Christopher Niles and Racism

rayrena rayrena at
Thu Dec 3 09:47:02 PST 1998

>Having spend 23 years as an activist in Mississippi myself, working with
>dozens of others who are still there dedicating their lives to a struggle that
>has been their concern since the fifties and sixties, all of us working at
>subsistence incomes among the people we were organizing, never twinging as we
>patiently discussed capitalism and socialism in the course of struggling for
>desperately immediate material needs, I cannot see anything but racism in
>Niles' post. Finally I see why Niles wants to deny that such a thing exists.

There is the easy way to abort debate: resort to the old "You're a racist" (or facsist or sexist or etc.) even though there is no real proof of it, even though it takes some incredbible intellectual gymnastics to arrive at the accusation of racism(how's that for some clever turns of phrase).

I can see something other than racism in Christopher's post: I can see lots of overgeneralization ("most of them hailing from an American middle-class..." "American "leftists" and "activist" are not really interested in sacrificing anything..." "most reform struggles...") based, from what he writes in his post, on fantasy and frustration rather of any real experience or personal knowledge. I also see lots of loopy logic ("Both "activism" and the "left" need to die in order for a disciplined, creative, morally and ethically anchored, un-sentimental, revolutionary anti-captialist, pro-democracy opposition to be born") that barely masks a directionless critique of leftists. His problems with activists are simple-minded and very unfair. So I can see lots of reasons to criticize him--some of which you used--without resorting to the knee-jerk name-calling. Just because he criticizes, however wrongly, what you do and who you specifically work with does not make him a racist.

This may be irrelevent info, but I remember Christopher posting in the past that he wants to burn down the prisons in Washington, DC (percentage of black inmates, 90) that he wants to enable a rather poor neighborhood of DC to set up its own radio station (percentage of black population, 80), and that the signature on some of his posts has been "The New Abolitionists." Maybe all this was cheeky, but I dont think so; I took him seriously. And of course none of this means he isn't a racist, but I don't see where your proof comes from--other than it being an easy accusation to make.

> Finally, why do you
>put the words "the cause" in quotation marks?

Because he was mocking the people he was describing. Cheap, yes, but it doesn't mean he is against the cause.

eric beck

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