If you’re not familiar with the band Le Tigre, you’re clearly the kind of person who had something better to do in 1998 than download stuff off of Napster on your 450Mhz bondi blue iMac on dial-up while sporting a Che Guevara T-shirt.
Long story short, Le Tigre was a feminist electroclash band known for incisive lyrics like “Get off the internet! / I’ll meet you in the street! / Get off the internet! / Destroy the right wing!” Brilliant stuff.
I’d mostly forgotten about this trio until a recent news story reminded me of the lyrics to their song “FYR” — namely the part where lead singer Kathleen Hanna screeches, “Yeah, we got all the power getting stabbed in the shower / And we got equal rights on ladies’ night!”
At the time, the lyrics seemed to be a sarcastic jab at the idea that reduced drink prices on ladies’ night were a form of reparations for what the patriarchy had done to them, or whatever. It was always hard to tell with a band that seemed to decry female objectification constantly but called then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani “a f—ing jerk” because he “shut down all the strip bars.”
Much like the accidental genesis of the title of the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that launched the grunge movement, however, “FYR” has now become an unintentional inspiration of sorts.
Now, we have bars where minorities are given free money during happy hour as reparations.
“On Monday night, a bar in Portland, Oregon hosted people of color and gave them $10 as they arrived — a symbolic gift funded primarily by white people who were asked not to attend the ‘Reparations Happy Hour,'” Fox News reported Sunday.
Remember, this was in Portland. How could it have happened anywhere else?
“A local activist group, Brown Hope, wanted the event to be a space for people of color in a mostly white city to meet, organize, discuss public policy and potentially plan various actions,” Fox reported, noting that “full-scale reparations — sought by some as compensation for the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow and the large wealth gap between white and black U.S. households — was supported by 58 percent of black people and 46 percent of Hispanic people in a 2016 poll.”
Meanwhile, 68 percent of white Americans do not support the idea and even Sen. Bernie Sanders has called it divisive. Economist Robert Browne also estimated reparations would cost between $1.4 trillion and $4.7 trillion — assuming, of course, those receiving reparations found that amount fair.
Meanwhile, here’s $10 for you poor, oppressed minorities to get yourself two-thirds of a craft beer! Yes we can!
“We’re creating a platform to make sure our leadership is being seen and honored,” said 27-year-old activist Cameron Whitten, the event’s organizer.
“This isn’t just, ‘We’re here to socialize.’ We’re here to do the work. In a place like Portland, where our community is so fractured … our first step is to bring us back together, and then from there organize and mobilize to create policies to create justice in our communities.”
I’m not even commenting on whether or not reparations are a good idea (they’re not, but this is just too silly to even justify a legitimate debate) or to what extent we can ameliorate our country’s history of de jure racism. There’s no need to, because this is a perfectly insipid, insanely divisive and profoundly counterproductive stunt.
And of course, this isn’t happening in Appalachia or in the the Rust Belt or pockets of the Deep South, where people of all races are suffering with some degree of equality and have been for years. This is happening in a city which has become a synecdoche for all things decadent and insular in modern liberalism. A bit of work in Final Draft Pro and this is a skit on “Portlandia.”
The great irony here is that, in Le Tigre’s “FYR,” the acronym stood for “fifty years of ridicule.” When the song was written nearly 20 years ago, it had to do with the indignities faced by the distaff gender.
With a little tweaking and a little bit of extrapolation as to just where politically correct stunts like this might go in the future, it’s easy to see what the next 50 years of ridicule might look like.
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