TWILIGHT OF THE RACIST UNCLES

I've had a few pieces run in other outlets and end up traveling well. Most writing, here or anywhere else, tends to float around for a minute, gather the standard amount of traffic, and then disappear. There's just an ocean of Content out there and none of it has much staying power.

This piece for The Baffler is the first one that, like, really traveled well. It's disappointing in the sense that I often try to write serious stuff with useful history or social science in it and it goes fair to middling, and then I write a long, mean screed about something that's shitty and everyone loves it. It's a perverse system of rewards.

So do go ahead and check that rant out, but for balance check out something where I tried to make a more important point like this thing in The Nation from back when Roseanne's show was canceled.

21 thoughts on “TWILIGHT OF THE RACIST UNCLES”

  • darren madigan says:

    The thing of it is though is that this is crap. I mean, it really is. People aren't leaving Facebook because they're seeing shit they don't like posted by other users. Facebook's block feature works awesomely. I must have five hundred people on my block list by now. Two of my three brothers have blocked me, too. If I really want to see conservative ass-douching in full plumage I can always go over to a page belonging to one of my Revanchist cousins and read a few posts, but I never ever do, so I never ever do.

    If young kids are leaving Facebook — and I don't know if they are, my three daughters are all active on it — then I suspect they're doing so because Facebook is the last place in social media where people can, and do, post lengthy pieces of text. My kids will very rarely bother to read a lengthy post that's all text, but they do seem to find it annoying to have their streams interrupted by them. Twitter forces textual posts to be clipped, Instagram and Tumblr are obviously designed for graphics, and honestly I don't know what the fuck all else is going on with social media these days.

    But while I have as many (or more) crazy and scary conservabatshit relatives as anyone else, on Facebook I can pay as much or as little attention to them as I want to, and vice versa. So I really just don't see your thesis being true here.

    All forms of social media are overloaded with infuriatingly stupid and volitionally obtuse people, but that's just the world for you.

  • I love all your stuff Ed but the FOX orphan piece is one of my favorites.

    Every word reminded my of my PhD-havin' father, who is now officially a Zombie Republican.

  • "The last generation of Americans who will enjoy anything approaching financial security in old age could spend the Golden Years we’ll never have golfing, going on cruises, driving RVs, or watching The Price is Right. They could choose to be happy, having lived their entire lives in a system from which they extracted every benefit and which they subsequently dismantled at the altar of lower taxes.

    Instead, they’re spending their days on a speedball of right-wing propaganda and a platform that gives them an audience of . . . well, everyone."

    Nice, Ed. (Also, I'm STILL psyched to see you in The Baffler.)

  • And that is a fine response to the "perverse system of rewards."

    Sometimes, artists have to have a day job, you know? (You just expected the bill-payin' to be done by the tough, serious work, to enable you to do fun screed pieces, rather than the other way around, huh?)

  • [*] For the curious, flotsam is material that entered a body of water accidentally whereas jetsam, which shares a root with “jettison,” is material thrown overboard intentionally.

    I love you Ed. And now, thanks to MFSI, I can read all your stuff in your real voice.

  • Wonder when, if ever, the more demented members of my age cohort will work out that sharing the prejudices of elderly billionaires won't get them written into wills… Or perhaps they're hoping that by sucking up they might somehow persuade them not to invest in the further destruction of small business?

  • Ed touches on this, but what does it say about American society that given a forum and time, we turn it into a swamp of hatred. Not good, not good.

    I’m continually baffled by all the anti-semitism. I grew up in the Deep South, for gods sake, and I don’t recall ever hearing much of anything. One of my grandfathers was part of the force that liberated Dachau, so I expect he just didn’t stand for that shit.

  • I just discovered your blog and will be a regular reader. I totally agree with this post although I have never been on facebook. However, my wife was for the first couple of years. She unsubscribed after getting really angry at most of her family's right-wing, racist posts.

    The thing that bothers me is our generation pretended to be about peace and love. A few years ago I read something by a conservative describing the hippy movement as "an adolescent temper tantrum". It increasingly seems that he was right.

  • Watched my uncle go through The Change, in real time. By the end I was sharing Reptoid conspiracy videos with him, just to see how far down the non-critical path his Facebook-rotted brain was willing to go. It….it was not pretty..I dropped off Facebook about a year ago, because in my sphere at least, it was already bad and there were so many who were already so far gone. It wasn't even worth it.

  • Reply to Safety Man!:

    The anti-Semitism native to many racist groups had to wait a generation to re-establish itself. A lot of Jews fought with US troops in WWII (the draft hit every faith equally), and the revelation of the concentration camps swore off a lot of nominal racists from Jew-hatred. However, the generation after them (Korean-War) slowly began to re-introduce these concepts, and I think the Baby Boom generation, now in its late fifties at its youngest, has been too quick to believe any conspiracy theory, including Holocaust denial. (Incredibly, they claim the Holocaust was a sham directed by the Jews! Talk about blaming the victims!)

    Of course, this also might be a problem of the kids just not trusting their parents. Junior listens to Dad's war stories about what he saw at Bergen-Belsen or Ravensbruck and doesn't believe him, because it sounds like something out of fiction. (As strange as it sounds, but we are really at a point in time now where we have *three* generations of Americans who can be categorized as "elderly" now, with none of them fully trusting the others.)

    I think the problem that Facebook promulgates among the credulous middle-aged-and-up is almost like a laser, with about as much energy and substance – things get bounced back and forth and get amplified, but with no real evidence. All information, true or not, is treated equally. With no brakes to halt the spread of false information (there is almost no one who can seriously moderate it, or would even bother asking for validation, verification or evidence of a claim), it becomes a focusing house for any and all opinions, rumors, fictions as factual information, stupid theories or outright falsehoods.

  • Flotsam and jetsam, but no ligan? How are your readers going to learn any nautical law?

    In the 1930s it was radio that amplified the hate. Now it's social media. I suppose it was the broadsheets before radio. Facebook will have its place assured in the history books.

  • Reply to Kaleberg:

    Yes, but now anybody can be Father Coughlin or Rush Limbaugh! Facebook has eliminated the middle man!

    And none of these people's ideas can be considered ligan. There is nothing worthwhile to be recovered. In fact, they should be ballasted with heavy iron weights to be sunk as soon as possible, or fired upon to scuttle them.

    Reply to Mo:

    (Shudder) Don't give these scary clowns any ideas. Things are Orwellian enough already without concepts from "The Matrix"…

  • @Les Hatcher: At least they were pretending to be about the right things.

    Really, I'm not so sure they were pretending. I mean, fake it till you make it, right? But eventually the right wing figured out how to make themselves look hip, cool, and relaxed, and by that point they were able to induce the Boomers to give up their real dream in the name of providing wisely for their families. That put (many of) them on the road to where they are now. They just didn't have the psychological toolbox to resist. I was able to resist simply because I'm so blasted stubborn and because I figured that giving in wouldn't make me happy, anyway.

    HAVING SAID THAT… This is probably a matter of their being old, not a matter of their being Boomers. It's hard for me to think that any subsequent generation would've done any better. After all, there's no Boomer Gavin McInnes.

  • Part 2: Adolescents were having temper tantrums long before the hippy movement. But the System doesn't want us to know that.

    The hippy movement wanted to offer FREEDOM and PEACE, LOVE, AND UNDERSTANDING at the same time. The two impulses had a spat, and FREEDOM largely won out. They tried to figure things out, but then the Vietnam cease-fire was signed and everyone dropped their guard. Then 1975 happened and the Big Forced Sell-Out started.

    Thing is, though, it's still the right project to pursue. Freedom has to be checked, and the right checks are peace, love, and understanding. But we can't proceed with the work as long as both REAGAN and PUNK keep punching hippies.

  • Now that I think back, no hippie ever actually did anything to me.

    No hippie ever downsized from from a job. They never took away my health care. They never sent me to war.

  • Most of my family, in fact, which is one reason I rarely go "home" any more. Good, kind, generous people until the very moment politics comes up, then a greatest hits recitation of Fox grievance themes. When "gosh, we hardly ever see each other, do we really need to waste time talking about politics?" doesn't work I end up leaving.

  • A friend reminds me of an analysis of the Trump voter, ca. 1950:
    “The urge to escape our real self is also an urge to escape the rational and the obvious. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic. There is no hope for the frustrated in the actual and the possible. Salvation can come to them only from the miraculous, which seeps through a crack in the iron wall of inexorable reality. They ask to be deceived. What Stresemann said of the Germans is true of the frustrated in general: "[They] pray not only for [their] daily bread, but also for [their] daily illusion." The rule seems to be that those who find difficulty in deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others. They are easily persuaded and led.” Eric Hoffer in The True Believer.
    "They ask to be deceived." Well put.
    My friend (Dale Ruff, who also answers queries on Quora) posted this on Facebook, by the way.

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