Stuff White People Say

October 26, 2009

American Privilege

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwbe @ 6:29 pm

I don’t know if there is research of how deeply American privilege impacts white privilege regarding white Americans, but I think the ‘double-privilege’, which seems to be mostly ignored is also important to understand the white American mind and therefore American white supremacy.

And for all who are interested, American nuclear weapons on German ground are one reason why I am trying to combat white supremacy and with rallying against American nw I started becoming aware of politics and more. I was around 14 back then.

New German government to seek removal of US nuclear weapons

Foreign Minister-designate Guido Westerwelle has renewed calls for a withdrawal of US nuclear weapons based in Germany, saying he would hold talks with the Obama adminstration on the issue.

Speaking at a meeting of his business-friendly FDP party in Berlin on Sunday, Westerwelle said the new German government would support the vision of US President Barack Obama for a world free of nuclear weapons.

“We will take President Obama at his word and enter talks with our allies so that the last of the nuclear weapons still stationed in Germany, relics of the Cold War, can finally be removed,” Westerwelle said.

“Germany must be free of nuclear weapons,” he said, adding that he would personally make efforts towards that purpose.

No unilateral move to remove nuclear arms

His comments came a day after his FDP party reached agreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives for a new center-right government scheduled to take office on October 28.

The coalition agreement reached by the two sides calls specifically for talks with NATO and the US to remove the weapons.

Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed this goal, but emphasized no unilateral action would be taken to remove the nuclear warheads. “We do not want any independent action here,” Merkel said on Saturday in Berlin.

The US, which deployed nuclear weapons in various European countries in the 1950s, is estimated to have 20 atomic warheads in Germany.

No official or publicly accessible information is available on where the weapons were stored. But some of the missiles are believed to be stationed at the Buechel airbase in the western German state of Rhineland- Palatinate.

Controversial issue in Germany

Westerwelle, 47, has little direct foreign policy experience. But the removal of US nuclear weapons from German soil is an issue he has regulary emphasized.

His FDP party is pro-American and has long campaigned for disarmament.

The nuclear issue, including nuclear power, is highly unpopular in Germany, with shipments of nuclear waste regularly triggering angry protests. The country has no permanent storage site for the waste.

The new German government recently agreed to reverse plans to abandon nuclear power. Berlin is eager to reduce dependency on gas and oil imports, but environmentalists have already vowed to fight the decision.”

LINK

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49 Comments »

  1. Ooooh! American privilege compounded with white privilege. I don’t know of any studies, with the exception of what Michael Moore was doing with Canadians and Americans. Americans are very dumb and degrees and education does not necessarily make us “more intelligent”–I’m a lovely example and not ashamed to expose my ignorance… :S . I’ve realized the more I learn the more I realize how much it is that I do not know…. Education here serves to promote the various stratification’s so far as I can see. Some people use their education for good purposes. Maybe many go in with good intentions and something happens and they change–lose their original focus to material seductions. And others, well….

    The fact that the U.S. is allowed to not only harbor nuclear weapons here, but elsewhere is so hypocritical. I know where the U.S. would bring the nuclear waste from around the world, they would simply dump it near our tribal reservations. I did not know they were storing stuff there too. If people around that area have higher cancer rates and so on, well? Talk about weapons of mass destruction…it makes no sense to me why the U.S. can have them, yet other countries cannot. No countries, including the U.S. should have not them. We (in my home area back in Seattle) have, as I understand, 4 submarines sitting in our Puget Sound at one of our Navy bases. Why is this scary? I’ve been told these few submarines alone have enough nuclear weapons on them alone to destroy the entire planet 4-7 times over. Why I think there’s truth and not a rumor or myth of some sort? A military person told me, as have others. God knows what else is over here in the U.S. over all….

    Let me not go into the nuclear power thing… 🙂

    Comment by Seattle in Texas — October 26, 2009 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

  2. This is a good post and raises a subject that the average flag-waving Freedom Fry-eating American is loath to address: American Exceptionalism and moral supremacism.

    The American mindset is a supremacist mind. One that believes that the USA is a “city on a hill” literally chosen by God to act as beacon of liberty (or is that lies?) for the rest of the world.

    This kind of messianic belief in America’s “divine mission” goes back to the very spawning of the USA with John Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

    American Exceptionalism is what defines American national identity and what makes the USA the true threat to peace on this planet.

    Why?

    Because Americans believe they have holy dispensation to murder, attack, colonize, regime change, exploit, and genocide whomever they want–from the Native Indians of the past to the Afghanis and Iraqis of today.

    It’s a kind of fundamentalist crusader zeal that infects American national culture at all levels.

    As William Blum has put it, the USA is a rogue superpower in all but name.

    http://killinghope.org/superogue/homepage.htm

    The Myth of American Exceptionalism
    http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/258/

    Celebrating Columbus is Blasphemy
    http://www.brianwillson.com/wordpress/celebrating-columbus-is-blasphemy/

    Comment by Lxy — November 2, 2009 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  3. This reflexive anti-Americanism of German “anti-racist” leftists speaks volumes. The American presence in West Germany kept a system at bay that called itself “socialist”, but , in essence was a fascist system not much better than that of the Nazis. There is a good reason that racism is most openly and successfully being perpetuated in the territory which comprises the former communist German Democratic Republic (GDR). It is only in German states (Germany is a federation of 16 “Laender”, that is, states) which were part of the former GDR where an openly Neo-Nazi party, the “National Democratic Party” (as opposed to he “National Socialist Party” of olden times) actually garnered enough votes to enter the state parliaments. It is only in those sates that there exist no-go zones what are known as “national-liberated areas” from which non-white people are excluded at pain of serious injury and death. Western Germany is racist as well, but without the ameliorating influence f the US military personnel , particularly during the 1960’s, Western Germany would be just as intolerable as these eastern areas.

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 4, 2009 @ 4:26 am | Reply

  4. on the one hand you claim I would absolve Germans from their responsibility, at the other hand you do it when it benefits the US. You say the US did a ‘better job’ with the BRD than Russia with the DDR, with that you acknowledge that the US did have an influence.

    Comment by jwbe — November 4, 2009 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

    • Who absolved the United States from any responsibility? I just stated the facts. Are there prominent no-go-zones-for-non-whites in the former West German territory? Nope. Do they exist in the former “anti-fascist”, “anti-racist” East? Yes.

      Obviously the United States had influence. So did the so-called “socialist”,”anti-fascist”, and “anti-racist” USSR as well as it’s puppet regime in the GDR. Fact is, however, that racism in the Western part of Germany, particularly the areas which saw a large influx of US troops, particularly black US troops, racism was at least not quite as openly practiced as it is in the former “socialist” part. Thus, given the 1945 baseline from which the Germans proceeded east and West, it is obvious, that the presence of the US had a significant ameliorating influence on the Germans’ practice of racism in its areas of occupation.

      Have you donated some money to “Der Braune Mob” yet?

      Comment by Michael Fisher — November 4, 2009 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

  5. http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8048.html

    ‘This is not to argue that postwar Germans learned antiblack racism from American occupiers. After all, Germans already had a long tradition of such bigotry that predated and was intensified by both Germany’s short stint as a colonial power prior to 1918 and shorter stint as National Socialist power between 1933 and 1945. Rather, at the level of the street, Germans were absorbing the postwar lesson–inadvertently taught by their new American masters–that democratic forms and values were consistent with racialist, and even racist, ideology and social organization. Informal contacts between occupier and occupied–along with the discriminatory policies of the U.S. military toward its minorities and the tense relations among occupation soldiers of differing ethnicities–affected the ways Germans perceived and received American political and social values after 1945. German understandings of the content of “democratization” were conditioned by the implicitly racialized context within which this was delivered. As a result, military occupation reinforced white supremacy as a shared value of mainstream American and German cultures.’

    Etc.

    Why do you think that this what this book excerpt talks about is completely irrelevant, but the ameliorating effect of the US not?

    And this what I say or think about Germany does not approve Germany from her responsibility, but history doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    Comment by jwbe — November 4, 2009 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  6. “Why do you think that this what this book excerpt talks about is completely irrelevant, but the ameliorating effect of the US not?”

    Because I was there and the author was not. Nor apparently, were you even alive then. Nor are you “black”. So you have no idea what the heck you are talking about. Fact is, for a Black German kid getting onto an American military base was like escaping into a zone of freedom. It never fails that the most “anti-racist” “white-anti-racists” try to argue with non-whites about the non-whites’ experiences.

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 5, 2009 @ 5:32 am | Reply

  7. Did you make that major donation to “Der Braune Mob” yet? Or at least buy Noah Sow’s book and learn something from the perspective of a Black German. You do read German, yes?

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 5, 2009 @ 5:35 am | Reply

  8. thou shalt not criticize the USA, Amen.

    how does citing historical facts deny your reality, when you are a child exactly of such an alliance, you once said your father is a Black GI and your mother white German.
    And some or many Black Americans or Black Germans of today are children of this part in history.
    And somehow the parents of them must have met each other in Germany, and some also married.
    This is not denying racism in Germany and also not denying your personal experience, you argue based on your assumptions about me and my knowledge and out of some need to defend the US, as it seems

    Comment by jwbe — November 5, 2009 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

    • I’m not “defending the USA” nor have I have such a need. I was speaking about your “reflexive anti-Americanism”. I also said that the presence of US military personnel had an ameliorating effect on German racism. Which, clearly, was not the case in the Soviet occupation zone. I didn’t say that you are denying racism in Germany or German racism, I am saying that you are shifting the responsibility for its continued existence onto the American occupiers.

      “you argue based on your assumptions about me and my knowledge…”

      No assumptions here. You have stated to me previously that you are a German white woman and that you were not born in the 1950s or, as I recall, in the 1960’s.

      “…also not denying your personal experience”

      Of course. You just did so again. A la: “Heide Fehrenbach wrote a book, so she must be correct.”

      No. I suggest you put your white anti-racist sentiments to work. If you can’t send a contribution to “Der braune Mob” send one to the Interkulturelles Netzwerk in Berlin. http://joliba-online.de/

      Because, frankly, talk is cheap.

      Comment by Michael Fisher — November 5, 2009 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

  9. *shrug*, whatever your true problem is.
    you make the assumption that the excerpt of the book is my only source of knowledge, you make wrong assumptions about my age but I can’t recall that we talked about it etc.
    Have a nice day

    Comment by jwbe — November 5, 2009 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  10. “*shrug*, whatever your true problem is.”

    My true problem is racism. In this case, as, once again, manifested in it’s “white anti-racist” face. It is highly instructive that even the most apparently “radical” white anti-racists can not but help try to occupy the cognitive space of non-whites. “Anti-racist” indeed.

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 5, 2009 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  11. the US-military was not racist, is it this what you are trying to say?

    Comment by jwbe — November 5, 2009 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  12. “the US-military was not racist, is it this what you are trying to say?”

    What, now you’re “trying” to imply that I can’t use the English language? I’m not “trying” anything. I said what I said: “the presence of US military personnel had an ameliorating effect on German racism”. That is not the same as saying “the US-military was not racist”. I’ll state it again in German so that there is no chance that you misunderstand: Die Anwesenheit von US-amerikanischen Truppenmitgliedern hatte verbessernde Auswirkungen auf den deutschen Rassismus. Das ist nicht dasselbe wie “das US Militaer war nicht rassistisch”.

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 5, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  13. I clearly understood in English what you are saying. But we can turn to German. Great.
    Weißt, es nervt mich. Diese Wortverdreherei bei der Ihr Amerikaner schon echte Spezialisten seid. Und nur ja nie, als Nation, Verantwortung übernehmen für irgendetwas.
    Die Amerikanische Besatzungsmacht ist Realität, ebenso wie der Rassismus auf beiden Seiten, Deutschland und USA. Ist eine rassistisch aufgebaute Nation überhaupt in der Lage, eine andere rassistische Nation zu demokratisieren? Nein. Wie auch.
    Ja sicher, die BRD hat sich in eine andere Richtung entwickelt als die DDR, das aber auch, weil die BRD wieder am ‘Weltgeschehen’ teilnehmen wollte und von daher vom Rest der Welt ganz anders beobachtet wurde als die DDR. Sprich, der politische Druck auf die BRD war ein anderer als auf die DDR.

    Wie schon gesagt, Geschichte passiert nicht im Vakuum und Du kannst auch gerne für Dein Amerika all die positiven Seiten vereinnahmen, und alles Versagen anderen zuschieben, aber die Realität ist nicht so einfach.
    Du kannst auch gerne mitteilen, was Du im Prinzip von mir willst, anscheinend scheints Dich ja zu stören, daß ich Dein Amerika kritisiere.

    Comment by jwbe — November 5, 2009 @ 11:21 pm | Reply

  14. “Ihr Amerikaner”… “You Americans”. “scheints Dich ja zu stören, daß ich Dein Amerika kritisiere” … “it appears that it bothers you that I am criticizing your America”.

    Interesting. Let me see what do you, jwbe, know about me:

    (1) Clearly I have (I would even say have excellent?) command of the English language.
    (2) Clearly I have (I would even say have excellent?) command of the German language.
    (3) Clearly I have lived in Germany.
    (4) Clearly I have lived in the United States.
    (5) Clearly I have a black American father and a German mother

    Which of these facts would indicate that I am a “You Americans”.

    Why would you automatically assume that I am an American and not a German (even if I exclusively were an American citizen), or both American and German for that matter (and as would be logical in view of the facts which you know about me)?

    This “othering” of people as non-Germans who don’t fit the categories of “Germaness” invented by German racialists in the past and perpetuated even in the present is pretty deep-seated, what ya think??

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 6, 2009 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  15. Correction” That’s supposed to be: “and not both American and German for that matter (and as would be logical in view of the facts which you know about me)?”

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 6, 2009 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  16. >Which of these facts would indicate that I am a “You Americans”.

    because you once said so.

    Comment by jwbe — November 6, 2009 @ 10:32 am | Reply

  17. “because you once said so.”

    I once said so where?

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 6, 2009 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  18. on Wacan. I asked you there because of your German. You didn’t say you are German, you said your parents where stationed in Germany when you were a child and that you took some German classes. That doesn’t indicate that you are German.

    But with one thing you are right, so far it never occurred to me that the children of members of the American military in Germany, who also live within the military base, can have dual citizenship, for me American Army was American Army, including their children living with them. Own American news, radio stations, schools, even driving through Germany with private cars having American licence plates, approaching Germans with talking English doesn’t make this occupying force somebody of “us”. I grew up having a US military base as almost neighbor, only some kilometers away.

    Something different are those children ‘Besatzungskinder’, with American soldiers as fathers and Germans as mothers and the American fathers leaving mother and child behind in Germany. These children are German, there are also organizations, trying to help these children to find their fathers.

    Comment by jwbe — November 6, 2009 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  19. “I asked you there because of your German. You didn’t say you are German, you said your parents where stationed in Germany when you were a child and that you took some German classes. That doesn’t indicate that you are German.”

    The most common and simultaneously most asinine and racist question which white Germans ask black Germans when they hear or see black Germans speak or write German like the native Germans they are is “Woher kannst Du denn so gut Deutsch?” (“How come you speak German so well?”). Your question at the time was wholly inappropriate and unnecessary. And asinine question is deserving of of a sarcastic answer.

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 9, 2009 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

  20. “But with one thing you are right, so far it never occurred to me that the children of members of the American military in Germany, who also live within the military base, can have dual citizenship, for me American Army was American Army, including their children living with them. Own American news, radio stations, schools, even driving through Germany with private cars having American licence plates, approaching Germans with talking English doesn’t make this occupying force somebody of ‘us’. I grew up having a US military base as almost neighbor, only some kilometers away.”

    Now, who said that the US Military was someone of “us” – in this instance Germans? No one ever made that point. The point that was made is that it is a fact, that without the American military’s presence in West Germany today you’d be learning Russian, live under a fascist “internationalist socialist” system that wasn’t much better than that of the fascist “nationalist socialist” system of the Nazis, and that certainly proved to be a much more fertile ground for the traditional good old German racialism than the system in West Germany, f**ked up as the prevalence of racism was, remains, and, with the opening of the wall, was strengthened.

    Besides, this picture of the self-isolating US over-lord presence is quite inaccurate. The greater number of US service families tended to live “on the economy”, that is, among Germans in German neighborhoods, renting apartments at premium rents from German landlords. Particularly when the US military was still largely made up of draftees the interaction between US soldiers and Germans was quite active, peaceful, and fruitful. Hundreds of thousands of Germans worked on US military bases. That can not be said of the Soviets in the Soviet-occupied Zone.

    Now what exactly is your point about what you call the “Besatzungskinder” (“occupation children”), a term as derisively offensive as can be?

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 9, 2009 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  21. MichaelFisher,
    you started addressing me in German on Wacan.

    My question then was:
    Bist Du deutsch oder warst Du in Deutschland? (Are you German or do you have been in Germany?)

    Your answer:
    To answer your question: Ich bin Amerikaner. Und ja, ich war schon mal in Deutschland. I am American and yes, I have been in Germany.

    You can call this a sarcastic lie.

    Comment by jwbe — November 9, 2009 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  22. Nach dem Deutschland den 2.Weltkrieg verloren hatte, erfolgte die Aufteilung Deutschlands durch die Alliierten in die so genannten Besatzungszonen.
    Insgesamt wurden vier Zonen errichtet. Die von amerikanischen, französischen, englischen und russischen Truppen besetzt wurden.
    Während der Besatzungszeit in Deutschland war es den Soldaten verboten, Kontakte zu der deutschen Bevölkerung aufzunehmen.
    Aus Angst, es könnten militärische Geheimnisse an den Feind preisgegeben werden.
    Fraternisierungsverbot – keine Verbrüderung mit dem Feind.
    Der Kontakt mit der Bevölkerung war nur aus dienstlichen Gründen erlaubt.

    Trotz dieses Verbots – wurden bis 1952 mindestens 50.000 uneheliche Kinder – deren Väter ausländische Soldaten waren in Deutschland geboren.
    Während der deutschen Nachkriegszeit sollen es mehr als 100.000 gewesen sein.
    Wobei eine genaue Zahl nicht bekannt ist.
    Man spricht hier von den so genannten Besatzungs-Kindern.

    Im Mai 1955 endete die offizielle Besatzungszeit in Deutschland.
    http://www.gi-search.net/ge/hintergrund_besatzungszeit.htm

    Comment by jwbe — November 9, 2009 @ 11:52 pm | Reply

  23. How exactly is: “Ich bin Amerikaner. Und ja, ich war schon mal in Deutschland. I am American and yes, I have been in Germany.” a lie?

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 9, 2009 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  24. Your lie is that you assume I wouldn’t consider you as a German because you are Black when in reality my first question to you regarding your German was: Are you German.

    Comment by jwbe — November 9, 2009 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

    • Oh Lawd. Please help this child.

      Whether you wouldn’t consider me as German or not because I am “black” AFTER you asked the question ain’t the point at all. The point is, that you found it necessary to ask that particular question in the first place.

      German is not an easy language for a non-native speaker and a German native speaker usually can easily recognize whether a German or a non-German native speaker is using German in speech or writing. For example, I was less concerned whether you were “German” and more interested what German city or region you are from.

      First, as to your “information” on the “Fraternisierungsverbot” (non-fraternization). The US military’s Non-fraternization policy in Germany was pretty much ended on JULY 14, 1945 at a press conference by General Eisenhower and officially so on OCTOBER 1, 1945 and not in 1955. By 1955 marriage restrictions had long been lifted for years.

      Second. Just because some schlup used the word “Besatzungskinder” on some ill-informed website and – as you did – exclusively for “uneheliche” (born out of wedlock) children with all of the negative connotation which the German cultural historically imbued this term, doesn’t make it any more “correct” for you to use it. Besides, it is debatable whether the greater tragedy wasn’t the fact that the children born within a German mother/Non-German father marriage by law were and TO THIS DAY REMAIN excluded from being Germans. http://daserste.ndr.de/panorama/media/auslaender6.html

      Comment by Michael Fisher — November 10, 2009 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  25. Correction…

    Second. Just because some schlup used the word “Besatzungskinder” on some ill-informed website and – as you did – exclusively for “uneheliche” (born out of wedlock) children with all of the negative connotation which the German cultural sphere historically imbued this term, that doesn’t make it any more “correct” for you to use it. Besides, it is debatable whether the greater tragedy wasn’t the fact that the children born within a German mother/Non-German father marriage by (an OFFICIALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL) sexist law that expired on March 31, 1953 but nonetheless is employed as the basis for German bureaucratic practice were and TO THIS DAY REMAIN excluded from being Germans. http://daserste.ndr.de/panorama/media/auslaender6.html

    Comment by Michael Fisher — November 10, 2009 @ 12:48 am | Reply

  26. >Whether you wouldn’t consider me as German or not because I am “black” AFTER you asked the question ain’t the point at all. The point is, that you found it necessary to ask that particular question in the first place.

    I don’t like making assumptions and therefore when I meet somebody on an American message board speaking/writing German I ask, if s/he is German or not.

    Besatzungskinder is a term used not just by some “Schlup”, whatever this is. And it’s not talking about what tragedy is greater, it’s nonetheless the reality of some or many Germans today that they had to grow up without father, that their mothers sometimes or often where excluded from society also because of sleeping with the enemy and for Black Germans growing up with a white mother in an often quite racist surrounding. It’s a particular part of history and the history of some Germans today. And that some would like to know who his/her father is is also part of this.

    >TO THIS DAY REMAIN excluded from being Germans.

    Yes, and this has to change.

    But a question to you. You can easily blame Russia for how East-Germany is today, but you seem to deny the fact, that America was (and still is) a white supremacy nation, with laws of racial segregation at home at that time and with a North and West not being able or willing to have an ‘ameliorating’ effect on the Southern States. Do you think that white American soldiers left their own racism at home? That it didn’t have any impact in how they occupied Germany, bringing “American values” to Germany?
    As I said already, there was a chance missed. Germany after the War had no power. And the decision that West-Germany pays reparations to Jews was a political one. Why only Jews and not the other racialized victims of Nazi-Germany? Also because they were not relevant for the occupying forces. What was important, also for the US, was a Europe becoming stable again, also in material terms, therefore the Marshallplan, also with the goal to bind European nations towards the US and not Russia, this was the start of the Cold War, and a growing European economy also benefited the US. Victims without a political lobby could easily be forgotten, no reparations for them up to today. And no, this doesn’t talk about Germans not being responsible for their actions and non-actions, but as I told you already, history doesn’t happen in a vacuum and political change to the more positive doesn’t happen without political pressure.

    Comment by jwbe — November 10, 2009 @ 11:15 am | Reply

    • jwbe. You’re just being silly now. No one had denied the existence of segregation and racism in the United States. I find it elucidating that a self-proclaimed “anti-racist” white woman keeps arguing with a non-white person about his experiences with racism and does her best to de-legitimize these experiences by alleging that I “seem” to deny things.

      Face it. Your “white anti-racism” ain’t exactly all that “anti-racist”.

      Have a good day. And don’t forget to make that donation.

      Comment by Michael Fisher — November 10, 2009 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  27. >For example, I was less concerned whether you were “German” and more interested what German city or region you are from.

    this ‘interest’ what German city/Region only is because you already knew that I am German and your ‘concern’ is not about me being Bavarian, but being German.

    Comment by jwbe — November 10, 2009 @ 11:40 am | Reply

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