One of our two Portland, Oregon based Monthly Meetings (a Friends meeting that holds meetings for business once a month) organized a listserv for yakking about Racism. Both of these Monthly Meetings are part of a Yearly Meeting, and the Pacific Northwest region has more than one of those.
In no way are Quakers free of the scourge of Racism, that meme virus, as I think of it. Individual Quakers approach their own inner racist demon in different ways. Some pray for a successful exorcism.
In fact just today I was reading Chuck Fager’s review of Fit for Freedom, Not Friendship (Philadelphia: Quaker Press, 2008), which is typical of what Friends have been up to lately: popping their own self-congratulatory party balloons, and assuming a less heroic role in ending Racism.
For one thing, it hasn’t ended yet, so any victory celebrations are premature.
No religion can afford to come off as too phony baloney, at least not for long. We’ve been coasting on our Underground Railroad reputation, for more than its worth, as if every Quaker had been a Friendly train clerk back in the day.
A lot of the rain on our Quaker parade is simply a consequence of the passage of time. History sharpens as it grows colder, sinking in to a frozen bed of immutable events, some newly coming to light.
The sugar coating wears off, as the teachings grow weather-worn.
In the rear view mirror, we see that most Friends were not that far out ahead of their countrymen, in terms of advocating to free the slaves.
Your average Friend was more likely thinking it’d be many decades before a suitable homeland was found, in Africa somewhere, to which the former slave families might be returned.
Freedom yes, but in lands owned by former slave owners, no.
That was one view among many, but in so many ways typical.
As I learned from reading other books, the people we call Abolitionists were called “Immediatists” in their day, and the most singular aspect of their agenda was the urgency they brought to their cause.
As anyone with experience in Quaker meetings for worship likely knows, anyone possessed with a spirit of immediacy feels the call to action in the face of emergency.
Surrounded by others perhaps not so moved by the spirit, the Quaker activist gets labeled a “ranter” before long, and as such, an annoyance.
Quakerism is characterized by this polarizing tension between “ranters” (the activist prophets, following leadings of the Spirit) and “quietists” with their Do Not Disturb signs. Both have reason to question the integrity, of not the sanity, of their rival.
Back to that listserv, a committee thing, I started a thread on the public figure Tulsi Gabbard, currently running for POTUS in 2020. She’s a congresswoman from Hawaii and is active duty in the national guard, having deployed to Iraq a couple times in a medical unit.
You’d think Quakers would be standoffish regarding a vet, but you’d be surprised how many Quakers are vets themselves.
If we count the Cold War as WWIII, the way Bucky did (in Critical Path), then we’re almost all veterans in a way, included me, wounded by a military-industrial complex, especially mentally. The healing has not been easy.
The way bureaucrats graph out the races, from their offices in Washington DC, has to do with legislation tied to demographic data. If schools are supposed to have a certain percentage of racially Black students, then the database needs a check box for that field.
How is one to measure progress, from a public policy standpoint, if race gets overlooked?
But then what if the policy needs a more fine grained approach? Just checking a box “Asian” may not be sufficient information, especially if you’re a “Pacific Islander”.
The United States, for which Washington DC serves as an administrative hub, includes several Pacific islands, some of them classified as Trust Territories, others as part of a full fledged state, the one named Hawaii (where Tulsi Gabbard is from, as a member of the United States House of Representatives).
Tulsi Gabbard is often classified as Samoan, the first Samoan to run for president. That’s the taxonomy in play.
Some government forms will distinguish between Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and Filipino.
Clearly the concept of “racial group” is starting to follow national borders, which may be confusing.
Is the form inquiring after ancestral heritage or nation of origin or what?
The bureaucrats are not required to have any consistent ideology or scientific model with regard to “race”, as none may exist.
Legislation need not have a consistent “type system” either, across the board.
Niche language games spell out niche practices.
A s a Hindu person of color, an Hawaiian Samoan, Congresswoman Gabbard brings some fresh thinking to her campaign.
When she heard the troops in Syria were to be repurposed to counter Iran, that’s when she knew their mission had really ended. One doesn’t play with soldiers in such an ad hoc manner, as if they’re just toys in your toy story.
Stay-at-home think tankers may expect these mostly young recruits to act out their elders’ geopolitical fantasies, but a big change in mission actually takes authorization by Congress.
For all the rhetoric and protest withdrawals from various accords, Congress has not authorized any kind of war against the state of Iran.
You don’t send a few thousand guys to end the ISIS campaign and then suddenly pull a bait and switch, just because of geographic proximity. That’s not a plan, that’s stream of consciousness.
Tulsi can sense the difference, even where a Defense Secretary might have missed it (oversight is from Congress in any case).
Tulsi’s legislation reaffirmed that the Pentagon could not stretch its new post 911 powers indefinitely.
Picking fights with Iran is perhaps a president’s business, but is not the role of the Joint Chiefs. Whether her bill passed or not, she got the media picking up on the story.
Tulsi was a new thorn in the side of specific war planners, not necessarily the most talented, or most likely to win their wars anyway.
Not every war plan is worth following, is the obvious understatement.
Most Quakers I know were dead set against all the regime change wars set in motion by the Beltway Junta, post Nine Eleven. Not many use the word “junta” perhaps, and still fewer think back to a coup d’état in the 1960s, when Eisenhower’s Vice President’s covert army got its revenge for the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Vice President Pence is the new covert special forces adviser, while Maduro is the new Castro.
Herbert Walker Bush also played a shadowy role when Ronald Reagan was president.
Those who repeat the platitude that the Vice Presidency was mostly ceremonial until the Dick Cheney held that office, are ignoring most recent history.
That’s one telling anyway, with a focus on covert ops.
Nixon’s job under Eisenhower was to help coordinate the Cuba policy, which naturally meant working with Cuban exiles, especially the corporate casino-owning networks, organized in the wake of Prohibition and designed to cater to the rich and sometimes famous. High rollers and big donors.
Donald Trump ascended to his presidency by catering to some of the same golf clubby, tea cuppy, jet setter crowd.
The parallels of Trump with Nixon might be made.
Both had “Realpolitik” national security advisers, Bolton and Kissinger respectively.
Quakers tend to focus on the late Richard Nixon a lot, because of his Quaker roots. The late Lyndon LaRouche is similarly a source of fascination.