A Field Guide to North American Looters

Ah, another uprising in defense of basic dignity for Black folk in America, another scad of racist articles in the American media, curiously absent abroad, about “looting.” “looting”, for those of you unfamiliar with racist dogwhistles, is code for “Black people carrying stuff.” You know, toilet paper, maxipads, diapers…”looting.” Usually someone is unwise enough to take a TV, or someone photoshops it in, and you’ve got the picture that is sent to White America: LOOTERS.

Trouble is, that’s not the looting that’s destroying America. The looting that’s destroying America is being perpetrated by white people and it’s not on the news. It’s being perpetrated by white people and it’s called “economic policy” or “the justice system”  because the GOP has, since the 80s, managed to massage public perception to a point where that  demanded “justice” is conservative and white than it’s been since the 50s. They lost on Jim Crow and keeping Black kids out of school, they lost on slavery and sharecropping, they had to find a new way to put us in our place. And, well, White America’s media, courts, and police…I dare not call them “soldiers”, soldiers have honor in nearly every military…are performing that role. They’re breaking the minds, souls, and lives of Black Americans, and to a lesser degree most people of color in the US. In some places Native folks certainly have it worse, in others Southeast Asians are more policed, but the common thread is that Blackness is being sold to you as more of a threat than ever. Part of selling that threat is the fiction, the racist invention, of “looting.”

So let’s talk about the real looters, instead.

I’ll name five in this post: Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase. Cathy Brennan, a pro-patriarchy fauxminist activist and partner in a Maryland law firm who so happens to represent payday loan scum *and* is a transexterminationist, and her counterpart in the “Men’s Rights” Bowel Movement, Dean Esmay, who isn’t just a transexterminationist, he’s also a misogynist. Andrea James, an HBSer trans woman who believes body policing other trans women is totally cool, and last but not least, Eddie Lampert, the CEO of Sears Holdings, who has pretty much run the Sears/K-Mart empire into the ground. I’ll give you the common thread in the lede: they all think they’re the smartest person in the room, and thus the most able to judge others. I have no idea who actually is, nor is traditional intelligence altogether a good predictor of actual intellectual capacity…hell, my IQ is in the mid-70s (and half of you are all “that explains her sentence structure!”) and I could probably keep up with any of these people…but the smug, self-confident belief that they can get away with it and sell it to the American public should indicate that they certainly believe they’re entitled to it.

And, well, all these people believing that they’re entitled to something…doesn’t that make them looters? (It’s okay, I’m taking it back.)

We’ll talk about Jamie Dimon first. You know, the bank CEO so bad that hedge fund managers can’t stand him. The man who masterminded the killing of Washington Mutual, an FDIC takedown nobody’s really fully explained. Yes, I’m a Pacific Northwesterner and admit I miss my big cuddly bank, so there is a tiny bit of personal sadness there. But you know what? Dimon is emblematic of “I Deserve This More Than You.” We have a ton of bank CEOs in these parts who are about as honest as you can be in the business. But instead, Jamie Dimon, who destroyed WaMu’s corporate culture, customer base, and local roots so that we’d respect his authoritah, shows up here every couple of years, gets protested, and expects the Seattle Times to run a human interest story on how much it’s sad that people would protest a bank CEO. Sure, bump my maintenance fee to $15 a month unless I’ve got 3 grand…hint: I rarely have three grand. Thing is, Dimon believes he’s so smart, but he’s caused a much bigger backlash: people are defecting to credit unions in droves in the Pacific Northwest. You could roll a tumbleweed through the local Chase branch, which tends to have one vaguely-unhappy-looking teller and a couple of platform representatives trying to look busy. Last time I was in one such branch, one of them was reading Reddit at work. Your victory, Mr. Dimon, is Pyrrhic. You got your precious West Coast bank for pennies on the dollar, and now it turns out nobody wanted to be your friend to start with, because your company doesn’t do business in line with our values and priorities…but you got the possession you so desperately wanted. This makes you, by all accounts, a looter…someone who destroys and takes. Or in the case of WaMu, takes and destroys.  Somehow a pack of diapers, which CNN and Faux Snooze think is “looting”, pales in comparison, n’cest-ce pas?

Well, now that we’ve talked about banksters, we might as well discuss the right-hand woman of the subprime lending and payday loan scum lobby, one Cathy Brennan. Ms. Brennan claims the moral high ground of feminism, but is conspicuously absent on multiple feminist issuesI mean, if you believe the National Organization of Women’s opinion of what’s a feminist issue. She works with the Pacific Justice Institute, a forced-birther organization that funds the shameful fraud of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers“, because PJI’s hate for queer people aligns with her own transexterminationism. The irony of Ms. Brennan, an out lesbian, working with an organization deadset against lesbian rights is…rich. I guess maybe I went to Dyke School the day the “don’t cooperate with anti-queer organizations” filmstrip was shown. But we’ll get back to the twisted parody of feminism that Ms. Brennan espouses, because that’s not the only way she tirelessly serves white patriarchy.

See, Ms. Brennan’s law firm specializes in defending the openly racist payday loan industry along with subprime lenders which prey on people of color. Of course, neither of the linked entities are actual clients of Ms. Brennan’s firm. Because some of us know how not to do anything legally unwise…anyways, the payday loan hustle, along with the check cashing industry, with limited well-regulated exceptions, is a looting industry in and of itself. See, banks don’t like doing business in low-income neighborhoods and often make decisions to reject accounts based on geographic location, if someone has bounced checks in the past, etc. Now, habitual fraud? You probably shouldn’t be allowed a bank account…but that’s not what geographical account restrictions are about. The check cashing store or the payday lender preys on the poor and people of color. They’re looters, and that’s also what Ms. Brennan aids and abets the looting of: PoC money, and in Maryland, that’s Black money.

Oh, Maryland. Not just the coolest state flag in the nation, or the blessed place that brought us Old Bay (I put that stuff on everything) but also the place where for some strange reason, Maryland’s Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers don’t prevent any of Ms. Brennan’s passive violence through outing, harassment, and frivolous lawsuits against women of color, a unique wrinkle in Maryland legal ethics. Similarly, I’m not presenting any issues of the activities of her firm’s clients as fact. But Ms. Brennan is a looter, you see. She’s looted feminism, just like her clients loot the hood. She’s made a name for herself in the public sphere through being a transexterminationist, which is her path to glory: doing harm to random people she’s terrified of because of the same belief every radical fauxminist has: punching down will buy them some safety from the patriarchy. Hate to tell you, Ms. Brennan, but they hate us both and patriarchy would burn us both as heretics given the chance.

Speaking of patriarchy and violence, how about one of its top boosters, misogynist-racist-transexterminationist Dean Esmay, Managing Editor for the Misogynist Rights Bowel Movement‘s anointed mouthpiece, “A Voice For Men”? Esmay utilizes similar tactics to Ms. Brennan, engaging in passive harassment, referring to trans women as “self-loathing homophobic gay men”, and of course, normalizing violence against women, which is the endgame of the MRBM. Now, Esmay hasn’t made partner at any law firm, nor is he the CEO of anything other than online harassment for AVFM, at least on days that Grand Wizard Paul Elam can’t be bothered to be the face of the Man Klux Klan. But, like Ms. Brennan, Esmay works to preserve the white supremacy MRAs hold so dear, the divinely gendered world….er, I mean SCIENCE AND CHROMOZOMEZZZZZZZ-gendered world that MRAs cling to, the misogyny that is the stock in trade of the MRBM, and of course they agree on transexterminationism, too. They’re both obsessed with trans women, typical of the MRBM’s ongoing rapey obsession with trans women’s bodies. And yet despite preaching the same gospel of hate, Ms. Brennan and Esmay both cast aspersions on the other. They’re also both very protective of the idea that white gays and lesbians are somehow superior to all other queers,  the same kind of pablum spouted by intersectionally oppressive jerks like Dan Savage. I mean…it’s sort of ironic how well Dan Savage and Dean Esmay line up, but Mr. Savage isn’t advocating my elimination like Esmay does.

How Esmay is a looter is a little more complicated. See, the for-profit organization (which will try to avoid telling you they’re for-profit, just like MRAGamerGate’s for-profit “charity” TFYC) that Esmay works for, A Voice for Men, basically profits endlessly off white male disillusionment and the slow strangulation of the US job market. They’re throwing a $650 a head conference at a secret undisclosed location…and ticket prices are going up. That sounds a hell of a lot like fleecing the white male anger that the MRBM is about to me…plus, there’s nothing cowardly about a secret undisclosed location! I guess they want to keep the location of this year’s atrocities secret for some reason, using yet another Klassic Klan tactic. The reality that the economy is awful is nothing new, it’s been that way since 2008 for much of America, but the MRBM grew quickly when it began selling the fiction that women secretly control everything and we’re why honest hard-workin’ (white) American men can’t get jobs, etc. They use the same tactics the Ku Klux Klan did in the depressed South between wars to recruit “White Americans”, and the MRBM is for all intents and purposes just a high-tech, less-diverse version of the KKK. With, you know, more targets and much more whining about women and the existence of trans people. Oh, and their side project “GamerGate”, an MRA-run, MRA-centered “independent” movement? It’s fleecing the crap out of white male fear too. It’s almost like the scam is consistent, because it *is*.

But instead of burning crosses, they send you dead animals in the mail, or envelopes full of human feces. (I’m positive this wasn’t Esmay’s work, but instead that of whatever white supremacist transexterminationist misogynist MRAsshole mails me that stuff from Bellingham, Washington. Name your own Price for that, I guess.) Instead of claiming that only the “strong” should live, the MRBM tars and feathers disabled people for existing and demonizes people with mental disabilities even more severely. Esmay works for a for-profit business with zero financial transparency looting money from white male anger and working to normalize violence against women and, of course, eliminate trans people, especially trans women, altogether. Esmay is a modern snake oil huckster, except without the snake oil and with no sense of shame about the blood on his hands that his hate movement revels in having. After all, to the white supremacist man, it’s merely the blood of the women and minorities his policies and theology seeks to harm or eliminate.

Speaking of hate and blood, we come to Andrea James. Ms. James, sadly, has fallen from her once preeminent position of providing pretty unbiased information to trans people out in the wild. I thank her for her past service, but what’s become of her, much like her dead-TWoC-looting counterpart Gwen Smith, is somewhat…confusing. I remember the Andrea James who spoke truth to Alice Domurat Dreger and who didn’t, you know, mock trans women for being fat, what we look like, or frame size…you know, back when Ms. James took the high road, she did some great things. Hell, she fought the orthodoxy that created the woman-hating concept of “autogynephilia” and advocated for better access for trans youth. In my heart of hearts, I want to believe she still does that.

Now, well, uh…what happened? I think that Ms. James occupies a special place here, because I didn’t really object to her selling voice training tapes because, hey, a girl’s gotta eat. I’ve heard her condemned for that, and admittedly that’s not a service I needed to take advantage of because I sound like I just inhaled helium when I’m trying to growl, and I don’t think that’s cool. I respectfully request donations to keep my pasty wide butt blogging, and that’s the same thing, although in my case, that’s more like a girl’s gotta drink coffee. I’m not selling, and the blog will be available free forever or until WordPress shuts me down, but the exchange of money isn’t in and of itself evil.

But I think Ms. James saw the revolution coming and sees the “transgender tipping point” as a paycheck. It explains her out-and-out hostility toward anyone else who she thinks might get paid off this revolution, and it does explain her need to ingratiate herself to organizations that do a pretty “meh” job of advancing trans rights with the sphere of queerdom. This is but a theory, mind you, but when you’ve gotten so HBSer that you’re being defended by notorious hatemonger Jennifer Usher, you’re clearly following a party line which includes that a)I’m the manliest man in ManTown, since that’s what HBSers believe, and b)trans women of color are disposable, because that’s what HBSers believe, and c)that treatment for being trans should be incentivized, which…well, that’s what Ms. James used to be against. I’m hoping this is merely a temporary situation, perhaps as post-postmodern art, or perhaps because GLAAD is saying she can’t offend their base, but it’s like when you walk into a bar that you drank at in college and rather than having Genny Cream, Rolling Rock, Bud, and Sammy Adams on tap, they’ve gone upscale, made the stools smaller, the portions way smaller, and they put louvered doors on the bathroom stalls. (This actually happened when I went back to the town I went to college in not long ago. And Genny Cream is decent cheap beer, shut up.) The person who used to stand for us all is now about standing for very few, and is suspiciously now making a much bigger paycheck off of it. I guess we were ripe for the looting, too…

Speaking of places you used to know, have you been to Sears lately? Is there even a Sears near you anymore? How about a K-Mart? My beloved sister suggested that I point you to Eddie Lampert as the last looter in this rogue’s gallery. See, Mr. Lampert, like Esmay and Ms. Brennan, subscribes to a theory that guides his actions. In Mr. Lampert’s case, he’s a firm believer in the words of Ayn Rand. I don’t think Ms. Rand had the world of discount department stores in mind when she suggested warring factions performed best, but Mr. Lampert’s devotion to this cleearly flawed idea has led to the decline of Sears Holdings, the company that for the moment is guiding Sears and K-Mart into the labelscarred void of retail oblivion. (I still miss Ames, dammit.) Mr. Lampert actually has some pretty MRBMish ideas in that you may not question his tack, that he is the one man who makes decisions for a publicly traded company where one man is making some interesting decisions with other peoples’ money (which is kin to the MRBM claiming to speak for all white men), and, well, an odd devotion to a book. Much as the MRBM’s basis is in fundamentalist white Christianity with “God” replaced with “Science” and “chromosomes”, the level of devotion shown to Ms. Rand’s work by Mr. Lampert is pretty much seeing it as theology.

I miss there being a K-Mart in my neck of the woods. It’s a Hobby Lobby now, speaking of theology and hate, but it had good cheap towels and bedlinens, and you could find warm clothing for fat ladies that wasn’t horribly ugly…looking at you, dead shriveled husk of Lane Bryant. But all these people are looters. They’re all white. They’re all upper-class. They’re all able to pretty much buy and sell our souls at a moment’s notice.

When you turn on the TV, and they’re claiming a Black lady walking near a burning store with a pack of (overpriced, unlawfully taxed) maxipads is a “looter”, remember the story they’re selling. They want you to ignore the real looters, and blame Black folks instead. I suggest you keep your eye squarely on the people fleecing America above and their many counterparts…from Ms. Brennan’s partner-in-genocidal-policy Bess Hungerford to Esmay’s genocidal counterparts like Jack Barnes, to the countless CEOs I could have listed, these are the real looters. These are the people robbing your country.

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