Monday, January 15, 2018

Ten Years Later: The Prognosis

Now that this administration has gone full metal white supremacist, it's time to admit that I was wrong. I thought the outpouring of blatant racism at President Obama's election was the bursting of a festering boil on the American consciousness - now it's plain that it wasn't just a single spot of rot; this country is infected with the bubonic plague. (Literally, in fact, and funding for the science-based Centers for Disease Control will be cut in 2018, leaving communities vulnerable.) I thought we were started on a cure for racism back then, but now see that millions of my fellow citizens appear to have terminal cases, and are deliberately infecting their children with the same disease (ironically, often while refusing to inoculate them against physical illness). And there are those who would profit when we're morally dead to the world, who have been injecting new and more virulent strains into the body politic - humanity has a long history of biological warfare, and viral memes are incredibly contagious. Me, October 9, 2008:

But we are infected as a whole with a few viral plagues, most of which originate in the McCain/Palin/Rove/Bush camp, spreading gangrenous lies and exaggerations, feeding cancer cells of fear and racism so that they begin to clump together, the heat and light of the media not enough - so far - to act as radiation therapy that will burn them out. Angry red cells, red-faced people who shout "kill the terrorist" and "nigger" and yes, I'm using that word without asterisks. We have fooled ourselves as a nation that we're all race-neutral, slavery is far in the past, MLKing Day holiday celebrated, even a street named that here in Portland, hold hands and sing la la la I can't hear you! at the fact that there are still people, young and old, who feel that hate and have no problem expressing it. Yelling hate at a man because of the color of his skin. Will there be strange fruit hanging on the trees, again?

One of the reasons I'm glad that Barack Obama got the nomination over Hillary Clinton - other than the fact that I like his policies better, and I was really quite disgusted at the increasingly-negative campaign she was running; you can build yourself up without tearing other people down, you know - is that racism is the stinking, festering, pus-filled boil that is buried deep by this country's backbone. We don't see it, but we feel the pain, usually a constant deep ache, but sometimes a sharp twinge that almost paralyzes us until we self-medicate (TV! shopping! American Idol!) enough to ignore it again. We need this heated election season, like a poultice that draws the illness to the surface. We need the sharp eyes of the world on us, as these hate-fueled statements are captured on film and flashed around the world, to puncture our skin and punch deep into the heart of the issue. Let's open this wound up, reach the most noxious depths of our collective consciousness, and spew that hatred out. Only by seeing and hearing and acknowledging that people still feel this racist hatred can we purge our body of it. Get rid of it. Disown it. Is this the America you want to live in? It's not my America. My America has people from all over living and working together, drawing strength from diversity. I could wish that the past was different, that slavery and the massacre of Native Americans never happened. But I can also move beyond the past, especially events that happened before I was born. Maybe all we need is time - waiting for a time when there are no people left who grew up when there were separate drinking fountains for blacks and whites. But there are people out there younger than I am who have been shaped by their families and communities to believe that by the virtue of the color of their skin they're better than other people. I can't think of what to do about that.

The United States has been sick for a long time. How much longer does it have to live?

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."
- Martin Luther King Jr., "Strength To Love" (1963)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Signs Of The Times

I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old Revolutionary maxim. “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” - Susan B. Anthony, in Federal Court being tried for voting (June 18, 1873)

Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony. - Noam Chomsky, In American Power and the New Mandarins (1969)

Resistance to tyranny is man’s highest ideal. - Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 3rd rev. ed., ch. 3 (1917)

You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil. - John Ruskin, The Two Paths, lecture 5 (1859)

The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it. - Woodrow Wilson, Address to the New York Press Club, New York City (September 9, 1912) 01/29/2017

Women's March, 21 January 2017, Portland, Oregon