Before I get to the New World Order post — and I will, I promise — I’d like to take a few moments to talk about race. And class, but we’ll get to that later.
This country has never had a national conversation about race, although we’ve certainly pretended to. Conservatives, when they’re not forwarding racist e-mails to each other, like to claim that the election of Barack Obama as president heralded a new, “post-racial” America.
That’s quite typical of Americans, actually — to pretend those things that are unpleasant or make us uncomfortable simply don’t exist. Like when we say we “don’t believe in” homosexuality or abortion or evolution, as if those things are Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the death penalty or a teabagger who actually knows what’s in the Constitution.
Or when we say we’ve reached a post-racial society, as if no one ever, ever looks at Barack Obama and thinks, “fucking Marxist nigger.” Or says them out loud.
Now, of course, plenty of conservatives never think those words, let alone utter them. And most of those genuinely believe they are not racist. They sincerely believe that their opposition to Obama stems from his socialist policies, even though, of course, real socialists laugh hysterically at that suggestion.
And, maybe, there are a few for whom that’s true, although I kinda doubt that number is much larger than what I can count on my own personal phalanges. But the rest think they’re safe from the racist sobriquet because they don’t wear pointy hats and white sheets or use racist language.
But they are. Every bit as much as the KKKers and the white supremacists. Oh, maybe they’re not as ugly about it. But on the other hand, to completely mangle something Gen. George S. Patton once said, I’d rather be lynched by a white sheeted Klansman than shot in the back by a lying teabagger.
Bottom line, I’m still dead, but at least I’d see it coming.
Of course, I’m not delusional. The teabaggers protest too much to be innocent of the racist charge. Somebody calls me racist, I roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, aren’t we all? At least I know it.”
But these conservatives (and a few others) — these people who believe with every fiber of their being that they’ve moved beyond racism because they don’t own slaves — they are just as racist as if they do.
I know this to be true. I know it because i have lived among them. They are my family. They’re probably yours, too — the people we tip-toe around, never talking about real issues to avoid having to have that discussion.
The one about race. My dad — conservative, yes — spent hours hanging out with his friends on the front bench at the garage where he worked. One of them as a black man. And yet, my dad, who doesn’t believe he’s racist, told me he just didn’t want to see a black man be president.
My sister — a liberal, mind you — bought the Obama-is-a-Muslim lies, said she couldn’t vote for him because of that. She doesn’t believe she’s racist either.
But they are. They just don’t understand why black folk can’t get over that whole slavery thihg. They don’t understand why they have to suffer for what people long dead did — yeah, they see it as suffering to have to accept that this country deliberately set out a group of people to be less than human. They do not see that lthough slavery ended in this country 145 years ago (and seriously, that’s not very long ago, but that some people seem to think it is speaks to their self-centeredness, now doesn’t it?), the effects of that inhumane treatment will last much, much longer than that — particularly since their political, social and personal ancestors perpetuated the attitude of slavery long after the slaves were freed.
Right up to now, because we won’t have that conversation. Because we won’t acknowledge the racism that lives in each and every one of us because of where we come from. Those of us who do take that courageous step take the first step toward a true “post-racial” society. Those who don’t keep us spirally in bigotry’s death grip.
The other isms and phobias fall in here too — sexism, certainly. And while America has a 500 years history of racism, it has an equally long history of misogyny that its founders carried with them across the Atlantic from a history of far longer than that. Homophobia — we count that separately, but actually, it’s sexism too. A gay man, to these bigots, is no better than a woman. A lesbian, well, when we’re actually acknowledged as existing, we just haven’t had a good fuck yet. Pure sexism.
Man-woman. That conflict is a really long one, so long that I’d be tempted to say its inherent in our psyches, and in a sense it is. The good news is we can actively work against it, just like we can racism. The problem is that most of us don’t, and won’t. Hard to, if you don’t acknowledge the problem.
But there’s one ism that actually is acknowledged, every single day. That’s classism. The haves, the have-nots. Or maybe it’s the gotta-have-its and the hell-no-you-can’t-have-its, at least how it plays out here in the 21st century. Either way, it’s an old conflict too.
The conservatives readily acknowledge this one, and willfully refuse to do a damn thing about it. Why? Because they not only believe they are superior — as they do about minorities and women and gay men and lesbians — but here is why they are superior. Because they have, and you do not. They have, and they devote their entire beings to keeping what they have and adding on. He who dies with the most toys wins. Really? What do you do with those toys after you die? As far as I’m concerned, he who dies with the most toys still dies.
Science fiction has a subset of fiction about the human drive for immortality. Invariably, those who seek it hardest are the very, very rich. But that’s an awfully sad existence, dontcha think? To live forever, just so you can collect more things, more money?
The chances of we humans locking up immortality anytimes soon are somewhere between slim and none, of course. But the haves still spend their time devising ways to get more, paying off elected officials so they never have to give any of it away to those undesirables — the poor, the minorities, the queers, the women. They believe they owe no one. That the rest of us have built this society and help sustain it so they can abuse it means nothing to them. Listen to Rush Limbaugh for a while and you’ll hear it, plain and simple. Or any libertarian — basically a Republican who doesn’t have to guts to say what he really thinks.
These folks want to kill government completely so they can pursue wealth uninhibited, and without having to deal with those pesky others.
This is, ultimately, a self-defeating strategy, and one that pretty much killed itself in the late around the turn of the last century. Short memories, these folks.
But kill itself it will, and it’ll keep coming back and doing it again, over and over, until we stop and really deal with the problem.
Just like race. It will never go away. Humanity is made up a many different races, each one brilliantly different, and yet all with a shared humanity that should be bringing us together instead of tearing us apart.
Unless we talk about it, acknowledge the fears and anxieties, we’ll all still be a bunch of racist pricks. But when we do start talking about it, start seeing each other as mere humans rather than the devil’s spawn, start embracing diversity instead of fearing it will destroy our culture — I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad the parts of other cultures that embraced, say, human sacrifice, didn’t make the cut — when we can do that, then we might just start to understand what it means to be uniquely ourselves.
Otherwise, we’re just a bunch of primitives hiding in our caves from the weather — and everything else we refuse to understand.