From a member of the Revolution Club:

Some Notes on Tim Wise, Identity Politics, and Fascist Repression

| Revolution Newspaper |


Notable anti-racist author and activist Tim Wise, who has done a lot of great work exposing and educating about white supremacy in this country, recently came to speak at a campus that a couple of us in the Revolution Club have done some work at. Wise’s work has been important in exposing large audiences to (at least a big part of) the actual history of this country, especially regarding segregation, lynching, and police brutality. At this event, we were seated in a favorable position, not far from the audience mics for the question and answer session, and we in fact had a “front row” seat to the fascist provocateurs who came in to disrupt the event. One proclaimed (very loudly) to be a professor at the school, and the other wore a disgusting red hat with a certain slogan that needs no repeating here (although Wise took this on from the stage, saying from his own perspective and viewpoint that the fascist slogan was bullshit).

These fascists interrupted Wise’s remarks within 90 seconds of the start, with jeers of “lies” and “Go Trump!” They were allowed to go on like this (at least as far as the security was concerned) for several minutes. Wise was skilled enough to verbally disarm these disrupters and use the audience to drown out their idiotic screeching.

Compare this to what happened to members of the Revolution Club at UCLA earlier this year, when they righteously disrupted the fascist Steve Mnuchin when he came to promote wars of aggression and assaults against the poor. What happened then? The pigs brutalized the club members who stood up and dragged them out of the venue without hesitation—all for telling the truth about the Trump/Pence fascist regime right in the nose of the rodent-like treasury secretary. And now, charges are still being brought down upon these courageous disrupters for this action and others who have called upon masses to rise up against this fascist regime, as part of a clearly larger, coordinated attack on both the movement for revolution and Refuse Fascism.

Another interesting thing to note is that Tim Wise did not completely, or even mainly, fall behind the Democratic Party line of leading people to put all of their energies and hopes into the upcoming midterm elections. Voting, in fact, was not even mentioned, although Trump and his regime’s open racism were a major feature of the speech. He did not, however, pinpoint Trump as a fascist, and there was little mention of the regime’s repulsive misogyny (either in Trump’s vulgar form or Pence’s puritanical “Handmaid’s Tale” vision). Wise’s line also veered into the depths of identity politics, which in fact backfired during the question and answer session, with a couple members of the audience asking why he did not yield his time or give the microphone to people of color. He insisted that he was doing important work to amplify the voices of progressive people of color using his organization and interview-form podcast. After the event, one of those “movement” folks who asked the question in a very snarky manner came up to us and complained about “Wise’s schtick” as a “white savior.”

This mentality is fucked up. People of all nationalities and backgrounds should be celebrated for speaking out against and organizing to resist white supremacy. Wise has dedicated a large part of his life to researching and fighting the cancer of racism in Amerikkka, from his own perspective. To discount his important work, or the work of anyone, on the basis of what race or nationality they are is unacceptable. We should judge people and the work they do based on its objective quality and merit, whether it essentially corresponds to reality as it actually is, and how this relates to the revolution humanity needs to emancipate itself from oppression and exploitation in all forms.

We should struggle with intellectuals, academics, and activists like Wise, who recognize that white supremacy and national oppression in this country are unacceptable and must be defeated, and challenge them to take this further. What is it really going to take to not just challenge and expose, but to excise these oppressive relations from social life?

As has previously written:

[T]his SYSTEM that grew up on 246 years (246!) of slavery and another century beyond that of super-exploited Black labor in the fields and then the factories, that seized the land of Mexico for slavery and then oppressed and exploited Mexicans and Chicanos, that stole this country in the first place from the Native inhabitants, 90 percent of whom were wiped out in wars and epidemics—this system MUST BE OVERTHROWN!


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