. If you so much as wave a gun in a child’s face in order to “teach him a lesson” about the “dog eat dog world” you’re part of the problem.
Sexism is what happens when women annoy you with their goddamn trivia such as dinner and bearing your sons while awesome shit is happening on the Internet. Likewise Racism is what happened when my family’s maid annoyed me with her smell (soon covered up with the fine odor of fried chicken, I have to say although that was racist as hell).
This “annoyance” is an ethically loaded construct which must be unpacked if we are to survive; basically, having a “maid” allowed my 1950s parents to fantasize that they need not concern themselves with messy dirty noisy horrid children, a “black” concern as opposed to going to the Ambassador Hotel in a 1957 plymouth Fury, a white concern, strange to say.
Three months ago, ill with cancer, I helped a Mom whose kid freaked out on the Lamma ferry when I saw the kid was knocking his head uncontrollably on the cement of the dock and howling, rolling towards the unfenced sea. I yelled “lady, give me your shopping bags and grab your child! I will try to help you, but let go of your bags and see to your child!” By the time we got to the Pak Kok climb the kid was completely calm after a couple of servings of the Dutch national anthem, my lullaby of choice.
This, I claim, is what normal people do (apart from the Dutch National Anthem).
Authoritarianism fertilizes mere annoyance and “bovver” until it justifies practically anything.
In the 19th century it was discovered that excess respect for Authority could (to take just two examples) make Brits hate Boers and US Pony Soldiers kill Native American children. We STILL haven’t gotten a handle on this situation owing to the misery of sociology which STILL hasn’t dealt with the legacies of C Wright Mills or Theodore Adorno, they being for many sociologists today nothing more than dimly understood and excessively verbose men of unfashionable gender and race, caught between the lines in the 1970s *kulturkampf* of feminism on everyone else, one which has had terrible results for feminism and everyone else save thugs and monsters.
But to manifest disrespect for Authority is dangerous. Oh, sure, the corporate-Prussion hierarchical system neatly protects your real MVPs (“most valuable players”, which contrary to the self-delusion of “key” engineers happen to be CEOs and board members exclusively) by deliberately deluding the “key” software engineers with pay packets perhaps at most one order of magnitude lower than than that of the CEO class and a “you never had it so good” ideology…only for the techs to discover, usually only in retirement, that they are men of wax. The health insurance doesn’t cover novel environmental cancers and clerical errors are used to deny coverage and only Social Security and Medicare can be trusted. Why? Hey, they are government programs.
“I’m from the Smedley-Dunghill Corporation and I’m here to help you.” YEAH RIGHT.
“I’m from the law firm of Smedley, Dunghill, and Snoid and I’m here to help you” HOLY SHIT. DIAL 911!
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” Hey come on in, we were hoping you’d show. Care for a drink?
This because understanding how an action on a jet plane in 2013 could link up with the treatment of “N- babies” and “N- women” starting in the 18th century. This is what Auden meant by “accurate scholarship can/Unearth the whole offense”. Narrative and only narrative can dig up bones. We are preprogrammed by science worship of formulae and codicils which few of us understand to equate narrative with fiction but OF COURSE this is horsefeathers. At the cost of being verbose to the point of prolixity: at the point of being prolix to the point of verbosity, we have to tell the story without the miscarried use of deconstructve theory to shoot ourselves in the foot.
HIStory is true or false. HERstory is true, or false.
At story time my kid would often ask me for a true story, perhaps because old Peter (jungly Peter!) was tired of my usual goofy malarkey. As a personal matter I need to find out whether my goofy malarkey, inherited from my Mom, was unrecognizable to Peter (jungly Peter) whose grandpa could seriously lose his sense of humor for years on end: is this why Peter has shut the door on me?].
I believe that as a matter of truth white men like any human beings are preprogrammed to be attentive even to the needs of the stranger in the form of babies and that grim visaged Authority with the nerve to call itself civilization whispers to us in our rage against the machine to let the machine alone and take it out on children: usually our own but in a pinch the N-baby, or in the Second American Civil war as in the first, babies.
This collective guilt in which even my fond recollection of 1950s fried chicken implicates me is of a sort where even those who aren’t white males need to start taking a personal inventory. Has the exclusion of fathers from a meaningful role in fathering created this problem in some measure? Robert Bly writes “boys learn compassion from their fathers” and has my own absence created the lack of compassion I believe I saw in my surviving son last October?
Let’s take a look, now, at Japanese war crimes and their relevance to what happened on Flight 721.
Japanese Army enlisted men entered wards similar to the one I’m in today, western-style hospitals and when they saw grown men being taken care of they killed them, for two reasons.
The first: they were uncultured farm boys excluded by deliberate Japanese government policy from a real education by its post-Meiji policy of “hardening”.
But. Japan had supported enlightened policies including women’s emancipation under the Meiji. The reversal of enlightenment
occurred in the 1920s by the end of Japan’s alliance with Britain (under American pressure). The Japanese were well on the way towards being a civilized society whose treatment of enemy German POWs during WWI was admirable. But then the Americans forced Britain to abandon their naval alliance with Japan in 1924, which action posed for the Japanese elite the possibility of being cut off from rubber, tin and especially oil.
Military historian John Keegan describes the WWI creation of German stosstruppen (stress-troops) trained to carry critical missions like the fashionable British SAS, American SEALS, and Russian Spetznaz of today in a benign way so we’ve been trained by the media to regard these men as no more than Eagle scouts on a roll. The fact is that many are trained baby-killers.
In WWI the red-tabbed chateau generals had a problem.
Normal men, who’d been clerks, stock brokers and lawyers in Aug 1914, found themselves thrown into mechanistic war plans at Tanenberg, the Meuse and the Somme with no regard paid to the steadily increasing lethality of war; many of these men were found to unequal to war’s demands. But this fact could not be recognized without a rethink of the categories of “real man”, one which nobody was prepared to undergo.
War while always dreadful has been dreadful in different ways.
In the 18th century, Hohenfriedberg sucked, Waterloo sucked a bit more.
But then, in an exponential, hockey-stick way, the lethality of war took off after 1815 before the uncomprehending gaze of most of the general staffs.
In the American Civil War’s Wilderness Battle of 1865 trees were shredded as were men whose screams lasted all night as the woods took fire. To their credit US Grant and Bobby Lee heard those screams but only Grant chose to end the war the only way he knew how, by increasing the pressure on the Rebs until they broke and not before. Grant unlike Granny Lee could see that the war had set off a “devil’s race with Hell to pay”.
But the Civil War was a little compared to WWI, and the horrors of both created the need for special forces including the United States Marines, German strosstruppen, and the modern French Legionnaire. The Marines, although created in the Revolution, were not used as “special forces” until the horrors of WWI made the need for such units plain.
The second reason for Japanese “frightfulness” in Singapore was that the Japanese soldier had been so brutalized by deliberate Japanese government and mlitary policy, that in basic training on the Prussian model they began to accept it natural to kill the soft. Government policies which downgrade the role of women and create the abuse of sissy boys are directly responsible for war crimes.
Japanese men endured a collective psychosis. WWI created a collective psychosis including the organized delirium of United States War Bond campaigns, the “White Feather” campaign of the early war in which uninjured British men in mufti would be handed a white feather (a symbol of cowardice) and German-Americans were assaulted. Is this happening to American men? and women?
Must we suffer it all again?
Are we suffering it all again?
Has the constant and unremitting machismo of Fox news, and the constant flexing of a collective phallus, that flexing you engage in when afraid that this hard on may not last created a collective inability to deal with loss or limitation?
I mean, these clowns can’t even go gay without ending up on top. A fellow student, a bepimpled poor excuse for even a 1967 male, said to me “Ed, you’re not even cool enough to be gay”. Oh boo hoo…he was unable to see that “coolness” was simply the ability to conceal oneself, something I don’t have…something the best of us don’t have…Fromm’s “character armor” in a post-modern brew. What he saw was what he got and he couldn’t stand it. Perhaps he was a closet queer. I don’t know, and I don’t care because he’s unidentifiable from here.
I have traveled a long way from Flight 721 because it’s a long and complex situation. The government, including parties out of power, will use media to activate the worst in us.
[Source: Horror in the East: BBC documentary]