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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Systemic Nonsense–The Hysteria Of The Wokest Of The Woke

Betty Farmer was convinced that she had expunged the last trace of her own systemic racism until a quick, unrelated search on Ancestry.com revealed that her great-great grandfather did not only own slaves but was a Southern grandee who had owned, bought, and sold at least a thousand slaves for and from his Georgia plantation.  How had she missed this critical piece of family history? More importantly, now what?  It was one thing to call out Uncle Harry, a loudmouthed Trumpist, for his racism – Harry after all could listen to her screeds and defend or justify his beliefs in real time – but what about a long-dead relative whose legacy was permanently on record?  How much penance, denial, and refusal would it take to expiate the guilt?  How much abject obeisance to her progressive handlers would be required for them to keep her in the fold?

Image result for images big southern antebellum plantation

At first she thought she could keep the family skeleton in the closet, but the Internet being what it is, leaks not only happened, but always happen.  A cousin who for years had resented Betty’s hammering of family heroes for their greedy capitalism, misogyny, and homophobia and who had been pulled out of line for her own racial ignorance and indifference, had got a hold of a printout of one of Betty’s searches and went with it.   The slave-owning, Confederate flag-waving, Simon Legree story of the Farmer family was out of the bag, public, and sensational.

It was one thing to tear down a statue of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis; but another thing entirely to remove the Hon. Hiram W. Farmer from the records.  Betty became obsessed with the man, his family, and Rosewood, the 1000 acre cotton plantation along near Augusta.  The grainy photographs of him with his daughters, all decked out in crinoline, ribbons, and fancy hats,  Seeing Negro servants behind and attentive to them and elegant men standing on the steps of the mansion  beneath the tall Georgian pillars of the 25 room, elegantly furnished antebellum home, looking out over the tonsured and manicured lawns made her cringe with guilt and shame.

“What can I do to make amends?”, she asked LaFarge Johnson, the local representative of Black Lives Matter in her home town of New Brighton who simply sneered and dismissed her with a “Nothing”.  Not only was she a systemic racist by upbringing, community, and education; she had racist blood in her veins and nothing short of a revolutionary transfusion would rid her of that taint. “Defile their graves”, he said. “Pull up and topple their gravestones. Spit on hallowed ground”.

And so she obeyed and found the ancestral Georgian home and the Farmer plot under a grand magnolia overlooking the river and fertile bottom land nearby.  “Here lies Hiram Farmer, father, patriot to the Southern cause, Christian, and true believer” said the tombstone; but she hesitated.  Defilement of her own personal history would hurt and add to the already ponderous guilt she bore.  Wasn’t there some other way, she wondered, a way to honor her dead ancestors and protest what they stood for?

Image result for images brutal slavery overseer

Absolutely, unequivocally ‘No’, said LaFarge, using spicier and more unaccommodating street language. She simply had a longer row to hoe, racially speaking, than others.  In religious terms, it was 100 Our Fathers, 50 Stations of the Cross, and 1000 Hail Mary’s just to get off the mark. 

Another Black Lives Matter brother had a better idea.  She would make the perfect poster child for the Movement.  Who could be more convincing than a descendant of slave owners who renounced completely slavery, the South, and American history before 1965? Compliant and tearful, she stood before conventions of white, liberal, equally guilt-ridden BLM supporters and beat her breast in a thousand mea culpas imploring them to renounce their systemic racist sentiments.  “If I, the descendant of slave owners can renounce my family, my legacy, and my history can do it, so can you”.

She was a great success.  She conjured images of great-great-grandfather Hiram beating black men, sodomizing black women, and whipping black children; rose to theretofore unrealized oratorical heights, and yelled, “Black Lives Matter” again and again until she was hoarse.

LaFarge wondered how many other repentant white folk there were within reach.  If Betty Farmer had been gifted to him for the asking, there could be others.  Like a pimp on 125th Street, hustling for trade for his stable, he scanned his white supporters and asked them with Biblical reference, “Who among you is innocent?"  Once again, he used much saltier and hip language, but the message was clear.  Any white person with a questionable past should step forward and be known.

Robert L. Mouselle, a Yale academic had been on the front lines of the fight for racial, gender, and economic justice since the early days of the civil rights movement  There was no liberal cause that Prof. Mouselle did not espouse.  He and his equally committed wife, Leona, had championed every fight for social reform that had come across their desks.  The problem that Bob Mouselle had had to overcome was his storied American heritage.  

Mayflower | History, Voyage, & Facts | Britannica

Although his maternal ancestors had come over on the Mayflower and his paternal family had settled Jamestown; and although his great-great-great grandfather had fought against the British in the American Revolution; and although his great-grand uncle had been given a silver star for bravery against the British in the War of 1812; and although his great maternal grandfather was a Colonel, aide to General Sherman in his march to the sea, his history was tainted and in need of reform. 

Image result for images yale logo

While most Americans would have been proud to have had such a rich American legacy, his academic associates were suspicious.  Wasn’t the War of 1812 simply a reason to ‘repatriate’ Choctaw and Chickasaw allies west of the Mississippi? Weren’t his New Bedford militiamen formerly slave traders in the Three Corner Trade?

In fact, as irony would have it, one of Bob’s ancestors not only participated in the Three Corner Trade, but was one of New England’s biggest slave traders.  He profited enormously from the sale of Africans to the Caribbean and from the rewards of the collateral rum and molasses trade.

So Bob, more fraught with racial guilt than Betty Farmer – Bob was a scion of the progressive movement and Betty was only a handmaiden – went on the hustings with LaFarge Johnson to denounce America’s slave-holding past and serve as the perfect example of how systemic racism could be expunged.  If Bob, with his patriotic American heritage could call out his compatriots and denounce America, then the message would get across loud and clear.

Bob, a professor at Yale, made no bones about his progressive, reformist agenda; and for his English literature classes, he chose works not for their artistic merit but for their political import.  He was a Deconstructionist’s Deconstructionist.  Every line from Chaucer to Faulkner was parsed, reviewed, and taught to make a point – racism and anti-social, imperialist thinking was pervasive, historical, and inevitable.  University administrators were delighted to see such an outspoken advocate for black justice, gay rights, and ethnic pride. 

Whether by happenstance or Movement insight, Bob and Betty were put on the same docket.  Not that they would speak on the same platform, to the same crowd, or in the same venue; but they were an independent vital tag-team.  BLM were delighted to have two generationally different, gifted and passionate speakers.  Both had the credentials BLM was looking for.  Although there were many well-known supporters of the movement, they did not have the historical weight of Bob and Betty.  Noam Chomsky and many other older liberals were Jewish immigrant/refugees; and while they could speak to prejudice and oppression, they could not do so within the American context.  Direct descendants of slave owners meant something which the shtetl never could.

400 years' anniversary of slaves arriving in America - does it ...

Betty and Bob never met, but both would have been delighted at each other’s wokeness.  Bob demanded compliance from his Yale colleagues and thanks to his energy, passion, and credentials even the most diffident of Associate Professors signed on to his radical socialist agenda.  As before, if an American blue-blood, heir to a historical legacy dating from the Mayflower, could be so passionately insistent on taking down the American citadel, so could they.

Betty rallied the minions.  If a simple hometown girl with patriotic roots could switch sides, color allegiance, and political philosophy in pursuit of a woke, righteous cause, so could they.

Betty’s cousin- the one who discovered and displayed her cousin’s slave-owning, racist past – never budged an inch.  She was proud of Hiram Farmer, not necessarily for his slave-holding, but for his cavalier tradition, his insistence on cultural sophistication, gentility, manners, and respectful honor of the past.   She, unlike her woke cousin, was able to look holistically at her forbears.   What was the sum of their lives, their accomplishments? Certainly not just additive numbers in a social column.

The two squared off at Easter and Christmas dinners, stared each other down, but out of respect for Aunt Elizabeth and the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, said nothing.   They each had gone their own ways.  Poor, innocent, gullible Betty had been co-opted by the an-historical forces of BLM, shanghaied from a storied American family by an inchoate mob.  She had been forced to reject her heritage, her family, and her history; but she was complicit since the flaccidity of her character had always led her to unsavory places.  BLM was a convenient cover for grievances which had nothing to do with racism but community dysfunction and social desuetude; but Betty was too naïve, gullible, and susceptible to see it.

Image result for images black lives matter logo

One can only admire Betty’s cousin who refused to be cowed by demands to disavow her heritage and feel sorry for Betty who out of  a consequential insecurity of character and a desperate need to belong hooked her wagon to whatever popular juggernaut that happened to push its way through the crowd.

Such is the spectrum; but it is hard to wonder at the hysterical nonsense of the wokest of the woke, and at those who ignore history, disavow parentage and legacy, and assume a righteous but never-earned place at the American table.  This too will pass.  American fads are notorious and play themselves out within months if not years; but meanwhile it is taking its toll.  It is twisting the good sentiments of Americans like Betty Farmer, taking the intelligent likes of Bob Mouselle out of circulation, and forcing Betty’s cousin into a defensive activism she never sought.

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