Saturday, November 26, 2005

Blame it on black gangs... revisited

Le Colonel Chabert writes about the media manufacture of "black gangs" and how it shortcircuits any critique of imperialism in Haiti:

Even for the latest explosion of violence in Kosovo, accomplishing the ethnic cleansing of the remaining dregs of non Albanian inhabitants, for which the western media wished to apologize gently, an account of the adversaries was required, identification of their motives and affiliations, a narrative, if mendacious and tendentious, recap of the history and events leading to this crisis....

But for Haiti, of course, it would be impossible without flagrant and easily debunkable lies to tell the story without revealing the monstrous criminality of the US, France, Canada and its puppet dictatorship(s). But racism solves this problem; by the evocation of its whole elaborate framework, its myths, it literary clichés, and faux social science, the glaring lack of explanation, of indeed actual reporting in the traditional genre, is entirely concealed. A hot, banana-growing place inhabited by black people left to their own devices (having violently, arrogantly thrown off their custodians and tutors before they could be taught to control and govern themselves like Christians) is simply like this, poor, dirty, precarious, menaced by violent 'gangs' with no particular motive for their violence other than the unfettered expression of their nature - for this is what 'young black men' do when they don't make the NBA. This is how they behave on the shitpile their delusional Kings leave after embezzling all the money to dress up in feathers and dine with real royalty.

Lenin's Tomb notes the same logic at work in New Orleans:

Now, who would have believed that desperate residents of New Orleans were busily shooting at those who were trying to help them - unless their faces were black? As it happens, violent crime fell during the post-Katrina catastrophe. And that's quite predictable: it is what you would expect. In 2001, not including the mass murder on 9/11, New York's murder rate was the lowest since Kennedy was killed. In fact, just about every kind of crime was down (except for the crimes to self-respect inflicted by the retailers of kitsch and tat). I'm not saying all of it was down to post-9/11 solidarity, but one thing that does stand out is that the disaster did not result in Hobbesian war of all against all, or in the city being "raped". Yet, the stories that enabled the government to block aid from getting into the city, and prevent people from getting out as they prepared for their "little Somalia" were somehow widely enough believed that there was not mass protest about what was being done. I was widely remarked at the time that New Orleans seemed to have joined the Third World. Well, then, think of Haiti

Afterthepurge's very own Dr. Snake Roberts tackles the image of black gangs and rap music in Toronto and Paris:

Rap music does not “cause” violence, any more than it “causes” misogyny, and this scapegoating of rap music results in little being done to change the violence many women, white and black, face in their day to day lives. What does this focus in the media on “stranger violence”, specifically, the threat of a black man with a gun, hide?

Half of Canadian women (51%) have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

Women are much more likely to be victimized by someone they know than by a stranger.

It's not an accident that these images of a violent, anonymous black underclass of people continue to be the favorite of ruling elites hiding the traces of their crimes from their citizens. This trope was produced in the age of imperialism, which it helps maintain. Anne McClintock notes, "the fetish image of the crowd as degenerate was a measure of very real ruling-class anxieties about popular resistance, as well as a crucial element in legitimizing the policing of militant working class communities." But does any other simultaneously racialized, classist and gendered image serve so well as border-guard from the critical curiosity of a state's citizenry? This racialized, overdetermined media image of the black gang itself, rather than any actually existing black people, stands as sentry and border alongside police forces.


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