Saturday, June 03, 2017

aryan nation

In 2014, Fortune magazine did a series about white collar convicts in prison. One of the convicts was Matthew Kluger, who was caught on an insider trading charge. Kluger is a name- his father, for instance, won a Pulitzer prize for the book, Ashes to Ashes, about cigarette company financed pseudo-science. Kluger was a highly paid lawyer.
The magazine asked him about race relations in prison. This is what he said:
When I was in transit [from Butner] to here, I was being held at this BOP central transit center in Oklahoma City: 5,000 people sitting there on any given day—it's unbelievable. It's at the airport. They pull the plane right up and they have a jet way. It's quite an amazing thing to see.
So I got there. I went to my room. And my room was occupied by a black guy. I went and started moving in, because we talked and the black guy was also going to Morgantown. About ten minutes later, some big, white, tattooed guy, an Aryan Brotherhood, Texas guy, pulled me aside. He pointed to some tables and said, "This is where we sit."
“We,” meaning you, too.
Well, I was a little confused about that. I wasn't sure whether he was saying, "This is where we sit, so stay away from us," or "This is where we sit, and you're welcome to join us." And then about ten minutes later, a guard came over and said, "I'm moving you to a different room." I said, "Why?" He said, "because your friends there said it was unacceptable to them for you to be in a room with a black guy."
So they moved me into my own room. Which was fine. I mean, I felt bad. I felt very bad. But I was happy enough to get my own room for the six days that I was there.
I've met interesting characters here, and I met interesting characters at Butner. My best friend at Butner was a 28-year-old sex offender who grew up in a trailer in rural South Carolina. I mean, I grew up in Connecticut, and later I went to prep school. This is not really my thing.
So you do meet some interesting people, and you learn to interact with people you would never outside of here have had the opportunity to interact with.

So race matters.

Race matters. Yeah. Race definitely matters. I would say in some prisons they're 50 years behind the times. Here we're only 10 or 12 years behind, or 20 years behind the times. No, there is a very “us and them” view—now, that doesn't mean that there's no interaction. And I have a couple of black friends. But by and large, there's a lot of suspicion and wariness.

I was reminded of this scene when I read the NYT’s lighthearted look at what they are calling the alt-right – it used to be known as white supremicists, but the Times is nothing if not trendy, and kissing the ass of our Republican overlords by using euphemisms for racists is where it is at in the country club world. The article centered on a former felon, Kyle Chapman, who is described here: 

As the founder of a group of right-wing vigilantes called the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, Mr. Chapman, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound commercial diver, is part of a growing movement that experts on political extremism say has injected a new element of violence into street demonstrations across the country.
I loooove that description. Kyle Chapman does have a slightly different profession the NYT people decided not to front. He’s been convicted of three felonies, two for armed robbery, one for selling weapons to some urban gang. Otherwise, he’s just a nice commercial diver.
I kid. You know I love our liberal gray NYT rolling over for the right paper of record, and advertising as part of the resistance. So, so… Times-ish.
But this is not so much about bashing the Times as calling attention to something that seems to operate completely under the attention zone of the establishment. It was not commercial diving that shaped Kyle Chapman's racist views. Prison has become a major station in the lives of hundreds of thousands of white males in their late teens and twenties. And that experience has majorly leaked into our national discourse.
The whole prison system in America relies on the kind of massive topown violation of human rights that puts the US on the level of North Korea, for instance, by torturing prisoners, and the encouragement of convict level gangs. The prison system that gave birth to the Aryan Nation is doing nothing about it.
I’m not suggesting that Trumpism is merely the phylogenetic extension of the Aryan nation. Rather, both are the phylogenetic extension of what America chose to become after the civil rights movements of the 60s. The massive incarceration system has leaked into the rest of the system, as it was bound to do. But we can all go da da da, and pretend this didn’t happen. Isn’t happening.

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