The Blankest Canvas: On Art, Opportunism, Erasure & Whiteness

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“An empty canvas is full.” – Robert Rauschenberg

 

1951 was a big fucking year for whiteness. The United States, the last scion of both Western Imperialism and the white supremacy at its core, would finally fight to a stalemate on the Korean Peninsula – beating back both the Red Menace and the new “yellow peril” to the 38th parallel. But threats to the fragile reign of white supremacy’s new champion abounded.

At home, The Man From Planet X  opened in US theaters, dramatizing the collective fear of an alien invasion that would grip white Amerikkka and menace its lily-white, Enid Elliot-like daughters for the remainder of 1951 and beyond. That white panic on the big screen, however, found two real world targets – rabble-rousing commies and the black people they had allegedly duped to serve their alien agenda.

The “Second Red Scare,” already raging in 1951, was weaponized by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, which launched its second investigation into Hollywood. Back then, “blacklists” weren’t just empty threats on Twitter made by intentional nobodies, but a reality imposed by power that threatened the livelihoods of some of our best artists. The year also saw Julius and Ethel Rosenberg tried, convicted and eventually executed for espionage. The “traitorous and disloyal” outside agitators the US was fighting in Korea, it seemed, would have to be fought at home, too.

White Supremacy, as always, reserved its most brazen terror for black people. 1951 was no different. Despite a valiant campaign led by Communist William L. Patterson, the grandson of a slave who had himself famously been arrested protesting the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti, seven black men were executed for raping a white woman in Martinsville, Virginia. Willie McGee, another black man railroaded on charges of raping a white woman, was also executed that year in Mississippi.

In Florida, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall exercised his right to white vigilantism and summarily executed one black man and critically wounded another who were being transferred for reprosecution after their “Groveland” rape convictions were overturned by the US Supreme Court. Harry and Harriette Moore, who had organized for the NAACP in Florida and had boldly demanded charges be brought against Sheriff McCall for his crimes, were killed weeks later in a bombing at their own home that was never solved. This is, of course, why racist rumors started by a white woman that reduce a political opponent to a menacing black man isn’t a game, but that’s another story…

Ironically, the number one Billboard song of 1951 was “Too Young,” sung by Nat King Cole. Seriously. A black crooner singing about young love that others wouldn’t understand, while black men were being killed for looking at white women – that was the song on top of the charts. To end a year like that, then, could it have surprised anyone when Paul Robeson and William Patterson submitted a document called “We Charge Genocide” to the United Nations?

At last, in lesser-but-still-big-all-encompassing-whiteness news from 1951, Bette Nesmith Graham invented correction fluid in her own kitchen, making it easier for typists everywhere to “white out” their mistakes.  After all, whiteness adores erasure. Remember that. And while a dying Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote his Remarks on Colour, the coup de grâce to 1951 and its triumphant whiteness emerged when a pretentious asshole named Robert Rauschenberg began his White Paintings. Because, why the fuck not?

 

—–

 

Robert Rauschenberg was an insufferable, Neo Dadaist asshole. Neo Dadaists, it should be noted, are the folks who made us question not “what is art,” but rather, “are these fucking assholes joking?” In but one of many examples of his legendary assholery, when commissioned to do a portrait of Iris Clert, Raueschenberg instead sent a telegram that read “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so.” He was that kind of precious asshole – the kind of precious asshole who inspired generations of other assholes to struggle to use a can opener to open a can of spaghetti-o’s in a room full of other precious assholes and then piss oneself, and then boldly call it “high art.” The kind of precious asshole who would inspire Yoko Ono to whitewash a chess set and uncritically title her racist work “Play It By Trust.”

As an asshole, Raueschenberg was surrounded by other, similarly-inclined assholes. Assholes tend to attract other assholes, it seems. His asshole friend, John Cage, “composed” the famous “4’33” – which is just four minutes and 33 seconds of utter fucking silence. The blank canvas, creating nothing but a void where anything could be projected (even a politics), was now itself considered substantive and important “art.”

Rauschenberg and his coterie, in short, clearly presaged today’s trolls. And I’m glad he’s dead. I wish he’d died sooner, before his brand of utter and irredeemable, detached cynicism became as popular as it is today – because this airy, unaffected distance is, of course, a pure manifestation of privilege, be it racial, class or otherwise.

In Creative Tyranny, Rob Horning explains how many artists often reveal their real class allegiance:

“Because artists, unlike wage laborers, have a direct stake in what they produce and face no workplace discipline other than what they impose on themselves, their political attitudes are structurally different from those of the working class, who know they are interchangeable parts in the machine of capitalism and must organize collectively to resist it. ;“The predominant character’” of the contemporary art scene, on the other hand, ‘“is middle class,’” Davis contends, referring not to a particular income or earning potential but rather to artists’ relation to their labor. Artists work for themselves, own what they make, and must concern themselves with how to sell it. Though art has often made a mission of shocking middlebrow taste and artists have often congregated in urban Bohemian enclaves in working-class neighborhoods, they are less vanguard proletarians than petit bourgeois.”

 

So it was that in 1951, a few years before taking a nod from Bette Nesmith Graham, erasing a drawing by Willem de Kooning and calling that erasure itself “art” – Rauschenberg set off on perhaps his most famous act of trolling, his White Paintings. What had started as a joke between above-it-all, petit bourgeois art school buddies – when actually taken seriously outside of their insular bubble – soon became serious art. It then had to be retroactively justified when it had really just been a joke.

Of course, it’s important to say that Rauschenberg’s White Paintings can’t rightly be called mere “blank canvasses.” They’re actually paint on canvas. But they’re painted monochromatically white in such a way as to reveal nothing. They are the nothing. They aren’t a state of blankness, of emptiness – they are the essence of whiteness – the void-of-anything space that must consume everything around it in order to give itself any meaning at all. Nothingness has to appropriate to have anything, which is what whiteness itself tends to do, isn’t it? Indeed, as Raueschenberg himself observed, “an empty canvas is full.”

—–

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A White Supremacist Icon, by Molly Crabapple


“If you’re going to do something as passionate and idealistic as be a full time artist, you need to be the toughest, most cynical, most opportunistic street fighter around.”Molly Crabapple

 

“Artists are eager to identify themselves with—and even lay claim to—efforts like the Occupy movement, but their involvement, Davis argues, muddles protest and derails organizational efforts more often than not… But because artists are celebrated by capital for their seeming independence from it, they are liable to become confused about the social role they play. They think being above wage labor gives them automatic solidarity with those who want to abolish it. They think they are fellow travelers when really they are running dogs.” – Rob Horning, Creative Tyranny

In July, Emma Quangel explored The Weaponized Naked Girl, where she observed that Molly Crabapple is a self-described mercenary entrepreneur and former naked girl who seemed to earn her credentials on reporting the topic of Syrian “revolution” by way of her being an unofficial spokeswoman and artist for Occupy Wall Street.” To be sure, the fact that Molly Crabapple was once a burlesque dancer is the least interesting thing about her, to me. I’m far more concerned with the role she continues to play as a mercenary for White Supremacy. Again, in her own words, I’m more interested in her success as both an opportunist and a cynic.

In his recent offering at The New Inquiry, The White Women of Empire, which echoes many of the concerns raised in July by Quangel, Willie Osterweil poses a stark but important question: “what happens when the white woman is the protagonist of the imperialist story?” Osterweil elaborates:

“It is clear that the helpless and/or metonymic white woman of imperial fantasy will no longer do. The historical victories of feminism have forced empire to interpolate (mostly white) women as its agents as well as its objects.”

It’s apparently easy for some folks to continue to ignore Crabapple’s expressed, imperial politics – her repeated role as Osterweil’s “agent” of empire. However, from Syria to Venezuela, Crabapple – promoted as a reliable, political commentator after Occupy Wall Street – has consistently articulated a politics that serve the white supremacist power structure and its inheritor, US neocolonialism. Erasing an actual fucking Nazi’s misogynistic past is actually a part of her art. She has made the supremacist, eugenics argument herself, Beauty is survival, not distraction. Beauty is a way of fighting. Beauty is a reason to fight.”

Even before writing her paean to an avowed, white supremacist, the cynical, opportunistic and – by her own admission – “mercenary” Molly Crabapple had regularly oriented her politics to the unequivocated service of white power. Crabapple, then, has proven her art is anything but a blank canvas; instead, she has repeatedly espoused a politics that – like Rauschenberg’s White Paintings – are actually canvases slathered in whiteness. Her work isn’t emptiness, it is whiteness.

It’s actually my job as a white revolutionary race traitor, in constant struggle, precisely to criticize that. Always. To struggle with it. To destroy it. And I won’t apologize for it. As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” I believe Molly Crabapple is the petit bourgeois, “cynical,” “opportunistic” and “mercenary” white supremacist she herself says she is. No artistic flourish, no flair and certainly no vacuous, repeatedly-self-repudiated revolutionary gesturing can change that. After all, we have previously discussed – at some length – that liberals are fully capable of performing in revolutionary hats and that anyone can and will serve Nazis, for the right price.

Yet people continue to misapprehend whiteness and their own complicity in it. As Tamara K. Nopper observed in The White Anti-Racist Is an Oxymoron: An Open Letter to “White Anti-Racists”:

 

“people such as Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and many, many others who are perhaps less famous, have articulated the relationship between whiteness and domination…

 

Further, people such as Douglass and DuBois began to outline how whiteness is a social and political construct that emphasizes the domination, authority, and perceived humanity of those who are racialized as white. They, along with many other non-white writers and orators, have pointed to the fact that it was the bodies who were able to be racialized as “white” that were able to be viewed as rational, authoritative, and deserving.”

 

Nopper, perhaps presaging Molly Crabapple’s racialized whiteness and service to white supremacy itself, continues:

 

Don’t assume that when I see you get the attention and accolades and the book deals and the speaking engagements that this does not hurt me (because you profit off of pain).

 

Also, vis-a-vis Crabapple’s claim of proximity to whiteness – and to the authority whiteness itself conveys – I think it’s important to consider an amazing contribution by my comrade, Chris Taylor, who – in Whiteness Supreme: Towson University and Liberal Ironists – reminded us:

 

“Whiteness is a property, a possession, one unevenly distributed across the social terrain. White supremacists tend to have diminished access to the supreme property of whiteness. White supremacy is thus an aspirational politics, one that attempts sticking close to what it imperfectly is in order to become what it should be.”

 

How does Crabapple use her art to stake a claim to the authority vested in whiteness? In her most recent work, Scenes from Daily Life in the de Facto Capital of ISIS published yesterday in Vanity Fair, Crabapple inserts herself as the authority and interlocutor between her audience and a Syrian’s own experience and art. This is gatekeeping, plain and simple. After all, although Crabapple’s claim that “art evades censorship” may be true, it doesn’t seem to evade her editorializing. After all, Crabapple’s is “extremely editorial art” that “no one could look at…” and “not know what side [she is] on.” Whiteness. Empire. If the “who do you protect/who do you serve” chant so often levied at the police were levied at Molly Crabapple, we should know the answer.

If there is still doubt, then we should examine her famous work whitewashing Weev, a vile misogynist and avowed white supremacist, who Crabapple herself “cared for” so much so she wrote a lengthy hagiography about. And as any propagandist might, from Leni Riefenstahl to Shepherd Fairey, she went further and  “created an icon” of her “weevil one.”

What would Molly Crabapple say of Robert Rauschenberg, who joked with his Neo Dadaist buddies and trolled the art world, for his antediluvian “lulz?” Would she misjudge “sincere belief as trolling?” Would she think his White Paintings meant more than mere emptiness? Could she see the whiteness in them? Would she acknowledge that whiteness itself is domination, and that unexamined proximity to whiteness itself is what makes being friends with an actual fucking Nazi possible? I have a lot of questions, but Molly Crabapple isn’t interested in talking about anything that makes her uncomfortable. And I guess that’s her right. But it sure isn’t very revolutionary.

“Quinn Norton once advised me to write about what I loved,” Crabapple wrote. And she, who so loved empire and its foundational white supremacy (or the money and fame it afforded her), wrote words that flattered it, and urged us – as eugenicists often do – to “fight for beauty.” As many mercenaries before her, Crabapple has identified that she lives in a time when artists are brand bots, obediently self-plagiarizing from their last success“ and that journalism often feels like vampirism.” But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is this way because of whiteness itself.

We have an opportunity to have art that doesn’t reinscribe white supremacy and other ruling class values. We have an opportunity to communicate directly with each other, without intermediaries like Molly Crabapple – who refashion photos from Syria and reimagine them for us. Who editorialize them for us. We could see photos from Syria ourselves. We could hear stories from Syrians ourselves. We don’t need better intermediaries who may prove themselves so tempted by lucre and committed to brand management that, in their endless pursuit of being “New Yorker respectable. Museum of Modern Art respectable,” they paternalistically make an actual Nazi respectable for us.

However, if we insist on replicating power structures here – among them, in this space, white supremacy – we will lose. We have lost. And that’s why criticism of our faves matters, I guess. Because earnest criticism isn’t “trolling,” no matter what the white women of empire say.

—–

“When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, ‘Ours.'”‘ – Vine Deloria, Jr

The power of terministic control is a monopoly on the naming of things maintained by power. For example, as Paulo Freire wrote in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “there would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation.” However, power, particularly in the discourse on public demonstrations against it, often makes a point to discern when “protests became violent.” The fact is, protests “become violent” whenever the armed enforcers of the state’s monopoly on violence – the police – arrive. Their presence itself is the violence that created and maintains an oppressed class. Terministic control, then, is what allows power to say otherwise.

Take the word, “trolling.” Crabapple has asserted that she mistook Weev’s retrograde, supremacist politics for mere “trolling,” or insincerity. As if insincere fascism is acceptable. Crabapple has also derided her critics as “trolls.” Does she think I am likewise insincere? Maybe, but consider that instead I have sincere complaints about her service to white supremacy. The naming of things, and controlling how those words take meaning, is terministic control. Crabapple, as an artist working under a pseudonym, knows more about this than she lets on.

One aspect of liberation has historically been seen as wresting back control over the power to name things, particularly oneself; to identify oneself instead of being identified. According to Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad in Message to the Black Man in America, if a black man doesn’t assert that power, he has “never gotten out of the shackles of slavery. [He is] still in them.” From the US Organization, the BPP and BLA’s eschewing of “slave names” to our trans comrades’’ struggle against being misidentified by “dead names”: asserting one’s own identity instead of being named by power is an important terrain of struggle.

So, then, what might it mean if an artist or celebrity changed their name to one that more closely identifies with power itself? What might it mean if one were to orient oneself, through their own naming, in closer proximity to whiteness – to assume a name that may very well be the ne plus ultra of whiteness itself? What would it mean if Assata Shakur decided she wanted to be called “Becky?” What does it mean if Jennifer Caban draped herself in gothic whiteness, stole other people’s art and stories and rebranded herself with a name unmistakable in its own white blandness?

Now, close your eyes and repeat after me: “Molly Crabapple.”

I’m done being trolled by insincere, whiteness-made Rauschenbergs and Crabapples. I want something real, directly from people who don’t need whiteness as authority, whitewashers, sanitizers and those who will labor to make their own friends respectable, even if they are actual fucking Nazis, as intermediaries. We can’t go back to 1951, and frankly, I question anyone who would want to.

Fuck fighting for beauty, or New York’s conception of it – those white women of empire. I want to be in solidarity with what whiteness says is ugly. I’m not trolling Molly Crabapple, and I don’t hate her. I disagree with her politics, her mercenary vision for the world and her near-constant insincerity. Please. She can keep her white paintings.

Update 2

Trolls of a cynical, fascist feather… In her AMA, Crabapple noted:

My art is extremely editorial. No one could look at my bulging insect cops, or my pictures of Weev’s prosecutors, and not know what side I’m on. I try to convey my truth, rather than a party line, but they are deeply subjective.

Well… US Government propaganda tool and otherwise state-sponsored troll@ThinkAgain_DOS, knows exactly what side Crabapple’s art speaks to:

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 10.55.34 AM

Crabapple, of course, feigned surprise:

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It’s probably a good time for your people (whoever they are) to collect you.

Update 1

As if on cue, Molly Crabapple’s “most cynical,” “most opportunistic” auteur persona reemerged today. Crabapple –who, like Robert Rauschenberg – occupies the rarified, insincere space where blank white canvasses are just “trolling,” published a middling, wanna-be “ACAB” article at Vice today (which I have dutifully archived to limit her clicks, here). After plodding through the inextricable viciousness of the police institution, name-dropping her pals and actually interviewing a prison abolitionist, Crabapple concludes her otherwise superfluous piece with a bit of fascist whimsy:

Or here’s another, if somewhat facetious, idea: America is vengeful and loves punishment, so why not create a police force whose sole job is to arrest the police?
These meta-cops could be given quotas of officers to arrest each month. They’d no doubt lean heavily on quality of life violations, arresting cops who made communities unpleasant by groping black teens or hassling street vendors. As cops do now, these meta-cops could be promoted based on their arrest numbers. They might sometimes detain cops for rudeness, or failing to present ID, but that’s to be expected. Their jobs would be stressful. They’d have to lay down the law.

I don’t know any revolutionaries who think the creation of an über-cop is worth even “facetious” consideration. Also: the Feds already exist. Again: Keep your white paintings, Molly.

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24 Responses to The Blankest Canvas: On Art, Opportunism, Erasure & Whiteness

  1. Gradesky says:

    Great piece. Trying to turn a Nazi into a hip, countercultural icon is really the most despicable project someone could embark on. That anyone would defend her as a media personality worth listening to just reveals how hollow the vague left signifiers of people like Crabapple are, and how toxic the celebrity left really is. Again, this is whitewashing fascism we’re talking about.

    Maybe she’s on the “doesn’t know” side of the spectrum, and thinks Naziism is an edgy accessory, like being a smoker. I live in a country with a substantial neo-Nazi presence. There are openly fascist political parties here, one of which plastered the city with disgusting, racist campaign posters for a recent election. I see gangs of musclebound skinheads tool around, tatted up with white power crosses and sonnenrads. There’s swastika graffiti everywhere. A few years ago, the first Pride parade was attacked with molotovs. Every few years, another Roma kid is murdered.

    Naziism isn’t a quirky, “politically incorrect” character detail, something to illustrate as naughty devil horns on the latest piece of goth-cabaret horseshit. This shit is life-and-death.

    • olaasm says:

      Completely agreed. If you’re not going to take Nazis who say they are Nazis seriously, you really have no claim to leftism – and regardless of whether you’re a propagandist or just ignorant of the importance of – running cover for Nazis without any scrutiny means you might as well be one yourself. Thanks for reading & adding to the discussion.

  2. P. Elham 123 says:

    Now we see Tarzie’s other gig, same hipster ironies at play, same smug disdain toward others who practice smug disdain, same hairsplitting on issues that matter not at all to anyone who isn’t a little Boojie Boy/Girl idling away the hours while awaiting the next monthly stipend from Daddy’s estate lawyer.

    It’s courageous taking Molly Crabapple seriously — all my friends are much more concerned with following Molly Crabapple and the other practitioners of HIPSTER DISDAIN, and someone on the intertweet tubes needs to teach a tweeter how to really do hipster disdain. I applaud your efforts. My friends? I was just kidding, they have no idea who Molly Crabapple is, and I’m sure they’ll continue not caring.

  3. Terrific piece. And could be continued to show these are the children of faux dissident white supremacists of old, Orwell, Rand…

    She really has put a lot into remaking herself as physically white: dying her hair black has helped the perception of pallor, but she also cosmetically lightens her skin and centres this whiteness as a key characteristic of her brand identity (reviving the female ideal of Victorian imperial aesthetic):

    “Molly is 22 and striking, olive-skinned with an aquiline nose and breasts with the curve and heft that everyone
    wants either to have or to hold.” — http://nypress.com/pin-up-or-shut-up/ 2005

    “White girls particularly (I’m half-white, but aspirin-pale), are imagined to posses innocence.” – http://www.vice.com/read/on-turning-30 2013

    She wants to stress her whiteness emphatically as a superiority in Abu Dhabi, where it becomes the elite sexual consumer good denied the workers there: “Because of their dark skin, Ethiopian prostitutes aren’t favored by the country’s Emirati elite and have to charge prices that even laborers can afford….As I spoke to vendors, more and more men gathered around me. In all-male Musaffah, a white girl might as well be an alien.”

    • olaasm says:

      Interesting point. I’d definitely like to revisit how she views whiteness itself as a mere aesthetic instead of a form of domination, because I think that makes sense in her mercenary/opportunistic/cynical worldview (or at least the world she creates).

      Thank you.

      • Yes and blackness as well:

        http://www.drsketchy.com/site/comments/le_nouvelle_savage

        Her suggestion, as with the neoVictorian tweeness generally, seems to be that one activates these racist images and these figures of imperial domination precisely to declare oneself superior to them, to history and to others whose consciousness also engage with and reproduce these signs and meaning with/through them. Whiteness licenses its possessors to flaunt their superiority to the community of speakers and interpreters, which goes with the right to play and toy with racist vocabulary while insisting the signs mean only what these tall poppy master race members permit them to mean. They claim godlike power over these symbols and tropes, and defy anyone to refuse to believe the racist gestures are antiracist and those who produce them are anything other than utterly innocent of racist history (which is also in the power of the master race here to rewrite). “Whiteness may have meant something once but my whiteness is whatever I declare it is, as is your lack of whiteness which I fancy involves tampax in your ears.”

        You’re points about her eugenicist imagination are great too. She does do everything “old school” white supremacist hierarchy — beauty is a young white able bodied woman both slender and curvaceous, bad is fat, old, and what weev admiringly called making the latino “greasy” and emphasizing the “big Jew nose” on the Jewish guy. She would be more careful to make her language politically correct now that she is siphoning left cred from African Americans in trouble, but she used to be more candid in her misogyny at least:

        “In art school, stripping naked for cash doesn’t raise the eyebrows it might in the Brigham Young College of Theology. In life drawing, students are in constant proximity to bare bodies of both sexes — though these are often lumpy, ill-proportioned, and with curves in all the wrong places. Most are pathetic. Eighty-year-old Polly comes to mind. With breasts down to her belly and a habit of falling asleep — Polly convinced me that I could be a model. Wasn’t I better than her?

        “A few days perusal of Craigslist yielded a lead: “Human statues, we need you! Come to Maison DuPont’s Danse of Decadence. $20, tips and all the absinthe you can drink.” I rang the loft buzzer in high hopes. Madame DuPont opened the door — but instead of the darkly beautiful dominatrix of my imaginings, she was an aloof, middle-aged women whose ass-less corset fit her like a winch. My stomach rumbled in dread. ”

        http://www.2blowhards.com/archives/2009/02/molly.html

  4. Oh and Zizek is another open white supremacist she defends as a “tall poppy.” https://twitter.com/mollycrabapple/status/469924187969036288

  5. Stephen says:

    I really enjoyed this. As a supplementary reading, I cannot recommend Cornelius Cardew’s Stockhausen Serves Imperialism highly enough. Though I don’t agree with his Maoist stance (which does come with all the usual flaws, such as referring to apathy as anarchism), I think it’s a really insightful work, particularly in its criticisms of the Cage school (pages 34 to 47 here: http://www.ubu.com/historical/cardew/cardew_stockhausen.pdf). I especially enjoy the analysis of The Music of Changes (a piece written in 1951 incidentally), and how it’s merely an exact replication of free market capitalism, complete with the obfuscation of its structure as freedom.

    It’s also worth noting that the philosopher Cage cited most frequently as an influence was D T Suzuki, whose particular school of Zen Buddhism was overtly fascist: http://sweepingzen.com/an-article-concerning-d-t-suzuki-and-the-nazis/. For instance he glorifies imperial massacres by saying that the sword beheads, not the soldier (people don’t kill people, guns do- but in a good way)

    The other characteristic of Cage, mentioned in the Cardew book, is his subscription to Mcluhan’s absurd view that existing analyses of power relations are rendered obsolete by new technology, particularly mediums of communication. Of course this allows the constant repetition of imperial and corporate crime by denying that history has any lessons at all. I think this cartoonish ideology, which I suppose you could call ‘contemporary exceptionalism’ (there has to be a better term), is highly evident in the people you speak about. Weev doesn’t need to follow the same rules because it’s the internet, but if he was doing this on technology which wasn’t of their generation, I think there’d be a very different reaction.
    Of course there is a common thread here, evasion of personal responsibility. It is always the tool, whether the sword or the internet that is foregrounded, to atomize every situation and destroy analysis of power relations or even basic moral culpability.

  6. srogouski says:

    Reblogged this on Stanley W. Rogouski and commented:
    The anonymous writer at Anti Social Media is a lot harsher in his criticism of Molly Crabapple and what he terms “the celebrity left” than I would be. But over the past few months that I’ve been following him, he’s been consistently right, and I’ve been consistently wrong. He had Laurie Penny’s number on the Israel/Palestine issue when I was inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. He took the lead in defending socialist women like Amber Frost and Megan Erickson against the neoliberal pseudo-feminist Sarah Kendzior. Now he discusses the celebrity artist and Occupy activist Molly Crabapple. He pulls no punches. But let’s remember, the “celebrity left” doesn’t deal in subtle criticism. They flat out accuse their left wing political opponent of being rape enablers and sexual harassers. This is political hardball, and he plays it well.

  7. Dibs says:

    Yeah ok. I think Mollycrabapple and the rest of her crypto Nazi white imperialist coven have moved on from a Twitter fight that happened in July and maybe you should too.

    • olaasm says:

      Weev wrote his piece on Stormfront on Thursday or Friday. I’m happy to move on, but I think it’s worth addressing when folks front for a Nazi and don’t own their shit. Your opinion may vary, obviously.

  8. MM says:

    White supremacy is appropriating critiques of white supremacy from people of color without giving them any credit — and then using their critique to attack a biracial woman for acting “too white.”

    • olaasm says:

      Overlooking – for a moment – that you’ve plainly taken it upon yourself to make Tamara Nopper, Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Vine Deloria (all cited here) among others invisible in your disingenuous zeal to misunderstand whiteness as a form of domination and Molly’s willing, intentional participation in that structure…

      In “WE MUST RISK DELIGHT AFTER A SUMMER FULL OF MONSTERS”, Molly identifies as a “white-skinned woman”:

      During Gaza or Ferguson, I could not look away. These were events in which I, as a white-skinned woman or an American, was unwillingly complicit. But I wondered about the nature of looking. Was it voyeurism, to watch people attacked each night and do nothing but donate to bail funds? Or was it worse not to look, to retreat because one was able?

      Now, get the fuck off my comments and go back to Twitter Dipshit Theorist Island with your dumbfuckery.

  9. Oh by the way, Yasmina Reza’s god awful hit play Art is an argument among bourgeois French friends about a white on white painting one of them bought, and might interest you for its ideology.

  10. I’m only to the point where it’s mentioned but IMHO Crabapple’s past as a sex worker, and Quangel’s subsequent hostility, are interesting in that capitalists and dissidents both face the dilemma that sex workers are in high demand (for one purpose or another) even when patriarchal relations assure that sex attaches shamefully to women and the feminine while sliding more easily off men and the masculine. Not to put her on trial, but Quangel is happy to instrumentalize sex workers and liberal media feminists whose experiences and viewpoints help illustrate her point about how it was good when Stalin told women what not to do – you know, for our own good.

    I’m not sure what the net effect on the argument is, but it’s fair to note Crabapple’s conflicted class posture as a white-identified sex worker, and that she or anyone else can instrumentalize aspects of it. So…noted. I get that you decided not to spin that any way at all and appreciate that, so this isn’t meant as a remark on the article as such. I gather that sex work carries some of the same complicated class relations as art, but iana sw or drawing person.

    • olaasm says:

      Thank you for reminding me that ironing out all the complexities here would be an impossible task. I definitely am thinking about this now, particularly this: “Crabapple’s conflicted class posture as a white-identified sex worker, and that she or anyone else can instrumentalize aspects of it.”

      • olaasm says:

        I actually try to adhere to a rule of letting folks identify themselves. This is difficult, obviously, because the final arbiter of what anyone is, seems to me to be the state. Anyway, I know some Suicide Girls “id” as “sex workers,” and others don’t. I’ve been told this is similar in some porn and other fields. I don’t know. It’s tricky terrain – I only have sex worker comrades and am surely out of pocket here – but I am less concerned with slapping the “sex worker” label on anyone than I am with what these performances serve. Does that make sense?

        Similarly, I’m not as concerned with whether Molly Crabapple is “white” or is racialized as “white” – as much as I’m concerned with: “does her most cynical, mercenary opportunism serve white supremacy, writ large?” I dunno. It’s hard to articulate.

  11. (Emma Quangel is a red warrior and women never had so much self determination since agriculture as in the communist world) Fair enough about “sex worker” but the term and its lack of definition becomes a means for petty bourgeois freelancde producers of media/entertainment, not selling sex, allies and courtiers/courtesans of bourgeois consumers of prostitutes, to usurp the voice of women who perform sex with strangers for money (or sometimes just for room and board in some brothels) and then speak on behalf of propertyless sellers of sex but in the interests of properties sexual consumers and exploiters of sellers of sex.

  12. Pingback: At the Intersection of Gamergate & Weevgate, Abusers & Their Knowing Apologists | Anti Social Media

  13. Pingback: The ‘Courage’ of No Convictions | 100 Flamingos

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