On forgiveness

Ridiculous. Infuriating. Asinine. Callous. Those are some of the feelings as I read an op-ed by Michael Eric Dyson spinning Desmond Tutu’s death and legacy as an alternative to the current calls for racial justice and the reckoning of the genocide across US history and the colonization of North America by European immigrants [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/28/opinion/desmond-tutu-america-justice.html].

I want to jump to and, who is the audience for this editorial? Because why M.E. Dyson writes is preposterous.

I find the processing of whiteness — white guilt about white supremacy and whitewashing to pretend that the record is not as sordid as it is — that passes as civics and domestic politics within this nation state to be depleting and by that I mean exhausting and energy-sapping and life-taking to meet callousness with compassion, to forgive when they willfully forget and perpetuate and perpetrate new lies.

I am not a close student of Desmond Tutu’s public speeches and statements, leadership and political moves and public stances. I’ve done some reading about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission following the end of apartheid but we are far from being in a place where white America will tell their truths.

I want to ridicule Dyson by pointing out the absurdity of being a tenured professor at Vanderbilt University writing about the merits of making it work out. I find it difficult to read because this is more naive than Democratic legislators trying to negotiate with Republican peers who do not accept women and people of color as equals.

I once believed a myth that Black people in the United States could save the rest of the citizenry. But I don’t but much faith in such savior roles or racial dogma at this juncture in my life. I want to judge my younger self for harboring such foolish naïveté, as I did about all the shovel-ready-projects that were supposed to lubricate the stimulus package in 2009. But all that grandiose policy amounted to little of what was promised. It was futile for the president and members of Congress to promise about an 21st century energy grid or rapid transit trains spanning from Florida to the Northeast to California when they could not guarantee governing majorities for years on end. Instead, they made multi-year promises when they rose to committee chairs then were sidelined into minority party status by November 2010.

There’s something similarly amiss when Black Lives Matter is being conflated with cancel culture and then blamed for the inhospitable and dysfunctional and violent state of affairs between races in the United States.

Dyson doesn’t say “turn the other cheek” but he suggests that the well of indigenous and Black redemption of reckless white Americans is a renewable resource. To highlight the forgiveness of family members of the Charleston 9 is unfortunate, if not perverse. To have to hold and accommodate a man who pretended to be coming for prayer group is a tremendous and horrendous burden. Maybe redemption and forgiveness can be infinite but at this stage in my life, they do not feel sufficient for the illness and ailments that plague this society.

Maybe the timeless aspect of the oppressed’s forgiveness is that we are all humans and ultimately, there will/must be some balancing amongst the humans but it is hard to feel that when most of what I see is ignorance and defiance among people who have been accustomed to others suffering being coupled with their indulgence. Even as they learn of their impact, they don’t want to rein their excesses in. They want to continue to be violent and genocidal in their supremacist belief systems.

What’s the point of taking the moral ground when the ground is being seized and taken or plundered? Rather than prescribe maybe he could acknowledge the anguish and disgust that people of color feel. The pain that more whites acknowledge and empathize with and can acknowledge rather than argue or avoid. But there’s no reconciliation without going through the agony and saddling the burden of that leadership on people of color and other oppressed majorities is not how we rectify the brokenness of the powerful.

The American way

pledges of transparency and accountability have given way to opacity and impunity.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/12/18/us/airstrikes-pentagon-records-civilian-deaths.html

This from staff within the Pentagon. Where senior officials did their damnedest to prevent these observations and documentation from being seen and known.

Military. Corporations. Schools. Government social programs. Consultants on COVID relief over the last two years, some of who are retired military brass.

Plutocrats plundering for the sake of their own enrichment. A timeless series of acts of collusion and nepotism and corruption. Some people want to perpetuate beliefs of American exceptionalism but this conduct is no different than hundreds of other nation states and regimes.

Blowback: haunts the future

From the 2000 book Blowback: the costs and consequences of American Empire (published by Metropolitan Books) by Chalmers Johnson, who was in the Navy, stationed in Japan, researched China, then did intelligence work or informant with and for federal agencies.

“There is a logic to empire that differs from the logic of a nation, and acts committed in service to an empire but never acknowledged as such have a tendency to haunt the future.” (pg 8)

“The United States, however, is the world’s most prominent target for blowback, being the world’s lone imperial power, the primary source of the sort of secret and semi secret operations that shore up repressive regimes, and by far the largest seller of weapons generally.” (pg 11)

Staying this after acknowledging how Russia, Japan, and Israel had received blowback in the 1990s, none of which compared with the magnitude of energy and animosity directed at the US.

“Blowback itself can lead to more blowback, in a spiral of destructive behavior. A good illustration of this lies in the government’s reaction to the August 7, 1998, bombings of American embassy buildings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. (pg 10)

Juicing War

But it is easier not to mistreat prisoners if you no longer capture them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/03/opinion/us-war-afghanistan.html

Samuel Moyn says a lot in that piece about the lies, deceit abd immoral of US warmongering. What I would add:

But it is harder not to war when you’ve juiced it with $700B annually.

The tonnage of wartime

MLK spoke to Coretta of a “sick nation” in November 1963. Fifty years later, this is a civilization steeped in war and violence. The friends of rape, pillage and genocide are not far removed.

Buckminster Fuller said:

You may say, “Why don’t you cut out all this political-economic stuff and get along with the stark facts of description of precisely what you think the postwar housing is going to look like?” And I say to you it isn’t going to look like anything until the war is over and that I can’t envision it’s coming at all except in terms of the meaning of the war.

This is true for postwar housing as well as learning and education, transportation, energy, ecosystems, transportation and social safety net. These are all bound by being at war, and endless policies and priorities that perpetuate war. War begets violence. War begets destruction, dismay, isolation, genocide and rape.

Fuller continues:

I say, and I have given realistic testimony to prove, that is why we have had to have a war: because we couldn’t free ourselves for thinking without the detaching effects of war. Short of war, we just let well enough alone. We were swivel-moored to the rooted-down tonnage of our lugubrious past.