[Marxism] Gaius Publius: The American Flag and What It Stands For

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sat Sep 30 09:47:11 MDT 2017

A thoughtful piece on Kaepernick and all.


I had an experience yesterday afternoon at our kitchen table, probably 
repeated daily at many tables, that says much to me about race and white 
responses. Our next door neighbor is an outgoing person, who has sought 
us out, bringing us potatoes and apples and herbs from her garden. She's 
disabled. her husband is the animal control officer in our county, and I 
gather from what she said that she's spent a lot of her life in 
low-income public housing. Yesterday she told us about her experience in 
Phoenix. Arizona, in a housing project. I had asked her if she liked 
living in Arizona. She replied that the place was all right but that it 
was the people there that she didn't like. My wife and I nodded, 
expecting (in our isolation, really) that what she was referring to was 
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump recently pardoned for racial profiling, 
and the racist, xenophobic atmosphere in that state.

Then she told about how cars were routinely stripped and ransacked in 
her Phoenix neighborhood. She told of having a Vespa, which her brother 
had hauled all the way up to the third floor landing, next to their 
entrance for safekeeping. And even then, it was repeatedly stripped, 
right in front of their noses. Then she turned red with anger and said, 
"Those nig...I don't know how they do it; they're so sneaky." "Nig..." 
came out and she stopped herself, suddenly not knowing which side we 
were on.

So there we had it. Here was a friendly, outgoing neighbor who only knew 
that she had been ripped off, but also who it was who did it and what 
they represented to her. Not a particularly unique experience, typifies 
the problem and goes to the heart of what's wrong. She had no 
understanding at all as to why this was happening, happening to her, and 
what the context is. She didn't know the history of exclusion and 
shunning and hatred and fear that was all part of being Black in a poor 
neighborhood in the US, how for most the only survival mode they can 
expect to have is in the "informal economy", which means to survive you 
steal from or in other ways short your immediate but possibly more 
fortunate neighbor, white or Black. If you try to go to areas where the 
real money is, the police, sheriffs like Arpaio who feed in that trough, 
quickly have you in lockup. In many ways it reminds me of what Mike 
Davis described in The Planet of Slums, where people living in refuse 
piles and ghettos on the cliff sides are forcing others like themselves 
to pay rent to them for being allowed to occupy part of the turf that 
they happen to have taken over first. And a whole monstrous system sits 
behind all thatfear and rage and obliviousness. That's the cultural and 
sub-cultural mindset in a world of get mine capitalist accumulation and 
devil take the hindmost.

Welcome to the neighborhood, and how proceed from here?

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