I realize now that in writing this blog I am essentially fighting a war. Martin Luther King once famously said, “America some day must make a choice. We must choose to live together as brothers, or die together as fools”. What I am actually doing in this process, in my own small way, is fighting for life for America. It is a David verses Goliath proposition. I am one small, lonely voice against giant rightwing media conglomerates on television and throughout the Internet. I am not suggesting that I am fighting this war alone. Certainly there are even larger resources on the left fighting to unveil rightwing propaganda and show the consumers of it the false narrative it produces. But my small gorilla war is being waged against the misinformation and disinformation that those in my small circle of influence, including many of my friends, acquaintances and associates, whose minds have been poisoned by the rightwing conservative rage that surfaced in reaction to the election of President Obama in 2008. I, like all in the mainstream media, am hampered by the religious zeal of the Trump Republicans that consider it sacrilege to even consider or entertain opposing views by anything or anyone who challenges the veracity the rightwing propaganda they are fed on a daily basis. Consequently, many who followed me on Facebook and who once read my blog on a regular basis no longer read it. While my over all following has vastly increased in number, the people who most need to hear the message have tuned out. The task is made more difficult by the fact that the COVID shutdown makes it impossible to confront these people in person, further isolating them in their own information silo.
This is the dilemma America faces. How can we show each other the errors of our ways if we no longer talk to each other? The republic cannot stand if we live in two separate worlds of fact. I have decided that the seventy four to eighty million of us who voted for democracy must do two things. When we do get the opportunity to converse with the other seventy million, allow them to vent without judgment while at the same time, do as much as you can to remind them who the used to be before they were poisoned by the Internet and Fox News over the past ten years. Secondly when we do speak critically (and doing so is unavoidable if our communication is to be sincere) we need to simplify what we say and not be bated to engage in all kinds of convoluted conversations about the economy and government programs and abortion rights.
In my neighborhood, everyone has taken down his or her political lawn signs except two diehard Trump supporters. I have fantasized about what I would say to them if after they railed for twenty minutes about why they are right to take their position on the issue, they asked me what I thought about their continued refusal to recognize the new president. I would say the following:
You are the culmination of what began with the Reagan Presidency in 1980. At that time, America was in the throws of a dismal recession brought on by inflation the likes of which America had not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Ronald Reagan, lived in a fantasy world of his own mind, in which he believed the America depicted in his movies, where women achieved success only through the accomplishments of the man in their lives and African Americans were happy with their roles as second class citizens, content live off the leftover scraps the white man decided to throw their way, was the real America, not the one that protested the Viet Nam War and demonstrated for women’s rights and civil rights. He used the despair that white America was experiencing from their economic woes to turn them away from the progressive attitudes that were slowly solving the poverty related problems of the inner city and rural America, to back towards the white supremacist, Jim Crow American attitudes of the 1950s. He cleverly created a whole new vernacular of words and phrases to replace the words that particularly white southerners traditionally used to express their hatred and denigration of black people. For example, instead of declaring their belief in segregation and white supremacy as they once proudly did, Reagan taught them to call it state’s rights and homeowner’s rights. He replaced the N-word with the word criminal. His constant reference to the black community as “jungle streets”, helped to reinforce the idea that all black people were criminals. He created an entire dog whistle language that permitted white people to express their prejudice against black people guilt free. He successfully conditioned a large portion of white Americans to associate all of America’s problems from crime to the economy, with black people and eventually, with all people of color.
This was the beginning of America’s current attitudes toward black people and how they and other people of color should be policed, and the belief that any government spending that resulted in a benefit for Americans of color is detrimental to the welfare of white Americans. In essence, you and the other 70 plus million of you who voted for Trump in your heart of hearts believe that only white people have the legitimate right to call themselves Americans. I know you are going to vociferously deny what I’m saying, but at this point, given all the derogatory statements and actions he’s taken against minorities, his implication that all votes cast in communities in which the majority of the population is black are somehow illegal or illegitimate and his appeal to white suburbanites that black people are somehow a threat to the safety of their communities, there can be no doubt that those vintage twentieth century Reagan perceptions of race, is the glue that holds all of you together. How else can you explain your willingness to accept all of his attempts to undermine democracy itself if you didn’t subscribe to the one thing he is clear about? By now, we all know when he says America first, he means white people first. For America to heal, you simply must give up your current attitudes towards race.
I realize that you may not see your connection to Trump and his beliefs as being a symptom of your racist core. Certainly, you try to be a good neighbor and responsible citizen of our nation. But in your lifetime, your mind has been imprinted with powerful images of black people living the antithesis of what we consider to be the way responsible adults should conduct themselves. You have been provided with a black face on every malady that torments our community. But I’m here to tell you that it’s all a terrible illusion. If you give me a chance, I will prove to you that it’s an illusion. You must give me that chance, for if I lose my war, we will die as fools, you and I. But if you can somehow break free of your Nixon/Reagan/Trump conditioning, you will begin to see me as I really am – an American, just like you. Only then will our children and grandchildren enjoy an America of peace, health and prosperity. The America we all want.
Happy Thanksgiving, and may God keep you safe.