It is not possible for me to express a saccharine sentiment about Doctor King today (I started this on Monday), so if you are one of the special snowflakes who needs a trigger warning before hearing a traumatic truth about the political choices you made, consider this your last chance to avoid getting your feelings hurt.
Look away. Look away. Look away.
One of my academic fields was African-American History, which is essentially American history that you weren’t taught in school. I studied Classical and conventional contemporary history before it, so I approached the subject with a sense of context. I ended up basically re-learning American and World history through the lens of the African perspective. It was extremely broadening and clarifying in terms of resolving the big picture for me.
It is that perspective that troubles me so mightily today.
It is very important today to remember how we treated Dr. King when he was among us. He was considered such a threat that the FBI conspired to defame Doctor King as sexually debauched and a Russian agent. A tremendous amount of effort was spent to discredit him; nothing was spent to protect him. When he came to Chicago, one of us hit him with a brick. He was despised with a raging hatred because white people believed he was going to lead a race war against them; regardless of how he preached non-violence, they could not imagine a situation other than dominance and repression; they could not comprehend the co-existence he dreamed of. Many of those people are alive and still voting today; the person who threw the brick could be in their 60’s or 70’s now.
The lens of African American history showed me that the path of progress is not straight; many times times progress has been made and painfully lost. After the Civil War there was a decade of reconstruction in the South during which black men could vote and hold office. Reconstruction era rights were enforced by the federal government; during this period more schools, hospitals, and roads were built in the South than at any other time. Still, whites chafed at seeing blacks in positions of authority and before long there was coup in North Carolina; blacks and whites who had been working together were killed or fled from the mob. The federal government did nothing. Reconstruction had become “Restoration” and in the restoration of white male supremacy (Local papers referred to the murderous riot as “White Men’s Day”). “Jim Crow” laws fell into place and the progress of Reconstruction was obliterated. Doctor King led a movement nearly sixty years later that restored and enshrined the progress lost after Reconstruction.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times,
history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes,
then somebody told me that’s one of Twain’s lines
but he ain’t here, so now it’s mine
We are living in a moment very much like the beginning of the Restoration Era. When Newt Gingrich chortles about undoing everything Obama accomplished it is an echo of the men who enacted Jim Crow; in the eyes of those screaming about “making America great again” are reflections of segregation. There are very few people with living memory of the so-called “Tulsa Race Riot” of 1921, which was when the neighborhood of Greenwood, then the wealthiest African-American community in the country, was burned to the ground by rampaging whites. Over 300 people were killed and 35 square blocks were destroyed. It was such an effective act of terror that nobody black or white spoke of it for years. The silence was so thorough that researchers found the microfilm record of the Tulsa Tribune for that day had been tampered with; many people had recalled that it had announced a lynching of a young black man accused of rape (the evidence as presented in the news accounts was nonsense). They also recalled that the police and national guard participated on the side of the rioters. That was 94 years ago when my grandmother was a year old infant.
You can see the eyes of bigots fill with disgusted rage when they hear the phrase “Black Lives Matter”; uttering it can be a litmus test. Once upon a time the phrase “Black is Beautiful” could accomplish the same thing. While people will now sputter about the imagined and alleged offenses of the movement associated with the phrase, the rage started immediately when the phrase was coined before there were any protests associated with it. This was because the phrase itself does not allow whites to ignore it and to deny it is to confront the ugliest part of one’s self, which people don’t like to be reminded of. That’s why so many conservatives will talk about how racism is over even as they are embracing openly white supremacist candidates, ideas and policies. When they accuse people like myself of succumbing to “white guilt” they are projecting their own guilt outwards; I don’t feel any guilt about being white. I have read the source materials and know what I’m talking about; it would be as silly to fault myself for being white as it would be to fault someone for being black. Seeing injustice and trying to address it nothing to feel guilty about; pretending injustice isn’t happening and faulting people for trying to make the world a better place is what is shameful. Trump is the AntiKing; he seeks to undo not merely the Obama Presidency but everything back to Restoration.
I’m sitting here on the night of January 19th
and I am more convinced than ever that Donald Trump stole the election with the help of Vladimir Putin.. The evidence keeps piling up
and literally everything Trump has said and done since the election has increased my certainty that very dark deals have been made. Trump began his political career by demanding that the current president show is birth certificate and insinuating that he was an agent of radical Muslim terrorists. Trump literally has yet to show his taxes and there is mounting evidence that he collaborated with a hostile foreign power to become president. When Trump talks about his enemies
, he is talking about other Americans. He regularly praises Putin and is enacting a foreign policy that looks like the Russian tyrants wish list. By this time tomorrow he will be able to shut down every American intelligence agency investigation into his high crimes.
This is not normal. This is not right. This is not a television show that you are watching.
The United States of America is facing an existential crisis that is without parallel. The rigid and cynical thinking of conservatives has made them particularly susceptible to propaganda and laughably easy to manipulate. Their self-serving flip on Russia is inexcusably craven and traitorous; they are selling out their nation for their political party. They are no longer the party of Reagan. They are the party of Putin. And may God have mercy on their souls. I will not cooperate or collaborate with what I consider to be an illegitimate Presidency. I will not be satisfied until the guilty are brought to justice and the rightful authority of the American people is restored to our Republic.
God bless the United States of America.
January 16-19, 2017