September 26, 2007

The Interlocking Reality that remains oblivious to David Yeagley

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
by Peggy McIntosh

"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group"
Through work to bring materials from women's studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men's unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to women's statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can't or won't support the idea of lessening men's. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women's disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened, or ended.

Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there are most likely a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of while privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.

Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable. As we in women's studies work to reveal male privilege and ask men to give up some of their power, so one who writes about having white privilege must ask, "having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?"

After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are just seen as oppressive, even when we don't see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.

My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow "them" to be more like "us."

Daily effects of white privilege

I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race.

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.

25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.

26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.

27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.

29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.

30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.

33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.

37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.

38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.

39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.

43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.

44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.

45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.

47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.

48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.

49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.

50. I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

Elusive and fugitive

I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one's life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

In unpacking this invisible knapsack of white privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience that I once took for granted. Nor did I think of any of these perquisites as bad for the holder. I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and others give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant, and destructive.

I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a patter of assumptions that were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turn, and I was among those who could control the turf. My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.

In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color.

For this reason, the word "privilege" now seems to me misleading. We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work systematically to over empower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one's race or sex.

Earned strength, unearned power

I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate. But not all of the privileges on my list are inevitably damaging. Some, like the expectation that neighbors will be decent to you, or that your race will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society. Others, like the privilege to ignore less powerful people, distort the humanity of the holders as well as the ignored groups.

We might at least start by distinguishing between positive advantages, which we can work to spread, and negative types of advantage, which unless rejected will always reinforce our present hierarchies. For example, the feeling that one belongs within the human circle, as Native Americans say, should not be seen as privilege for a few. Ideally it is an unearned entitlement. At present, since only a few have it, it is an unearned advantage for them. This paper results from a process of coming to see that some of the power that I originally say as attendant on being a human being in the United States consisted in unearned advantage and conferred dominance.

I have met very few men who truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them, or whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance, and, if so, what we will do to lessen them. In any case, we need to do more work in identifying how they actually affect our daily lives. Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the United States think that racism doesn't affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see "whiteness" as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

Difficulties and angers surrounding the task of finding parallels are many. Since racism, sexism, and heterosexism are not the same, the advantages associated with them should not be seen as the same. In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage that rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex, and ethnic identity that on other factors. Still, all of the oppressions are interlocking, as the members of the Combahee River Collective pointed out in their "Black Feminist Statement" of 1977.

One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as a member of the dominant groups one is taught not to see. In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.

Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

Although systemic change takes many decades, there are pressing questions for me and, I imagine, for some others like me if we raise our daily consciousness on the perquisites of being light-skinned. What will we do with such knowledge? As we know from watching men, it is an open question whether we will choose to use unearned advantage, and whether we will use any of our arbitrarily awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base.

Peggy McIntosh is associate director of the Wellesley Collage Center for Research on Women. This essay is excerpted from Working Paper 189. "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women's Studies" (1988), by Peggy McIntosh; available for $4.00 from the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, Wellesley MA 02181 The working paper contains a longer list of privileges. This excerpted essay is reprinted from the Winter 1990 issue of Independent School.

September 22, 2007

Questions To Ponder As Columbus Day Nears

from the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP)

Please forward and print (one copy or many) of this questionnaire and distribute as widely as possible. Have your children hand it to their teachers, post it on the bulletin board at your community center, discuss it with your friends and neighbors, mail a copy to your Mayor, City Council and House Representatives, Senators, Governor and President — why are politicians neglecting to do something about this absurd & abominable holy day (that IS what holiday means) that only serves the purpose of rubbing salt into some of the old, festering wounds of so many in our multi-cultural society. WHY DO WE CELEBRATE COLUMBUS DAY? What is the meaning of this day to each of us, or is there any meaning at all? Please, bring this up as a topic of discussion with others, and let me know what kind of responses you hear.

Questions To Ponder As Columbus Day nears

1 — Columbus sailed into the Caribbean and never even set foot in what is now known as the United States. So, why do we, in the United States, give him one of our 8 Federal holidays?

2 — Why would Columbus be given credit for "discovering" the Americas anyway, when we all know those lands were already inhabited and had been for thousands of years? Didn't the inhabitants of those lands discover them?

Look at any map of the US and see the many, many, many states, cities and towns that all bear the Native American names of people and peoples who once populated those regions: Illinois, Oklahoma, Cheyene, Nantuckett, Milwaukee, Yuma, Omaha, Witchita, Tallahassee, Mississippi, Muskogee, Tennessee, Allegheny, Missouri, Kentucky, Huron, Tuscalloosa and on and on and on...

3 — Knowing that Native Americans were already here, and Columbus never was here, why does anyone go along with the myth that "Columbus Discovered America", when we all know it is not true?

4 — Why aren't we taught the whole truth about Columbus' actions and the devastating consequences of those actions? Why are we only told about Columbus, who as a boy who always wanted to sail and then when he got older Spain provided him three ships & he sailed across the ocean and DISCOVERED A NEW WORLD! (where millions of Taino had lived for thousands of years and which we now call the Caribbean).

Why are we only taught about that FIRST voyage, and not the other 3 voyages, when all hell broke loose? Why aren't we taught about how on the second voyage, unlike the first when Columbus only had 3 small old ships, Columbus was given 17 large ships and 1,500 armed men eagerly signed up for the chance to go to the "New World" with hopes of getting rich quick on the gold to be found there?

Also, why aren't we taught about the greed and brutality of the Spaniards against the Taino (who have been remembered as "naked savages" in our history books, if at all), and how the Taino were murdered and enslaved on that second voyage? Why are we not taught about the third voyage & how when King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella of Spain heard about Columbus' actions in the "New World" he was sent back to Spain in chains to stand trial for his crimes, was convicted and stripped of his titles? Or, how the Spaniards tricked 80 of the Taino leaders into a hut and burned them alive?

Isn't to omit the ugly part of the truth considered LYING BY OMISSION? Then, that is what our schools are doing when they only teach about the first voyage, they are lying by omission to our students, and we as a improperly educated country have a holiday for an evil, greedy, slave-trading, murderer.

5 — Some people say he is worthy of the honor of a holiday for his nautical genius, but the Vikings sailed across the ocean to North America 500 years before, Marco Polo sailed to China & India 300 years prior and the Chinese set foot upon the very shores that Columbus did 71 years prior to the arrival of Columbus, the difference being, Columbus "claimed" the land and cites the Papal Bulls with giving him the authority to do so if no one disputes the action, and Columbus according to his journal, was careful to add that no one disputed it at the time, while admitting at the same time that they could not understand each other, so how could they be expected to understand what his flag-planting and pronunciations meant?

6 — Many people will argue that Columbus brought Western Civilization to what is now known as the United States, and that is the reason the US bestows upon him the honor of a holiday. But how can we make that correlation when Columbus, working for Spain, came in 1492 and the European colonizers who came here TWO HUNDRED years later, came from England? If Columbus is worthy of being given credit for this "achievement", wouldn't it have happened 200 years earlier and wouldn't we all be speaking Spanish now as the countries he invaded do?

7 — Some people will argue that Columbus Day is a day for recognition of Italians, an Italian Pride Day. Are Italians more worthy of recognition than other ethnic groups in this country we have proudly (?) nicknamed "The Melting Pot"? I have heard Italians say that Germans have Oktoberfest, the Irish have St. Patrick's Day and Mexicans have Cinco de Mayo, but none of those are FEDERAL holidays.

The only two ethnic groups worthy of recognition for their contributions and sacrifice in this land are those who were ALREADY HERE when the Europeans came and those who the Europeans BROUGHT HERE IN CHAINS. All other ethnic groups came here voluntarily. It was long overdue but African Americans finally got their holiday — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January... but Native Americans still don't have a holiday (urge your congressmen and women to support House Bill #167).

8 — Some people think he is deserving of the honor because he proved the world was round, but this was already a widely accepted belief by educated people at the time as Ptolemy, the ancient astronomer and geographer from Egypt, declared that the Earth was spherical in the second century.

9 — Why do 17 states refuse to recognize and/or celebrate Columbus Day?

10 — Why do protestors gather and march at every Columbus Day Parade?

11 — And, WHY is Columbus honored with one of our 8 federal holidays in the US when,
a. He didn't "discover" us, or anything previously undiscovered or uninhabited
b. He never set foot on what is now U.S. soil
c. His legacy is greed, theft, destruction, brutality, slave-trading and murder
d. It is offensive to Latin American, African American and Native Americans
e. Native Americans, who were here and are worthy of a holiday, still don't have one
12 — And why have the Taino people of the Caribbean and those in the US, whose ancestors have paid such a huge price for the misfortune of being "discovered", been erroneously declared extinct and are therefore denied legal recognition by the government?

To learn more about the truth, read:
In Defense of the Indians by Bartolome de las Casas

A People's History by Howard Zinn

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Louwen

Rethinking Columbus by Bigelow and Peterson

Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Rex and Thea Rienits

The Log of Christopher Columbus by Robert H. Fuson

The Journal of Columbus by Clarkson N. Potter

1421, The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies

The Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale

The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean by Troy S. Floyd

The Conquest of America by Tzvetan Todorov

Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ by John Eidsmoe

Additional note from Bad Eagle, also read:
The Crown of Columbus by Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris

September 17, 2007

Bad Eagle Salutes a Real American Hero Veteran

from the Bad Eagle blog

American heros are far and few between in these years of right wing corporate media and faux patriotism such as the type David Yeagley trumpets, you know the kind that says "I'm right and therefore you're wrong." That kind of false polarization does not create free-thinking American heros who stand up for justice and equality, no. That us-or-them compartmentalized thinking creates havoc, no sense of barter, no sense of exchange, no sense of community, no working together, no American Indian values, no compromise.

Therefore on this day — Sept 17 — Bad Eagle salutes a true American hero and a true defender of the Constitution. Back in 1787, on September 17, the radical and far-reaching document was signed, our Constitution. On this important day, it is important to remember the real heros, rather than the "you're doin' a heck-of-a-job brownie" fake accolades that turn Yeagley's heart to a groveling mass. No, Bad Eagle salutes Dave Cline, a true American hero and a celebrated veteran. We need more like him, more men and women with true courage to defend the Constitution, and not cower to the neocon agenda and the anti-constitutional "unitary executive."

The neocons have trashed the Constitution and turned America into a torture-mongering occupier. Preemptive war is premeditated murder, plain and simple. If you want an America that turns ugly and overthrows every other country to take their oil, support David Yeagley, by all means. As Alan Greenspan admits the truth about the Iraq Occupation by America was for oil, and finally criticizes the shrub-in-chief, we can either stand for American Indian community values or continue on the dark sludge-filled oil-filled militaristic world of David Yeagley and his fake warrior fantasy life.

Read more about a true American warrior and a true American hero.

Anti-war Vet Dave Cline Is Dead
by lao hong han
Sat Sep 15, 2007

Dave Cline died last night at his home in Jersey City, NJ.

In one sense it comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked closely with Dave in recent years. He had lived for two decades with a severely compromised immune system and had recently been battling both Hepatitis C and the Veterans Administration health care system, which did a shitty job of treating it.

Dave Cline - Rest In Peace

Stan Goff reached me first with the news, crying at the loss. I have been surrounded by death recently--Stan's call came while I was sitting in a memorial service for an old friend, longtime fighter for socialism and Black liberation Vicki Garvin.

[crossposted at Fire on the Mountain]

Dave Cline will someday, in a better world, stand recognized as one of the great figures in the history of the United States since the Second World War. After a tour in Vietnam as a grunt, where he was shot and shot at others, he returned to become an early member and leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Through tireless organizing and dramatic events like Operation Dewey Canyon III, where hundreds of vets threw their medals on the Capitol steps, and the Winter Soldier Hearings into war crimes committed during the occupation of Vietnam, VVAW did much to finally doom the U.S. government's murderous assault on the heroic people of Vietnam.

I have here on my desk a 1969 flier from SDS (the original one, not version 2.0) on the GI Revolt. It's an interview with Dave and another vet, fresh out of uniform and into the anti-war struggle. I am reminded by it to recommend that everyone reading this check out the recent documentary "Sir, No Sir!" Dave is featured in it as a young vet and as a present-day fighter against the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

And this last role is where Dave truly became great. He stayed active in VVAW right up to the present day, but also joined another organization called Veterans For Peace, which united vets from all eras in an essentially pacifist oppostion to war, military recruitng, US aggression abroad and the neglect of those who had served in the armed forces.

Dave Cline was in his first term as president of Vets For Peace when the attack on the World Trade Center took place. He helped guided the small group through a period of war fever and jingoism in this country and growing concern as the Bush/Cheney regime prepared to attack Iraq--and did. Dave presided over the rapid, severalfold growth of VFP and its conversion into a dynamic and leading force against the war. He helped forge a tight alliance with Military Families Speak Out and birth the Bring them Home Now! campaign. The handful of young men and women just back from Iraq who initiated Iraq Veterans Against the War consulted with Dave on a near-daily basis and grew to become the most dynamic element in the alliance.

This alliance has played the role of spearhead in the movement to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home now. Without a sharp point, capable of cutting through defenses, a spear is just a fat stick, but without the weight of the spear, the whole anti-war movement, behind it, the spearhead lacks real momentum. Just weeks ago I was discussing with him the role this force could play in the Iraq Moratorium project.

Dave was the leader of this informal but vital alliance of forces with roots in the "military community" or, it would be more accurate to say, he gave it leadership. He could play this role because of his long experience, and because of how he had summed up and internalized that experience. That was in no small part a matter of style. Dave could be contentious but he had also become genuinely humble and thoughtful, always trying to avoid repeating mistakes he had made earlier in the struggle and also to help others avoid those mistakes or sum them up quickly and move on.

One instance where the breadth of his contribution can be seen most clearly is in the historic "Walkin' To New Orleans" march of veterans and survivors of Hurricane Katrina from Mobile to New Orleans last year on the fourth anniversay of the invasion. The conception of the march, linking the horrors of the war with the horrors of Katrina and concretely working to bring the struggle of Black people in the South closer to heart of the anti-war movement, that was Dave's. And, with Stan Goff and a handful of others, he saw to the planning and execution of the march as well.

Hell, there's so much more I could say about Dave, now the floodgates are open, about his revolutionary stance until the day he died, of the arrogance of the young Dave and the kindness of the older one, concerning the drinking and the the clay feet, about the music.

But I will close by underlining my basic point: Dave Cline made a substantial difference in the world. He did it by struggling against oppression and militarism; he did it by drawing lessons from earlier battles and by living those lessons, so he, and all who worked with him, could fight better in the new struggles history presented us with.

Call it wisdom. Call it leadership. We have suffered a great loss, and those who feel that loss are just going to have to step up and try to fill the hole.

September 13, 2007

David Yeagley is no Arnold Schoenberg!

From the Bad Eagle blog

Today is the birthday of celebrated composer Arnold Schoenberg, noted the world over for his groundbreaking new theory of harmonic development: twleve-tone music. Happy birthday Arnie. But — wait-a-moment — didn't the piano doctor also invent a new theory of harmony?


Born: September 13, 1874, Vienna
Died: July 13, 1951, Los Angeles, California

Schoenberg's development of the twelve-tone method of composition was a turning point in twentieth-century music.

Few composers have presented as radically new an idea as Schoenberg did with what he called his "Method of Composing with Twelve Tones Related Only to Each Other." In it, he broke with a system of tonal organization that had developed over hundreds of years and had become a hallmark of Western music.

Schoenberg began his musical studies on violin at age 8. Although he had no compositional training, he began composing his own music. In 1895, he began lessons with Alexander von Zemlinsky, only three years his elder. From 1901 to 1903 he held various conducting posts in Berlin. In 1904 he moved to Vienna, and there began teaching (Alban Berg and Anton Webern were early pupils). In 1919 he founded a society for performance of new music, and in 1925 returned to Berlin to teach. In 1933 he was forced, as a Jew, to leave Berlin. Ironically, he had converted to Lutheranism in 1898, but after fleeing to Paris he renounced the Christian faith and returned to Judaism. In 1934 he emigrated to the United States and in 1936 began teaching at UCLA. He remained in Los Angeles until his death in 1951.

Schoenberg's early music was clearly marked by the style of the late nineteenth century, and influences of Brahms, Mahler, and others can be seen in pieces such as his Verklärte Nacht. But as his compositional style developed, it became more concise and contrapuntally intricate. At the same time, Schoenberg's chromaticism intensified to the point that any strong tonal focus disappeared. Such works as Pierrot lunaire (1913) are in a fully atonal style. The music of this period is also marked by a style that is referred to as expressionist, and Schoenberg had contact with, and a great deal of admiration for, the expressionist painters and writers (Schoenberg himself painted in an Expressionist style). These ideals can be seen in the dark and dreamlike atmosphere conveyed in Pierrot lunaire, based on the expressionist poetry of Albert Giraud. The kinds of internal conflicts we associate with Freud and his school of psychoanalysis are played out in exquisite musical detail.

From 1915 to 1923, Schoenberg produced relatively few works, in part due to wartime service. At the same time, he was working on his theoretical ideas of twelve-tone writing. Starting in 1923, with his Suite for Piano, he began writing in a fully twelve-tone musical language. Along with this came a return to more classical means of formal organization and larger works such as his Variations for Orchestra (1928). Although he never abandoned these principles, he never extended them to other elements as his student Webern had. And after his move to the United States, he more freely blended tonal elements within his twelve-tone writing.

Of course, our own pontificator, the piano doctor, likens himself to the world's great harmonic theorists. Below, we see David has written his own biography including his stupendous claims to have created a fantasmical new theory of harmony.

David Yeagley — "David Yeagley is a conceptualist, an architect, as it were. He has created a new system of harmonic organization. He does not contribute to new form, or new gesture. His music is traditional, in the European classical sense. He has written strict contrapuntal music as well as grand romantic style opera"

And here (below) he toots his own horn, which Yeagley watchers have come to expect with the regularity of prune eaters.
David Yeagley — “I've invested in a new harmonic system, but my compositional prodedures [sic!] are classical, in the historical, European sense... In classical music, there are compositional procedures to be observed... The content of the music has to be there for it to be ‘classical’” (7-13-07).
Today’s composers invent their own harmonic theories often, as new harmonic theories are: (a) considered common practice, (b) not of noteworthy significance, and (c) certainly not notable for a composer’s biography. My own students create their own theories routinely, not that they are revolutionary or new, most harmonic theories are not new in fact. Harmonic theories are built on mathematically-defined relationships, so any ‘new’ harmonic theories would necessarily be accompanied by a revolutionary mathematical theory.

Yeagley has put forth no groundbreaking “E=MC2” type theory, let alone allow for a peer review of his harmonic claims by describing his theory to other composers. I suspect, Yeagley never will reveal it; but if it does exist, it is most likely a commonplace variation of preexisting harmonic theories and mathematics that have been around for centuries. Even more, in order to compose “classical” music, one would necessarily have been born in the Mozart era, the “classical” period. Yeagley might be technically considered a “Neoclassical” composer or “neoclassicist,” but whether he’s another Mozart I would highly question. Most reasonable people recognize mainly two kinds of music, ‘good music’ and (to be kind) ‘not-so-good music.’

These ‘classical’ vs. ‘popular’ music categories are rather useless, except to limit and constrain music to some ideal or imagined purity. Go to Brazil and the differences Yeagley tries to separate are all mixed up together, a country with a long and rich concert music tradition. Only in Yeagley’s imagined reality is there such a thing as pure “classical” music even in America, the cosmopolitan continent.

In other words, why would anyone wish to believe anything that little david pontificates about? Justifications for the Iraq War? — he was wrong about that. His steadfast denial of global warming — wrong about that. His sparkling new harmonic theory — it never happened. He's wrong about the plains tribes originating powwows. He's wrong about the lack of American Indian classical flutists. He's wrong on his 'Muslim hating,' race-baiting and sabre-rattling about Iran. He's wrong on his denigrating American Indians, blacks, hispanics and women too. Let's face it — the child is just plain wrong. So you little david sheeple followers, why do you do it? — Question of the decade.

September 4, 2007

David Barrel-of-Monkeys Yeagley on Iran

from the Bad Eagle journal

Joining the extremist rhetoric is a Yeagley habit, especially with his documented hatred of anything Islam. Unable to see the minute variances of anything important, Yeagley continually throws simplistic and ill-conceived blankets over what are more complex issues.

Preferring his own “us-versus-them” rhetoric — and endlessly quoting bible passages to rationalize his positions — Yeagley continues to follow the empty-headed sabre-rattling of his flying-monkey neocon idols.

Yeagley—“The long term solution is to deport all Muslims back to their own countries. Else they will in fact dominate. They already are, through their terrorism... the mosques of America ought to be bulldozed to the ground... Islam stands for the antithesis of American values... Why try to make America muslim? Same for the Mexicans” (3-18-04).
Okay, so abusing people makes for better relations and diplomacy does it?
Yeagley—“If there is a current of value running through BadEagle besides American patriotism, it is Judeo-Christian demeanor... no, the thought of deporting Arab Muslims does not constitute malice” (7-18-04).
Actually it does, deportation of Muslims is absolutely malicious and ill-conceived. In addition, American “patriotism” is not Judeo-Christian, no.
Yeagley—“Perhaps I'm borderline mystic... the battle of the Lord should be our supreme concern...and American patriotism--of which the Judeo-Christian religion is the cornerstone” (7-19-04).
Yeagley is a “mystic”?! That’s a hoot. The so-called “battle” of the Lord is a proselytizing myth, a legendary struggle of supreme good over supreme evil; but it is all so much malarkey. It is nothing more than a bunch of control freaks fighting to maintain their imagined view of the world as a mythical battleground, in order to keep a quite useless “us-versus-them” attitude alive. Funny how the myth keeps the rich rich, must be a happy coincidence.

However, most American patriots see America’s Iraq Occupation as a huge waste and see the neocon agenda as, well, stupid. To have Yeagley following along in rather blind support of a proven failed policy is not surprising, of course, but sad nonetheless.

Yeagley—“The Koran is not comparable to the Bible at all, being a collections of writings by a group of Mohammad's followers, claiming to the record of Mohammad's sermons” (9-3-07).
Hmmm. Sounds a lot like the bible to me, collected scraps of writings all assembled later by followers. How very familiar. Very similar.
Yeagley—“Does Iran have sentiments of benevolence for all people of world? ... I don't think so... Islam encourages the blood bath... Islam has robbed the world of a beautiful gem. Iran has been taken from the world of peace and good will, and covered in an iron cowl of darkness and cruelty. Islam is an evil thief. That's how I see it” (9-3-07).
So Iran is the next “them” target is it? And, Muslims are all evil are they? When will David Yeagley grow a brain? Half a brain? Never mind he is a white-bred Comanche in name only, not raised with it and largely illiterate when it comes to finer points of Comanche thought, when is he going to write something halfway intelligent that does not aggrandize that phony “warrior” fantasy and endlessly respond to “others” with simplistic hate politics?

Clearly, as most American patriots know, occupying Iraq was not an answer. And despite all the anti-Muslim rhetoric being pontificated by Yeagley and his neocon buddies, attacking Iran is equally unjust and ill-conceived. If you read Yeagley’s blog and cringe at the hate rhetoric, you have hit upon a nugget of truth: Yeagley is a white supremacist. Understand it. Accept it. Deal with it. Get educated.

American Indians and our youth cannot afford Yeagley's poison. He is not a good role model for Indian people, nor our youth, no matter what you think of his piano abilities. Composing a fugue and then promoting hate rhetoric with it is not the Indian way. It's not Comanche either. It's not even patriotic really, it's just Yeagley's own hate politics and Yeagley's intolerance of non-whites. Read on and think about this.

Americans say Bush too eager for war in Iraq

AFP—“Nearly two-thirds of Americans feel President George W. Bush was too eager to wage war in Iraq and is handling the conflict there badly, a poll released Tuesday suggested. The result marked a turn-around from a survey that asked the same question four years ago, immediately after the US-led war began. Sixty-one percent of nearly 2,700 US adults...said they felt Bush was "too eager" when he sent US troops into Iraq in March 2003, while only 26 percent perceived the president as "not too eager" to go to war... The poll released Tuesday, as General David Petraeus and US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker prepared to present a report to Congress on Iraq, also showed that two-thirds of Americans gave Bush bad marks for his handling of the conflict over the past few months” (9-4-07).
How Islam-Bashing Got Cool
Deborah Caldwell—“President Bush no longer seems able to restrain anti-Islamic rhetoric. In the last six weeks, a major Protestant leader has described the Prophet Muhammad as ‘demon-possessed pedophile;’ a well-known conservative columnist suggested that Muslims get ‘some sort of hobby other than slaughtering infidels;’ the head of a conservative activist group suggested American Muslims should leave the country; and evangelist Franklin Graham described Islam as inherently violent.

Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina is being sued by the Family Policy Network, a conservative group, for asking incoming freshmen to read a book called ‘Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations,’ an assignment Fox News Network's Bill O'Reilly compared to teaching Hitler's ‘Mein Kampf’ in 1941. On Wednesday, a North Carolina state legislator told a local radio station his view: ‘I don't want the students in the university system required to study this evil.’

Islam-bashing, it appears, is suddenly not just acceptable, but almost fashionable among conservatives. This isn’t a matter of commentators criticizing Muslim extremists. These are remarks that attack Islam, Muslims, the Qur’an, and the Prophet Muhammad as pervasively and inherently bad. President Bush's repeated attempts since Sept. 11 to describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’ initially helped quell anti-Muslim rhetoric.

But now, conservatives seem to be increasingly ignoring Bush's approach. ‘The White House has lost control of the issue,’ says John Green, an expert on religion and politics at University of Akron. ‘Islam bashing has become more public, and it seems to be more accepted.’
And there is a limit, Green notes, to how vehemently Bush is likely to disagree with these conservatives and Christians, since they make up his political base...

Evangelical Christians have always believed that Islam is a wrong religion, and refuse to accept Allah as the same as the Christian God. Conservative Christians actively proselytize among Muslims in this country and abroad. But lately, many Christian commentators are pushing these views in broader, secular formats...
At the Christian Booksellers' Association meeting in Anaheim last month, retailers sold an array of books and tapes describing Islam as a violent religion—and many of these books will be marketed not just in Christian bookstores, but also in malls nationwide...

But it's not just Christians...a new cascade of public anti-Muslim comments poured forth...
Ann Coulter said of Muslims: ‘I think it might be a good idea to get them on some sort of hobby other than slaughtering infidels.’ That comment followed Coulter’s comments about Muslims last September: ‘We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.’ Also in July, a Secret Service agent admitted scrawling ‘Islam is Evil’ and ‘Christ is King’ on a Muslim prayer calendar while searching the Michigan home of a man... Says Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council... ‘It is the fad now to bash Islam and Muslims.’

...After Sept. 11, most Americans swallowed hard and—with President Bush leading the way—decided that anti-Muslim bigotry was wrong. During the fall, he repeatedly called Islam a ‘peaceful religion,’ hosted a Ramadan dinner at the White House, and described the Muslim scripture as the ‘holy’ Qur'an... Until recently, CAIR members handled the backlash with letter-writing campaigns or by asking media outlets or commentators to retract comments Muslims perceived as unfair. Now, Hassan says, the anti-Islam fervor is too widespread to deal with... ‘There's really no convincing any of these people,’ says Hasan, who appears frequently on cable and radio talk shows. ‘It's pretty nasty email. There's definitely a movement happening.’

...Sure, there are legitimate religious differences between various faiths, but the genius of the United States is that we tolerate each other... if we're going to deal with terrorism and threats to our freedom, people who hate each other's beliefs in this country are simply going to have to make an effort to understand each other... that means they're going to have to put up with Islam, and with American Muslims.”