Friday, September 17, 2010

Tim Wise and South Carolina White Conservatives


At South Carolina White Conservatives Show Their Racist Asses…Again (This is a Historical Constant, Actually…), Tim and I have started a discussion (and I am glad he hasn't banned me yet). Here's my latest comment there, which is currently in moderation:
I don't think I've ever said that racism doesn't exist separate from capitalism. Like Malcolm X, I think racism is a symptom of capitalism, so you shouldn't exclude it, but in rare cases involving individuals, it's appropriate to talk about racism exclusively. But anyone who is concerned with institutional racism should be concerned with the greater institution, capitalism.

I went looking for some context for those pics and found it here. The black performers in the picture are historical re-enactors who preserve Gullah culture.
I am amused that so many people upset about the picture don't know that Union generals wore blue. This picture could be interpreted as a celebration of the Union freeing the slaves. But based on the comments of the re-enactors, it was just about 19th-century Southern culture.

ETA: It may be a Confederate uniform with the color balance off. In the comments, serialbabbler found this pic:


  1. Maybe they just think nobody will notice that it's a Union General's uniform and not a Confederate General's uniform. After all, the picture caption must be right, right?

    Although, honestly, if he had been wearing a Confederate uniform, I don't see what the problem would be. Somebody has to play the other side or it isn't a reenactment, it's just a bunch of people wearing silly clothes.

  2. It actually could be a Confederate uniform, by the way. The color balance might just be off in the photograph. :) If you could see the sleeves, you'd be able to tell for sure.

  3. There were blue uniforms in the Confederacy, especially in the early part of the war, so it's possible. But the guy's a Republican. If he was dressing as a Republican during the Civil War, he kind of has to dress in the uniform of the North. The Southerners and many of their sympathizers were the Democrats.

    For a politician, dressing as a slave-owner is tricky. Not as bad as dressing as a Nazi, but tricky. Well, unless you make it very clear you're having fun playing a villain.

  4. Everything's tricky for a politician. That's why I'm not a politician. (I'd rather stick my head in a blender. ;) )

    On the other hand, if I knew a politician was into World War II reenactments, I wouldn't be terribly shocked to see him dressing as a Nazi. (During the reenactment, that is. If he did it during a political speech, that would be a little... odd.)

    Humans are strange.

  5. Oh, and to clarify my previous comment, it's possible that the uniform is actually grey rather than blue. I doubt it, since the faces look about the right color, but digital photography does sometimes distort colors and that particular politician has previously been photographed in a similar uniform that looks grey:

    On a side note, I don't think I'd vote for a war reenactor. Men who like to dress up in funny clothes and play soldier probably aren't pacifists. *shrug*

  6. Good find!

    But some men who like to dress up in funny clothes and play soldier are pacifists. At least, I am, and I love historical re-enactment.

  7. Well, there you go. All you'd have to do is tell me that and I'd vote for you, then. *grin* Maybe. Depending on what else you had to say.

  8. This guy summed up my issues with Wise pretty well:

    It's forest for the trees anti-racism. His emphasis is narrow; his facts are correct.

    Black investment bankers will die preventable deaths at a much greater rate than white investment bankers. They'll die preventable deaths at a greater rate than less wealthy, less secure, less credentialed whites. This is true and the outcomes hold true throughout the exploitation food chain. The lower down the food chain you go, the worse it gets until, at the very bottom, you get slow motion genocide. It's attributable to institutionally entrenched racism.

    But wealthier, more privileged whites here will die preventable deaths at greater rate than their direct counterparts in countries where the exploitation food chain is more buffered.

    So, doesn't this at least suggest that the existence of the exploitation food chain is a very serious problem?

  9. No, I just post here and there.

  10. Rose, I'm very glad about the "here" part, and I hope I'll run into you "there" now and then.