We’ve got a few of them, it seems, and they’re bitter and hateful. You knew that already if you’ve been paying any attention to the dark undercurrents in Anglo society, but Cathy Reisenwitz provides some useful vignettes. Where she goes off track is in her prescriptions. Realistically, women will not marry unemployed men and it will be impossible to redefine masculine success without ending up with a dystopian nightmare of useless shithead alpha males wooing callow women with coarsening shtick instead of actual accomplishment. We already have that, though. I have friends who have gotten trapped in abusive relationships by such men.
This isn’t the first time that Reisenwitz has taken a trolley trip with Mr. Rogers to a utopia of strong, successful women who are happy to date and marry vulnerable, professionally failed men and guide them out of their bachelor rut into loving, stable bourgeois relationships of equals. It’s a great idea, one that I’d love to believe in, but I just can’t see it scaling up beyond a few eccentric exceptions that prove the rule. Maybe it will start looking feasible in a decade or three. As things stand now, however, with a secular high level of socioeconomic inequality (at an eighty- to hundred-year periodicity) and a secular high level of cocooning (at roughly a forty-year periodicity), it sounds totally pie-in-the-sky. Expecting socially climbing women accustomed to the choice overload of Tinder and the strongly anti-beta male shit-testing chauvinism of the club scene to have a change of heart and start dating earnest but failed men who can’t get their shit together in a treacherous socioeconomic and sociosexual environment is ambitious to the point of folly, maybe even delusion.
My guess is that Reisenwitz is mainly just naively optimistic. What’s surprising, come to think of it, is to see this sort of writing coming from inside the Beltway. Roosh and Roissy came of age intellectually in bougie Metro DC, too, and they’re much more in tune with what I’ve seen of the capital metroplex in its abject cynicism and cravenness. It’s perfectly conceivable that Reisenwitz runs with a much more morally grounded and generally down-to-earth crowd than one would normally find under the prevailing community standards; she’s spent a fair amount of time around the wonkfest at Reason, a wonkfest that seems to harbor, at worst, unreasonable people of goodwill. There’s much, much worse than that in Washington, of course. I was personally acquainted in college with at least one woman who has gone on to be a bumptious Young Turk with a shitty blog that clumsily combines beer reviews with outwardly center-left but tacitly bourgeois supremacist policy shop talk. Washington is full of people we absolutely should not want making policy for us.
They’re making policy for us.
That’s what happens at the imperial center. The center collects tribute from the periphery and tells the periphery what to do. In this case the periphery include Anacostia and most of PG but not MontCo, Fairfax, or Arlington, parts of which are more geographically peripheral to the good shit on Pennsylvania Avenue than the godforsaken Southeast. It’s only partly about geography, of course. Let’s look a bit more closely at Anacostia. It’s a troubled neighborhood, to be sure, one in need of more and better policing than it has had for decades, if ever, but every local notable fuckhead from Tennessee or Mississippi or Minnesota or Utah with a place in Congress demands a say in how it is governed, usually including the prerogative to send its residents to federal prison for getting caught making minor drug deals. How is this their prerogative? Anacostia is not federal property, nor is it close to any major federal installations, and besides, the feds have the Capitol Police, the Federal Protective Service, and the Secret Service to guard the good stuff.
Anacostia is just a ghetto: not good, but why must half of Congress concern-troll it? Congressmen don’t hang out there. Most of them, one has to assume, get their drugs delivered to Northwest. They aren’t getting garbage product from corner dime bag homies. Them guys ain’t dumb. They get Grade A Colombian freebase through the diplomatic mail. Anacostia could go up in flames, and their main worry would be smoke drift under onshore winds. MUH DRUG LAWS and MUH BLACK FAMILY are just pretexts.
The center views the periphery with contempt. If the provincials were worth something, they wouldn’t be slaving away at shit jobs in the provinces. They’d at least be minor imperial functionaries. But they aren’t. That’s their problem for not getting an education. It’s their problem for not putting on a game face. It’s their problem for not learning how to interact appropriately with bourgeois supremacists in the imperial center. Are these bourgeois supremacists a deceptively insular and bigoted lot who don’t care for arrivistes? That’s the proles’ problem.
We have this stupid Confederate Battle Flag donnybrook. A troubled loner on a social death spiral, a man who was probably on track to become homicidal before long, shot up a black church and was found afterwards to have frequented white supremacist websites and been ammosexually stimulated by the Southern Cross. Therefore, it was officially determined, the Confederate battle flag had to be retired from statehouse grounds across the revanchist South, most especially in South Carolina. This would normally be a reasonable course of action, since the cracker banner had been hoisted anew as a states’ fuck-you to the civil rights movement, but Dylann Roof was the wrong reason to retire it. No one has the technological ability to retire the cracker banner from the internet, let alone from every hardscrabble holler from the Susquehanna to the Rio Grande. Roof was an angry young man on course to shoot someone, and in his case, that someone was likely black, battle flag over the statehouse or not.
Process matters here. America’s poor crackers have been screwed over by unfair processes, and they know it, even if they misdiagnose the actual processes responsible for their sorry plight. Some asshat massacred parishioners at a bible study because they were black, and now we’re told that because this violent lunatic was inspired by the Confederate Battle Flag, the flag must be retired. Many black activists have been emboldened by this new movement against the battle flag, some to the point of arrogance, since it has gotten support from no less than Nikki Haley, a Southern authoritarian wackjob’s Southern authoritarian wackjob. Meanwhile, a contrarian minority of black supporters of the Southern Cross are being called Uncle Toms. This is a bigoted, presumptuous response in its own right. There are plenty of reasons to do some more study of the actual political and military history before insisting that the Confederacy or the Virginia House of Burgesses or the Texas Republic would in fact have been a less tyrannical polity than the post-Civil War United States, but because you’re black isn’t one of them. A strong federal government hasn’t consistently been on the side of its black constituents, and Southerners have sensible, if shrill, reasons to be leery of central rule by Northerners, reasons having to do with much more than just the elimination of slavery and Jim Crow.
There are excellent arguments to be made against the Confederate Battle Flag, so of course Yankee supremacists and their Dixie sepoys make crazy ones informed by nothing but their own anti-Southern sectoral bigotry. They’d rather be right than politically effective. In point of fact, they get to be neither. Maybe they don’t understand that they’re flipping the bird to underdogs for being underdogs, or maybe they don’t care. The Battle Flag is an adaptation of the St. Andrew’s Cross, the national flag of Scotland. Now that’s a nice lost cause if the unpleasantness of the Southern one is too recent for you, so to speak. Damn wanker kings stole that shit for the Union Jack, they did, and now Scotland is ruled from London. Sort of. Modern Scots don’t act like that, but we aren’t talking about Nicola Sturgeon. We’re dealing with time-warp Scotsmen marooned in the ass ends of a distant continent. Instead of Home Counties chauvinists lording it over them from London (chaps who hardly care for the Midlands, either), they have Yankee chauvinists lording it over them from Washington.
This might work if the Yankees were consistently principled. Instead, many of them are just arrogant sectoral bigots. Southerners know it when they see it, and they’re seeing it. They know that they’re dealing with an imperial center full of tacit racists who don’t care to make a real effort to fix their country’s serious racial problems when they can instead take pot shots at Dixie. Why should they be expected to give NPR and CNN the benefit of the doubt for actually giving a damn about their interests, like escaping decades-long economic marginalization, when these networks so often are obviously interested in nothing but the parochial concerns of the haute bourgeoisie? Why should they feel any differently about the national political establishment, with its symbiotic but ultimately masturbatory relationship with the big networks? If the Democratic Party is principled, why are its kingmakers trying to crown Hillary? Okay, queenmakers then. Shitbird courtiers, in any event. Saxby Chambliss at least pretends to give a damn about Southern folkways.
These people make Southern revanchism and white supremacy look like the respectable causes of underdogs. Jon Belmar may call them a bunch of bedwetters, but let’s face it, he’s a lawful evil social climber of the sort who might easily have made general or admiral for political reasons. He gets to wear the white shirt and run his mouth at press conferences, but Sam Dotson, who does likewise on both counts, is the one who has protesters asking him to pose for pictures. Belmar is the sort of Irishman who would throw the shanty Irish under the bus en masse. That kind of thing comes through. It’s that unsettling feeling that homeboy is an Uncle Tom; it may be subconscious, but it’s there. Dude knows how to speak ill of scapegoats on behalf of those in power. He’s all, like, better tell the maids to order more bedsheets when the white supremacists come to town, and meanwhile, he commands a police department that has well more than its share of white supremacists. He’s also taking cover behind Radley Balko on matters of police reform that he never discussed until Balko and other national journalists (and the protesters) gave him the cover to discuss them.
Here’s something worrisome: Jon Belmar is more principled than most people in official Washington. By a long shot. He got caught up in the command structure of a corrupt police department, and he seriously fucked up the protest response before Nixon, Replogle, and Johnson made him stand aside, but ultimately, I think, he means well. He has what it takes to do God knows what sort of amoral mercenary security work for grandees in Los Angeles or Washington or New York or London, but he’s stayed in St. Louis County. He throws Low Whitey under the bus only when it seems politically expedient to do so; at other times, he carries on about how he could have written Radley Balko’s exposé, having waited to take a public stand for police reform until he had backup from the Washington Post. The difference between Belmar and official Washington is that Belmar is only intermittently craven. Given an opportunity to be principled, he took it. He’s part of the problem only when he has to be for his own job security. He doesn’t want to screw over losers, but if it’s a choice between screwing over losers and getting screwed over by winners, he isn’t about to martyr himself.
Jon Belmar is actually an important object lesson in American leadership. There’s a lot more going on in St. Louis County than Whitey versus the Community. Belmar is trying sincerely to fix a structural nightmare that he inherited as chief thanks to Missouri’s lax municipal incorporation regulations. He’d be a tragic figure, a failed would-be reformist, had national reporters not swarmed St. Louis County after the Michael Brown shooting. Instead, he’s showing that he wants to reform St. Louis County law enforcement, and he’s been heaping backhanded praise on Radley Balko for giving him cover. Cops do worse than that to journalists all the time, often in St. Louis County. For all I know, Belmar himself may have done worse to journalists; Ron Johnson did.
The thing to know about Belmar is that he doesn’t throw losers under the bus just for the sake of throwing them under the bus. He doesn’t get his jollies by humiliating his inferiors. He wants to be an officer and a gentleman, but it’s just that gaaaaaah he can’t always. Of course, I’ve had to reassess all three of the Unified Command leaders before, so maybe what I’ve written is just sound and fury signifying nothing. Hell if I know. This country, however, is run by people who get their jollies by throwing losers under the bus. This is why, come to think of it, I’d vote for Belmar if he ran for the Republican presidential nomination. It’s a moot point, of course, because he isn’t nearly narcissistic enough, but it’s a nice idea, kind of like employed women marrying unemployed men.
Yes, let’s keep trying to shame provincial losers for flying the cracker banner. On NPR, because there aren’t enough black chicks in the tech industry, as we were told this morning. That’ll go real well, partner. Jesus said that the poor we will have with us always, and if a world full of vulnerable poor people is good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the United States of America. It’s just more exploitable losers.
Please tell me that Donald Trump isn’t our only populist ticket out of this mess. What a fucking bastard. But damned if he might not be all we’ve got.