Do you like Kipling?
As every educated westerner knows, the proper response to “Do you like Kipling?” is “I don’t know, I’ve never kippled!” But seriously, the man whom Orwell labeled “the prophet of British imperialism” is a profoundly misunderstood chap, especially in our age wherein berating old dead White guys is considered proof of intellectual sophistication. In fact, ranting against someone like Kipling will probably get you more respect on most college campuses than actually reading him! But because he gave us the “hook” for this month’s tumid screed, let’s begin with a brief overview of the writer’s extraordinary fall from grace—a reputational tumble so vertiginous that he is rarely recalled nowadays for his narrative genius and almost never for his intuitive appreciation of certain throne-and-alter conventions that bore the protoplasmic essence of philosophical conservatism. Nobody today echoes Henry James’s assessment of Kipling as “the most complete man of genius…I have ever known,” yet he was England’s most widely read and respected author at the close of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th.
Kipling for beginners….
Born in Bombay, India, Kipling’s world was the British Raj—the colonizing (and civilizing) vanguard of Victorian cultural refinement following fast upon the impact of British arms. Later in his life, Kipling returned to India where he worked from 1883–89 writing for local newspapers. When personal differences with his editors resulted in demands for his resignation, he returned to England by way of Rangoon, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and America. Traveling through the United States he befriended Mark Twain, golfed with Arthur Conan Doyle, and settled for quite some time in Vermont.
Shifting the burden in Kipling…
Repatriated to England, Kipling set about writing a poem in honor of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, thus The White Man’s Burden was set to paper. But Her Majesty preferred a different Kipling composition, and Burden was shelved for the moment. It was later–following America’s seizure of the Philippines from Spanish Imperial rule in 1898– that Kipling saw a new role for his poem.
Kipling rewrote portions of the poem to reflect the American situation rather than Great Britain’s. Of course, the perception that the United States is an imperialist power (greedily squeezing the wealth out of the undeveloped world for the benefit of a small cartel of selfish industrialists) is so beloved on the dyspeptic Left from Alinsky to Zinn to Obama, we hardly have the heart to invalidate it here—let us rather agree that what halfhearted efforts America put into colonization came during this expansionary epoch.
When Kipling caught on in the States….
In the refurbished poem, Kipling exhorts America (the colonizing power formerly intended to be Great Britain) to seek empire, yet philosophizes concernedly about the inherent costs of doing so:
Take up the White Man’s burden—And reap his old reward: The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah slowly) to the light:
“Why brought ye us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?”
As a revised cri de coeur meant to inspire Americans to share the responsibility for spreading Christianity, medicine, governance and lawfulness across the globe, Kipling’s verse retained some rough edges. Obviously, no American forces were deployed to Africa, thus references to Egyptian nights seemed bizarre. Besides, accepting the Philippines as a going away gift from their previous owner almost accidentally embroiled U.S. Forces in armed contestations with violently disapproving native populations. (Spain may have neglected to mention that problem in its haste to decamp.) As the United States tinkered awkwardly with the concept of empire building, ferocious fighting erupted in response to the American presence; in fact the Moro and other indigenous people of the islands– incensed at not being consulted–declared war on the United States. American forces repeatedly defeated the indigenous fighters, but even after the Philippine Republic officially surrendered in 1902, guerilla warfare was waged by the Tagalog, Pulahanes and Moro peoples, all of whom maintained proud warrior traditions, many of whom attacked half-crazed on dope, and the majority of whom seemed utterly resistant to anything Kipling had to say about the matter. The resistance was not entirely subdued until 1913 and required the invention of the .45 Colt automatic pistol, which John Browning developed specifically to stop berserk Moros who proved insufficiently daunted by the army’s .38s.
Nothing in America’s foundational enzymes conduced toward these sorts of enterprises—besides which–or perhaps on account of which–we have always evinced a terribly un-imperialistic tendency to prevail militarily, spread all the gifts of civilization as lavishly as circumstances permit, and then leave.
This is hardly to suggest that large subsets of Americans did not perceive imperialism to represent the next evolutionary step for the Republic. Progressivism, as we shall see plainly in due course, has always maintained an ardor for subjugating and controlling the darker races, and Theodore Roosevelt, whose most regrettable attribute was surely his progressive streak, saw Kipling’s poem as a call for territorial conquest. Writing to his friend, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Teddy exhorted Lodge to read Kipling’s verse, declaring that it was “rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.” Kipling’s reaction to TR’s literary critique, if any, is lost to history.
Kipling breaks bad…..
Many Americans–perhaps the majority—were less fired by the poem than disquieted. It rang with pretensions to racial superiority that seemed–especially given the significance of the Civil War—disturbingly reminiscent of the antebellum south’s assumptions about American Negroes. Somewhat perversely, also, Senator “Pitchfork” Benjamin Tillman took exception, reading Kipling aloud to his peers in the Capital to reinforce his argument for scrapping the Treaty of Paris, asking “Are we to spread the Christian religion with the bayonet point as Mahomet spread Islam with a scimitar?” Pitchfork, himself a fire breathing racist, was opposed to bringing any more “racial inferiors” under the wing of the United States. Kipling struck him as a bleeding-heart trouble maker. Others, who grasped the author’s mindset more discerningly, nevertheless scoffed at Kipling’s theme of implicit altruism.
Before Kipling was invented….
Others in the United States opposed the poem because it seemed remindful of “manifest destiny,” support for which was always scattered in American politics. Long before Kipling set verse to paper, the concept of Manifest Destiny was abroad in the land. The American Whig party argued, unimaginatively enough, that America’s destiny lay in staying put and offering the world an example of morality and democracy rather than territorial expansion. Of course, the Whigs soon became extinct.
The “Muddy Waters Doctrine”
Manifest destiny was also much ballyhooed when events, some glorious, others less so, and still others so labyrinthine as to elude classification, led to what Historians and Mexicans like to call the “annexation of Texas.” In fact, following his humiliation at the Battle of Santa Jacinto, Santa Ana (not so fresh from overrunning the Alamo) signed treaties requiring his forces to retreat south of the Rio Grande and promised a thoroughly peeved Sam Houston he would instruct the Mexican Congress to recognize the Rio Grande as the border between the two countries. Thus, Texas, to the extent that it was annexed at all, was annexed fair and square, paid for in blood by Bowie, Travis, Crockett, and countless other Texians. [And yes, we know, Mexico changed its mind about Santa Ana’s bargain when Texas became our 28th state, and the Mexican/American War ensued, during which Mexico was again defeated—but if Muddy Waters was correct in saying “you can’t lose what you ain’t never had,” surely some American academicians can be won over to the equally logical proposition that you can’t annex what you’ve already got.]
Feel the inevitability!
Beginning with Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory and his support for the Lewis and Clark expedition, it seemed evident that North America was set upon a process of civilized expansion into contiguous regions unbounded by borders. It seemed manifest. Our misguided efforts to expand northward (where there were, in fact, borders) were stymied during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 by British and Canadian soldiers who seemed on both occasions adimant about declining statehood.
On the other hand, expanding toward the Pacific struck investors, entrepreneurs, explorers, and frontiersmen, as an ineluctable undertaking; and except in Texas, no foreign armies or contending powers were involved in the country’s Westward march—the obvious exception being the Indians regarding whom White settlers only rarely evinced behaviors approaching the standards of Kipling’s vision. This fact, unpleasant though it be, illustrates another distinction between Imperial colonization and Manifest Destiny. Kipling’s poem begins with the lines:
Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need…
As Custer discovered when he took command of the Seventh Cavalry, the American war department made no effort to send the best of our breed to its far western outposts— and nobody, no matter how supportive of our sweep toward the pacific, ever rationally argued that our soldiers or settlers were there to serve the needs of the Indians. One could argue, in fact, that western expansion might have been slightly less brutal if Grant and several hundreds of others in the East had been able to read Kipling.
The war to end econo-federalism?
Quite distinct from the extension of American dominance spreading across the plains, was the morally requisite growth of hostility toward the institution of slavery. It should suffice to comment that slavery became so heated an issue that ultimately, bereft of alternatives in law and threatened by the attempted secession of 11 states, the nation became involved in a vast civil war resulting in 1,100,000 casualties and the sacrifice of 625,000 American lives, not counting Lincoln’s. We realize that readers who are unwitting victims of the sophisticated opinionists currently ensconced in the history departments of higher academe will immediately object when we write the war was waged to settle the issue of slavery—but come off it. The alternative explanations enjoying academic currency wither as soon as they are subjected to the primary test. Go ahead, bounce your enlightened explications off us—each of them can be shown to be vapid unless supported by the dark tradition of human bondage. Economics? Economics based on what—or rather, on whom? States’ rights? States rights to do what? The Missouri Compromise? Gee, what was that about? The election of Lincoln? Don’t make it so easy.
It suits the purpose of liberalism to skirt the issue, in order that America seem less praiseworthy. Leftist academics achieve this by disguising tautology as sophistication. Urban civil rights activist likewise prefer to ignore this central truth because they can claim grievances more persuasively once ridded of the burden of gratitude (Kipling, anyone?) We bear Southern apologists no ill will, but the civil war was about slavery, gentle readers, and slavery is evil, and the South lost. Indeed, in the truest sense of Kipling’s verse, the North marched “To seek another’s profit, And work another’s gain.” Obviously the average Union soldier didn’t think such things, nor did many of his officers and generals–just as many of the South’s finest from Lee to Stuart to Jackson fought for reasons of regional allegiance without any love for slavery; but without the enslavement of Africans in the South, the Confederacy would never have congealed, and Fort Sumter would be a name lost to history.
Despite all the subversive anecdotage readers may have been compelled to absorb from Howard Zinn and his clones, the United States immersed itself in an internecine conflict so bloody that no war before or since resulted in so many American deaths, and slavery was, in fact, the fundamental issue compelling the states to divide and do battle. No other nation in the entirety of human history has engaged in so monumental a blood sacrifice to such purpose, let alone done so even as that abhorrent institution flourished in most of the rest of the world. Without making this point emphatically, we cannot accurately relate the American narrative to Kipling’s vision.
Now we are at the part of this screed where, were it a motion picture, moviegoers would be shown the legend: “One hundred years later…” And we find that the Philippines are a proudly independent if dysfunctional nation, that Nicaraguans (whom we bedeviled during the same general period) were liberated from a right wing dictator by a half-witted communist and shortly afterward liberated from half-witted communist oppression by President Reagan, Ollie North, and the Contras—following which Nicaragua held free elections, ultimately electing the same half-witted communist as their president, but hey, that’s Central America. Elsewhere, many locations where America once fleetingly planted Old Glory and subsequently rethought the matter seem more inclined to pester us for statehood than rage against our tyrannies.
Our ambivalence up to this point in advancing our thoughts about Kipling’s opus is not (at least entirely) ascribable to moral cowardice. President Obama wowed the swooning network newsies 8 years ago and famously set Chris Matthews’s leg aquiver, by encouraging a national conversation about race. At the time, it seemed only vaguely necessary; but after two terms of Obama, Holder, Lynch, and their race-baiting minions conflagrating racial tensions, it seems obvious that such a conversation is overdue. And in any such conversation, Rudyard Kipling is owed a seat at the table. We know, we know, our liberal and “independent” readers (all seven or eight of them) will feel obliged to send us emails objecting that no liberal in the history of American liberalism ever declared an affinity for Kipling’s obscenely supremacist ravings–and we hereby relieve them of that obligation by replying preemptively, “so what?” The fact that leftists approach race relations in this day and age from a remarkably Kipling-esque standpoint, and that American Blacks do likewise, is no less a fact for the Left’s inability to perceive it. Thus, we contend that viewed through a contemporary lens, the themes of The White Man’s Burden are entirely consonant with liberal civil rights initiatives, and have been for decades. How can such an irony endure unchallenged?
It’s the media, cupcake!
Everyone who owns a television set. reads newspapers, or frequents the leftwing blogosphere knows that Republicans and conservatives despise minorities and want to drag them around by chains, or turn fire hoses on them in the streets– right? Of course the image is pure sophistry, but that is what many Americans persist in believing, especially seeming majorities of people of color. How can this ridiculous perception persist? It’s the media, cupcake! Want an example? To avoid aggravating anyone, we shall call only one witness, George Stefanopoulos.
Readers will recall when Barack Obama, running for president back in 2008, appeared on ABC and complimented his opponent’s religious tolerance, telling Stephanopoulos,”John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.” Anyone familiar with the incident will recall that Stephanopoulos interrupted Obama at that moment, interjecting “Your Christian faith!” to which Obama flatly replied, “My Christian Faith.” Oops. Well, anyone can make a darn mistake. How many times have most of us made similar slips?—you know—starting to call ourselves Christian or Jewish but accidentally blurting out “Zoroastrian,” or “Hindu?”
But more to our point, here was the familiar example of George Stephanopoulos (“Steffy” to the elites) simply exerting himself to assist a fellow Democrat—and isn’t that what the media are all about? So what went wrong on ABC Sunday last July 24th, when Representative Keith Ellison (D. Minn) began comparing donald Trump to the late George Wallace–you know–the Alabama governor who stood in the school house door to keep Black students from registering in 1962.
Ellison, who is Black, and ought to know better, explained to Steffy that Donald Trump would be “the worst Republican nominee since George Wallace.” And here’s the really strange part– Steffy Stephanopoulos just sat there nodding. His long streak of helpfully band-aiding gaffes issuing from his fellow leftists came to a sudden stop. Ellison betrayed an embarrassing ignorance of civil-rights history, and Steffy Stephanopoulos, who surely noted the Congressman’s mistake, said nothing. Why not? Is Stephanopoulos racist? Did he want the Black politician to look stupid? Fortunately, ABC Sunday’s other guest was Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla) who took a moment to inform Ellison that George Wallace was a Democrat. Ellison stared glumly at his desk, and Stephanopoulos moved things in another, though equally slanted, direction. Steffy knew that Wallace was a Democrat, like Bull Conner, Robert Byrd (a high-level Klansman), and so many other segregationist Dixiecrats. So why didn’t he nudge Ellison as he had Obama? The reason is obvious, of course–Ellison’s poor comprehension of history served the leftist narrative that Stefanopoulos strives to advance– and Steffy assumed his viewership wouldn’t know any better. He reckoned without Representative Cole, however, who spoiled the moment.
So powerful is the Liberal Establishment, gushing similar propaganizements from nearly all available conduits of contemporary culture, it is hardly surprising that Black voters file dutifully to the polls whenever required, to elect or re-elect liberal politicians despite the fact that it is impossible to point to any advantage they have ever gained thereby. Worse, in weirdly self-destructive conformity, Blacks vote overwhelmingly to keep liberal Democrats in charge of cities that are bankrupt or becoming so, violent to degrees that would approach genocide except for the fact that Blacks are also doing most of the killing, and where any possibility of rejuvenation is thwarted by excessive taxation and overt graft combined with street-level anarchy repelling any investors other than the Federal Government, which lavishly incentivizes the very behaviors that immiserate Black communities, including unemployment, single parenthood, and disastrous school systems. Murders in Chicago, meanwhile, are up 72 percent over this time last year, while shootings are 88 percent ahead of 2015. March alone accounted for 45 murders and 271 shooting incidents. Chicago has not elected a Republican mayor since 1927. The archetypically sleazy Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, became the Windy City’s mayor in 2011 and easily won re-election in 2015. Chicagoans must be pleased with their city’s direction.
Detroiters love Democrats too. The Motor City has been run almost exclusively by liberal Democrats since 1962. A recent Washington Post article sneered at what the author called “the Republican obsession with Detroit,” making the case that “Detroit does not vote for Republicans.” In a burst of editorial perversity, the Post writer argued that Republicans were daft to consider solutions for a city that clearly spurned their attentions. Gloatingly, the author added that “In 2012, 97.5 percent of the city went for Barack Obama. The county sheriff is a Democrat, as are the three U.S. representatives whose districts surround the city. The current mayor, the previous mayor, the six mayors before that guy: all Democrats, too.” And Detroit has a higher murder rate than Chicago–almost exclusively Black on Black crime. It is also a fiscal black hole (no pun intended, honestly) into which bail-out dollars vanish ineffectually. It may be recalled that Detroit went bankrupt shortly following Barack Obama’s vow that he would never permit Detroit to go bankrupt.
The most violent cities in America, listed in descending order of homicidal intensity, are Detroit, MI; Memphis, TN; Oakland, CA: St. Louis, MO; Milwaukee, WI, and Baltimore, MD. Each city has been ruled by liberal Democrats for as long as citizens can recall–and each has a Democrat mayor. Many have been sites of racial violence in which the Black Lives Matter movement played a role. This role will now expand considerably. The perfidious George Soros just poured $650,000 into BLM’s coffers, and the subversive Ford Foundation is preparing, even now, to up Soros’s ante by several million. Being on the trickle-down side of the White Man’s Burden may not provide much enlightenment nowadays, but enrichment there is aplenty!
Let Elvis explain.
The Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens is a collection of various activist groups — Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter, Memphis Voices for Palestine [WOOF is not making this up], the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense & Inward Journey, and the Memphis Grass Roots Organization. This illustrious conglomeration recently announced its plans for a “show of solidarity” at Graceland, home to the late Elvis Presley. The singer’s mansion has been maintained in its original condition with furnishings and decor as Elvis left them, and also functions as a kind of museum, shrine, gift shop and popular Memphis landmark. Thus, upon reading that the CCC was planning a “demonstration of solidarity” we wondered what admirable traits of Mr. Presley’s, in particular, had bestirred so massive a display of empathy…but, of course, we soon recognized our error.
The Concerned Coalition of Citizens intended to show solidarity mainly with Black Lives Matter, and with any other scowling malcontents willing to attach the issues of race, poverty, and White privilege to Presley’s estate. Their announced intention was to “shut down Graceland” during Elvis Week. Prior to these announcements, WOOF was unaware that Elvis Week was even a thing, much less a thing that any band of self-described civil rights activists could possibly find threatening. One might say our consciousness was raised, or at least augmented, by the Coalition’s statement on the matter, which, in part, read as follows:
“The demonstration, set for Monday at 6:00pm, is planned as a peaceful show of solidarity, unifying the people of Memphis against systems that promote poverty, violence and economic disparity. Graceland… demonstrates one of Memphis’s most common forms of financial inequity. Graceland recently opened The Guest House, a new 450 room resort style hotel in the heart of the African American community of Whitehaven. The project cost more than $120 million dollars to build and received upwards of 78 million dollars in public funding and tax breaks. Project developers and city officials promised Whitehaven residents the project would be an economic boon to the community, but as has been case for decades, residents have seen little if any of that money ‘trickle down’ into the middle class neighborhood’s economy.”
True, it might have been simpler to admit that ruining the vacations of hundreds of Elvis fans, most of whom drove from out of state to peacefully peruse their idol’s manse and reminisce with fellow Elvis devotees, was a surefire way to get themselves onto the local and national news while creating a big enough impingement on the normal flow of events that some of the singer’s redneck cracker fan base was likely to lose its cool and yell some deliciously microaggressive slurs and maybe even become violent—but we would do the Coalition and its allies an injustice if we failed to parse their official statement for insight, because therein we will discover the continuing relevance of the hero of this month’s screed.
First, let’s consider the idea that marching into Graceland with the sole purpose of creating an annoyance is somehow “unifying the people of Memphis against the systems that create poverty” and “economic disparity.” What systems are we intended to infer here? The governance of White Democrat Jim Strickland, who besides joining the NAACP and showing up for photo ops at soup kitchens has done nothing whatsoever to meaningfully improve the lives of Black Memphians? Or are we intended to think inculpatory thoughts about the all-Democrat, (mostly Black) city council? Because, clearly, all the relevant “systems” are entirely liberal Democrat, and largely African American—and while it is exactly true that they continue to promote poverty, it is difficult to imagine any connection to Elvis. Why not picket the people in power who bear the actual responsibility for mismanagement, incompetence, and to no small degree, graft? Here’s a thought: Why not stop voting for them? But back to reality: Nobody in the Black community, or in the White liberal community, ever thinks of this–not only because liberalism is incapable of critical introspection, but also because Kipling has liberalism in a philosophical vice grip!
Apparently “Graceland…represents one of Memphis’s most common forms of economic inequity” Really? First, what on earth can be intended by calling the fortune compiled by Elvis Presley “common?” Does the upper crust in Memphis consist mainly of Rock and Roll singers swept to fame on the wings of social upheaval arguably engendered by their musical performances? Can we just assume that question is patently rhetorical?
No, the only economic inequity generated by Presley was the natural result of his marketable abilities. The idea that talented performers earning large salaries in proportion to how much approval they generate among the record-buying or movie-going public somehow constitutes unfairness makes sense only on the most sophomoric levels of pop collectivism…but of course, nowadays, that’s most of them.
Graceland represents economic diversity, not inequity. It stands as evidence of a fundamental precept of the capitalist system—that some people will provide goods and services so eagerly received and widely demanded that they will amass wealth as a result—and with that wealth they may choose to erect homes, acquire land, obtain automobiles, fly in private jets to get pizza, shoot an occasional TV set, and generally pursue enthusiasms on a scale not available to those whose gifts are more pedestrian and whose surroundings are consequently less opulent. Rap artists are perfect examples of this sort of “economic inequity,” but no BLM protester would dream of considering the fact, nor any White Leftist—because the power structure targeted for destruction by these entities must be perceived and described as White. Otherwise, what’s the point? Otherwise, where’s Kipling?
The Coalition of Concerned Citizens complains that “78 million dollars in public funding and tax breaks” contributed to building a ‘guest house’” (in fact a luxury hotel where tourists may elect to reside while visiting Graceland). Apparently, the outlay of public funds was approved only because developers and politicians promised residents that erecting the hotel would spread economic growth throughout the surrounding community. The Coalition contends that no such benefits ‘trickled down.’ [Their phrase, naturally.] If such were the case, surely the wrath of BLM and the CCC would be better focused on the city planners, office holders, and organizers who lied about the benefits and are therefore quite possibly liable for their deceptions. Certainly pursuing these culprits would make more sense than assailing the fans of Elvis Presley, who had nothing to do with duping the Black community, and nothing to do with maintaining in office the legions of mainly Black, entirely liberal municipal hacks whose promises routinely prove empty.
But no. The overriding symbolism and subtext of the Coalition’s complaint in no respect inculpates the actual villains, because doing so would not serve the template. Instead, the leadership implies that minorities in the vicinity are somehow victims of the White power elite, personified, however awkwardly, by Elvis. The impression given is that every economic woe the underprivileged confront is directly linked to White exploitation. In this popular weltanschauung, the Whites crowding into Graceland are the beneficiaries of an unequal distribution of income that allows them to traipse through the Jungle Room and mill about the trophy building, so immersed in their bourgeois pursuits that they never pause to think of the hardships their very existence imposes upon minorities…or the moral obligations (the Burden) this places upon them!
Properly understood, the message BLM & CCC sent from Graceland is simple. Blacks in the African American community of Whitehaven (which seems unfortunately appellated, we’d submit) are miserable, and their immiseration is ascribable to Elvis Presley, more or less, and his sneering minions. Ridiculous? Not once you realize that in BLM’s cosmology it is not acceptable to blame city officials, coordinators, the mayor, or any municipal official, or anyone who repeatedly votes for these sinecurists, because only White racism is allowable as the casual factor, never the miscreancies of liberal Democrats. It follows therefore that residents of Whitehaven have no means of bettering themselves apart from their reliance on hotels being built for Elvis Presley’s fans. Further, the protestors wish it understood, the hotel was built, and the oppressed minorities of Whitehaven got zip. In fact, we are told, they were materially damaged by the project.
Except that employment, by every measure possible, leapt upwards with the project’s arrival. Whitehaven Kiwanis Club official, Calvin Burton, who appears authentically Black, called the hotel “a goldmine,” adding that Graceland’s Guest House was “about to start a large snowball effect [in which] people get jobs at Graceland, crime goes down, more businesses move in, and that means more jobs move in, this is the snowball effect residents in Whitehaven are welcoming.” Marvin Newsum, also persuasively Black, added that he has lived in Whitehaven more than 30 years “and could not be happier,” Both men hailed the 450 jobs already created by the project and a coming jobs fair aimed at making employment available to still more residents. Did someone forget to tell Black Lives Matter? Should the glad tidings be rushed to the leadership of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens post haste? Don’t be silly!
Who was Darrius Stewart?
Coalition leaders also chose Graceland because “the site has ties to…the death of unarmed teen Darrius Stewart,” although Stewart’s only known association with Graceland is that he was killed in its arguable proximity. Detained by Memphis police officer Connor Shilling, Stewart overheard radio transmissions cautioning Shilling to hold him on several out-of-state warrants stemming from—among other things–charges of sexual abuse of minors. At this point, Connor testified, Stewart, who had not been handcuffed, attacked him. A struggle ensued, much of which is captured on video, during which Stewart seized Connor’s handcuffs and lashed him about the head. Schilling emerged from the struggle with bite marks, bruises, and Stewart’s DNA all over his uniform. Stewart, on the other hand, did not survive the melee during which Connor reached his service pistol and fired two rounds, one of which proved fatal to his assailant. Forensics proved the shots were fired only feet from Stewart, verifying that Shilling fired them in the heat of a struggle and thus “acted in reasonable fear that his life or the lives of others were in jeopardy,” making the use of lethal force permissible. A grand jury refused to indict Shilling, who was nevertheless removed from active duty. As is so often the case, it again appears that a youthful Black male, mythologized by the community as yet another innocent victim of a willfully homicidal police force, might have been spared martyrdom had he simply elected to refrain from physically assaulting a policeman.
Check your “social formations!”
On August 16th, the 39th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley, Black Lives Matter protesters staged a protest calling for increases in the minimum wage (of course), relief from unemployment (which goes hand in hand, they seem to believe, with increasing the minimum wage), and an end to police brutality in the city. The police demonstrated their brutality by fencing protesters off to the degree that they could not obstruct visitors to Elvis’s home, and making only three arrests during the entire protest, and this despite the fact that BLM neglected to apply for a permit. Elvis devotees were not significantly obstructed, and the media didn’t get a bloodbath, but no news cycle is perfect.
So what else did BLM want? Actually, the organization has listed nearly 400 demands phrased in what one might nowadays call paleo-revolutionary argot almost plangently familiar to anyone who dealt with campus radicalism during the militant ‘60s. Most demands are ludicrously divorced from reality, demanding on the one hand the abolition of police forces, and on the other, “increased protection…for black institutions like historically black colleges and ‘social formations.’” Many demands follow florid prologizing, the idea being—it seems—that the demand will seem all the more sensible given the premise provided. To the contrary, the prefatory rhetoric simply numbs the eyeballs with such fatuities as, “Until we achieve a world where cages are no longer used against our people, we demand an immediate change in conditions and an end to public jails, detention centers, youth facilities and prisons as we know them.”
Kipling rides again
What is germane to our theme in each of these demands is the implicit appeal to authority, invariably envisioned as White, (facts to the contrary notwithstanding) to make concessions, however implausible, to people who are Black. These concessions, were any made, would be heralded by the Coalition as capitulations to “the people”—to the community’s righteous demands for social justice; but that would be sheer dissimilation. Concessions, were any made, would exemplify noblesse oblige—the felt responsibility of the dominant culture. The burden, in other words, of the privileged class. Rudyard Kipling, please call your office—the tenor of the poet’s sentiments is altered only slightly by the militancy with which favors are sought, and the fact that those empowered to consider granting them are driven less by altruism than assimilated guilt (or political expedience). But amazingly, Kipling’s burden has not shifted an iota…it is still up to the White Man to give to the Black Man the means of socioeconomic sustenance.
The Milwaukee Riot
On the 13th of August, a piteously distraught Mildred Haynes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “My son is gone due to the police killing my son.”And that was a concise summation of events, if not as detailed or nuanced as subsequent accounts. The deceased in this instance was Sylville Smith, known already to police as a suspect in a shooting soon after which he was charged with witness intimidation when he endeavored to coerce the victim into withdrawing his testimony. In fact, Smith’s police record was extensive, including a concealed weapon charge from 2014 and a citation for operating a motor vehicle without a license while speeding and with open intoxicants in view.
On the night of the 13th, Smith was pulled over in a rental car that flagged as stolen. The entire event lasted 25 seconds. For reasons he is unavailable to explain, Smith exited his vehicle. fled on foot, and pulled a handgun as he ran. Officers pursued Smith who at some point during the chase made the additionally puzzling decision to pivot and level his handgun (which was afterwards determined to be stolen) at the foremost police officer, who was Black. The officer thereupon drew his weapon and ordered Smith twice to drop his gun. Smith, as clearly shown on the officer’s body cam, preferred not to. Consequently, the officer shot and killed him. Smith’s gun was loaded—in fact it contained 23 rounds—and the officer’s response was entirely lawful, and may well have averted his own demise. Moreover, the officer who shot Smith was a local rap performer and, it transpired, a classmate of Smith’s in high school. But no matter any of that—another innocent Black youth (okay, Smith was 23) had been gunned down by the genocidal janissaries of White Racial Supremacy, and a riot almost necessarily ensued.
Okay, riots have happened for far less inflammatory reasons—the Detroit riot of 1967 started over a raided poker game. Milwaukee’s Black population was already chafing under the weight of several recent encounters involving questionable conduct by police, some of which appear substantive. And information is hard to come by at first, so passions are inflamed well before facts are circulated. To the BLM leadership, of course, facts are irrelevant to the narrative, and that narrative sufficed to spark the Milwaukee riot of 2016 which began with approximately one-hundred Black protesters gathering at North Sherman and Auer to confront a line of about twenty police officers as the “community organizers” at BLM set to work ginning up further outrage via social media. Predictably, things got violent.
As riots go, this one was par for the course. Cars, including some police cruisers, were smashed or set ablaze, a gas station was looted and torched, and firefighters proved unable to approach the blaze owing to scattered gunshots and a barrage of bricks. One officer was hit by a brick and rushed to treatment while other protesters, incognizant of the alliances implicit in such events, attacked reporters and photographers who were merely attempting to “get their story out.” But the evening’s festivities ended with only 4 officers injured, all the fires finally subdued, and only the usual number of liquor stores and supermarkets looted and/or demolished. For a time it appeared that peace might be restored and a dialogue opened.
Support trouble-free revolution!
But city authorities reckoned without the appearance of a far older, more practiced and calculated malignancy. The Chicago based (go figure!) Revolutionary Communist Party dispatched operatives to Milwaukee who proved so successful at stimulating a second day of wanton destruction that Police chief Ed Flynn singled them out for credit, telling the press on the second day “the communist group showed up, and actually they’re the ones who started to cause problems.”
Reached by phone, comrade Carl Dix, co-founder of the Revolutionary Communist Party, blamed the “righteous rebellion” on Smith’s death, helpfully adding that “This system sees police wantonly murdering people as part of the normal order of things.” Dix took the opportunity to advocate dismantling the police, but feigned astonishment at Chief Flynn’s accusations. “If anybody wants to allege that our people were actually committing those acts, they should bring that to us. That wasn’t what we went up there to do,” Dix said, insisting that his people “did go there to support a revolution but didn’t set out to cause trouble.”
What is to be done?
So now that the bricks have stopped flying and the streets have been swept free of debris, now that the communists have returned to Chicago, what acts of contrition and profferings of largesse can the sectors of White Privilege supply to ablute their guilt? Yes, we know, the police should be dismantled, and the killer cops thrown to the mob, but seriously, beyond these puerilities, in a phrase Comrade Dix might resonate to, what is to be done?
During the riot’s second day, an intrepid crew of TV reporters evaded pummeling long enough to perform a man-in-the-street interview with an unidentified Black gentleman on the periphery of the violence, “It’s sad,” the man explained, “because, you know, this is what happen because they not helping the black community. The rich people they got all this money and they not, like you know, trying to give us none.” The gentleman, whoever he was, exhibited an uncanny gift for synopsis. The same essential lamentation seemed on the lips of every resident the press managed to buttonhole.
The Raj is where the heart bleeds!
The Hollywood Reporter ran a story recently about Opera Winfrey’s forthcoming TV series Queen Sugar, which in and of itself would matter not a wit to us at this remove, except that during the extensive interview, Ava DuVernay, the series’ authentically Black director, experienced one of those epiphanic moments that beset we mortals on quirkish occasion, and told the Reporter, “If you treat being Black as a plight, it affects your creativity.” Think about that, gentle readers! Roll it around your frontal lobes for a bit.
Granted, were Ava DuVernay by the remotest chance to discover this screed, she might angrily insist that we have taken her out of context, but we contend that her statement is of that rare caliber that functions in virtually any context—making it worthy of inclusion among The Eternal Verities, postmodernism notwithstanding. And mindful though we be, here in the WOOF cave, of the invidious threat posed by dread cultural appropriation, we believe DuVernay’s insight works equally well for Whites—insofar as they too should desist from viewing “being Black as a plight,” and find more creative ways of addressing issues of inclusion. Sadly, however, nobody from the political left is prepared to do this, nobody to the center-right has the courage, and nobody to the right of the center-right could attempt it without being pulverized by media billingsgate.
Instead, American liberalism has created a new Raj in the United States, where White Privilege is seen as a kind of self-accusatory parallel to the old Kiplingism–and one that obliges the dispensation of favors to the perceived underclasses who prefer victimhood to self-efficacy–and who ceaselessly harangue the despised Imperialists (read: White Americans) for more and more contributions in the name of social justice. It is not really WOOF’s purpose here to say categorically that this is wrong, or even improper. It is our purpose to say only that it is happening, in a weird homage to Kipling, and once again the entire burden of responsibility for the raising up of the underprivileged is placed squarely upon the shoulders of White, largely European elites. It is placed there by America’s Black population–but they learned the gimmick from Lyndon Baines Johnson. And that says a lot about why liberalism now owns the White Man’s Burden.
Johnson’s “Great Society” subsidized every social affliction detectable in the Black populations of America’s cities, and by subsidizing such difficulties, caused them to multiply. Liberal exertions destroyed the Black middle class, the Black nuclear family, and Black education (which prior to Johnson’s meddling often scored higher on national tests than predominantly White school systems). Once Johnson’s “Great Society” was fully implemented, Black unemployment soared, the Black nuclear family disintegrated, and the new Black dependency on government caused Johnson to infamously remark, “I’ll have those ni**ers voting Democratic for the next 200 years!” [NB: WOOF dutifully reports here that SNOPES, while going so far as to admit that “There’s no question that Lyndon Johnson…was…a sometime racist and notorious vulgarian who rarely shied away from using the N-word in private,” still doesn’t think Johnson said this, because nobody at SNOPES has seen enough evidence. WOOF has, but we like to give SNOPES equal time. Also, we will let readers know if SNOPES replies to our request for information regarding what a “sometime racist” might be.]
Kemp contra Kipling?
Remember Jack Kemp’s urban enterprise zones? Probably not. The whole concept was doomed to perish as soon as liberalism retrieved the Oval Office.
One of the most hideously malformed proofs of the hopelessly advancing political sclerosis besetting the GOP was its 1996 presidential ticket, which may be recalled with effort by the mnemonically gifted as advancing the proposition that Bob Dole would make a terrific president, and that Jack Kemp might come in handy as his running mate. In terms of vitality, creativity, and salability to the public, this match-up might be likened to having the Beatles open for Herman’s Hermits. Kemp, the congressional leader of the brain trust behind Reaganomics, was ushered into the number two slot behind the prehistoric Dole, a man who used to tell dead supply-sider jokes on the floor of congress. The result, predictably was another four years of Bill Clinton…but at least good old Bob had his turn in the grand Republican tradition.
But the American Presidency wasn’t the only slot Kemp would have excelled in but never got offered. A few years earlier, he’d come up with a means of bailing out America’s failing cities and the minority populations that inhabited them. Of course, pundits will cluck their tongues and insist that Kemp’s plan for urban enterprise zones was tried and failed—and that is, indeed, the urban myth surrounding the initiative. But like a lot of things everybody knows, it isn’t so.
True, in 1993 Congress passed Kemp’s plan, which the Clinton administration attempted to enact, and, true again, it didn’t work. But Kemp’s proposal bore scant resemblance to the hodge-podge deployed by the Clinton administration. Predictably, Clinton’s version proceeded from a vision of government’s role in the creation of economic growth that was diametrically distinct to Kemp’s. Kemp’s original intent was to promote the entrepreneurial development of abandoned urban areas by laying them open to the creative energies of local residents unbound by governmental red tape and boosted by Federal funds.. True to form, Clinton restructured the entire process as a hand-out to major corporate participants awash in a veritable sea of regulatory provisions certain to exclude local participation except at the most menial levels. Worked Kemp’s way, the gift of personal responsibility and creativity would have been offered the inner city, and incentivized by Federal dollars ultimately recoverable as revenue. Urban denizens might well have flourished. Run Clinton’s way, well….the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. And therein lies an important lesson:
Decades ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. was debating Black civil rights leaders on his television program, Firing Line, when one of them glared in his direction and offered, as a kind of pre-emptive condemnation of White insouciance, the datum that “There are rats in Harlem!” Buckley agreed that Harlem was overrun with rats, but added, “You make it seem as though I personally sneak into Harlem every night and with a sort of gleeful chuckle, plop down a rat.” His point bollixed his guest. If Harlem has rats, he seemed to suggest, why haven’t the residents of Harlem taken the necessary eradicative measures? Or failing this, why haven’t they prevailed upon their own recurrently-elected yet notoriously phlegmatic officials to allocate funds and personnel toward this end? This is exactly the line of reason–exactly the part of the “conversation on race”–that the Liberal Church of Sanctified Victimization cannot abide. The moment personal responsibility enters the dialogue, Kipling’s worldview vanishes. So long as personal responsibility is banished from the dialogue, Kipling’s worldview is inescapable. So, gentle readers–you probably figure we’re going to let our beloved William F. have the last word on this matter–but no! When we at WOOF decide to discuss rats, we aren’t messing around.
The Russian word расистов is a translation of racist, or rather, vice versa. The coinage is often attributed to Leon Trotsky, and while WOOF cannot state with certitude that the communist revolutionary with the ice axe sticking in his head is the progenitor of the term, he certainly made fond use of it. And there is no doubt that word has obtained a utility beyond its justifiable applications in denouncing anyone who suggests anything related to race relations that might lie outside the purview of political correctitude as daily upgraded by the powers of the liberal academy. We know full well, therefore, that a conga line of shatterpated commenters will form almost immediately to denounce your humble editors and authors as “RACIST!” for daring to suggest that Black Americans take charge of their own future, and give up the idea that it is best dictated to them by the White Leftist Elite and their loyal crew of race-bating “civil rights leaders” who maintain status in accordance with how satisfactorily the Democrat party rates their performances. Unless they do so, the American liberal and the DNC will eternally assume the White Man’s Burden as a feigned moral necessity, continually employ it as a political lever, and continually deliver nothing except poverty, division, acrimony, and distrust whenever that lever is pulled. It’s been going on since LBJ invented high-rise housing for Black families– does anyone realistically suppose it will change?
So Trotsky gets the last word, and that word is “racist.” Trotsky used the term as a propagandistic utensil,, and it certainly caught on. We at WOOF dislike to be called racists because we aren’t–but we’re used to it. We also know that a lot of people really are racist, and we hate that. But beyond the looney blatherings of Klansmen, Skin Heads, certain of the “Alt Right,” “liberals” like LBJ and those thousands of DNC functionaries who even today deprecate Blacks privately while fawning over them publically, surely the most racist concept in today’s America is the notion that Blacks cannot succeed without Whites showing the way, paying the expenses, handing out largesse and directing the show. This message comes relentlessly from the Left. For decades it was disguised as compassion, but nowadays, as Americans of European ancestry are charged with confessing and lamenting their “White Privilege,” it proceeds equally from an assumption of ethnic guilt–a guilt that may be expiated only by dispensing massive sums of money and promises of preferential treatment to properly certified victims populating the Racial Left.
We believe that Americans of African descent will begin to awaken to this fact, not by tumult, but slowly and increasingly. The Left, of course, is betting they never catch on. Until they do, Kipling’s poesy will remain a perversely applicable fact of life for all of us– in a way Kipling never perceived nor intended. And the White liberal establishment must conceal Kipling’s ghostly presence in its approach to Civil Rights, in order to maintain its politicians’ electability. WOOF, however, calls on all Americans to free Kipling of his unforeseen roll in our national approach to race relations, to free American minorities of decades of tyranny imposed in the name of Federal assistance, and to cast off the chains of “multicultural” dogma imprisoning us in isolated social redoubts wherein we are so easily manipulated. We especially say to the nation’s minorities, cast off victimhood and unite with us in the American adventure! You have nothing to lose but your hyphens!