The Amazement of the Gods. Hans von Aachen. 1590s.

Secret Mission, Public Intent: What Texas And Baltimore Share

The rumor persists that President Obama is planning a secret invasion of Texas under the cover of training exercises for the Army and the rumors continue to spread as stories in mainstream media and conversations on talk radio and in direct interactions with Army officials at town meetings.

The idea has taken several forms. One, that the President plans to impose martial law and confiscate all the guns of Texas gun owners. Another, heard on talk radio, is that President Obama is enlisting two prominent and notorious gangs, The Bloods and The Crips, to aid in an open race war. A third has a longer history and involves rounding up whites and placing them in FEMA-built relocation camps.

Immediately, ask: why Texas? Really? What makes Texas worth the time, effort, and ongoing expense of an invasion — along with the utter collapse of civil authority that would follow such an order? What does Texas have that the US government or President Obama fears or desires? The whole idea seems rather egomanical. But racism isn’t filled with self-inflated importance? Is that the case? Ye gads! Is Texas simply being racist?

Think of the steps for the order’s execution: the Army has to willingly follow orders to invade a domestic state, against its constitutional charter. The whole plan requires a level of secrecy many of the same folk say the government can’t maintain. And it assumes 49 other states and the Congress would be silent and compliant. But what has Texas done or its citizens done to be the target of such a plan?

Beyond the obvious missing pieces of logic and events and the gaps in understanding, the story leads to an important contrast. A more dangerous double standard persists and is silenced and shouted down by the same folk who cry “the revolution is coming.”

That double standard is the different way in which those who see an invasion embedded in a scheduled training exercise of the US Army view the death of young black men. In their imaginations, Texas citizens are patriots, the victims of a gentle, diabolical bully who has a dark side, an evil hater of whites who refuse to submit to his illegal authority and unconstitutional acts and stand up to challenge him.

These same imaginations see young black men shot, choked, or beaten to death by police as thugs and criminals leading violent lives, breaking laws and failing to obey the lawful orders of police which result in their justifiable deaths — for which the police are proclaimed as heroes for protecting the social order.

Hence, the contrast: patriots/thugs, the government unlawfully acting/the government lawfully acting; armed resistance to an imaginary invasion/unarmed resistance in real confrontations that result in death.

Why the contrast — the differing beliefs? It’s rooted in culture. A sense of identity, the sense of “the other.” It’s rooted in race. And it’s rooted in racism.

Racism is ill-defined in America and has become more a buzz word than a concept. As a buzz word, it inflames passions and fogs understanding. As a concept, it flags systems and acts of discrimination and oppression. It explains and calls out the beliefs and barriers built into the social and legal order. Its flags challenge the acts and people, structures and systems, in whole or part, that firmly tie race to power.

Racism is really a support system. It changes forms. It adapts easily to new environments and demands. It is historic. But two elements are constants within its system, violence and denial. Racism always underscores the coercive element of power or uses violence and threats to enforce its beliefs and intimidate or dominate others.

Similarly, racism always uses denial to deflect intent and to absolve itself as a cause of action.

Denial shields police killings of young black men, happening weekly across the nation by indifference or intent, under the guise of making neighborhoods safer as not racism, but good police work. Military exercises, ordered by a black President, are racist and intend to violate the rights of innocent, law abiding whites! Blame-directed racism links these two differences of appearance: the first blames the victims, young black men; the second blames the President.

Both targets of blame are black. What makes the blame racist is its power component. Race-directed blame enables whites to justify, resist, or frame power actions based on race — while denying race as the reason.

Blame is an aggressive form of denial with a double edge. Blame is simple, but when tied to race as a tactic of racism, it quickly grows complicated. Blame-directed racism accuses or faults racial others on racial and non-racial terms, as it deflects responsibility or motivation for the blame away from causes tied to race.

More specifically, the object of the accusation: [the President who is black] the deflection: [is wrong because he is a tyrant].

When the accusation and deflection are examined, the deflection lacks support. It becomes abundantly clear the accusation is being made against the object as both an attacking and defensive power element of racism. Racism always claims a pseudo-scientific basis for its illogic. It often uses this logic to deny its bias. Self-serving, fabricated scenarios are used to advance racist goals.

In this historic 1857 example, New Orleans physician Samuel A. Cartwright “discovered” and published a “scientific” break through — a correlation between black cranial size, intelligence, and fitness for society.

“It is not intended by the use of the term Prognathous to call in question the black man’s humanity or the unity of the human races as a genus, but to prove that the species of the genus homo are not a unity, but a plurality, each essentially different from the others — one of them being so unlike the other two — the oval-headed Caucasian and the pyramidal-headed Mongolian — as to be actually prognathous, like the brute creation; not that the negro is a brute, or half man and half brute, but a genuine human being, anatomically constructed, about the head and face, more like the monkey tribes and the lower order of animals than any other species of the genus man. . . .
The lower animals, according to Cuvier, are distinguished from the European and Mongol man by the mouth and face projecting further forward in the profile than the brain. The typical negroes of adult age, when tried by this rule, are proved to belong to a different species from the man of Europe or Asia, because the head and face are anatomically constructed more after the fashion of the simiadiae and the brute creation than the Caucasian and Mongolian species of mankind, their mouth and jaws projecting beyond the forehead containing the anterior lobes of the brain. Moreover, their faces are proportionally larger than their crania, instead of smaller, as in the other two species of the genus man.
The negro infant, however, is born with a small, hard, smooth, round head like a gourd. Instead of the frontal and temporal bones being divided into six plates, as in the white child, they form but one bone in the negro infant. The head is not only smaller than that of the white child, but the pelvis of the negress is wider than that of the white woman — its greater obliquity also favors parturition and prevents miscarriage.”

Both the science of the 19th century New Orleans doctor in the excerpt above and the people of Texas expressing doubt about a regular military exercise planned for Texas are using a logic constructed in fantasy to justify actions of oppression and resistance based on race — in 1857, the race of a large regional community of enslaved in an effort to maintain their status; in 2015, the race of the Commander-in-Chief, in order to undermine his authority by auguring a high crime, a constitutionally invalid overreach that would be the folly of stupidity — which is a default option: hence, the black President is both diabolical and stupid! — volatile, infirm character traits lifted straight from slavery — to justify armed oversight and mistrust.

In another example, fantasy becomes positive law in Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s written decision for the Dred Scott case. Justice Taney’s ruling shows how the law determined in the nation’s highest court, built a legal mandate from these fantasies and their mass acceptance. Fantasies built to justify an ideology of racial oppression and enable slavery offered the very acts Justice Taney selected to illustrate his sweeping decision that denied all basic human rights to blacks, slave or free.

Chief Justice Taney writing for the Court, also in 1857:

Mississippi cotton field and hoers. 1936. Dorothea Lange photograph.

The question is simply this: Can a negro whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights and privileges and immunities guaranteed to the citizen? One of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution.

It will be observed, that the plea applies to that class of persons only whose ancestors were negroes of the African race, and imported into this country, and sold and held as slaves. The only matter in issue before the court, therefore, is, whether the descendants of such slaves, when they shall be emancipated, or who are born of parents who had become free before their birth, are citizens of a State, in the sense in which the word citizen is used in the Constitution of the United States. And this being the only matter in dispute on the pleadings, the court must be understood as speaking in this opinion of that class only, that is, of those persons who are the descendants of Africans who were imported into this country, and sold as slaves.
The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them.
It is not the province of the court to decide upon the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of these laws. Does the Constitution of the United States act upon him whenever he shall be made free under the laws of a State, and raised there to the rank of a citizen, and immediately clothe him with all the privileges of a citizen in every other State, and in its own courts?
The court think the affirmative of these propositions cannot be maintained.
“It is difficult, at this day, to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the constitution was framed and adopted. But the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior race, and altogether unfit to associate with the white races, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, which no one thought of disputing, or supposed to be open to dispute; and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern; without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.
And in no nation was this opinion here firmly fixed or more uniformly acted upon than by the English Government and English people. They not only seized. them on the coast of Africa, and sold them or held them in slavery for their own use; but they took them as ordinary articles of merchandise to every country where they could make a profit on them, and were tar more extensively engaged in this commerce, than any other nation in the world.
The opinion thus entertained and acted upon in England was naturally impressed upon the colonies they founded on this side of the Atlantic. And, accordingly, a negro of the African race was regarded by them as an article of property, and held, and bought and sold as such, in every one of the thirteen colonies which united in the Declaration of Independence, and afterwards formed the Constitution of the United States. The slaves were more or less numerous in the different colonies, as slave labor was found more or less profitable. But no one seems to have doubted the correctness of the prevailing opinion of the time.

The ruling of the Chief Justice was the gold standard and high water mark for racism. Blacks were reduced to property and had no rights as “a matter of public concern.”

So as silly as it seems, Texas is up in arms over a military exercise that has been executed regularly before within its borders without issue, the only difference now being the race of the Commander-in-Chief. As ludicrous as it seems, the Supreme Court once ruled racism was the official law of the land, without regress and noted that white supremacy was a common belief. As farcical as it seems, Ferguson’s police and city clerks circulated jokes about race, whose ideas about black work, sexual, and criminal habits lead to whites endorsing eugenics. As sick as it seems, New York police wore t-shirts after Eric Garner suffocated, inscribed with, “I Can Breathe.”

As outrageous as it appears, Baltimore police between 2011 and 2014 sent 2,600 arrested persons to city hospitals because their injuries were too severe for the city’s jailers to accept their transfer of custody. It seems maddening to look at statistics outside of their historical and cultural legacy.

And as ridiculous as it is, a large portion of America, citizen and official, both deny and believe this truth: Those charged with the duty to protect America’s laws, obey its laws, or exercise its freedoms, don’t see America’s black citizens as equals.