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Obama's Ferguson rhetoric on "who we are"


This carries deflection to the level of grotesque. This is the drone king, the guy who whacked a US citizen with no due process. This is the country that invaded Iraq over 9/11, tried to fake the WMD evidence to justify that, and couldn't even manage to do it. "Using any event as an excuse for violence" is exactly "who we are" (for some definition of "we," of course. Always watch for that "we").

More interesting is the "who we are" rhetoric. In my stupid fucking bus trips to the mall I've gotten deeper into Jeanne Morefield's Empire Without Imperialism, which is a corking good read and a real page turner for those of who you like to deconstruct political rhetoric ("I couldn't put it down!" Really!). I quoted it back in October:

Anyhow, the first book I bought was Empire Without Imperialism (good luck with that) by Jeanne Morefield. Here she describes the theme of the work in the Introduction. After Staff Sergeant Robert Bales whacked a sixteen Afghani civilians, including nine kids:

President Obama responded to these events ... by claiming "It's not who we are as a country." His words prefigured and echoed almost exactly those of Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and General John Allen, all of whom rendered some version of the same sentiment: This is just not who we are.

Except it is, isn't it?

This book is a sustained engagement with the prolix rhetorical phenomenon that makes this kind of response to political violence possible. At its core, however, this book is less concerned with the denial of political responsibility on the part of liberal imperial powers like the United States and Great Britain as it is with the sustained historical and contemporary narratives that enable these powers to deflect responsibility for imperial violence away from themselves in an ongoing, systematic way. .... This deflective impulse -- aimed at drawing critical attention away from the liberal empire's illiberalism by insisting on its fundamental charater -- has deep roots in the tradition of liberal imperial apologetics. We see this phenomenon in starkest relief, however, during those moments when critical numbers of politicians and public intellectuals begin to feel terrorized by the possibility of their empire's imminent decline and the rise of socities and civilizations they deem illiberal, barbarian, or, in Niall Ferguson's words "the Rest."

So it's very interesting to see how Obama's deflection deploys imperial tropes in a domestic matter. That suggests that the 1% -- and the Acela-taking members of the political class that, among others, comprises the comprador 10% -- see the citizens in the flyover states as a captive, colonial population. The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.

So that's an interesting result

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Chromex's picture
Submitted by Chromex on

"Any event"?
You mean like. oh just to pull an example at random- using jaywalking as an excuse to provoke a confrontation that ends with shooting and killing an unarmed, retreating man? And being exonerated for it? Not who we are?
This president has an astonishing talent for opening his mouth and inserting his foot