Rad Geek People's Daily

official state media for a secessionist republic of one

Posts from March 2004

Bargain Basement Feminist Goodness

Incidentally, I recently got a box full of CDs by feminist artists for resale. If you’re interested in CDs of Ani DiFranco, Bitch & Animal, Le Tigre, Alix Olson, or Margaret Cho, I have just gotten several in. let me know, and I’ll give you a bargain rate.

Cheers! — RG

Freedom is irrelevant. Assimilation is inevitable.

photo: David Brooks, creepy spendthrift fascist
photo: Locutus of Borg

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

(Typos fixed, revised for clarity.)

About a month ago, neoconservative creepy spendthrift fascist David Brooks wrote an article which he took to be in support of Latino immigrants. In this he took himself to arguing against Samuel Huntington’s anti-immigration essay in Foreign Policy, in which Huntington (famous for his contribution to contemporary fascist sociological thought, the so-called Clash of Civilizations thesis) offers the following bit of post-Enlightenment Volksgeschichte:

Most Americans see the creed as the crucial element of their national identity. The creed, however, was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers. Key elements of that culture include the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law, including the responsibility of rulers and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a city on a hill. Historically, millions of immigrants were attracted to the United States because of this culture and the economic opportunities and political liberties it made possible.

. . .

In this new era, the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives.

Brooks has a bone to pick with Huntington’s analysis. As he writes:

You’ll find that Huntington marshals a body of evidence to support his claims. But the most persuasive evidence is against him. Mexican-American assimilation is a complicated topic because Mexican-Americans are such a diverse group. The educated assimilate readily; those who come from peasant villages take longer. But they are assimilating.

It’s easy to find evidence that suggests this is so. In their book Remaking the American Mainstream, Richard Alba of SUNY-Albany and Victor Nee of Cornell point out that though there are some border neighborhoods where immigrants are slow to learn English, nationwide, Mexicans know they must learn it to get ahead. By the third generation, 60 percent of Mexican-American children speak only English at home.

Nor is it true that Mexican immigrants are scuttling along the bottom of the economic ladder. An analysis of 2000 census data by the USC urban planner Dowell Myers suggests that Latinos are quite adept at climbing out of poverty. Sixty-eight percent of those who have been in this country 30 years own their own homes.

Mexican immigrants are in fact dispersing around the nation. When they have children, they tend to lose touch with their Mexican villages and sink roots here. If you look at consumer data, you find that while they may spend more money on children’s clothes and less on electronics than native-born Americans, there are no significant differences between Mexican-American lifestyles and other American lifestyles. They serve in the military — and die for this nation — at comparable rates.

I have to confess that I simply don’t understand this argument between Huntington and Brooks. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that they are using unfamiliar words, or that I don’t see the point of contention between Huntington and Brooks, or that I don’t get follow the way in which Brooks and Huntington draw divergent conclusions from the premises and empirical evidence that they cite. All of that seems fairly clear. The part that I don’t understand is this: why in the world does Brooks present himself as posing a serious objection to Huntington? And why in the world does Brooks, in presenting his disagreement, simply leave Huntington’s fundamental premise concerning immigration policy standing there unmentioned, like the proverbial elephant in the room?

This point is particularly imiportant, because Huntington’s (and Brooks’s) fndamental premise concerning immigration policy is completely ridiculous.

By way of illustration, let’s consider a bit of a story.

Say that you’re moving to a new city in order ‘re moving across to a new city to work, and you need a place to stay; fortunately, a friend of yours who lives in the city says you can stay at her house until you find a place of your own. As you turn onto the street where she lives, I ran out in front of your car and demand that you stop. When you roll down the window and ask what’s going on, I demand What’s your business here?

You blink a couple of times and finally say, Well, I’ve got this new job, and my friend Liza invited me to stay with her while I look for a place of my own.

Whoa whoa whoa! I shout, You mean you’re from out of town, and you intend to stay here?

Yes… you say, shifting a bit in your seat.

Sir, I’m afraid you need to fill out this form before I can let you enter the neighborhood, I say, as I hand you a form entitled Top Ten Albums of All Time.

Excuse me? you ask. What in the world is this?

Your top ten LPs of all time. I need you to fill it out before I can let you stay at Liza’s.

Just who are you, anyway? you ask, as you ponder whether you can just speed past to Liza’s house without running me down.

I’m the Neighborhood Patrol! The citizens of this neighborhood rely on me to ensure that only those who adhere to our traditional devotion to 1970s Southern Rock live here. I’m afraid I can’t let you go through to Liza’s house until you give me a list of your top ten albums of all time. We can’t have a bunch of people moving into this neighborhood undermining our neighborly devotion to Freebird!

Look, why don’t you just go knock on Liza’s door and ask her whether I can come through? She invited me here and she’s expecting me.

I get a little anxious and explain, Well, Liza didn’t exactly agree with our decision to implement the Top Ten List…

You stare at me. I’m going to Liza’s house. So what in the world are you blocking my way for?

At this I become visibly irritated. Sir, I’m an official Neighborhood Patrol officer. Liza didn’t agree to the Top Ten List, but more than 1/2 of her neighbors did. I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the car…

Isn’t this story absolutely absurd? And if it is, wouldn’t it be just as absurd for one of the neighbors to run out and argue with me to let you in — because he’s talked with Liza, and he can vouch for your massive collection of Skynyrd?

So how is Huntington’s and Brooks’s argument over whether or not Latino immigrants are assimilating to the surrounding WASP culture different in any salient respect? Why in the world should success or failure at adopting the language, dress, or other cultural trappings of one’s prospective neighbors be a criterion for deciding whether or not a peaceful individual is forced out of the country?

Ad Nauseam

If you’ve been to my website in the past couple days, you may have noticed something new: I’ve added some of those ugly little Google AdSense text ads to the navigation bar. In light of this, there are a few things that ought to be obvious about the ads run on this site; but, pedant that I am, I figured that it would be a good idea to explicitly say them, too:

  1. If an ad you see interests you, by all means click on it. There’s some good stuff that comes up, and your click-through will kick a few cents back to the Rad Geek People’s Daily. What could it hurt?
  2. The ads are generated directly by Google. Not by me. I don’t take responsibility for any wacked-out or repulsive sites that Google mysteriously decides would be a good match for readers of this website.
  3. Nevertheless, I do try to use Google’s internal tools to filter out ads that I notice coming up which are wacked-out or repulsive. So if you see something in the sidebar that you think comes under this category, feel free to contact me with the URL, and I’ll see about filtering it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that, thanks to something of a cash crunch (being freelance academic just doesn’t pay as well as it used to), these ads will probably stay up for the near future. But like all matters of the human will, this is a future contingent; it is in your power to change it. If you would like to make a small contribution to support the Rad Geek People’s Daily I’ll be glad to take the ads down for one week for each Supporter contribution, or one month for each Sustaining pledge, that I receive.

That’s all for now. Happy surfing!

— The Editor


I suppose that somone is going to tell me about how I need to lighten up and have a good laugh at this.

photo: the "Kisses" urinal

The cutting edge in humor at class establishments like Virgin Airways

Even though they allow for high-volume servicing and back-in-a-flash trips to the john, the point-and-shoot-a-stinky-deodorizer-cake oddity known as the men’s restroom urinal has been, for women, a constant enigma. But nothing will prepare you for the men’s room in the newly-designed Virgin Airways Clubhouse in New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, terminal 4: Urinals shaped like a woman’s mouth, dolled up with red lipstick, wide open and ready for business.

In anything that we do there has to be a smile, and that’s the smile in this Clubhouse, said John Riordan, Vice President of Customer Services for Virgin Airways.

The urinals, called Kisses, were designed by Netherlands based company Bathroom Mania.

Kisses — the sexy urinal, makes a daily event a blushing experience! This is one target men will never miss!, said the Bathroom Mania team via e-mail from the Netherlands.

— Unwired Travel: Virgin Potty Talk [Yahoo! News]

(via feministe)

Yes, that is how very wealthy men get a smile in these post-feminist days: by pissing in women’s mouths.

I really wish that I could say this surprises me more than it actually does. It’s audaciously disgusting, yes, and it’s not every day you see something like this out in the open. But wealthy men on business trips are, after all, the chief patrons of many segments of the commodity trade in women’s bodies, from casual decisions to hold business meetings at Hooter’s or at strip clubs, to hotel pornography, to such wonderful institutions as sex tourism (read: child prostitution) in Thailand. There’s a whole seamy, creepy, half-hidden, and ultimately quite desparate and pathetic culture of overgrown fratboys in American business travel, and this just looks to me like a particularly gaudy piece of that sort of systematic sexualized woman-hatred.

(Pre-emptive clarification: I know that this is not true either of all men on business trips or of all frat boys. Some of my best friends were in frats/are in business management and don’t act like this, &c. I do think, nevertheless, that this sort of creepy culture is pretty clearly widespread in both of these worlds.)

The good news is that NOW and feminist bloggers got the word out on this, and Virgin has dropped the plans and issued an apology (the apology was astoundingly blithe and clueless, but we’ll set that to one side).

To return to where we started out: feminists are often accused of being uptight and having no sense of humor. I don’t know how people can read about WITCH zaps or read Dykes to Watch Out For and still believe this, but that’s a topic for another day. For right now, the main question on my mind is this: really, what sort of a person do you have to be to find pissing in a dolled-up woman’s mouth really, really funny? And why in the world would anyone want to be that sort of a person?

Further reading:

The War on Iraq One Year On: Countdown To Regime Change

The World Still Says No To War: M20 march in NYC

Today is the first anniversary of the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets in protest of the war, the occupation, and the lies that were used to murder some 8,000 – 10,000 Iraqi civilians in a bloody game of geopolitical chess, and to create a rudderless, hopeless war between heavy-handed occupying forces and brutal terrorist guerillas. President Bush, meanwhile, keeps repeating the same old crap, perhaps in the hope that it will start to stick through sheer force of repetition. Apparently we are supposed to forget the deception and the manipulation and the bullying of dissenting voices, and the simple fact that the past year has proven that we were right and he was wrong, and pitch in with support for this bloody occupation:

No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands, Bush said after deploring last week’s Madrid bombings, which were followed by the election of a new prime minister eager to remove Spanish troops from Iraq. There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence, and invites more violence for all nations.

As if trying to prove a point, Bush trots out every tired neo-conservative creepy spendthrift fascist trope about the war: the terrorists as the new Hitler, Bush and his cronies as the new Churchill, the new Chamberlain in Decadent Europe and the rest of us who feel just a tad squeamish about a completely unrepetant gang of lying warmongers who profess to be on our side. But the real battle cry here is not from World War II; it is from Vietnam. Apparently we are supposed to persist in a deadly and useless occupation of a Third World nation that the U.S. government annihilated on fabricated grounds because if we pull out now, we will give a sign of weakness. We will send the wrong message.

I don’t know quite what to say to this appalling idea — except to quote from a fine film:

It seems you burned the wrong village.

They always say that. And what does it matter? A village betrays us, a village is burned. The point is made.

Your point, their village.

And also to quote from a fine website, which adds a heart-rendingly fresh update of the theme. in the wake of the 3/11 massacre in Spain and the upsurge of public rage over the Aznar government’s manipulations and lies:

El gobierno miente, manipula, extorsiona, oculta información, asesina, no escucha, insulta, acusa a la oposición, le importa una mierda 200 muertos con tal de sacar votos y no perder, somos objetivo de terroristas islámicos por culpa de la prepotencia, la chulería, el afán de protagonismo, los aires de grandeza de un pequeño gran hijo de la gran puta llamado Aznar.

Vuestra guerra, nuestros muertos [Perdido en Madrid]

The Government lies, manipulates, extorts, hides information, murders, doesn’t listen, insults, accuses the opposition; 200 dead aren’t worth shit so long as they get votes and don’t lose; we’re the target of Islamic terrorists and it’s all the fault of the power-mongering, the insolance, the eagerness for heroism, the airs of greatness of that little son of a bitch called Aznar.

Your war, our dead [Lost in Madrid]

In spite of the warhawk hand-wringing over cowardly Spaniards and their appeasement, the electoral crash-and-burn of the Aznar gang is a courageous step: a popular upsurge against the politics of fear, and emboldened by their much-touted white-hot rage—turned not only on the thugs who inflicted this slaughter on innocents, but also on the lying thugs who launched a dirty war and left 200 innocent madrileños to face the consequences. That the Spaniards can find the courage to throw the bastards out in 2004 gives me some hope that we’ll be able to do it here, too.

This is connected to a broader point about terrorism, war, and the State; it’s a point well worth reflecting on on this anniversary. The essence of the State is irresponsibility: that is, States (as opposed to voluntary associations) always exist in virtue of one group of people inflicting the costs of their decisions on others against their will. The most mundane form of the phenomenon is taxation; the most egregious are War and State terrorism. This is something to remember whenever some politician is droning on about duty, sacrifice, and glory; they mean their glory taken from your duty and sacrifice. George W. Bush will never pay for the destruction that he has wrought. You will pay for it when you surrender your taxes in about a month. Donald Rumsfeld will not be the one who faces death for his agenda in the Middle East. The troops he has deployed will be the ones who have to face the consequences of his decisions. José Maria Aznar and Tony Blair will not be the ones killed in the subway for the war they helped unleash. All too many of us—Spaniards, Britons, and Americans— are the ones who have been put into the crossfire by their reckless war-mongering. Should we be surprised that the health of the State is a disease that we have to live with, and they don’t?

Anarchism: Because it isn’t your fault that George W. Bush is a dickhead.

For further reading:

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