7 thoughts on “Tuesday, January 4, 2022

  1. Xicano,
    Thanks for reading my post and I appreciate your response. I wasn’t trying to criticize your post in any way. If I came off that way, I do apologize. I tried to say that although I recognize the Confederacy and the Nazi’s as part of history, in no way can I celebrate them. Both were overtly racist.

    1. my take, since no one asked: i think you two are talking past each other just a bit. ron, i don’t think xicano was in the least bit serious when asking why germans can’t celebrate a nazi past. i think he was being sarcastic, and in doing so making a point about why it is that the confederacy is still tolerated in the US in ways that national socialism is not in germany, both culturally and legally (in germany the nazi flag is illegal; in the US it’s perfectly legal to fly a confederate flag, put one on your bumper, wear one on your hat). but it seems ron took xicano’s sarcastic question sincerely, which led to some interesting musings from ron on the parallels between national socialism and mississippi, and now, today, on the nuanced differences between remembering, accepting, and celebrating. meanwhile, xicano, i think ron is actually making many of the same points you are, just in a different register. maybe you two could get into a long disagreement over the word “appreciate,” or what it exactly means to “remember,” but then you’re slicing sliced almonds. which is good if you want super finely sliced almonds. or almond powder, even.

      and, to both of you: here is a poem for your consideration from alabama poet jacqueline allen trimble, whose work i have featured elsewhere on these pages. I think the poem complicates and adds texture to the ways you two are talking to and talking past each other about the American South. Indeed, I don’t know of a better or more incisively heartfelt commentary on this entire topic than Jacqueline Allen Trimble’s debut book of poetry, American Happiness, and I can’t recommend it enough. I got my copy used in the mail from a Birmingham bookstore, and was delighted to discover it had been personally signed by the poet herself:

      (by Jacqueline Allen Trimble in her collection, American Happiness)

      That land filled to the rafters
      with ghosts of lynched boys and attics full
      of souvenirs–dried ears, fingers, genetalia
      like prunes–the sweet Magnolia memory
      of Miss Scarlet calling for Mammy who
      has now grown some dreadlocks and owns
      the chicken restaurant on the boulevard.
      America ought to say
      thank you, Miss South, thank you for being like
      Jesus and taking on the sins of our whole country
      or being our crazy Aunt Hazel who runs naked
      through a house full of company shouting
      all the foolish things we think but can’t say
      so we can walk around all post-racial
      and watch Gone with the Wind over. and over
      swooning from the romance.

      1. Also, Ron A: Good for you for actually engaging substantively with Xicano’s posts. I’ve noticed a pattern where a lot of (white) folks on here bemoan it when Xicano isn’t contributing–talking about how important his posts are and how we need to hear them and how these pages are diminished without them, etc., etc., etc.–but then when Xicano actually does start posting again, no one actually engages with anything much more than a few trite phrases like, “Keep typing,” or some such. It takes courage to wade into these things knowing the currents are going to knock you off your feet no matter how carefully you try to step, but staying dry on the banks is its own form of complicity. So hats off to Ron A. for actually wading into the powerful currents of Xicano’s writing in a sincere way. I wish it happened more often from folks on these pages, especially the ones who like to tell Xicano to keep typing.

  2. A note on Jack London: He may have been a socialist but he was also a rabid racist. There have been two petitions so far to pull down his statue in San Francisco, but they were signed pre-Covid and, after the financial hardships caused by the virus, or incompetent politicians, the capitalists don’t think it’s a good time to lose a tourist attraction. Jack London advocated the extermination of millions of Chinese. The statue is “a few blocks away from Chinatown.” He also had “an affinity for white supremacy” considering anyone who wasn’t an English-speaking Anglo-Saxon as a “lesser breed”. But don’t take my word for it, there are entire books on the subject.

    Here’s a link to an article by Justin Phillips in The San Francisco Chronicle. https://www.sfchronicle.com/local/justinphillips/article/It-s-time-to-change-the-name-of-Jack-London-16056873.php

    The writer mentions, among other things, how London was “adept at dystopian race-baiting and published horribly xenophobic prose.”

  3. I had read Juan’s page but not Rob’s when I commented on Jack London. When will I learn to read EVERYTHING before commenting?

    I have a problem with ‘classic’ writers who, beyond being a product of their time, in which case every second or third white 19th century writer might be a racist as almost a default position, but an even bigger problem with are those who go further, like Celine, and publish god-awful essays full of racial hate; Celine was convicted and then pardoned of collaboration; as a doctor, he would treat you for free if you had no money. A good doctor but also a Nazi. It’s complicated alright. Kurt Vonnegut (disputedly – by his son) bought stock in Dow Chemical, a maker of napalm.Philip Roth’s latest biographer may have been a rapist; Dostoyevsky, too, by his own admission. I have a friend who says he doesn’t care about the writers’ lives, only their art. At what point can the art be divided from the person?

    1. “At what point can the art be divided from the person?” Indeed. I watched the new documentary about Charlie Chaplin last night. He was an enormously talented man who gave us City Lights, Modern Times, and the incisive ant-fascist political commentary in The Great Dictator. He was also, according to some, a serial sexual predator. knowing this, can I (should I?) still watch and enjoy Modern Times, etc?

  4. Thank you Robert and Leo. I probably read somewhere that London was a racist. I must have at some point but honestly I do not remember. Yeah, I sometimes forget about things like that, go figure. I can’t keep up with all racists lol. Anyway thank you for making it clear. Ron I got on a roll and it did sound like I was somehow against what you were saying but I’m really not. And yes, DBD, of course folks can comment, discuss, disagree and add to or ignore anything I say. The beauty of one’s OTP is that it’s out there.

Leave a Reply