Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Anti-Semitic Violence in Poway / Southern California Racism and Neo-Fascism

A guest post today from my friend Mark Dery--bracing, scathing, prose as always from the author of Culture Jamming and a recent Edward Gorey biography.

The other shoe--a jackboot, as it happens--drops. My San Diego/Chula Vista homies will bristle at the imputation that America's Finest City is fertile soil for far-right toadstools, and there's no denying that S.D. has come a long way since Gore Vidal dubbed it "the Vatican of the John Birch Society."

It's more diverse, more bourgeois-liberal (if not flamingly socialist, but one small step for this sunny redoubt of Bible-belt evangelicals, active Navy, retired Navy, and golf-club Republicans is a giant leap for Leftkind, comrades!). All those points happily granted, Mike Davis, Kelly Mayhew, and Jim Miller's masterwork of activist historiography, Under the Perfect Sun exposes S.D.'s long and storied history as a bastion of Goldwater Republicanism at best and white supremacism at worst. It should replace the Gideon Bible in every San Diego hotel room.

From Santee (so infested with white supremacists, in my gloriously misspent '70s youth, that locals referred to it as "Klantee") to the lynch mob that ran Emma Goldman and her husband out of town to the Klan chapter that flourished in America's finest city to a long, vile history of using undocumented immigrants--"wetbacks," in the colorful parlance of the day--for target practice with BB guns and far, far worse, S.D. has long been congenial to far-right politics and dreams of white power.

Tom Metzger, of White Aryan Resistance fame, is a hometown boy, as is Boyd Rice, hipster neo-Nazi and pioneer of alt-right "ironic" fascism. Before ardent defenders of S.D.'s reputation storm the ramparts of the Dery manse, that Chateau Marmont of armchair radicalism, let me hasten to say that, no, S.D. doesn't hold copyright to white suprematicism and, yes, New York, land that I love, is rotten with it, and yes--one more time, this time with feeling--S.D. is by all accounts a more diverse, more progressive place than it was in the '60s and '70s when I was growing up in its borderlands, in what the local wags referred to, with genial racism, as "Chulajuana"--an epithet I now embrace with homie pride, by the way. Make America Mexico Again!

But it hasn't changed *enough*.

Ask any non-white San Diegan. Better yet, ask my Trumper relatives, who seethe with incredulous indignation at the *very idea* of Chicano Park, a hunk of land occupied by barrio residents after the California Department of Transportation pulled a Robert Moses and obliterated their neighborhood with the I-5 freeway, then reneged on its promise to build a park in its place. Decades later, my relatives are *still* galled by the (wait for the irony!) thought of a "Chicano" park, which they deem "racist" by definition. Brown privilege!

History matters; the slaughter in Poway didn't come out of nowhere, and it's high time the official culture in the town that Shamu built publicly confronted the specters of its racist past.
Dery's rant ends with a link to a story by Brooke Binkowski in The Washington Post: