Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Heigh-ho, Synechdoche: The Meme Bandits Rides Again...

For the Record, here: I am NOT aiming this meme-skewer at the figure in the image. It's the avuncular, face of Sam Eliot, and he's an ICON who has kept his personal, immigrational and demographic preferences to himself. Though he's known to be a "Republican," not every word appearing on a FB meme was actually spoken by the person whose countenance is displayed adjacent. Elinor Roosevelt said that...

Now that that's cleared up, let's agree: This is a pretty thoroughly reprehensible narrative, full of vicarious vindictiveness, bigotry, ethnic stereotyping, out-right racism and murderous intent. A rhetorical trick (anachrony) wrenches forth a grudging grunt at the payoff. But it's a cheap laugh. I'd expect better of Sam Elliot, were he actually the author.

It is useful in one respect: illustrating a favorite rhetorical fallacy: Petitio Principii. That's the Begging-the-question stuff, like "If they was both way across the river, how'd ya know it was a Mexican and an Arab? How'd ya know what they were carrying? 

"And WHERE THE HELL'D YOU FIND A MAILBOX out there anyway?."

But seriously folks:

There's some serious racism embedded in that "joke."

It's important to recognize that "Racism" is NOT manifested in individual acts of bigotry and prejudice. It does NOT consist in the mere deeds. Images and narratives such as this one function to rationalize it and make it acceptable, if only for our amusement.

Prejudice and bigotry exist in all cultures, all "races." Asswholery is a general, trans-national, trans-cultural human condition. As our old pal, Winstone so assiduously points out, elsewhere in this very programme, there are asswholes absolutely fuukin EVERYWHERE.

But "asswholery" is NOT necessarily racism--though they do often seem to cohabitate.. 

Racism, per se, consists in the political and social arrangements and agreements which accede to, or do not reprove, those expressions of bigotry or prejudice, which are designed to diminish or dispel the validity of the claims of the "despised" to their fair share of "social goods," including respect and dignity.

Minorities, as 'groups'--particularly despised groups--cannot be "racists," per se, because they cannot and do not exercise power enough to deny the Majority the social goods which the Majority DOES posses the power to deny to those whom they regard as their "inferiors."

Racism is about the power to exclude, to deny, to diminish.

As Louie CK says: I'm a white male! Call me a name? You can't even hurt my feelings.

The narrative of the meme exemplifies 'harmless' ways in which racism legitimizes itself. It's so ubiquitous, you gotta laugh. But laugh AT it. Not WITH it.

And so back to you, in Hippie Central, Mayor Smith!!! PS: Just so's ya don't think I'm "pickin" on Sam, his special kind of "folksay!" can be invoked by either side.

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