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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: March 10, 2001
Latest update: March 10, 2001

On Tim Wise's "School Shootings and White Denial"

Tim Wise's article at AlterNet.
Backup copy.

"The Chickens Will Come Home to Roost"

On Friday, March 9, 2001, Prof. Marvin Berlowitz of the University of Cincinnati wrote to the Peace Education Commission list:

Dear Friends,

Perhaps Ian's observations can be summarized by repeating Malcom X's admonition, "The chickens will come home to roost."

However, I would like to add a few points to the dialogue.

Popular Culture

The capitalist concentration in the pop culture industry has given rise to a genre which systematically desensitizes our youth to violence in much the same manner that the U.S. military has utilized to increase the kill ratio of our troops in fire fights. Perhaps such "culture" is equally useful to desensitize our civilian population to the human costs of neo-liberal ideology. We must also keep in mind that the U.S. pop culture industry saturates the world market with its toxins to an even greater extent than Mc Death sows metabolic destruction by extending its arches to every hemisphere. In the sociopathic language of our leaders, I suppose that Columbine & Santee would be viewed as "acceptable collateral damage."

The Decline of the White Middle Class

The white middle class in our nation has also fallen victim to the structural economic consequences of globalization. With the exception of the works of people like Kate Bradbury, Randy Blazak, & Susan Faludi, the limited catechism of "political correctness" pervading the academy has been as insensitive to their plight as the duplicitous dogma of the Republicrats. It is only the incipient fascist movement in our nation, which has focussed upon the declining white middle class.


Discussion Questions

  1. Professor Berlowitz speaks of the "collateral damage" of pop culture. What does he mean by that?

    jeanne's lecture notes on one plausible interpretation:

    Professor Berlowitz speaks of how pop culture desensitizes us to violence. I think we might understand that as suggesting that pop culture ritualizes and categorizes the portrayal of violence as acceptable, on the grounds that the media are not real, and all the bodies get up when it's over. But that is fantasy, not reality. As in the school shootings, the bodies don't get up. Here, I'd like to remind you of Weber's comments that it is ultimately bureaucratization that will be our downfall. Martha Minow reminds us that categorical thinking is a major problem in finding solutions to human rights problems. When we ritualize and categorize, we ignore the sensitivities and nuances that permit us to exercise agency as we interact interdependently with the social context.

  2. What fear does Prof. Berlowitz express of globalization?

    jeanne's lecture notes on one plausible interpretation:

    Prof. Berlowitz deplores our exportation of many of the worst factors of our own culture. The fast food industry, which has contributed to the poor health of our nation through its inattention to good nutrition. The exporting of cigarettes to lesser developed nations, now that we finally recognize their danger. The exporting of our concept of "bottom line" and profit, with little sense of community development and investment in the social context.

    Gordon Fellman insists on a need for a paradigm shift away from adversarialism towards mutuality. The picture of globalization offered by Prof. Berlowitz suggests that it is adversarialism, even the obsessive kind, that we are exporting to the rest of the world.