FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End

Now that the campaign season has ended up where I feared it would (which isn’t the same as where I hoped it might), I am ignoring that exercise in futility, fantasy, power and cash and getting back to more fruitful endeavors. In other words, reading books and listening to music. After all, the charade of democracy we call the presidential campaign will torment, entertain and otherwise make its presence known whether we want it to or not.

The Land Shall be Deluged in Blood—Patrick Breen. Breen’s history of the Nat Turner rebellion relies on Turner’s Confessions and other established sources. Consequently, it is a researched retelling of this episode in United States history that focuses on elements not previously emphasized. Foremost of those elements is the contradictions of slave ownership and US racism. Foremost is the irony of slaveholders who feared a greater slave rebellion but also did not want to see a pogrom by other whites because it would destroy the slaveholders’ holdings, lowering their overall worth. Consequently, the slaveholders did their best to convince those without slaves that they could assuage their fears through the courts.51A--cg7EqL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_

Despite the so-called fair justice of the courts, the truth of the matter lies in the fact that the ultimate injustice—slavery—was never questioned by the white-skinned system of law. Indeed, if anything, the decision to limit the number of rebel slaves to be prosecuted and killed proved that that system had no intention of challenging the institution. If it had, it would have tried the rebels as they would have tried white men—as free individuals acting upon their own will. Instead, the majority of the rebel slaves were considered property and treated as such by the courts.

In these days of police murders of Black men and women (and the recent reciprocal murders of police), the story of Nat Turner is worth re-examining. Doomed from the start, its meaning in history is far greater than its impact at the time of its occurrence. It wasn’t madness that drove Turner and his men to murder, but the madness of the slavers’ system. Today, it is the legacy of that system actualized in modern laws and law enforcement that drives men like the police killers in Dallas and Baton Rouge to their acts of slaughter.

Charcoal Joe—Walter Mosley. Mosley is one of America’s best popular novelists. The author of numerous books in the crime fiction genre, a few science fiction novels and even some fictional meditations on modern humanity and alienation, his best novels are those featuring his private investigator that goes by the name Easy Rawlins. Based in Los Angeles, Rawlins epitomizes the noir antihero. Existing in the netherworld of Black America, crime, respectability and a pervasive racism, Mosley’s tales reflect and reveal both the beauty and ugliness of that world. Love remains the redeeming factor that overcomes cops who kill, white people who hate, criminals whose ruthlessness is matched by their greed, and the overriding racism that defines the life of Black America.

Charcoal Joe is a gangster involved in money laundering whose son is a scientific genius falsely accused of murder. Easy Rawlins is hired by Joe to prove the son’s innocence. White gangsters connected to the Mob come out of the woodwork and involve Rawlins in a subplot of greed and rivalry. Rawlins calls on his wits, weaponry, and friends to solve the crime. In the telling of the tale, the reader is brought onto the streets of LA, replete with diners, clubs and palm trees. This is one of Mosley’s best. (In a rather synchronistic circumstance, Mosley’s Rawlins reminisces on Nat Turner because Styron’s novel about the rebellion is a bestseller at the time of this tale. Rawlins is convinced that most white men cannot understand Nat Turner’s Rebellion. I might add, most white men cannot understand the killing of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge either.)

Saladin: The Sultan Who Vanquished the Crusaders and Built an Islamic Empire—John Man. The entity known in the West as the Islamic State claims to be the soldiers of a new Caliphate. Their military astuteness has helped them claim victories in Iraq and Syria, while others claiming Islamic State membership or inspiration have unleashed acts of terror in Europe, Asia and Africa. All of this has not necessarily led to a greater desire to understand what the historical Caliphate was, nor how it was achieved. Instead, it has unleashed a new wave of anti-Islamic vitriol steeped in ignorance and prejudice, leading to even more misunderstanding and fear.
John Man’s biography of Saladin blends military and general history, biography and myth to compile a fascinating narrative of Saladin’s life and times. Neither hagiography nor its opposite, this text at its best provides some insight into the thinking of those who consider themselves the builders of a new Caliphate and at the minimum is a concise and intelligent biography of one of history’s most influential men.

Coming Home—Leon Bridges. There are debut albums…and there are debut albums. This release from Leon Bridges is one of the best collections of music I have heard in a while. His hit song, “The River” is a melodic acoustic piece about love that makes even this cynic about that human exchange reconsider his opinion. The soul tunes that make up the bulk of this disc are smooth but unpolished just enough to make one feel the temperature rise and the sweat bead up on the flesh. Think Otis Redding and the Stax catalog with some Delta Blues in the mix. Perfect music for the summer’s end.

Before the shit really hits the fan.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail