The Watering Hole, Thursday July 18, 2013; “The Zimmerman Mindset” and its Potential Aftermath: Whereto From Here?

I happened across a Facebook comment (via a link on Think Progress) a day or two ago. It was written by Michelle Alexander, Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State University and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” She wrote:

If Trayvon Martin had been born white he would be alive today. That has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. If he had been white, he never would have been stalked by Zimmerman, there would have been no fight, no funeral, no trial, no verdict. It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty – far more than the man himself. It is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing. It is the Zimmerman mindset that has birthed a penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to a permanent undercaste. Trayvon, you will not be forgotten. We will honor you – and the millions your memory represents – by building a movement that makes America what it must become. RIP

I added the bold highlight and underline to indicate the single point made by Ms Alexander with which I disagree, at least in part. It is, of course, absolutely true that what she refers to as “The Zimmerman mindset” — the concept that any young black male in a hoodie is automatically a criminal — has “birthed a penal system” which has “relegated millions to a permanent undercaste.” I can’t imagine any sort of cogent argument that could counter the concept. I disagree, however, that such is “unprecedented in world history.”

Lest we forget, the USA has a long history of racial hatred, one that changes/evolves in various ways over the decades, but one which remains as omnipresent as ever. Only the focal points have changed; maturity of view remains elusive at best. Nor can we ignore other histories of nations which carried racial hatred to the extreme, countries in which their “penal system . . . relegated millions to a permanent undercaste” . . . a system which in one instance “relegated millions” of the “permanent undercaste” to concentration camps, and eventually to gas chambers and crematoria . . . a system which undoubtedly began with a type of “Zimmerman mindset” prior to evolving to its endpoint, the “Himmler mindset,” aka “The Final Solution.”

The United States is rapidly sinking into an authoritarian mire, one which appears to have alarming similarities to regimes familiar in recent history, a system which seems designed to punish all but the rich and powerful . . . who, in turn, gather in reward after reward after reward. Some call it the GOP, others identify it more with the exceedingly radical far right wing authoritarian entity, the Tea Party. No matter the current name, however, extreme right wing authoritarian governing philosophy is classically called Fascism. In the words of one who absolutely knew and understood:

Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power. . . . [and] . . . The Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denies the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual.

So wrote Benito Mussolini early in the last century. It’s probably a stretch to use Mussolini’s description(s) as a means of explaining the “Zimmerman Mindset,” although the heinous racial/religious hatreds and the mass murders undertaken by European Fascist regimes in the 1930’s and 40’s certainly gives pause to those who see or sense a similar political evolution taking place on these shores.

I’m reminded, once again, of words from the 1961 movie, Judgment at Nuremberg, from screenwriter Abby Mann’s Academy Award-winning screenplay, words spoken by American tribunal judge Dan Haywood.

There are those in our own country . . . who today speak of the protection of country, of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation, at the very moment when  . . . it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient . . .

The answer to that is: survival as what?

A country isn’t a rock. It’s not an extension of one’s self. It’s what it stands for. It’s what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult.  Before the people of the world — let it now be noted . . . that this is what we stand for: justice, truth . . . and the value of a single human being.

Perhaps we once did indeed “stand for justice, truth . . . and the value of a single human being.” But do we still? The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has, in just the last few years, ruled that corporations are, in effect, people in the Constitutional sense; it also recently overturned a major section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, thus enabling certain states to officially enact the means to, in effect, revisit the old Jim Crow era and introduce new and creative measures designed only to prevent minorities from voting, a process well under way. The right wing-controlled House of Representatives has, to date, attempted to overturn and get rid of the American Healthcare Act, aka “Obamacare,” some 39 times at last count; in conservative-controlled states all around the country, legislation allowing interference in women’s health care and reproductive freedom progresses at breakneck speed; and last but not least, the House of Representatives appears to be doing everything possible to deny immigration and citizenship opportunities to some 12 million people, mostly of Hispanic heritage, who have come here to seek that (generally legendary) “better life” for themselves and their families.

The “Zimmerman mindset” appears to be driving a substantial portion of the nation’s body politic; one can only wonder . . . and perhaps fear . . . the possibility that one day in the near future the corrosive far right wing just may wind up with majority positions not only on the Supreme Court and in the House of Representatives, but also in the Senate, perhaps control the White House as well. Add to that right wing control of at least half the states, and . . . what then? Will we follow the authoritarian path to the point where we no longer stand for justice, truth . . . and the value of a single human being” ?? Will the new authoritarian majority reassert “the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual” ?? And whereto from there?? Ultimately to a system that has, indeed, “relegated millions to a permanent undercaste” ??

Or worse ??

Open Thread.

49 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Thursday July 18, 2013; “The Zimmerman Mindset” and its Potential Aftermath: Whereto From Here?

  1. It has been my experience that: conservatives have already abandoned truth, justice, and the right of people first.

    Truth is not important to conservatives, only ideological purity is; and no ‘truth’ is more important than ideological purity. You cannot convince a conservative to change an ideologically based opinion through evidence because to them the only thing that is important is to “be a conservative”, and there is no room in modern conservativism for free –thinkers. “Evidence to the contrary” be damned! This is about “our side winning!”

    Justice is likewise not important to conservatives any longer – again, it is ideological purity. In the case of Zimmerman, conservatives as a group are happy for the acquittal, but not because they believe justice was done: because that verdict supports their ideological proclivities – be that racism or support for concealed carry, or support for vigilante citizens, or whatever. Their happiness is not about justice served, it is about protecting their ideology.

    And to the conservative ideology, a single individual is unimportant, unless that individual is rather wealthy (because they have been convinced that “wealth” = “success EARNED through hard work and talent”). People don’t matter to them unless those people are EXACTLY like them.

    But to conservatives I have spoken with what is important, first and last, is maintaining the ideological party line, no matter what. No factual evidence will sway them from their positions, in part at least because part of being a conservative is that they all must think the same.

    One person I speak with (a conservative) illustrated this to me when he asked me: “Where should I go (what specific media outlet) to learn what ‘liberals think’”? He had trouble understanding that there is no unified “liberal thinking” – that you cannot go to any single media and learn “what liberals think”. Not that there is any major news media that IS liberal, which was also my point (and he disagreed – I guess because FOX keeps telling him about the evil librul media). But that did really strike my brain pan: I think that there is a definite projection there. Conservatives toe the party line, and project that onto “liberals” as also toeing a single party line with an across the board agreement on all topics. Surprisingly he saw a tiny bit of light when I pointed out that all conservatives must, to be considered ‘true conservatives” by other conservatives, they MUST be anti-abortion. Yet, there ARE “liberals”, who ARE liberals, who are also anti-abortion (not me), and yet they are still “liberals” and accepted by other liberals as being liberal.

    But thinking that you can go to one media site to learn “what all liberals think” indicates to me a projection of the conservative principle that “you toe the party line or we kick your ass out”.

    Anyway, my 2 cents worth.

    Prolly shouldn’t post before the coffee kicks in…..

    HIYA, everyone! Be back in later…… 🙂

    • +2

      Excellent post, cagey. If you haven’t read it already, you may find Jonathan Haidt’s essay on what makes people vote Republican interesting.

      http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt08/haidt08_index.html

      It provides some very good insight into how the minds of conservatives work. In a nutshell, there are values that we all consider important (justice, fairness, social cohesion, etc.). But the difference is that where liberals think a couple of these things are more important than the others, conservatives find them all equally important. At least they say they do.

      • Thanks. I’m reading the essay (not done — taking a break to go do some work 🙂 ). I am finding that I have some disagreements with him, particualrly his characterizations (and generalizations) about Democrats and Republicans. Still very interesting.

        • May I suggest that instead of using the terms “Democrat” and “Republican” (because both come in different political ideologies, though there are fewer liberal Republicans because of the Tea Party purges), think of them as “Liberal” and “Conservative.” I think that’s essentially the point.

          Conservatives vote for Republicans (usually) and Liberals vote for Democrats (usually).

  2. Happy 95th Birthday, Nelson Mandela! Would that there someday will be billions more who share your ideals:

    “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

  3. Penn State University’s trustees have authorized the payment of about $60 million to settle claims by the victims of sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    That’ll pay for a lot of new showers.

    • Thanks for posting that one. Interesting that Amy Goodman was interviewing Michelle Alexander and quoted the same lines, written by Alexander in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, as did I atop this post. Nice to learn more about Alexander . . . she’s pretty much got the American dilemma figured out. Hope we can rid ourselves of our wingnut faction before they finish us off. Not holding my breath, though. Not yet, at least.

  4. QOTD:

    “Perhaps the Republican Party needs to hit rock bottom and Liz Cheney is the last shot of rail tequila before the conservative movement blacks out, wakes up and heads to a meeting,” – Jon Lovett. (No, not that guy, the other guy.)

  5. Issa being called out for his “not the truth” statement that he never said the President influenced IRS investigation by Gerry Connolly (D-VA). Connolly reading transcripts of Issa’s own words.

    • Twitchy is Michele Malkin’s Vessel of Hate. She’s nothing but a no-good, goddamned liar. I prefer not to wish people ill, so I’ll just not wish her any good, and not care if something bad happens to her.

  6. Things are unraveling quickly in Moscow, if you watch the Twitter.

    A quote from him: “The current power — is not a healthy big fish, but a puffer fish or a Latin American toad, which puffs itself up when it senses danger, using TV to spread lies from prostitute TV hosts.”

  7. SCOTUS material:

    Sony Pictures has won out in a legal battle over whether Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” had the right to use a nine-word quote from William Faulkner’s novel “Requiem for a Nun.”

    In his ruling, Judge Michael P. Mills wrote the following: “The court has viewed Woody Allen’s movie, ‘Midnight in Paris,’ read the book, ‘Requiem for a Nun,’ and is thankful that the parties did not ask the court to compare ‘The Sound and the Fury’ with ‘Sharknado.’

  8. Maybe our bird experts can weigh in on this, because I admit to having no desert experience.
    Isn’t a ‘water bird’ away from their typical habitat in a desert? I thought the definition of desert was basically an absence of water.

    Water Birds Turning Up Dead at Solar Projects in the Desert

    Big desert solar installations have a problem: They seem to be imperiling water birds. A ReWire investigation has revealed that since mid-March, two large industrial solar power plants in California’s remote, arid desert may have killed or injured more than 20 birds commonly associated with lakes or wetlands rather than the open desert surrounding the projects.

    • Water birds are actually pretty common in desert areas, particularly where there are permanent ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, etc. Lots of species seem to gather at such places, and probably enjoy the environs until humans do something to kill them off. Agricultural pesticides, hunters, upstream drought or diversion, industrial damage . . . most human activities, actually, don’t do wildlife a whole lot of favors. I’m not familiar with California’s solar power plants, but if waterfowl should happen to wander in as they’re flying to or from a surface water impoundment, it’s not hard to imagine their mortality rates might increase in such areas.

    • As pachy points out – the reflection indicates ‘water’ source.
      The flyway has been altered and many birds ‘passing through’ see the shimmering panels, divert, depleting their energy being ‘off course’…

      Biologists are examining regional flyways and migratory patterns for more information.

      Really hope they’ll find an answer as both solar energy and avian life are needed!

      • I recall reading about migratory birds replacing rivers as landmarks with interstate highways so perhaps they’ll adapt to solar panels, despite being bird brains! 🙂

  9. Open question: If a woman in Florida feels threatened by a person repeatedly kicking her uterus, can she stand her ground and kill the person? Does it matter if the person is on the inside or outside of her uterus?

    What if a medical professional says this person will kill the woman if the woman stays in constant contact with this person over the next several months? can she stand her ground and kill this person before this person kills her?

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