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December 15, 2002

High Tech Lynching Only

arabs are not getting lynched. in fact, here in the states, nobody is getting lynched. america, in that regard, is almost civilized. i happen to think australia is civilized. jamaica is pretty civilized too. as regards the latter, somebody asked me (yay) in preparation for a paid (yay) marketing research thingy, whom would i hang out with in history. i decided that i would perform on stage with bob marley. so this week, if you catch me in my car that goes boom, it will be belting out reggae songs of peace, which always sound more credible to me than bob dylan's. australians are civilized because i don't perceive them as particularly belligerent, plus they really love animals. canadians, i am evaluating. i am particularly struck by the fact that canucks have about the same number of guns per capita as we do, but only a fraction of the gun crime.

in america, the hangin' tree has been replaced by the microphone and the camera. the posse of spin-doctors and ideological pundits (and i'll be damned if i dignify them with their own 'ocracy) slither around and dig up incredibly deep dirt and toss it into their media stew, served hot or cold 24/7 for two weeks. a story with legs has about two weeks until there can be a trite conclusion. as you think about it now that trent lott is spinning slowly on the media-rotisserie, my guess is that 1 in 50 of us thought about the washington sniper this past week. but i told you this.

the point of this installment of the blog is to point out that the african american task is just about complete, and trent lott's demise & clarence thomas' passion on cross burning are close to being some of the final milestones. but first, lemme tell you about a colleague of mine - from the archives:

damn, i can't find it. well, somewhere i'm sure i waxed eloquently about this kuwaiti sikh i worked with during the season of nine-eleven who had to take to wearing an oakland raiders baseball cap instead of his traditional turban. this was incredibly poignant to me and every time i saw him in that ridiculous cap i really wanted to sock somebody in the nose. first of all he wasn't muslim, much less a radical islamicist. second he was a kuwaiti, the guys we busted up iraq to defend. he wasn't lynched but he was scared. i seem to recall that somebody pitched a rock at his car, or perhaps i'm conflating the memory of a semi-veiled woman with a huge hole in her windshield whom i saw driving in pasadena.

when los angeles broke out in flames after the not guilty verdicts for wind, koon, briseno and powell, i wandered the midnight streets of brooklyn feeling the oddest sort of brotherhood with every black man in america. during the season of nine-eleven, that brotherhood stretched. i was down with the browns. i still am, of course, and with everyone else who has reason to be afraid of patriotic crowds and overzealous security forces i offer my experience as bitter comfort. when you grow up black in los angeles under darryl gates, you recognize the face of the police state. mind you it's just the face of fascism. well, it's got the arms too. yet, i have a strong feeling that men like johnny cochran would not be bothered with celebrity if we had the guts, legs and hobnail boots of a full bodied police state. yes i've been detained by cops about 30 times for no good reason, but i never got beat down. few people disappear here. it's horrid enough but it still ain't lynching - we've had lynching.

you brothers out there still stinging from pete wilson's take on asian superiority and knee-jerk reactionary whites who all of a sudden conceded yellow intelligence? here's your answer, because it's mine. try it sometime. the african american project was to make this nation of barbarians civilized enough to let asians in and thrive. whether we like it or not, blacks and civil rights are inextricably tied, as they were to human rights in the days of the whigs. the project is almost done, because almost anybody can come here from almost anywhere in the world and not get lynched. blacks bodies satiated the racist bloodlust of the american body politic. foreigners still get spit on, and they still have reason to be scared, as do gays and others america still considers misfit. but african america was too large to get ground to bits in the american sausage machine. we will survive it without fully assimilating because we fielded several classes, just as italians and germans and other europeans have and hispanics will. (remind me to tell you why i say 'hispanics' instead of latinos - it's that damnable richard rodriguez, he's right you know.)

nobody else is going to sing the blues like billie holiday. nobody else is going to rap the streets like whoever it is that's keeping it the realest this week. nobody else is going to amend the constitution and rock the supreme court like african americans. nobody else's plight is going to engender the support of so much fundamental nation-building. why, because somebody is going to have to nuke us back to the stone age before our infrastructure lets us backslide too far. yeah i hear you on reconstruction, but i'm more optimistic.

as i've said elsewhere, we go from human rights, to civil rights, to social power. eminem serves to remind us that there are more generations to come who will be in 2020 where harlem was in 1920. it is inevitable that they'll sing the african american songs. we made the military what it is. ok you get the picture.

so high-tech lynching is all arabs can expect. yeah there will be some chokeholds and some sleazy plea bargains and some intimidation tactics. maybe 10 will get maimed or shot under various ugly circumstances. surely several hundred will rot in jail for no good reason, and the majorities will be justifyably scared and resentful in public. trust us, we've been there.

the arab world will survive america, *in* america. it's the safest place to be.

Posted by mbowen at December 15, 2002 07:14 PM

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