The interesting part about deep-diving into subjects is that sometimes you stumble across patterns that are obvious in hindsight but you are blind to until you get the material in front of you.
In this case, it’s my old “friend”(tm) White Supremacy. The book is “The History of White People” by Nell Irvin Painter. It’s a great read and, yes, it’s available at public libraries, so go pick up a copy and read it.
People recently have been wondering why, in the middle of a global pandemic, why a group of people — on both the “left” and “right” of the political spectrum — would suddenly refuse to use common-sense procedures to keep themselves.
These are the same folks who have no problem wearing seatbelts, or getting their kids to their initial checkups, and don’t think twice about food safety laws. But masks… that’s a step too far?
To understand what’s going on, you have to turn the clock back a bit. Like, to Roman times. Rome basically had the attitude that most empires had, which was “there is us” and “there is everybody else.”
They even took the time to invent that old chestnut you’ve probably heard before: “Those savage barbarians are strong, because their life is VERY tough. But they are also virile because they need lots of children.” Nowadays it’s manifest as the brutal criminal/breed like cockroaches meme.
When Rome started to die, the people Rome stereotyped went “Fine. We’re going to buy some of those stereotypes and be better than Romans. You think we’re strong? YES! Because we come from a line of heroes. You think we’re virile? Yes, because we are beautiful and pure. But most importantly, you think you, Rome, are the holder of freedom? No. We are the holder of freedom.”
As the Roman Empire continued to dissolve, people continued to try and define themselves. One of the more nasty threads was the “Anglo-Saxon” myth. This was an attempt to combine several attributes from different people to discover a pure line from now back to the age of Heroes.
Typically, it started with the Germanic tribes (the term “German” to the Romans was what “Native American” is to us today). But the German culture degenerated, especially when a portion of it Romanized. So the line of heroes moves into the Anglos and the Saxons, who combined to take over and “purify” England.
That meant Anglo-Saxons carried the torch of freedom. They were responsible, more than any other, for bringing freedom to the world. Thomas Jefferson–yup, the slave owner and founding father–totally bought into this myth. He had the largest library on Anglo-Saxon heritage and societal responsibility in the world, much of what today we’d recognize as total pseudoscience.
Or, to put it more bluntly, TJ believed in a bunch of horse shit masquerading as logic. But he did sell it. That takes this bit of the constitution…
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 2
–and transforms it when you realize that that, in 1790, that meant only one of six categories: (1) the head of each household, (2) free white males over sixteen [needed for military conscription], (3) free white males under sixteen, (4) free white females [who couldn’t vote], (5) all other free persons by sex and color, and (6) slaves.
Up through the mid-1800s, the census consistently lumped folks into white / non-white, except that who was white varied. Full-blooded Anglo-Saxons were always considered white but any other? Irish? Often thrown in with mixed-bloods. Italians as well.
Thomas Jefferson enshrined the Anglo-Saxon myth into politics. Ralph Waldo Emerson came along and enshrined it in the American imagination.
Many of us have had to study Emerson’s poems at some point in school. History classes often point out that he helped popularize transcendentalism. What most don’t point out is his obsession with the Anglo-Saxon myth and how hard he drove that into the society around him.
Between Jefferson and Emerson and more pseudo-scientists than you can shake a stick at, this image stuck of a pure, strong, white male, descended from heroes, here to save the world.
Invite him to go to war? He’s ready! Have him pull himself up by his bootstraps? Bootstraps secure, sir! Have him wear a mask against a disease while sitting back idly and watching his life crumble.
Fuck you, sir. The Anglo-Saxon does not GET diseased.
That’s the key to it. This situation is challenging men’s virility and power by giving them a situation they cannot fix and claiming that they will get a disease that they cannot cure simply by being a man.
So they reject it. They are the line of heroes. And they will not be affected. They are the race destined by g-d to bring freedom and democracy to everywhere. The degenerate races may die, but not them!
Whenever anyone talks about “herd immunity” or “sacrificing themselves for humanity” they mean the degenerate races, not themselves. They mean the same thing that nazis talk about but they don’t understand that this is what they are referring to.
It’s kind of sad when you really think about it. There are so many fascinating and downright astonishing about the world and its cultures that open up immediately after you discard the myth. But these people cling to it because in the stories, in the darkest hour, the hero wins.
This isn’t that kind of story.
This is the romance story. This is the story where we come together, even when we are apart, lending aid at a distance, and dreaming up new ways of being.
They can’t see that.
There’s a myth in their way.