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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Marginalizing the Bloggers: Class Warfare

You know, institutions, especially those governed and inhabited by the upper classes, will do pretty much anything to ensure the appearances of diversity and inclusiveness and expansiveness, while vigorously maintaining the status quo in every way possible.

Case in point: a few years back, an absolutely lily white student came to me wanting references from me. I mean, not that's there's anything wrong with lily white --- but read on. This person kept asking me and an American Indian person I was working with to come to his parents' house, to sign odd pieces of paper, to type up and send in letters of reference and whatnot.

I was pleasant to this fellow, but a bit confused by his motivations. So I didn't sign anything. And I'm glad I didn't. Because, turns out, this jackass had joined a fictional Native American tribe --- a tribe by which membership consists not of blood and relationship and community and shared history and language, but by membership fees alone --- AND HE WAS AWARDED A FULL SCHOLARSHIP TO STANFORD LAW SCHOOL ON THE BASIS OF HIS MEMBERSHIP IN A NONEXISTENT, FICTIONAL INDIAN TRIBE and he needed all these letters and recommendations and whatnot --- even a freaking picture of him with me and this fullblood fellow I worked with --- as additional *proof* he was Indian.

And it isn't that Stanford was conned. Not at all. Stanford merely wanted the appearance of having a Native Law program and Native students. But they didn't really want people who were culturally and historically and ethnically *Indian* so to speak, because people who are culturally and ethnically and historically and etc etc etc American Indian are just way too much trouble. So this nice white upper class (because, let me tell you, his family had some bucks!) fellow fit right in to The Stanford Club.

In addition, this fellow was (and is still , I assume) a radical right Christian.

*banging head against wall*

This is far from an isolated incident. In fact, there is a long history of the pointed, yet hushed, exclusion of American Indians from the Academe, meaning that until very recently, Native American history and sociology and linguistics and etc. have been written entirely by non-Native people and entirely in the control of non-Native peoples. Yet another form of colonialism, and yet another way of ensuring the class structure remains intact.

So the doings of WSJ and Harvard concerning Kos and Jerome Armstrong and blogging in general merely follow a precedent of maintaining the illusions of inclusiveness and expansiveness and etc etc etc ad nauseam, while at the same time, casting what they hope will be fatal blows to the competition.

Kos has too much power. Jerome Armstrong has too much power. The blogs have too much power. And so they become a threat not simply to the Academy of So-Called Respected Journalism, but to an entire class system.

This is an important story, not simply because WSJ has been caught in a lie and not simply because Harvard is complicit with the lie --- but because it shows quite clearly, to me at least, this is about class and maintaining the status quo. Bush and the radicals are almost secondary to the equation, except insofar as they are necessary to strengthening the boundaries between the upper classes and the rest of us.

For that reason, this is a story which needs to be shouted from the rooftops and brought up at every opportunity. It won't be the only time it happens. It will continue happening until the Academe realizes they have no choice but to let the Indians in the door and listen to them.

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