4.23.2015

Ben Affleck and the Art of Doublespeak

H/T Ranier M. for the image
"We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery," he wrote. "It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about." ~ Ben Affleck
Really, Ben? You sure about that? Pop quiz: if Sony hadn't been hacked and we didn't have access to the emails, are you saying you would've stepped forward and revealed this info yourself?

Dude...no one blames you for being descended from a slave-owner. That's not how it works. Ancestors are blamed for their descendents, not the other way around. You don't smack a mouthy 10-year-old because his parents are such great saints, Ben; you blame his parents for making the wrong decisions, for being incompetent, for being negligent, for being selfish wastes of skin. So it's not like we believe you were sitting in some cosmic waiting room before your birth, watching Earth's history unfold, clapping your hands and squealing, "That one right there? That's the one for me!"

In a nation where horrific history is constantly being revised, where racism is constantly being downplayed and denied, and the trendy white drone-speak is - quite literally - "My ancestors never owned slaves", you deliberately embraced that unholy trifecta with a single word: edit.  See, that's where you fucked up.  Benjamin Cole fucked up by practicing slavery. You fucked up by trying to pretend that it didn't happen.

Let me share something with you, Ben (by the way, were you named after him???). I'm what's considered tribal royalty. It ain't no big deal 'cause I ain't got and never had a royal life. But the last time I sat down with a couple of family elders poring over our history, I learned I was descended from six different royal lines going back for only the gods know how long. So I wouldn't be surprised if there was some slave-trading going on among my ancestors. It does not help that some of my maternal ancestors came from Western Asia. With a family tree like that, I'm pretty sure someone somewhere helped let the vampires in. I'm sure they tossed those doors wide open, rolled out the red carpet, chanted, "I summon thee" three times, and helped unleash hell on earth.

Side note: many African leaders are still letting the vampires in...because apparently the last few hundred years were so much fun they want to keep it going clear through the 21st Century.

Look, my point is we can't just edit that shit out, Ben. We can't sanitize it. We're not doing anybody any kind of favors. Look how much worse things are when you do. I Googled you right before I started writing this, dude. You're playing friggin' Batman right now and ain't noooooobody talkin' about that.

Then again, you also played Daredevil, so it's probably best we stick to this.

*sniff* Looks like ole Benjamin Cole finally came through for you after all....
“Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling programme.

“In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry – including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great–grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.”
(Source)
Dr. Gates, what the fuck were you thinking?

Oh, you thought you'd be exempt???  You?  You should have been the whistle-blower on this bitch, Dr. Gates; that leak should've come from you.  I mean, yeah... we know Sony told you what to do, and that you've got bills to pay, but damn, Dr. Gates...Ben's not the only one looking shitty right now.  Didn't you host a show about African Americans and their roots?  Didn't you even make a case for reparations checks?  How do you go from the exploration of enslaved ancestors to thinking the exploration of an actual enslaving ancestor is less "interesting" than the mom who conveniently marched for civil rights in the Sixties...the way all old white people seem to claim they did?

Full disclosure, y'all: I'm not a Christian.  And for many years, every time I'd hear or read a Christian say shit like, "Everything is a test", I rolled my eyes.  But moments like these make statements like that click, because when Ben found out who his ancestor was, that was a test.  For a lot of white Americans, that is a BIG test; it's a test so many of them dread.  And Ben failed it with flying colors.

When Dr. Gates realized what Ben wanted to do, that was a test.  For many brown people, it's a huuuuuuuge test.  It's a test so many of us dread: we can either challenge racism, or we can keep our jobs.  Granted, Ben was doubly wrong for making a decision which put Dr. Gates in this situation.  And the good Doctor did get the first question right; he didn't just edit that ish out right away - he consulted.  But ultimately, he failed the test.  He chose himself over the souls of Benjamin Cole's victims, who deserve to be acknowledged, in part, by having their tormentor named and revealed to the world.

So then, WikiLeaks uncovered what they did.  That was another test.  And not just a to-each-his-own test; this time they were both given the same test, basically a shared test.  Yet another opportunity to do the right thing.  To admit unequivocally out loud what they did was wrong, be honest about the fact they never intended to bring it up themselves,and confess that what they did was out of pure selfishness.

Again, both men failed the test, in perfect sync.

These tests aren't designed to be easy, ladies and gentlemen.  You're not supposed to enjoy taking them.  They're not going to go away either, so if you choose to keep racking up failures, you are going to feel the effects of them - one way or another.  Because these men are not happy campers right now, despite the brave faces and carefully rehearsed doublespeak.

10 comments:

  1. One thing that bugs me about Ben and other White people who thinks like this is why do you "suddenly"get surprised when they learn that one...or several of their ancestors were slaveowners?

    With all due respect to Ben, I see this as another case of selective amnesia and hes not the only one. There are many White people who will be quick to deny this chapter with their ancestors.Too often Black folks have to talk for them when it comes to this subject.

    Im always amazed at how some White people can deny this when even a simple minded person can put two and two together and come up with a valid conclusion. A couple of days ago, I was looking with my cousin in her FB page and a guy I went to elementary school with talked about a guy he knew that had my same last name and how many (last odd name) was around.Out of curiousity,my cousin went into his page to see how many people had this last name.

    Well,we learned that there were several people in the states had them but the bulk of them stayed in England..and mostly White .A couple live in Australia ,Canada and Ghana.
    My cuz and me joked that there could be a possibility that they could have Black kin and with the rare English/Dutch name we have,why not?

    Along with European sounding names,look at the hair eyes skin tone and the origins of being in the states.Were not in this position for nothing?It may be understandly painful for him to discuss it,but was even more painful for our Black ancestors and the generations of them enduring racism til this day.

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    1. Hell, I saw an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" with Chelsea Handler. She discovered that one of her grandfathers was a Nazi. And I believe she is Jewish. Granted, she was not proud of this revelation, but she did not deny or back away from it, either. Maybe Ben can learn a thing or two from Chelsea.

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    2. ...And the three preceding white folks' on Gates' show which also found out they were descended from slave-owners but didn't ask to edit it out.

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    3. I have watched this show and it has always been included.

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  2. People like Ben Affleck appear to be motivated firstly by shame/guilt, and secondly by an inflated view of themselves. His may not be the best family history but its History nonetheless. At least be honest enough with yourself to own it. Problem is, what white person wasn’t racist during this time in history? Such fears seem more akin to Fictional Wizards having Muggles in their pedigree.

    In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry – including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great–grandfather who was an occult enthusiast, and his mother who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

    Creating the false-narrative that you’ve descended solely from Revolutionary War heroes, and Defenders of the Oppressed makes it appear you cannot help but be the virtuous person that you are because frankly it’s in the genes. Having a Racist in the bloodline (and I’m sure there were many) might not jive with the altruistic construct you created for yourself.

    I tend to believe Racism is passed down through the genes just like any other trait. For example: Dianna’s grace- her eloquent lines/soft demeanor were often attributed to good, blue-blooded breeding stock. The same way one judges champion Thoroughbreds. That is to say, its speed- agility or other traits, came by way of manipulating its bloodlines. Similarly, people who have alcoholic parents may be predisposed to becoming alcoholic themselves simply because of heredity.

    Racism has been flowing so long in the white race it can only be explained by Racist parents, passing Bigotry down through their DNA- just like eye-color or other characteristics. He has his Mother’s eyes. She has her Father’s tenacity and wit. So why marvel at, “He has his Father’s bigotry," for example. Even as whites rewrite certain narratives to put their national shame to rest, the blood remembers. Confederate flags flying over government buildings, Civil War Reenactments: Benevolent groups like, The United Daughters of the Confederacy, or the Sons of Confederate Veterans, (defending White History since 1896 ), are quite telling don’t you think? The Blood, has a way of keeping bigotry alive.

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    1. "Problem is, what white person wasn’t racist during this time in history? Such fears seem more akin to Fictional Wizards having Muggles in their pedigree."

      As Aunt Marge said in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Bad blood will out."

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    2. “As Aunt Marge said in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Bad blood will out."

      Exactly, Blood will tell.

      A quote from one of my favorite films: Stanley Kramer’s It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

      Exactly like your father: a big, stupid, muscle-headed moron!

      Don’t know how many times I’ve witnessed this quote being uttered, sometimes even by my own Mother. The quote: “If there’s something wrong with the bitch then there’s something wrong with the pup!" seems dubious to me. For no matter how good or bad the progeny turns out to be convention tends to credit the Father (especially with male children) rather than the Mother.

      For instance: From the, Alice In Wonderland Script:
      She looks at him. Her eyes shine just like her father’s did.
      LORD ASCOT: "If you were anyone else, I would say you’ve lost your senses. But I’ve seen that look before. Since you’re not going to be my daughter-in-law, perhaps you would consider an apprenticeship with the company?"

      Traditionally/Culturally blood has been blamed for conserving/expending genetic material (the entirety of a person so to speak). If that be the case, why are whites so quick to discount Bigotry as being part of that whole?

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    3. Call it "Intro to Modern White History and Sociology." It's a school of thought where slavery is admitted, but no slave-owners are supposed to actually be named. Where racism is a problem, but no racists exist, just good white folks marching in civil rights movements.

      With the way white people disavow slave-owning relatives and all claim to have marched with MLK, it's absolutely baffling how racism could've ever possibly existed, much less have been allowed to live on.

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  3. Thanx for this most excellent post, Ankh!!

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