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Swallowing The Blue Pill:
Frank Talk On Race
And Fascism In The US

By Juan Santos

17 October, 2006

“You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe.”
– Morpheus, The Matrix

As the US veers on a radical course toward fascism, the Democrats, who are riding high on a national wave of revulsion against the Bush regime, breathe not a word about reversing the legalization of torture or restoring habeas corpus; they say nothing about reversing the Patriot Act, nothing about averting war in Iran, and nothing of substance about pulling out of Iraq.

Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi speaks coyly about not knowing where investigations of Republican abuses might lead, but has no intention whatsoever of “endangering” Democrat’s chances of winning the White House in 2008 with a move, like impeachment, that might appear “radical” to swing voters.

That’s the excuse, at least. The reality is that Pelosi knows the simple truth: to indict Bush is to indict the entire US government before the eyes of the world – including the Democrats, who are up to their throats in complicity in the Iraq war and in fascistic legislation like the Patriot Act. Besides, to indict Bush over Iraq would mean the Democrats would undercut their own plans to blow the bloody hell out of Iran.

With the leadership – or the stalemate - of the empire “safely” in Democrat hands, white left-liberals may well revert to the guilty stupor they embraced during the Clinton years, at least until war is unleashed against Iran.

They may even sleep through that – or offer the kind of dull and creepily cautious pro-forma “opposition” that typifies the activism of the anti-war group “United for Peace and Justice.”

Just about the time US nukes rain down on Iran and martial law is declared, they’ll be busy congratulating themselves for having stopped fascism with their latest petition drive and get out the vote campaign.

But really, they’ll have had little to do with it one way or another.

And that’s the problem. Real oppression – and just as importantly the consciousness of one’s own oppression in the US - has next to nothing to do with the white left, except for radical, conscious white lesbians or a smattering of anti-racist and property-less white women.

There’s a reason for that. Marxist fantasies on the matter aside, there is no white working class movement in the US, much less is there a white working class that can unite with the struggles of peoples of color. The US lacks even a pathetic, reformist, British style “Labor Party,” precisely because there is no base for even that.

There is no white working class movement because in the US real oppression – overt violent oppression - is based primarily on nationality, color, culture and gender – not class.

After all, occupiers don’t, as a rule, unite with those they occupy.

Like the South Africa of Apartheid infamy, the US is a white colonial settler state. It has no multicultural proletariat, any more than working class Israelis and Palestinians make up a multicultural working class with common interests.

No one in the US, after all, was subjected to genocide or slavery because of their class. There were no lynch mobs hunting down working class people if they didn’t keep their gaze downcast. No one burned down working class towns, no one targeted the working class for pogroms like the so-called Zoot-Suit Riots.

Questions of women’s relative vulnerability aside, no one is raped because they’re working class. There are no “Joe bashers” one could equate to Gay bashers. And there are no white working class ghettos, barrios or reservations where the police act like night riders or an occupying army.

Where are the no-fly-racially-profiled white “terrorists”? Where are white people required to prove their citizenship to rent an apartment? Where do whites come under instant suspicion for deportation? How many European whites are subject to the conditions in Guantanamo? How many have been tortured? How many whites have been stripped of the writ of habeas corpus, held without charges, without access to a lawyer?

How many whites are among the native Indians, Blacks and Chicanos in the US, who together comprise the single group most targeted for incarceration in the world?

Obviously, there are none.

That’s why there is no mass movement against fascism in the US.

Because fascism targets the Other, and everyone damn well knows it.

Without the war in Viet Nam – actually, without a draft that impacted young white men, there’d have been no mass resistance among white people in the 60s. Peoples of color were unquestionably the leading edge of the rebellions of those years.

That’s because of one of the social guarantees of whiteness. Even if it’s never spoken aloud, everyone knows in their bones that white people are exempt, that white people as a group are not the target of overt violent oppression in the US, and that they never have been and never will be. Guaranteed.

That guarantee is their blue pill, what makes them sleep.

And that’s why, in The Matrix, it’s Morpheus, a Black man, who has to offer the white man, Neo, the choice: red pill or blue; wake up to the full reality around you or stay asleep. That’s also why The Oracle had to be a woman of color, and was. Doubly oppressed, doubly wise.

Now then, a white woman – not just any white woman but a radical lesbian feminist (it’s that double oppression thing) – pointed out a striking truth to me tonight.

The only people who’ve stood up en masse against the recent rapid escalation toward fascism in the US have been Brown people. Migrants and Chican@s stood up in our millions against the fascistic Sensenbrenner bill, a race law which would have rendered every migrant a felon, and every Chican@ a suspect in a felony. The Sensenbrenner bill would have made the barrio every bit as much a zone of official terror as the ghetto – even more so.

We were all that stood between the status quo and outright universalized fascism in the US.

But almost nothing and no one stood between colonized peoples of color and fascism in the US.

Black, Red and Brown have lived under virtual fascism - mass terror, police occupation and mass incarceration - for a generation now, since the War on Drugs and mass incarceration took the place of segregation and Jim Crow laws.

But it wasn’t the white US-er who was targeted, just like it wasn’t the German, but the Gypsy, Slav and Jew.

Everyone damn well knew Aryans weren’t the target. It didn’t affect them.

Why, then should we be surprised at white silence today?

Nonetheless, virtually by ourselves, we’ve rocked the white colonial settler elite – the US rulers – back on their heels. We’ve done so twice now.

Most recently, it was the resistance of millions of Mexicans and other Indigenous Spanish speaking people that knocked the white Christian fascists and their plans for mass roundups down. We split the Republican Party wide open. Our protests – with their implicit threats of mass resistance and rebellion - began the process of the Republican Party’s recent disintegration and unraveling.

Fourteen years ago in LA we rocked them even harder, with a series of rebellions that spread from here all across the nation, as Black and Brown rose up in defiance of the imposition of police state conditions in the ghetto and barrio.

As for a truly mass resistance to US style fascism, that’s all there’s been.

There is still a choice, of course, between the red pill and the blue pill. White people could still wake up; they could still learn to resist the fascism that their culture has programmed them to accept

But it will take a new understanding; they will have to start seeing themselves as a group like any other, not as a “white nation,” and not as “individuals,” and they will need to begin to understand and to break with the Inquisitorial fear of being different that permeates their culture to its very core. They will have to learn to see their culture’s depth of suspicion, its rigid obedience to the “rules” of the white middle class game, and to experience first hand the depth of violence it reserves for those who betray it.

They will have to stand strong against it, understanding that their own culture and its agents are their mortal enemy.

Most of all they will have to learn that their apparent “privilege” makes them no different at all: that in the long run they are not exempt or superior. That’s what Morpheus tells Neo when he offers him the Red Pill.

“…you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind.

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”

Juan Santos is a writer and editor in Los Angeles California. His essays from 2006 are collected at: He can be reached at:

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