Power Surge: Writing-Rhetoric Studies, Blogs, and Embedded Whiteness

Blogging and other electronic forms of rhetorical delivery and performance will not retain their power and ability to help white people in particular overcome our institutional and other kinds of racism, as I have strongly claimed here, if the Military-Media Complex, the five communication conglomerates in the U.S. as well as others in, for example, Italy and Germany, continue to replicate ideologies unknown to them by consolidating media and therefore rhetorical power via their monetary influence over the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Presidency (both major parties), and other governmental units. —Kathleen Ethel WelchPower Surge: Writing-Rhetoric Studies, Blogs, and Embedded Whiteness (Into the Blogosphere)

I’ve read this sentence six or eight times and I still can’t get my head around it.

In “continue to replicate ideologies unknown to them by…”, to whom does “them” refer?

And is the list of items following “by” restrictive or illustrative (that is, “unknown to them by X Y and Z, but possibly known to them by other avenues”, or “replicate ideologies by methods X Y and Z”)?

I’m not sure that the thesis “X can advance racism if we don’t resist it in our own X” gains much additional rhetorical power if you insert “blogging” or “academic publishing” or “posting quibbles in the comments fields of blog entries”. The general statement “Racism is bad, we should resist it,” to which I heartily assent, pretty much covers blogging. Blogging may be an excellent platform for re-enacting the consciousness-raising exercises of a previous generation, though it may be that the average college student today already has much greater access to alternative sources of information than the college student of a generation ago.

If racism is deeply rooted in human culture, then it is no surprise that it might be found in hardware and software (along with everything else that humans do). But from what I know of lawsuits concerning racial preferences at Microsoft, or stories about offensive graphics in clip art, I’m not sure that cyberculture is any more racist than any other human endeavor. Opening the Internet up to everyone entails opening it up to racists and bigots, but we can always hope that a rational person, when faced with a ranting diatribe on one side and a reasoned rebuttal on the other, will choose to be persuaded by reason. Ideological “fisking” can certainly help in that area.

The meme that “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” supports the belief that cyberspace can at least possibly be a space where communities can break through the old biases and prejudices, so of course I see the value of reminding bloggers of the possibilities.