The Littleton massacre
Louis's observation on the sociology of American high schools is very apt. I myself went to high school in Hong Kong under the British colonial education system which was institutionally class conscious. But the different was that in the British system, upper class kids went to upper class schools and lower class kids went to lower class schools. Within the upper class schools, the scholarships students were all from lower classes. It is peculiar of British liberalism that while institutions were class conscious, within each institution, the idea is encouraged that each individual should be measured according to his innate qualities regardless of class and wealth (which, unlike in America, are not necessarily identical attributes).
And scholarship students are generally accepted as equals and often as superior models. It would be only much later in life that the scholarship students would discover that their best high school friends who always needed their help academically have inexplicably become their bosses. Another factor that fueled solidarity among colonials natives of all classes is their common anti-imperialism and nationalism aspirations.
In America, the public education system has been built on an ideology of classless equality which is increasingly at variance with actual social conditions. The result is that elitist private schools tend to be more effective melting pots while public schools, particularly middle class suburban schools, have degenerated into pits of racial and social hatred. Still, the venting of rage through guns, especially at the scale of the recent massacre, is unique of American culture.
Henry C.K. Liu
It is despicable how the media is downplaying the racism. One local headline is "Group hated athletes the most ". It starts out:
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris hurled insults at Jews, blacks and Hispanics... But they REALLY hated the athletes, who had power and popularity - everything they didn't. (end quote) .
The text itself has he word "really" in all caps.
We in the Black community, veteran scientists of the vast media phenomenon of covering up racism and constantly nurturing in the minds of the masses a sense that racism is not that big of a problem in U.S. society, read this as "white people, don't get to thinking that these kids' main problem and motive was racism. The main thing was they hated athletes". Yea, right, a big social problem in U.S. history and society, the hate of atheletes. Did you realize that America once enslaved athletes ? That Hitler hated athletes more than Jews ? All the typically prevaricating news coverage is saturated with "damage control" to prevent people from connecting their horror at the crime to a horror at racism in general. I hope Chomsky and Parenti publish books on this media coverup of racism phenomenon alone.
By the way, contrast this with the whole O.J. Simpson months long, virtual reality maxi-series, which had coverage priority at least equal to that on the current war. It was astonishing. A relatively private murder, of the type that thousands occur every year became a national religious ritual. There can be no other explanation for this coverage extraordinarily out of proportion to its social or poltical import: it was a Big Brother method of baptising a new generation in the myth of the Black rapist and murderer ( See Angela Davis' essay "The Myth of the Black Rapist" in _Women, Race and Class_ on history of the icon of Black man as rapist and savage as a bulwark of U.S. racist consciousness). Ironically, some of the truth broke through even in the O.J. Simpson maxi-series with the revelation of the Nazi cop Mark Furhman. Notice how the professor's tapes of Furhman's racist ravings have never been made public.
Or maybe the media's motive was to get an O.J. Simpson as an athlete, that widely despised and victimized group.
In this and the current genocidal mass murder,we have the reverse aspect of racist mindcontrol: Playing down in the mass consciousness the scale of actually existing white fascistic racist consciousness , organizations and cliques in the U.S. If the truth of how racist America is today were common knowledge it would be much more difficult to argue that affirmative action is not necessary by alleging that racism is a thing of the past. The signal characteristic of Reaganite racism ( the new racist line seeking to role back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement) is the DENIAL that racism is still a significant problem in the U.S. The post Reagan monopoly media has a term for those who accuse anybody of racism in politics, business or anything else: "playing the race card" or "race baiting". The right wing cries out that Black leaders are falsely portraying Black people as victims. America is really a wonderful place of racial harmony and Black people are just a bunch of lazy ! , malcontents., etc., etc.
Mark my word. We are about witness a whole lot of creative and diversionary sociological/psychological/theological pronouncements and explanations all designed to keep the great mass of white people in denial about the representative racism of this horrific crime.
Scenes from a workers break room.......
....The very tall African-American foreman stood in the door of his office, glowering out at us. I asked him what he thought of the massacre in the Colorado high school. He exploded with anger, "White America is out of control!"
I asked a co-worker if he would like to read the article I just wrote about the war against Yugoslavia. "No", he said. "Well, I will tell you what I think then," I responded. "No you won't", he said, and put his fingers in his ears and began to hum loudly, as I started to speak.
The day's paper lay on the table between us. One of the second-shifter's picked it up during our discussion of the war and said, "I don't believe anything they write in this, or put on the television, nothing!"
"Apparently high school hasn't changed much over the years. "
I think it has a little. Class distinctions certainly follow into public schools, but sometimes more successfully than others.
The schools I attended in the United States, were too large to have strong organised hatred, save for racism. My class (as a junior) had 1100 students, the highs chool (4 grades) was about 4500 students.... There were cliques everywhere- but as far as relations of certain groups with others- it was more of an exception than rule. If you didn't aim to see certain people, you wouldn't see them.
It wasn't without violence of course, I got into a fight walking home from school one day with a guy I'd never seen before. When he was driving by in his car, he didn't appreciate the way I looked at him in his car (he looked like a jackass), so pulled over and we threw fists. We never met up after that.
Fellows got into fights for this reason and that, but of the fights I was aware of, they were the results of dealing with the "outside", rather than anything like fights between "jocks and burnouts"... fights on those premises were seen as pretty childish... more something you sort out in 5th-6th-7th grade than in high school, when you break from those relations, and focus into whatever part of society you've been borne. High School isn't something many people take seriously in large schools...
In the small schools I have attended (as small as 45 kids in the class), predominately I met with ostracism. Some had a layer of hatred or disgust, but hatred and ostracism do not coexist. The emotion that dominated interactions between the outcasts and the rest in these schools was fear- the gateway to ostracism. Threatening fear can lead to hatred, but usually no one really cared enough to bother. Mind your own ways and we'll mind ours. There needs to be some common bond to bring those conflicting interests into conflict... school hardly fit the bill: you were a part of it, or you weren't.
Unfortunately, outcasts now have to deal with suspicion, a terrible weight for a teenager to bear....
I joined the list yesterday. I appreciate the lively, necessary activity and want to add a note to the discussion on high school- and, more specifically, the whole K-12 system.
I am six years beyond my own K-12 experience and remember it with both disgust and contempt.
I think an important thing to remember is not that K-12 is simply a microcosm in which can be read the familiar class distinctions of a larger bourgeoisie society. And, it is not a neutral institution that the ideologies of class society penetrate to pervert, or distort. Instead, K-12 produces class society. It fabricates docile, productive, and politically mute bodies to fill the modes of production, to fill the bourgeoisie professions.- It does this to feed the machinery of the infernal circle: As labor expires, more labor is produced.
The link is too often glanced over: High Schools rose with Capital in the nineteenth century. 'Der Kindergarten' became a national institution when German immigrants went to work.
As a worker paying for college, I learned to punch the time clock on time not simply by the demands set upon me by production - but from my K-12 homeroom teacher who sent me to detention for being late. [Transactions, assignments, agreements for the bourgeoisie too, need to be done on time.]
K-12 produced my brother who is now staring down a rifle barrel at Serbs. And, K-12 produced the killers in Colorado in much the same way Engels described capitalism's production of criminals- [criminals that capital punishes with death.]
I pass this along from Nietzsche- "In how unnatural, artificial, in any case unworthy a condition must the most sincere of all sciences, the honest naked goddess philosophy, find herself in an age which suffers from general education! All modern philosophizing is political and official, limited to learned appearance by governments, churches, academies, customs, and the cowardices of men; it stops with the sigh 'if only' or with the realization 'once upon a time.'...as it is [modern man] is satisfied with modestly draping [philosophy's] nakedness... Are these still human beings, one asks oneself, or only machines that think, write and talk?"
Solidarity, Eric Brown