An Uncle Tim

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Perhaps the best-written response to Tuesday's election -- frank, clear, logical, and pithy -- is by professional anti-racist Tim Wise.

First, though, who is Tim? TimWise.org says:

Tim Wise is among the most respected anti-racist writers & educators in the U.S., having spoken in 48 states and on over 400 college campuses. He has trained teachers as well as corporate, government, media and law enforcement officials on methods for dismantling institutional racism, and has served as an consultant for plaintiff’s attorneys in federal discrimination cases in New York and Washington State. Wise has contributed essays to fifteen books, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows worldwide to discuss race and racism.

His Wikipedia page says he's now up to 600 college campuses. He has an appearance scheduled at the University of the South in Tennessee next Tuesday and at Cal State LA on Wednesday. (That's not a particularly easy trip. The man works hard to make a living.) I was under the impression that he had a gig at Georgia Tech as well, but that now seems to be off his schedule. 

Now, you might think that this kind of career would be reserved for blacks, but that just shows how you aren't aware of White Privilege. Tim is a white man of Scottish and Jewish heritage.

Of all the Uncle Tims, he's the Uncle Timmiest.

It's important to understand that Tim is neither controversial nor a controversialist. The colleges that pay him his lecture fee view him as a public-spirited citizen, no more controversial than was, say, a doctor in the 1920s who traveled the country lecturing on the dangers of venereal disease. Tim is not "controversial" -- a term that has shifted in the 40 or so years I've been reading newspapers from one of praise (often, back then, with Ron Burgundyish hubba-hubba connotations: "Masters & Johnson Reveal their Controversial Report on the Female Orgasm!") to one of sniffy warning. Today, Charles Murray is "controversial." Tim Wise is, oh, "outspoken."

And Tim is not a controversialist. He is no more expected to engage in debate with those he denounces than that VD doctor was expected to debate the spirochaetes he warned against.

Keep in mind, that Tim is not a major newsmaker in American public life. The last time he was cited in the New York Times, for example, appears to have been 2006 and before that in 1992. Is that because he's kind of a junior varsity player or because what he has to say is not terribly controversial?

And that raises a key question about his recent essay, An Open Letter to the White Right, On the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum. Something this lucid seem hardly like an idiosyncratic effusion. Instead, it's the product of a clear worldview. I don't think most of Tim's political allies have thought this through as fully as he has, but I think the emotions and basic logic are, indeed, widespread. We've heard endlessly about Republican anger and hatred, but Freud's concept of "projection" remains a highly useful one to keep in mind when reading the newspaper. 

Tim writes:

For all y’all rich folks, enjoy that champagne, or whatever fancy ass Scotch you drink.

And for y’all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, ...

Whatever the case, and whatever your economic station, know this . . .

You need to drink up.

And quickly.

And heavily.

Because your time is limited.

Real damned limited.

So party while you can, but mind the increasingly loud clock ticking away in the corners of your consciousness.

The clock that reminds you how little time you and yours have left.

Not much more now.

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

Tick.

Tock. ...

Put it on your Facebook wall and leave it there so you’ll remember that I told you so.

It is coming, and soon.

This isn’t hubris. It isn’t ideology. It is not wishful thinking.

It is math.

Not even advanced math. Just simple, basic, like 3rd grade math.

The kind of math that proves how your kind—mostly older white folks beholden to an absurd, inaccurate, nostalgic fantasy of what America used to be like—are dying. ...


And in the pantheon of American history, old white people have pretty much always been the bad guys, the keepers of the hegemonic and reactionary flame, the folks unwilling to share the category of American with others on equal terms.

Fine, keep it up. It doesn’t matter.

Because you’re on the endangered list.

And unlike, say, the bald eagle or some exotic species of muskrat, you are not worth saving. ...

By then, half the country will be black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Nothing, Senõr Tancredo.

Nothing, Senõra Angle, or Senõra Brewer, or Senõr Beck.

Loy tiene muy mal, hijo de Puta. ...


We just have to be patient.

And wait for your hearts to stop beating.

And stop they will.

And for some of you, real damned soon, truth be told.

Do you hear it?

The sound of your empire dying? Your nation, as you knew it, ending, permanently?

Because I do, and the sound of its demise is beautiful.

So know this.

If you thought this election was payback for 2008, remember . . .

Payback, thy name is . . .

Temporary.


It's important to note that Tim isn't calling here for, say, mass murder, just as when Khrushchev said "We'll bury you," he didn't mean "Under rubble and fallout," but more like, "We'll dance at your funeral."

But, the emotions are clear. And they're common.