Mani Mostofi, an outspoken voice against colonialism and racism, shared his thoughts with me in October 2016. The first part of his interview covers his lyrics and music, hardcore vs hardline, and race and class-consciousness. This part delves deeper into race and politics. This entire interview process was an incredible experience for me. Thanks again to Mani. Catch his band Racetraitor at Florida’s FYA Fest after-party in January 2017. (I’d like to point out that I predicted the Racetraitor-Sect lineup in the first part of the interview. World Tour with Killtheslavemaster and Fall Out Boy can’t be too far away, now can it?) Note: this article was conducted prior to the US national election.
Name: Mani Mostofi
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Children: One daughter
Profession: Human Rights Advocate
NED: Looking back on the 2016 race, I wonder if this will be a turning point in how Americans feel about democratic socialism- especially since so many people have been pointing out that many popular aspects of our culture (Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, public utilities, etc.) are socialized services, at least in loosely defined terms.
MANI: The way I see it the 2016 election should be a wake-up call.
Trump is running on an unambiguous fascist platform. Anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, white nationalist to the core. And 40% of the country is voting for him? What is clear to me is that people don’t know historically what fascism was. But it is a solution that works for them.
The analysis on the left is that poor white people have been duped into sacrificing their class interests, because whiteness gives them a sense of superiority even when only physiological.
And that buy in, into the idea of race keeps the capitalist oligarchs in power. I think that is true but maybe too simplistic. I think that view has resulted in a lot of apologizing for white nationalism in this election cycle.
All these people saying Trump’s voters are angry because they lost their good pension jobs, but those same groups of people were racist when they had their good jobs and pensions.
We have to start thinking about whether there is an inertia to ultra ethno-nationalism separate of the social benefit.
NED: There seems to be a core of America that is always against “the other” (gay, black, woman, immigrant, etc.) getting a bigger piece of the pie. Is fear the catalyst for that inertia?
MANI: Look, it is not just the US. This neo-fascist momentum is all over Europe in places with dramatically different demographics. Hungary, Sweden, UK, France, Greece. These countries have totally different economic trajectories. But the discourse of the alt-right seems to be working in all of them. Part of it is certainly the feeling of insecurity generally. And whatever the circumstances racialized communalism works. Over and over people are picking the class war and the race war over the class war.
I don’t think it is an America only issue.
NED: Perhaps – and again, i don’t know where it all started- the idea that whiteness is inherently superior is just so universal. I can say without a doubt that I’ve been given special treatment by locals when traveling to non-white parts of the world. Sometimes kids would rush out and try to lay eyes on the white guy in the village. And people would do things for me that I could easily do for myself, or move me to the front of the line, etc. Perhaps it was simply because I was a guest in their environment, but I don’t see the same behaviors reciprocated from whites toward non-whites.
MANI: Right but has whiteness’ special treatment dissipated? The perception is it has, but only because political opportunists want it to [appear that way].
I just think we need to start thinking about whiteness or otherness as something that can function outside of martialism.
Hate of the other as a political motivator doesn’t need a payout.
At least we have to be open to rethinking it all.
NED: Exactly- it doesn’t need a payout! It’s like an addiction. Nothing is gained from the hateful mindset, but there’s not enough motivation to step away from it.
MANI: Exactly. Doesn’t mean race doesn’t or didn’t have a payout. Of course it does. And that payout might be the reason race was created, but whiteness has inertia separate of the payout.
NED: I feel like we are touching some major truth regarding race- thanks for the brain food.
MANI: This country is coming to blows with it’s racial identity. Whiteness is being openly confronted. It’s losing demographically; the concept is failing.
Black president and all that.
Notice the places that are most committed to white power and the whitest parts of the country. No brown people are taking their jobs or changing their way of life. But they hear that on Fox News and talk radio, and that is enough.
NED: Right. But if the concept were really kaput, people could call him a white president too and it wouldn’t seem odd. I always find it odd that people can say he hates white people when he is exactly as Caucasian as he is African. So, clearly, you have still have to meet a certain standard of whiteness to be “one of us.”
MANI: No the idea of race is still the dominant construction all over. But it is failing. This is the beginning of the end of this era of race, I believe.
NED: I agree. For all the problems associated with globalization, the deconstruction of “racial purity” seems to be a big and unstoppable benefit.
MANI: It’s needed.
Ned: If you have time to answer one more dad question, I always end with this: “What are your greatest hopes and dreams for your child?”
MANI: What don’t I want for my daughter. My wife articulates it best, we want her to be a person at peace, that knows how to create peace between the people around her and in the world. So- happy and healthy and not an asshole.
Photo Credits: Aasim Syed, Asra Syed, Justin Corbett, Mahassan Ballouli, and others
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