The more Charlottesville reverberates around the country and on the internet, the more reminders I receive about cultural identity in my inbox. Not my cultural identity. Each sender’s self-identification screams out through their words, often in boldface or all-caps.
Not much of it is original thought. It’s the detritus of the internet, passed from inbox to inbox as though each mind thought it made a point, as if each mind woke up pissed off some time during the Clinton administration and finally found a keyboard.
Maybe the people passing this propaganda don’t realize what it says about them, or perhaps they do, but either way I’m being reminded that “nobody owes you anything,” and “we get nothing except through effort and hard work.”
If you squint just right these messages reveal a disorganized mess of
- ‘I’ve got mine (on the backs of others), you get yours (if you still can, without any help),’
- flag waving, though I wonder whose,
- a trove of right-wing pet issues that aren’t properly issues of government, or of humane culture,
- unhinged hatred of left-of-center politicians and personalities Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, and others who give a damn about someone beyond themselves and have a memory reaching back further than the Reagan era.
Except, as are always left out, the people who worked and struggled and came up short because their communities were redlined out of particular jobs, neighborhoods, and schools long ago. Recall black Americans who moved north throughout the twentieth century, escaping, so they thought, the oppression of institutionalized racism only to find segregation and oppression in the north.
Missing, too, are the police who take it upon themselves to keep ‘those people,’ the wrong sort of people, in their place with excessive violence and death.
And of course there’s no mention of the long, disgraceful, American legacy of Jim Crow, segregation, and minority and immigrant oppression and bigotry, the residue of which casts its shadow over communities in the form of statues and memorials in public spaces, reminding people who emerged from under the yoke of slavery and Jim Crow, ‘we still control you.’ Remarkable that we don’t find memorials to the slave trade, or at slave markets and auction blocks, or discussion of the resulting broken minds.
Nor does this online flotsam include testimony to how our economy benefits from eleven-million undocumented workers, or to the payroll taxes these workers will never see a benefit from because their Social Security cards were forged to gain employment, or to the plight of their 800,000-some children who, as of yesterday, face the spectre of deportation to countries in which they have no home, little family, and no facility with the language.
These issues are never discussed. No-one passes around reminders about these facts. Willful ignorance is the right phrase to describe this crap.
Just as ignorance afflicts the folks who ask why Confederate monuments have become offensive “all of a sudden,” (that one crossed my Facebook wall and almost caused me spontaneous nausea) it’s ignorance that continues pushing the notion that effort and hard work are all that’s necessary to succeed in America. Apparently all those less-fortunate workers and out-of-work citizens (read: black) must not be working hard enough.
Tell that to blue collar workers like the Carrier employees Mr. Trump used as stage props last year, who’ve lost their employment to automation and offshoring. Those men and women were of multiple ethnicities. They’re all screwed. Mr. Trump has moved on.
As succeeding generations die and ethnic demographics shift, America’s privileged class will learn that effort and hard work don’t necessarily translate to success and middle class comfort. Census data doesn’t lie. Bigoted frauds like Mr. Trump will fail to slow the rate of change; white America is going to wake one day to realize we’re just another minority.
I predict a lower degree of success from white American efforts and hard work once they have to compete on a more level playing field.
The future of America is decidedly browner. You either live comfortably with that knowledge, or it unsettles you. There’s not much middle ground there. Open your mind and your heart, and you, too, can see right now that effort and hard work, or as many a politician has said, “playing by the rules,” doesn’t always lead to success. Not when you’re born with a two-strike count.
Or, you can close your eyes, close your mind, close your heart to the plight of other people. But they won’t be silenced and they won’t go away.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “while you’re entitled to your opinion, you’re not entitled to your own facts.” This passed-along trash is devoid of fact. It is the dying cry of false oppression, an angry, frightened minority-within-a-majority population in slow, inexorable decline.
#American #racism #white #privilege #Jim #Crow #bigotry #willful #ignorance