White Forgetfulness

5 08 2008

I have never had Absolut Vokda. My bar at home features a gigantic magnum bottle of Ketel One, and when I go out I tend to limit myself to K1, Belevdiere, or (if I’m feeling douchey) Grey Goose. But after seeing a certain advertisement, Absolut may be the only type of liquor I ever drink again:

Figure 1: Oh hell fucking yes…

This is an ad for Absolut that ran in Mexico several months ago, which effectively shows what the U.S. would look like if it hadn’t stolen the entire ‘Golden West’ in the Mexican-American War. The ad resulted in a firestorm of anger and caucasoid haterade, and I couldn’t possibly be any happier.

My favorite part of the outrage sparked by this ad is the stark relief of White Forgetfulness it exposes. For those who don’t know:

White Forgetfulness = (White Guilt) x -1

Most people mistakenly believe that the following equation is true:

White Supremacy = (White Guilt) x -1

But they are mistaken. White supremacy, despite being extremely caustic, is a fairly tiny, easily recognized, and popularly dismissed movement. White Forgetfulness, on the other hand, is far more pervasive, far more subtle, and far more dangerous. To elaborate more fully, White Forgetfulness is the desire of white people to forget that the greatness of the United States – and many of the race-based social ills that pervade it today – are the result of Indian blood, Black sweat, and institutionalized racism.

The Absolut Mexico ad produced a severe reaction not just because the lines of Mexico were redrawn all over America’s face – but because it wasn’t COMPLETE fantasy. As the article states, the key argument against the ad is that Mexicans (and other Central Americans funneling themselves though Mexico) are indeed ‘invading’ the United States…they’re just not doing it in the traditional military sense which would allow white people to respond with their most well-practiced prescription: SHOOT ‘EM UP!

Figure 2: For the visual learner

White Forgetfulness comes into play when those reacting negatively to the ad forget that a.) America owns California, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and parts of several other states because we forcibly stole them from Mexico, and b.) America owns the rest of the land in its borders because it was stolen from Indians.

One of the favorite pastimes of white folks is to sit around thinking to themselves that, bit by bit and treaty by treaty, the taking of Indian land was somehow fair and legal – as if Indians were actually dumb enough to GIVE AWAY so much land in fair exchanges to Whites that, by the end of the 19th century, the remainder of us were intentionally sitting on a pile of dirt in Four Corners eating diabeetus-inducing commods with one hand and jamming our thumbs up our asses with the other.

Figure 3: Absolut Yoink

Have you ever had one of those roundtable type discussions in high school or college where you were forced to discuss issues of race in mixed company? These discussions always involve bleeding-heart liberal white douchebags, who enraged me for years until I figured out that they were gigantic piles of incarnate irony. These people are ironic because they’re white supremacists and they don’t even realize it. I will never forget the words I heard come out of the mouth of one of these guys in response to the tensions between blacks and native americans:

“It’s nuts, you know? All these tensions based on race it’s just…stupid. Life’s too short, you know? This is America. We should just forget all this bickering and just become one culture!”

The last sentence of his claim sent me into fits of laughter in a discussion that was otherwise utterly un-funny. I fell BACKWARDS out of my chair, and rolled around on the floor of the classroom howling with laughter and clutching my stomach until I was thrown out of class and told to report to detention (this happened in high school).

I’d attribute the dumbness of his claim to youth and inexperience if I hadn’t heard the same argument made by countless white people in college and even to this very day. White people make the ‘one culture’ argument in front of minorities all the time, and they do it because they think it’s what we want to hear. What they don’t know is that this argument enrages us for two reasons:

1.) It allows white people to forget about the consequences of historic racial injustice (which would persist, even if we were ‘one culture’) while continuing to reap the benefits of historic racial injustice

2.) ‘One Culture’ implies a melting pot, which is COMPLETELY impossible. For there to be one culture, there would have to be forced assimilation into an existing culture*, which is something that minorities (blacks and indians above all) are all too familiar with (think ‘YO NAME IS TOBY! and Indian boarding schools with the mission ‘Kill the Indian, Save the Man’, like the one attended by my father)

The One Culture argument implies ignorance of minority issues on the part of whites, and an entirely self-serving agenda. Of course, this is typical white behavior, but it’s decidedly atypical and angering when this behavior is repackaged as a CURE for racism instead of what it is: a centuries-old racist argument for cultural genocide.

I think it’s time for a drink.

Figure 4: This is how I get over damn near everything.

* White culture, to be exact. God knows white people on the whole aren’t going to start acting like blacks, indians, asians, or hispanics, and we can’t make them, because they have all the guns.