Tuesday, August 15, 2017
An interesting take on current events
One of my friends, who has requested anonymity, wrote this, and I think the person makes good points:
I have been thinking a lot about the recent events in Charlottesville. These are just preliminary but I wanted to share them with you. Your comments and criticisms are always welcome.
Trump’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster; however, there just might be a glimmer of hope that could come from it. This will depend on future events that we cannot foresee at this point, and is more the result of being synchronous than anything Trump did. I am talking about finally having a full-blown conversation on race in this country and how to deal with all aspects of it in our civil life.
For the past 150 years, we have uncomfortably tiptoed around the question of race in this country. There are probably more monuments to the Confederacy all across the South in cities and towns of all sizes than the numbers of soldiers that fought in the Civil War. From the amount of statuary, one would have thought that the CSA won the Civil War or at least achieved a negotiated peace. Most monuments have stood for years without any signs of protest or acknowledgment of how inappropriate they are, and how insulting they are to our African American neighbors. The response has always been that the monuments represented “heritage, not hate.” Some areas have tried with varying degrees of success to confront and address their Confederate heritage and move forward on questions of race. This started with the removal of the Confederate battle flag from state flags, as well as from public spaces. It also included removal of Confederate monuments/statues/relics.
In 2008, we elected our first African American president. In the years that followed, something of a backlash occurred in that there have been untold numbers of hate crimes directed at various racial and religious minorities, as well as members of the LGBTQ communities. This backlash, based on Obama’s skin color, was the same as the way the South viewed Lincoln’s election in 1860 and was expressly encouraged by the GOP leadership in Congress, who vowed to make Obama a one term president. That failed. Nevertheless, they opposed everything Obama did or proposed. If he had proposed praising motherhood, apple pie, and baseball, they would have said “hell no.” (I will leave for another time the irony of the GOP liking to call itself the party of Lincoln and how much they have done for African Americans and civil rights.)
In 2016, Trump ran on an explicitly racist/nationalist platform crafted by Steve Bannon. In many ways, Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened and encouraged the white racist/nationalist elements of his base. The result was the recent events in Charlottesville. It has served as a wake-up call to some of the more reasonable members of the GOP establishment. This is where the glimmer of hope I mentioned comes in. Maybe this will be a sort of Nixon-goes-to-China moment where we can fully and frankly address race. However, it will not be easy and will take leadership that has yet to step forward. I don’t expect it from Trump. There undoubtedly will be a backlash and opposition. But, it needs to happen. We need a modern-day version of Lincoln’s appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”
Part of the problems we are finally dealing with are based on race. Another large part that is somewhat connected is the question of religion. We have a large segment of our population that is of a fundamentalist Christian view of religion. They use their religious beliefs to support their views on race. They believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, with its patriarchal society. They also have no tolerance for anyone who does not believe exactly as they do. In this regard, they are wanting to enact their religious beliefs into civil law as their own form of sharia law. They are also wanting to use their religion to be able to discriminate on the basis of race/gender/sexual orientation/national origin/religion. We are a pluralistic society and have the freedom to worship (or not) as we see fit. However, this does not give one group the right or chance to impose their religious views on the rest of us.
Like I said, these are preliminary thoughts and much will depend on future events.