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review 2020-06-30 21:59
Help I'm a cop
Burmese Days - George Orwell


"It's a drag being a cop" ~ Frank Zappa, "Help, I'm a rock"


George Orwell was brainwashed. This happened in Myanmar (formerly Burma) during his five years as a policeman. He was brainwashed by the pukka sahibs’ code. The code of imperialist occupiers. The code of colonial hypocrisy. A code similar to the one currently protested by the BLM movement.


The protagonist of "Burmese Days" is not a policeman. However, John Flory has seen through the code and now belongs nowhere--not in Burma, nor back in England.


"It is a stifling, stultifying world in which to live. It is a world in which every word and every thought is censored. In England it is hard even to imagine such an atmosphere. Everyone is free in England; we sell our souls in public and buy them back in private, among our friends. But even friendship can hardly exist when every white man is a cog in the wheels of despotism. Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted. You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself. Your opinion on every subject of any conceivable importance is dictated for you by the pukka sahibs’ code.


In the end the secrecy of your revolt poisons you like a secret disease. Your whole life is a life of lies. Year after year you sit in Kipling-haunted little Clubs, whisky to right of you, Pink’un to left of you, listening and eagerly agreeing while Colonel Bodger develops his theory that these bloody Nationalists should be boiled in oil. You hear your Oriental friends called ‘greasy little babus’, and you admit, dutifully, that they are greasy little babus. You see louts fresh from school kicking grey-haired servants. The time comes when you burn with hatred of your own countrymen, when you long for a native rising to drown their Empire in blood. And in this there is nothing honourable, hardly even any sincerity. For, au fond, what do you care if the Indian Empire is a despotism, if Indians are bullied and exploited? You only care because the right of free speech is denied you. You are a creature of the despotism, a pukka sahib, tied tighter than a monk or a savage by an unbreakable system of tabus."


John Flory's story isn't a pleasant one. It's a story of a conflicted man wanting, but unable, to do the right thing. I wonder how many good cops feel this way, wanting to improve society but hampered by their coworkers. At any rate, it's a good read. This essay about Orwell and BLM is another good read.

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text 2020-06-02 22:53
Why are they protesting?


Is our ship of state off course, or sinking? Here's one opinion:


"The core story of U.S. politics over the past four decades is that wealthy elites weaponized white racism to gain political power, which they used to pursue policies that enriched the already wealthy at workers’ expense." ~ Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 1, 2020

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review 2012-03-25 00:00
The Everyday Language of White Racism (Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture) (Wiley-Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture)
The Everyday Language of White Racism - Jane H. Hill This book just pissed me off. She makes ridiculous assumptions just to try to prove her thesis. Many of her discussions are honestly interesting and valid (hence the 2 stars), but other points she makes, in particular in the section dealing with Spanish, are just plain wrong. As a native Spanish speaker I can assure you that what she tries to use as proof of racism is ridiculous. I'm very surprised that as an anthropologist she didn't bother to dig a little deeper into the actual social meaning of some stupid grammatical mistake.
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review 2011-05-25 00:00
Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama
Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama - Tim Wise Anyone who believes racism is dead because our president is a man of color needs to read this book. The United States has a long, long way to go in ending racism. The first step is honest dialogue with one another without the fear of being though of as "unAmerican".
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review 2010-05-10 00:00
Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama
Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama - Tim Wise This brief book (two essays) is something I would recommend to any reader who wishes to understand issues of racism in today's world. One need only look at the badly spelled signs at "Tea Party" rallies and Arizona's SB 1070 to know that racism is, unfortunately, alive and well in the USA even as some pundits argue that President Obama's election proved its demise.Tim Wise examines racism (an institutionalized matter) and bigotry (an individualized matter) not only from historical attitudes but also from the perspective of exceptionalism. He has facts and figures to back up his opinions, and addresses what needs to happen in order for our culture to truly get past the idea that skin color is some kind of valuation.In my opinion, this is a must-read for everyone. I am vehemently anti-racist and still found some matters in this book via which my assumptions were challenged. Not to be missed.
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