An exchange between musicologist, Michael Lee and myself today (2/14/21). Forgive my prose which is a bit rambling (and maybe not grammatical?):
ML: I heard someone talking on the television this morning. He claimed that watching 43 Republican jurors/senators vote to acquit Trump was like the black folks in "To Kill a Mockingbird" watching powerlessly from the gallery as the all-white jury did the inevitable and convicted Tom Robinson no matter how big a wipe out the actual trial was. I get tearful every time the black minister awakens Scout: "Stand up Miss Jean Louise. Your daddy's passing." While this wasn't entirely a story about race, it was entirely a story about race. Trump's supporters were overwhelmingly white supremacists, neo-nazis, and crackers. They are the Ewells of the story, white trash to a one. But they don't win. The Ewells got shamed in public, just as the rioters are in jail or heading there. But the well-off racist jury wins in both the story and life. Shameful times in America never come or go, they just hang on and on.
CA: I don't know if there is net gain from this episode, but if there is some redemption of value, it might be the clarifying of what racism is, means, does etc. I didn't grow up here so I my American history education was scant. But it seems to me that racism is not organic, but is a strategy (conscious or systemic, maybe both) of the ruling (mostly white male) class to keep their minority rule status. Every ruling class has to come up with some kind of mythology to keep themselves there. The pigs have to come up with some way to get the dogs to do their bidding. Racism has been a very easy and obvious mythology to accomplish this. Particularly since the civil war, non-rich whites have to be prevented from finding common cause with blacks. Thus, racism, the Klan etc. Keep 'em busy hating other working people that look different from them and they won't notice you robbing them blind. I'm not sure to what extent this is common knowledge among smart white people? but they sometimes don't act like it. The demonizing of "Trump's base" as the principal cause of all of our ills (and they are, to be sure, a really unsavory, hard to love bunch) and the adherence to salvation (justification and sanctification) for smart (and mostly well off) white people from their race and class privilege through a linguistic and performative orthodoxy that they uniquely have access to, makes one wonder. It starts to look like the intellectual class (unwittingly or not?) provides a sideshow to draw attention from the baleful and unnecessary curtailments of the first right mentioned in the Declaration among the non-rich.