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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No one whines like a white kid at ASU

Ah, yes. No one whines like a white kid at ASU. Sophomore Matthew Jezierski does it like a pro. Last month Jezierski made waves at ASU when he became the local face of a Campus Leadership Program attempt to organize a "Caucasian American Men of ASU" front group on campus.

According to its website, the CLP is a conservative group that sends
[t]rained field representatives... to college campuses to identify and recruit student leaders who create and oversee organizations on each campus. Each local campus organization identifies, recruits and trains conservative college students who will promote conservative principles effectively.
In other words, Jezierski is a dupe whose reactionary politics have allowed him to be manipulated by an outside force pushing a right-wing, white supremacist agenda.

According to a recent article in the State Press, ASU's newspaper, ridiculously titled "The new minority?":
...with the official recognition of Caucasian American Men of ASU, or CAMASU, Jezierski, an industrial design major, said he would get the representation he and other Caucasian males deserve.

The student group of more than 40 members plans to become an official organization by registering with the Student Organization Resource Center today, Jezierski said.

"As soon as we become an official group, we can be taken more seriously," Jezierski said. "It won't be like we're preaching on campus."

After Jezierski learned of the group last month from Leadership Institute field representative Emily Mitchell, he said he immediately became involved.

After spending time on campus talking with students who said they wanted more representation for white males, Mitchell decided CAMASU was needed.

She then sought out students like Jezierski to start the group, she said.

"I want to put in as much time as is needed," Jezierski said. "This club is a way to instill pride in each other and not be ashamed that we're Caucasian males."
Unsurprisingly, Jezierski offers no real evidence to support his claim that white males are under attack at the university, but his pride in whiteness remark sure sounds familiar.

The very idea that whites or white men specifically are a disadvantaged or under-represented minority at ASU is ridiculous. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. First of all, there are all kinds of white people at ASU. The Regents is practically overflowing with white folks, with plenty of white males representing. The President of ASU is a white male, and he follows in the footsteps of many white men before him. Further, beyond positions of power at ASU, whites are actually over-represented in the student body as a whole. According to the US Census in 2004, barely 61% of Arizonans are white (almost certainly an over-estimate), yet in 2003 68% of the student body was white. Indeed, if anyone is under-represented it is Hispanics, who at 12% enrollment total less than half their count in the general population. If CAMASU were truly interested in addressing disparities, they would do well to start there.

Cali Kahlman, Feminist Organization member, has it right when she told the State Press that, "The group sounds like it consists of white men who cannot comprehend how ... much easier they have it than the majority of society. They are aggravated because people are 'taking away' their rights, which is complete nonsense."

The benefits of whiteness are many. Higher incomes, longer lifespans, better access to resources, higher net worths, lower incarceration rates and better access to advanced schooling just scratch the surface.

The problem is Jezierski makes the classic confusion between ethnic identity and the political identity of whiteness.
One ASU policy CAMASU intends to challenge is the general studies requirement of a course relating to cultural diversity in the United States, Jezierski said.

He said classes in European history and languages should also be included in the requirement.

"I can fluently speak and write Polish. I don't know how that's not culturally diverse," Jezierski said. "God forbid something comes from Europe."
Speaking Polish is awesome, but is Jezierski, who the Nazi's probably wouldn't have considered white, asserting that Polish is the language of whiteness? Clearly that's ridiculous, not least because Poles certainly weren't considered white when they first began immigrating here.

The fact is, whiteness is a political identity, a political relationship which was consciously constructed through law and political action by a combination of English elites and some working class European immigrants. In order to make the New World safe for their profits, Colonial elites offered some immigrants from Europe a "Devil's Bargain" in which some privileges would be extended to them in exchange for accepting the subservient status of others, slaves most importantly, but also including Indigenous peoples and other Europeans.

Originally it excluded plenty of Europeans we now consider white, including Irish, Poles, Jews, Italians and others. The fact that this identity has evolved proves its political nature. Poles didn't evolve into whiteness. It wasn't a genetic process, or even a cultural process, per se. They became white through politics. Generally, European immigrants have had to prove their worthiness as white people. Referring to the Irish experience, Noel Ignatiev put it this way:
There were two things they had to do. First, they had to distance themselves as much as possible from the black population of North America. They had to do whatever they possibly could to create barriers, to insulate themselves, to separate themselves from the black population.

The second thing they had to do was overcome the resistance to their own civil rights coming from the people who were better off than them--that is, the native Protestant, bigoted, anti-Catholic, anti-foreigner establishment that was running the country.

There was a relationship, in fact, between these two tasks. To the extent to which they could prove themselves worthy of being white Americans--that is, by joining in gleefully in the subjugation of black people--they showed that they belonged, that they deserved all the rights of citizenship. On the other side, to the extent to which they were able to force their way into the white polity of this country, they were able to distance themselves from black people.
Whiteness and Polish ancestry were not always considered mutually inclusive, and this is what Jezierski doesn't understand. By defending his whiteness, he is defending not an ethnic identity, but rather a political identity that is opposed to the interests of people of color and equality in general. It is a racist identity, quite unlike his Polish ancestry. By organizing a political group (white men) that already has power and privilege he is consolidating power, not reclaiming it or redressing a disparity.

But, in tried and true fashion, CAMASU is good at playing the blame game. First, they have attempted to flip the script by claiming that the resistance that they experience from the student body and administration is "racist."
Jezierski said CAMASU is trying to increase equality between races and genders, and nothing else.

"This isn't a mindless, sexist and raceless group," Jezierski said. "It's the opposite - we want to stop sexism and racism."
Quite a hilarious accusation, since white men suffer no discrimination at ASU, nor are they alienated from power.

And just this week the group cried to authorities about an alleged assault on the CLP's outside agitator, Mitchell. While out hoping to capitalize on some student's white supremacist sympathies, Mitchell was confronted by two women who identified themselves as Fine Arts professors. During the discussion, which Mitchell was filming (and later posted on YouTube), one of the professors reached out and attempted to grab the video camera. Mitchell alleges she was assaulted in the process, which, if true, would be a brave step out of theory and into practice for what appears to be two well-meaning anti-racist professors.

Let's hope that ASU students that are truly dedicated to anti-racism and anti-sexism find a way to confront and stop this troubling development on campus. White men who really want to fight racism and sexism should stand up and shut this organization down now.


Anonymous G. P. O'Hara said...

An anarchist wants a state-run school to shut down an organization. Makes about as much sense as selling a socialist newspaper.

Wed Oct 11, 06:18:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Phoenix Insurgent said...

That might or might not be a contradiction if I ever said such a thing. However, I did not. I called on students themselves to shut it down, not the school.

Let's recap:

"Let's hope that ASU students that are truly dedicated to anti-racism and anti-sexism find a way to confront and stop this troubling development on campus. White men who really want to fight racism and sexism should stand up and shut this organization down now."

Wed Oct 11, 06:52:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous G. P. O'Hara said...

I stand corrected. You don't want government to be there to back up protected speech but rather for violent mobs to beat anybody who disagrees with them. Stupid, but anarchistic nonetheless.

Wed Oct 11, 08:35:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Phoenix Insurgent said...

When you're ready to talk about what I actually said rather than tossing up ridiculous strawman arguments and petty insults, let me know. There are plenty of ways to shut down an organization without "violent mobs". One can merely politically marginalize it, for instance.

Wed Oct 11, 09:16:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The government does not back up our protected speech. These rights are not given to us by the government. They are our rights because they are inalienable rights endowed upon us by our creator (however you choose to define that). We have these rights because we are human, not because we have a government.

The First Amendment doesn't say the government gives us the right to free speech, etc. It says it can't take them away. It is a right that pre-exists the creation of the government.

However, the government has taken away this right on many occasions. Books have been banned. Demonstrations broken up. Dissidents beaten, jailed and murdered. Look no furhter than the Espionage Act of 1917 which made it a crime to oppose WWI. At one time it was a crime to advocat the violent overthrow of the government, an irony because that is how this country became a nation.

PI is saying that people should exercise their freedom to assemble and take action without government sanction.

If you don't agree with this, how about you tell me where your neighborhood is located and I'll make sure you're awakened early by Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses exercising their rights followed by a Minutemen rally on your sidewalk and a neo-Nazi badminton tournament at your local park followed by a NAMBLA puppet show at the Boys and Girls Club.

Have a nice day!

Thu Oct 12, 04:32:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Jonathan Mason said...

The general liberal trend points to openness and welcome of diversity. Yet when a group of people interested in diversity forms a Caucasian American Male group on their campus, the liberals cry racism and sexism. Where did the embracing arms go that welcomed the GLBT, the NAACP, MEChA, and the other various organizations that are welcomed on most college campuses? It is hypocrisy in the highest form. Instead of focusing on what makes people different, the focus should be on what unites people. If you are anti-CAMASU, you must also be anti-GLBT, anti-NAACP, and anti-MEChA or you are a hypocrite. You must have forgotten the part about the groups constitution that included its non-discrimination clause. Your argument of sexism and racism is pencil thin on that point.

Sun Oct 15, 08:53:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Phoenix Insurgent said...

First of all, it should be pointed out that the politics of this blog are not liberal. However, the point you seem to be missing is a fundamental one. You have to ask yourself why groups like NAACP, GLBTQ and MEChA formed in the first place. And how does that reason apply to white people on campus? Do white people need a group to promote their interests on campus? White men are the group with political power on campus. Therefore, organizing to protect white men is to organize to protect white male power on campus, which is the dominant force. Organizing in support of white male power is white supremacist and sexist.

So this isn't a question of diversity or some other liberal value. This is about preventing an organization from forming that defends white male power, which necessarily comes at the expense of everyone else's. White men are more than adequately represented at all levels of the university - from students to professors to administration to the press. Further, to claim that it is defending diversity to make the dominant group on campus more visible, vocal and more powerful is a serious misunderstanding of the purpose of diversity.

Mon Oct 16, 10:18:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 'Anonymous' coward doesn't know what he (or she) is talking about. Right after the bit about inalienable rights, Jefferson goes on to explain that to protect such rights, governments are instituted among men. Those God given rights form the rationale for having a government in the first place.

He also seems to confuse freedom of speech with the right to harass or endanger others. It's been said that my right to swing my arms around ends at the tip of your nose. Should I need a permit to swing my arms around? Or should I just not swing my fist into your nose?

Let neo-nazis have all the badminton tournaments they want. We had a neo-Nazi rally near where I live about a year ago, and there ended up being more anti-Nazi protesters than Nazis. Nobody was hurt or harmed, and allowing freedom of speech settled the question of how my community felt about white supremacists.

Anonymous needs to brush up on the basics of American civics.

Mon Dec 04, 01:40:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have to say anything about this because it's already been said. Phoenix Insurgent has it right, so to Anonymous, Jonathan Mason and ALL the rest of you racist sons-of-bitches, SHUT THE HELL UP!!!! All you are doing is supporting a cause that over-represents a group of people that already has far too much power in politics and status. The fact that you wouldn't even think twice about advocating an organization consisting of and focusing directly on the MAJORITY RACE in America is an outrage! And they think that they get no representation? I truly find that crap appalling. I saw a blog today that showed someone named "Phoenix Student" responding to this idiot "Bright Light" about this "CAMASU." If you'd like to read it, go to buzzle.com/comments/111386-1.html

Fri Jan 12, 08:47:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous alecia said...

I completely agree with Phoenix Insurgent's arguments, as they are logical and sound in all respects. You raise important points concerning "ethnic whiteness" and political whiteness, and I think the difference between these two identities is extremely crucial in understanding the whole issue of this CAMASU group and why it should not exist. I would like to see how this all ended and if the group got official recognition! I hope people got together and stopped it before it got off the ground... Thanks for writing this!!

Sat Mar 24, 10:09:00 AM 2007  

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