OK

Obviously, the right have an hysterical fear of the future, when, in less than a generation, whites will be in the minority.  This has been evident for some time, so I understand this fear.

What I've had trouble understanding is the ongoing drumbeat of the same old, same old, when the nation is so clearly trending otherwise.  Absent any substantive positive agenda, let alone common sense, the only action left is attack.  The Republicans' goal is obviously to dominate the national dialogue and direct attention away from real problems and thus prevent any governance from happening.  The conservative shouts, given time to play out, have shown that for each "issue," there is no substance there.  The "scandal-mongering" of the last two weeks has predictably fallen flat.  My respect for the president's dignity, patience, and political restraint, as well as wisdom, grows daily, as he watches and listens to the screaming… much the same screaming from the right he has experienced since his campaign in 2008.  I would understand completely if he just threw up his hands one day, scheduled a presser and pointed at his political adversaries' behavior and said, "Are you fucking insane?!?!?"

I scratch my head.  Surely there are rational thinking people on the right.  Surely they see the trends, the willingness of much of the country to understand and laugh at the ongoing media circus created by the right-wing-nuts.  But it just continues…

And I believe I've discovered, at last, after years of head scratching, the reason for the monumental fear on the right…  It is not just the future of American demographics.  It is, indeed, racism.  More specifically, it is racism's hideous, inhuman underpinnings.  And it is deeply, deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans.  Indeed, it may well be at the very heart of historical Southern culture, and perhaps has bled over into universal conservative thought.

I just re-read Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley (In Search of America)" [1962] for the third (or perhaps fourth) time.  Near the end of his trip (in 1960), Steinbeck travels to New Orleans specifically to witness the "Cheerleaders," a small group of "Jerry Springer Show" types who every morning and afternoon scream epithets at two terrified six-year-old African American children as they walk, protected by U.S. Marshals, into and out of a previously segregated New Orleans grade school as the result of government-forced desegregation.  (The "Cheerleaders" were cheered on by throngs of local citizens and for a time were the center of a national media circus.)

On his way out of Louisiana, Steinbeck buys a poor boy sandwich and, later, stops in a resting place to eat lunch.  An older, white man, dignified in appearance and manner, happens to stroll by, and he and Steinbeck strike up a conversation.  The gentleman reveals an obvious education, and a descendancy from many generations of French heritage dating back to the Louisiana Territory in colonial times.  Steinbeck mentions the purpose of his visit to New Orleans -- to witness the "Cheerleaders" phenomenon, the mention of which brings a sadness to the gentleman's face.  Their dialogue then moves on to the history of the culture of slavery in the South… and leads to the inevitable discussion of ongoing racial hatred 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.  

The gentleman is quiet for a time.  Then he speaks again:

"If by force you make a human live and work like a beast, you must think of him as a beast, else empathy would drive you mad.  Once you have classified him in your mind, your feelings are safe."  The gentleman gazes outward a moment, then continues.  "And if your heart has human vestiges of courage and anger, which in a man are virtues, then you have fear of a dangerous beast, and since your heart has intelligence and inventiveness and the ability to conceal them, you live with terror.  Then you must crush his manlike tendencies and make of him the docile beast you want.  And if you can teach your child from the beginning about the beast, he will not share your bewilderment."
[Emphasis added.]  John Steinbeck, "Travels With Charley (In Search of America)," copyright The Viking Press, Inc., 1962.

Reading this gentleman's wisdom of the ages, a light went on within me.

Fifty years after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment (guaranteeing all Americans the right to vote), tens of millions of Americans, Northerners as well as Southerners, through the teachings of their elders, believe -- unconsciously, subconsciously or otherwise -- that the President is a beast.  And being human, he has the virtues of courage and anger, and thus must be feared… for he is no longer docile.

We shall not be rid of our national guilt from the practice of slavery and the genocide of Native Americans until we actively address them and make reparations.  And until then, in my opinion, the nation as a whole will continue to suffer the guilt of a(n enormous) debt not paid, an amends due and owing and not made.  This does not bode well for significant social progress in America.

I do not in any manner mean to speak lightly of the Native American genocide.  This diary is meant only to address our history of slavery's long, long reach into the human heart over generations.

4:32 PM PT: First time on rec list, for which I humbly thank  the community...

Originally posted to ceebee7 on Sun May 26, 2013 at 02:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight and Barriers and Bridges.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.