Erudite, Incisive, But Mostly Text and Few Photos, July 4, 2007
This is not the book I was expecting. For that, go to Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, which I rate at five stars and which so sickened me that I thought of Ike Eisenhower ordering that all those living near the death camps be ordered to march past slowly to see what they tolerated in their midst.
This is without question a very respected academic work, an one line jumps out from the first chapter “On Looking.” It captures the essence of this book perfectly:
“The power and seduction of specatacle lynching, and its social and moral legitimacy as the embodiment of communal values of law and order, white masculine affirmation, family honor, and white supremacy, depended on the crowd's act of looking.” (page 15).
My mind swirled around this, thinking of other books (listed below), of genocide, of eugenics (Henry Kissinger's favorite word), of injustice, of moral perversion and cowardliness, of those who allowed the Jews to be persecuted by the Nazis.
I am reminded of at least one other author, it may have been Francis Lappe Moore in Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life, who noted that “white supremacy” has been the death of democracy in America. To that I would add the perversion of the corporation, which stole a legacy intended for freed people of color, and turned into a lifetime license to steal from all.
Where this book lost me was in its emphasis in the remainder of the book on how lynching are depicted in art–the wood cuttings and other art images outnumber the actual photographs. All very worthy, to be sure, but at this point the book moves into the realm of the academic rather than the visceral, which is why if you buy only one book, I recommend Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America instead.
I won;'t even try to get into today's continued injustice, including red lining black districts to turn them into ghettos, then buying up the real estate at a fraction of its true value, before gentryfing it for resale and much higher prices.
My bottom line: we need two Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in America, the first to bring out in the open all of the evils that the white race has inflicted on people of color from the Native Americans to the black slaves to the Chinese slaves to the current dispossessed that now include a heavy leavening of poor whites. The second, with Nelson Mandela and Lee Kuan Yew as co-chairs, can examine the history of the UK and US as colonial powers, unilateral militarists, and predatory capitalists looting the commonwealths of all other lesser developed nations, with the consequence that we have five billion poor instead of seven billion billionaires.
Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America
Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic
The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth'
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin