Friday, December 9, 2016

So you think slavery is over?

Very soon now (December 19th) it appears that the U.S. is going to install someone who lost the popular vote for the presidency by more than two million votes.

And...the creators of the structure that's going to make that possible (the electoral college) were white men who were committed to the continuation of human enslavement here the "land of the free".

Here's a quote from a story that epitomizes my some aspects of my viewpoint up until a few years ago: "The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman admitted on the night of Trump’s victory that “people like me – and probably like most readers of the New York Times – truly didn’t understand the country we live in”"

I wasn't quite as naive as Paul Krugman, I've known something fundamental was wrong with this nation for a long, long time...but I've been woefully inept at figuring out just what up until the last couple of years. Being less naive did not translate into alarm and dismay and motivation in any meaningful way...so I might as well have been as clueless as he apparently was/is. It's sad to be less clueless than a Nobel prize winner and it not mean much.

Given the reported selections that the apparent new president is making for key government officials...for all those who think this is "just" another election may be in for a shock. I fear that many will be awakened rather rudely. I hope not...but I suspect many if not most of us are going to be impacted negatively much more than is yet realized. I'll gladly accept my being wrong about this. In fact, I would cheer my error.

It simply isn't possible for us to follow the policies of institutions created and implemented by white men who believed in white supremacy and have that be a positive thing for the ideals of "liberty and justice for all" and "democracy". Nope...can't be done and now we're going to reap the consequences of complacency and complicity. And the most horrid aspect of that reaping is that the most vulnerable are going to be harmed with the greatest intensity.

I've seen probably more presidential elections than anyone reading this blog...and I assure you that nothing even approaching what is coming is conceivable in terms of who has been the president in my lifetime. Maybe ever in the history of this nation, certainly in terms of the power that the office of the presidency holds. Andrew Jackson was a despicable man...but he didn't control nuclear weapons. He didn't control the largest military budget on the planet. 

The selection for the attorney general is a blatant racist, the pick for head of the EPA is an avowed foe of environmental regulation. We're likely to see a phenomenal dismantling of protections for vulnerable citizens and for our environment. And that's just for starters.

And all of this is going to happen because of our complicity in maintaining and following the dictates of a structure designed by and for white men who wanted to enslave human beings.

I've been surprised before by presidential election outcomes, I've been saddened and I've been pleased...I've never been frightened though. And I'm deeply frightened this time. The individual who's apparently going to be the president does not believe in any version of a nation that most of us can imagine.

I'm sorry for us all and I'm most sorry for the vulnerable and the innocent who have been and are going to be (indeed, already have been) the victims of this ugly manifestation of the cowardice and lack of integrity by we white people.

We white citizens have been unwilling to grapple with the ugly history of white racist domination and harm to people of color that is our legacy and now it's going to envelope all of us in an unimaginable intensification of an ongoing and widespread catastrophe.

This nation began with the dual crimes of the murder of Native Americans and the stealing of their land and with the enslavement of kidnapped African peoples.

Racism was envisioned and created to justify the enrichment of white men at the expense of those not classified as white.

The focus that most of us white people take when it comes to conceptualizing racism is the emotional acting out of disturbed individuals. That's primarily a distracting sideshow, not that genuine and deplorable harm isn't done by these individuals, but many/most of us who are white believe that if we don't do those things then our hands are clean. That's not true.

None of us white people are innocent because we are the ones who have left the structures and institutions intact which were dreamed up to ensure white supremacy and have operated as if this were "normal". And that festering awfulness is going to come into open enactment once again. Except, worse...much much worse than anyone alive has ever seen.

We're going to see an intense focus on profit with no regard for the human cost like nothing that's happened in any of our lifetimes. And...that's exactly the principle that drove the formation of this nation. That's exactly the principle that drove the genocide of Native Americans, that's exactly the principle that drove human enslavement and the ideology of racism that was dreamed up to support and justify that enslavement.

I'm sickened by my own complicity and complacency in allowing this to come to pass and sickened by all other white citizens who've failed to act prior to now. I'm sickened by those white citizens who hate and directly harm those with little or no power. But I'm well aware that they would be of relatively minor importance in the grand scheme if we "good white folks" hadn't been remiss in doing what needed to be done.

Howard Zinn said what needed saying in a book published in 2002. He wrote:
"From that moment on, I was no longer a liberal, a believer in the self-correcting character of American democracy. I was a radical, believing that something fundamental was wrong in this country--not just the existence of poverty amidst great wealth, not just the horrible treatment of black people, but something rotten at the root. The situation required not just a new president or new laws, but an uprooting of the old order, the introduction of a new kind of society--cooperative, peaceful, egalitarian.”
The rot at the root he wrote about is coming into full visibility in the whole plant now. That rot is going to do more harm than is conceivable...and the uprooting of that rot...well...given that we (white people) have been unwilling to do it up until now doesn't auger well for the future.

3 comments:

Have Gone Vegan said...

Have to admit I've been trying to ignore Trump in the last little while. Hiding my head in the sand if you will. Because it's made me so angry, and the ramifications of his picks are so depressing. And it's not just America that will suffer as consequences will ripple out globally.

"We're going to see an intense focus on profit with no regard for the human cost like nothing that's happened in any of our lifetimes." Yep. No regard for human cost, environmental cost, or the cost to other sentient beings. The prospect of what will likely unfold (to those who can see) is terrifying. Which is why a part of me just wants to close my eyes and ears to the awful "reality show" and its aftermath that everyone on this planet will be forced to watch over the next who knows how many years. :(

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. Yup, the ugliness that is the U.S. is getting ready to once again erupt into full blossom. And it's and ugly flower indeed. No one will have much difficulty figuring out who the "bad guys" are though. We've always been this way...this iteration of it is going to make the hiding of the horror more difficult though. Shame on us.

Have Gone Vegan said...

Maybe that will be the silver lining? If the horror is more exposed, and the "bad guys" (which they literally are) are in plain view, perhaps more folk will get in an uproar. One can only hope.