Naomi Klein: Building a Real Left


“We have to build that independent left. It has to be so strong and so radical and so militant and so powerful that it becomes irresistible.”

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Camille Paglia is Boring and Tired

I’ll admit it once upon a time I was taken with Camille Paglia, particularly one essay of hers skewering post-modernism.

But the problem was by the time I waded through Sexual Persona I realized there wasn’t much substance there.  I started viewing her as sort of a publicity whore like so many making their fame and fortune in a world of neo-cons and neo-libs.

All style and not much substance but an ego as big as Montana.

Then I saw her on Book TV where she came off as a tweeker who had just done a quarter ounce of Columbia’s finest marching powder.  It would have been nice if this woman whose intellect I had once admired could string together a coherent sentence that wasn’t focused on how brilliant she was and how stupid other people, mainly feminists and progressives were.

For someone who claims to be a lesbian she seems to hate women.  And worship dicks.  Funny but I thought being a lesbian had something to do with liking women.

Now she is trying to drag her pathetic burnt out body and tired shtick back into the center ring of the attention circus by trashing Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga is no Madonna… Well dooh… Is that supposed to pass as deep or something?  No points are given for stating the obvious.

If she had shown any real knowledge of the pop culture she so proudly proclaims herself to rule she might have come up with a better comparison.  Like comparing Lady Gaga to David Bowie.

But the reality is that comparisons like that are the refuge of people who really have nothing to say.

Camille was better off writing about the divine masculine to be found in representational red or black pottery works from ancient Greece.

Hang it up Camille your shelf life date hit expired about 12 years ago…

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Everyone Passes

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore has a book,  “Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity“.

When I was studying sociology two of my favorite theorists/writers were Howard Becker and Erving Goffman. Erving Goffman had two books people should read before sticking their feet in their mouths about “passing”.  Those books are “Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity” and “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life“.

When post-SRS WBTs and MBTs say they are not “passing” but rather are just being they are stating an honest internal fact. But they have an invisible stigma…  Actually not so invisible in the information age where records can track your every piece of information from womb to tomb.

I am being myself and really not exercising any sort of deception in my presentation of self.  I was more actively “passing” when I was trying to pass as a boy, yet technically I am passing.  On many levels.

Due to my grandmother being both illiterate and having a tenuous grasp on the English language my father wound up with the name “Cooke” while his brothers and sister last names were spelled differently and his father’s name bore no resemblance to either his siblings or to the family name prior to Ellis Island.  My mother’s side of the family is a mishmash of western European heritage.  Many people assume that with my birth name, my heritage is British.  Leslie who died a couple of months back was shocked when she learned that as a kid I was called a Polack, a slur for people of Polish heritage.  In effect I am passing when I let the assumption of my heritage stand because in the past Polish American people have been subject to discrimination.

In a place where being a registered Democrat is akin to being a Maoist I don’t tell everyone that I find the Democratic party way too conservative and that while they think Obama is some wild eyed left wing socialist I barely consider him on the liberal side of centrist.  That is passing by omission.

There used to be a pearl of wisdom in the late 1960s.  “Everybody wears drag, not just queens.  The hippies wear hippie drag, the cops wear cop drag and half the men in the Republican party who are the most homophobic are wearing the drag of homophobia and hoping to pass as straight when they are obviously queer as three dollar bills.

I also don’t much care how you have assimilated into the sex you have been reassigned to.  You can be real in being a man or a woman but if you were reassigned to a sex different from the one you were assigned at birth you are passing as defined by Goffman.  You have a stigma that were it revealed would cause people to view you differently than they do when they know you only by the present being you have become.

It is like my friend reacted upon discovering my family heritage.  At least that explained my complete and utter boredom with chatter about the “Royals” and much of British culture outside of the Swinging Sixties.

Part of the mythology that gets self inflicted upon people is the one of”I’m real,everyone else is a bunch of transgenders or worse yet a “bunch of men in dresses”.  That extends in the “Classic Transsexual” set to a position of, “if you don’t think and act exactly the same way I do then you are one of, “them”.

Well, “Screw you”.  I don’t want to spew homophobia and racism and come off as a tea bagger to pass as straight.

I’m not straight…  Call me a “commie queer” and I look for a button saying that to wear to the next Pride Day…  I want to tax the rich and redistribute the wealth.  I support unions. I hug trees and hate people who murder whales and dolphins or imprison them for our amusement. I’m an atheist and a Yellow Dog Democrat.  I want to marry Tina and enjoy the same rights and privileges straights enjoy. When some one spews racist garbage in my presence or calls the President by the “N-word” I want to hurt them.

I certainly am glad of one thing though..  They have revealed their bigotry and no longer pass as a decent human being. I feel the same way about homophobes who pass as decent human beings until they start spewing their filth.  I wish Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore book title were true and nobody passed.  Unfortunately in this image based society everybody passes.  To be so out as to be WYSIWYG is the privy of outlaws who reject any and all trappings of conformity or the mentally ill and homeless substance abusers.

Refusal to pass, refusal to play the control of image game is a greater rejection of the game than the role taken by the “commie queer” who is herself controlling her presentation of self.

Everybody has secrets…  Transsexual and transgender people are normal only their secrets are a bit different.

One of the problems with grand pronouncements about concepts like passing and TS/TG people is that the discourse has a tendency to become transcentric.  This closes it to broader interpretations and prevents subtextual readings that remove it from a self centered trans ghetto usage.

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Scapegoating and the Devaluation of Life for Certain Groups of People

“Why, so and so ain’t like us, they don’t value life the way that we do!”

When soldiers in our group go on missions of certain or near certain death they are seen as heroic figures, yet those on the other side doing the same thing are cowardly people who don’t place the same value on human life that we do.

Most people have no desire to murder an other human being.  It goes against everything we are taught.

Therefore we dehumanize those we are about to murder. Reduce them to the status of animal.

When I was growing up the violence in war movies was reduced to such a minimum that when my father who had been in the Navy and a Seabee took me to see “Sands of Iwo Jima” and “Guadalcanal Diaries” he told me, “It wasn’t anything like that.  When men are shot they are torn apart, they don’t make heroic speeches they cry for their mother.”

Even gangster movies were not the blood splattering violence porn of today.

The violence porn of today’s action films has made spurting blood, mutilations and decapitations the new cum shot. They make the doing of extreme violence look exciting and sexy.

They desensitize people to the monsterous depravity of such actions and the vicarious thrill creates the desire to commit such acts.

Add to that the labeling of certain classes of people as dirty, disgusting, losers who “don’t value life the way we do, indeed are the enemies of our way of life” and you create scapegoats.

Yet even that alone is not enough to over ride the revulsion to kill someone like yourself.

In an early Dylan song “John Brown” he sings about a young man who went off to war in a variation of “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye”.  The line goes, “But the very worst thing of all, was when I looked him in the eyes and I could see, ma, he was just like me.”

Before we wantonly kill we must feel no empathy for the victim.

Women are reduced to worthless sluts, nasty whores, cunts.  To some one who is not a man like you and whose life is not worth as much as yours.

People of color, Muslims, Asians can’t feel what a white man does, therefore it is okay to kill them.  Dehumanize, desensitize and glamorized the act of murder.

Transsexual and transgender folks often fall into multiple classes that have been dehumanized and demonized.

A recent New York Times article addressed the murdering of homeless people  by means that suggest an influence by the over hyped violence porn industry:

Killings of Homeless Rise to Highest Level in a Decade


Published: August 18, 2010

WASHINGTON — Killings of homeless people have risen to their highest level in a decade, with 43 people killed last year and many more injured in often brutal attacks that are raising concerns among law enforcement officials, rights advocates and politicians, according to new data due to be released this week.

The words of Hannah Arendt describing the banality of evil come to mind again and again as I hear the hate mongers dehumanize the victims of these horrible crime.  The complicity on the part of the peddlers of violence porn also comes to mind for making the committing of violence so sexy and exciting.

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Reid to schedule ‘Don’t Ask’ vote next week

From The Washington Blade:

Chris Johnson

The Washington Blade has learned that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) intends to schedule a vote next week on major defense budget legislation that contains “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language, regardless of any objection from members of the U.S. Senate.

A senior Democratic leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Reid met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday to inform the Republican leader that the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill will come to the Senate floor the week of Sept. 20.

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