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Peter Nelson

on 13 October 2015

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Transcript of Baldwin

Jeremy Bulford
David Heycock
Baldwin/Buckley Debate

Pete Nelson: English 101 (2015)
Imagine a utopia - but the catch is 1/9 of the population oppressed/exploited. This is Americca.
In Dallas less than 1% of blacks can vote
There is hope: the community response to MLK pointing this out was huge. The response of authorities was draconian. This fueled non-violent protest.
America uses black labor to fuel its market; hence the title of the debate.
Essentially, he's conveying the message: Yes, equality is important, but what can I say, I'm also racist as hell.
Gives irrelevant statistics, pretending they're meaningful
Makes light: "I'll admit there are certainly many negroes who are very poor indeed." And his Lil' Sambo impersonation with a math joke.

Builds ethos, avoids confrontation: "Mr Baldwin has endured..."

Most importantly: he switches definition of American Dream. Here it means prosperity generally, and so increased prosperity benefits all Americans of all races. Not the specific prosperity existing now at this moment.
Compares himself to Jeremiah: Biblical Context -> "Babylon's Comin''. Likewise compares America to Algeria.

What was happening in Algeria?

The word "right" is the problem: This word
is what legitimizes and deligitimizes
simultaneously. If one population is on the
bottom, then to justify this situation is a form dehumanization, which it destroys the moral fiber
of the oppressors as well as the identity of the oppressed, because, as they repress the history and relevance of the Other, they erase the history and context to their own actions, and so cease to have any accurate sight of their own situation - because the possibility of other points of view has become a thing to destroy and forget.
The perpetuation is the problem; it's what's truly a demoralization: read in Freire's "dehumanization".
The inequalities seem like they're in place for a reason, per history books: dehumanization and banking - to learn that those propagandized against are "you" - to see that the destruction you've learned to cheer for has, all along, been wreaked on you.
Perpetuation is economic, even in North: blacks are "unknown factor"

A (reverse) Jeremiah: saying if word
wasn't honored once. Malcolm X = the
Bablyonians? Four hundred years?
Ethos/pathos: "My grandmother was
not a rapist"?

The problem is also the effect on
white Americans: it can be seen abroad:
"they don't understand that other cultures
exist and share humanity".

"Not only a slave, but a concubine." Again Jeremiah. History books: "a savage saved by Europe and brought to America". And he "understands how the sheriff is a "man like him, who loves his wife and likes to get drunk." This shows an understanding of humanity and its flaws Also relates personally to him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Baldwin

WWII really raised questions, because blacks were on the international scene as soveriegns and leaders - was the American story wrong?

Kennedy's scorned politeness: 40 more years; though nonetheless accurate. This faith in politeness will not work - the people you're creating can't be reasoned with.

Points out the absurdity of the question: the dream - concedes to Burford, but the question of the right of one culture to destroy another is no question.

"We are not the objects of missionary charity: We are the people on whose backs this country was built". Cf. Freire and "projected ignorance", "unknowing subjects".

400 years was enough for Jeremiah. The Babylonians - Malcolm X and co. - are coming if a discussion can not be entertained by both sides reasonably and equitably.
Pathos: Centered around projecting perspectives: this is what it does to the oppressed; this is what it does to the oppresssor.
Builds up the oppressor through referenced narratives and analogy, through over-personalization
Ethos: uses educated (British) accent; relates himself to Jeremiah; connects to people as people - i.e. directly. Like Jeremiah, he displaces the threat from his own critique to a warning of a coming nation that will see the currently powerful as the Other
Logos: If he is Jeremiah, then America is Jerusalem. It is destined to fall, unless his plea is listened to. Ethos: He connects himself in various ways to Jeremiah.
Logos: He himself speaking is representative of the culture of black Americans and the four hundred years they suffered of oppression. Therefore, he himself is witness to all the crimes committed against. To understand the ethos here, consider his his audience.
Logos: The Banking Concept in terms of race: if inequalities are perpetuated and the winners write the history books, then we are banked into believing our own inferiority: problem-posing isn't taught, hence the scoffing in Harlem at BK's accurate projection - again with Jeremiah. WWII challenged that banking and as black realize their own potential they can further the American Dream or they can work against it and define a radically new dream. Therefore, we need to define an American Dream that isn't dependent on the oppression of 1/9 of the population - or it will be our Babylon.
Suggests the banker is worse off than the bankee: the banker is forever unable to recognize the Other as human.
Christianity vs Islam connotations with Malcolm X: Violence vs Pacificism Jeremiads? Islam as Bablyonians. Revolution as Babylonians?
Logos: he examines the state of unions and labor in America - connects this with civil rights and argues that labor would not be as pathetic as it is in America if racism hadn't abetted exploitation. Again - the perpetuation is economic and psychological.

If it is Baldwin's complaint that he is treated as black man, then we have no choice but to treat him as a white man in this debate.
And so, as a white man, what is his complaint: that he is treated as a black man? This is illogical.
Baldwin claims that we don't have flawed ideals, but rather have no ideals. (?) Our ideals are just "noxious" coating overs our opportunisms.

Baldwin says the only thing the white man has that the "negro" wants is power: what does this mean? Strawman.
Ethos - Logos - Pathos
"What advice shall I take back to the American people?" Regulation against economic racism? Allow the vote in Mississippi?
Ethos: condescension, assumed higher position
Logos: Your points have no practical application
Pathos: Look, I'm trying to help!


Early sociologists associated with neoliberal views, and the "assimilationist" view of American "melting pot"
More Trickery: "14x as many illegitimate black children than white. Should we even it out by encouraging promiscuity in whites?"

Trickery: Goes back to emphasize Burford's clearly trivial data, mischaracterizing people's scoffing as cruelty: "your withering laughter" at "this contemptible proposition".

"Even if we had instead of 35 negro millionaires, twenty million negro millionaires, I’d still agree that we have a dastardly situation". He is being facetious. This is mockery.

Who are Moynihan and Glazer?
Attacks Baldwin's success as not a result of Baldwin's talent and efforts, but rather as evidence of the goodwill and charity: "Mr. Baldwin's presence here tonight is a reflection of that concern."

Compare: Baldwin's description of wealth inequality and Buckley's: "I challenge you to name me another civilization where the distribution of wealth is as much a concern as it is in the United States." This probably also facetious.
Topping it all off...
"Races suffer from racial narcissism which serves to convert every contingency to their own power. "
Just.... wow. No perspective, just like Baldwin said.

He ends on a massively verbose tirade. The gist of the tirade is as follows: Baldwin's writings (and presumably also MLK's) lead people to revolution, and if revolution is attempted, we will destroy you. Furthermore, England will join in the war on "our" side. He does this, as everything else in the speech, in a sneaky way: He says America helped English fight Germany, because "we" believed it was in the better good for Germany as well - i.e. a just cause. He affirms that England would have to see an American race war in the same way - i.e., Status quo winning as in the better good for blacks and whites - i.e. so England would, as America did, fight for their side.
Final Assessment
Extended, complex Jeremiah metaphor

Racial identity and Freire's Banking Concept: oppression?

Historic relevance, international stance: brings in Algerian Revolution, national presence/identity

Ridicules Baldwin, tells him to be grateful

General Trickery

The American dream is profit

White supremacist charge that England support America's racial oppression

hidden claim --> blacks are promiscuous
hidden claim --> there are no other options than do nothing or try to even things out the illogical way
hidden claim --> he applies this same obvious bullying to voting issue as an appeal to British concept of aristocracy
Slurs Baldwin's accent - ironically enough. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley,_Jr.
Full transcript