Greetings and Salutations;
Today is the 19th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Towers by fanatics that had taken over airliners. Even today, the images I saw on television that morning are as sharp as they were on that day. It was a pivotal moment in American society, and woke a lot of people up to some important issues, including the reality that our actions around the world can have local consequences, and, the fact that we have a really big moat around the country and are bordered by quite friendly countries does not insulate us from the consequences of those actions.
Sadly, our reaction to the destruction of the the Towers was fear, not courage. Instead of standing strong, and working to improve our interactions with the world, we created such monstrosities as the Patriot Act; “Homeland Security”; and started a war in the Middle East that still is being waged…with damn little to show for it. We also started a trend towards a very Nationalist view of ourselves…discounting the rest of the world, starting to make everyone but us “The Other” that is dangerous and cannot be trusted.
This sad trend culminated almost four years ago when the current administration was put into power. #3 (The title I use for D. Trump, because he is only the third president in the history of America to be impeached) from the start of his campaign used division – an “Us against Them” attitude – to split the country and barely take the Oval Office. Since then, he has, every day, continued to play to the emotions of his followers, in order to drive them here and there, where ever he believes they will do the most good for him.
One of the major emotions that he appeals to, and, the emotion I believe was the strong one that caused many to vote for him, was fear. His supporters fear many things, it seems…
- They are horrified by, and fear, the changes in society. In the past 30 years or so, the pace of change in life has accelerated to high rates. One aspect of the widespread use of computers in everything, is that the technology changes, almost on a daily basis. The 24/7 news cycle has created a situation where a story is reported in its initial form, then a few hours later may change radically, as more information is uncovered. This rapid rate of change causes people to be unsettled and feel that they are on the ocean, in a storm, in a leaky boat…leaving them tossed here and there, with no control.
- They fear the loss of their comfortable, familiar life. The changes of society that started in the 1960s, went fallow for a while, and are starting to grow now, are changing the role of each of us in life. White Guys used to be the touchstone that represented American Society. Now, though, that position at the top of the pyramid is slipping, as people of color gain more power and voice in politics. Many people do not react well to this, hence, I believe, the growth of White Supremacist groups in America, and the jump in hate crimes against people of color. It is nothing more than a wounded dinosaur, striking out blindly at what it takes to be its enemy. Sadly, these groups will not succeed in taking us back, or keeping us, as a White Country, with them in charge. Overall I have to say, that is a good thing in my book, though.
- This year, 2020, has brought a pandemic the likes of which have not been seen since 1916. the infectious abilities, and the wide-spread damage by the virus has left many people shaken. It is nearly impossible to deal with an invisible enemy that can kill a person in a short period of time. Some people respond with strong measures to protect themselves. This includes wearing a mask, and avoiding people who do not; Keeping oneself away from large gatherings of people; Minimizing trips out from the house; and increased hand washing and other sanitary measures. Others, for a variety of reasons, pretend it does not exist, or that they have special protections from it. Too many have discovered, too late, that they were not protected by the Divine, and that Covid-19 is a very real thing.
- As I mentioned above, the current administration thrives on fear. From day one, #3 fired the flames of hate for other groups. His very first speech discussed a mythical horde of folks from South America pushing towards our borders, trying to over run the country. His followers, because they feared people who do not look like them, bought this lie, hook, line, and sinker. Since then, he has pushed a number of similar, divisive and hate-filled attitudes. In his current speeches he is trying to drum up fear in the suburbs, by claiming that the Democrats are going to build Section 8 housing throughout those neighborhoods, and in the process will bring increased drug use, crime, and violence along with them. This is, of course a complete lie…
- Partially due to the pandemic, and mostly due to the incompetence of #3 in handling it, as of today, 197,000 citizens have died from the effects of covid-19, and, some six million have fallen ill. As a part of his administration, though, he has said, time and time again, that the news media are all liars, and never tell the truth. He has questioned scientists and medical experts, claiming they did not know what they were talking about…and then presenting some treatment that he heard about on Right-Wing media as the cure for covid..even though that treatment is either ineffective, or, has the probability that it will do serious damage to people that take it. This continual waterfall of lies has caused some citizens to fear the media and scientists…causing them to discard any good suggestions these people might have.
All of this fear has had many negative effects on our society today. It has caused a huge growth in hate for others, which has resulted in a large increase in hate crimes and terrorist acts. Most of these, by the by, have been perpetuated by Right Wing groups of fanatics….
There has been a huge increase in reporting of incidents between police and people of color, where the POC were injured or killed, in spite of being no danger to the police, and not armed. The reasons for this are, allegedly, because the policeman was “In fear for his life”. While this is not likely, the reality is that the cops have an image of people of color being monsters who are likely to strike out with deadly force at any moment. This generates a mindless fear that causes a LOT of needless deaths.
After 400 years of oppression, POC in America have said “ENOUGH!” which has generated the Black Lives Matter movement. the reaction of white folks to this is sad, indeed, because we see, time and time again, acts of violence against peaceful protestors. I ascribe this to a basic fear that, if people of color get power over them, they will treat the white folks the way the white folks have treated them. Now, while that is possible, if it happens it will likely be in very small blocks. Most people of color I have come in contact with simply want equal protection under the Constitution. One program that is very worth while, and examines the complicated reality of people of color in America is United Shades Of America, hosted by W. Kamau Bell. I strongly urge anyone reading this that has not watched it, to seek it out and watch the shows. They are worth the effort.
Now having wandered about a bit, I have to address what I think would be ways to fix this problem and get America back on the path it started on in the 1960s.
- I wish there was another way to say this…but, I do not know of one. We have got to turn the Republican Party into a small, minority party in government. Over the past 20 years, they have become more and more reactionary, and more interested in supporting Party over Country. Some of this issue stems from the fact that a significant number of the Republican leaders are worshipers of the twisted philosophies of Ayn Rand. Some of the issues stem from the reality that a vast majority of them are old, white guys, who do not want to give up power, because they suffer from the same fears I listed above.
- The Democrats, while no angels, have demonstrated time and time again that America, under their control, becomes a MUCH better place to live for all citizens, not just the enormously rich. So, vote Democratic until a better alternative rears its head.
- We, as a society, have got to listen to, and address the issues raised by BLM, and other groups. The only way we, as a society, can move forwards is if all of us are rowing in the same direction. Right now, that is not happening.
- We have got to look at election reform… For example, this should include all states having a mail in ballot option. We have got to eliminate gerrymandering, and make it impossible to return to. Perhaps using one of the many computer programs out there that have been designed to create districts, and, require any committee that controls this be equally divided between the two, major parties. There should never be a time when a candidate can choose their voters, and the voters cannot choose their candidate…a situation that is far from rare today.
- We must look at the educational system. Since too many children are obviously not being taught tolerance and acceptance at home, it should be up to the school system to teach them ethics, tolerance for their fellow citizens, and information that humanizes everyone. It is trivial to hate a stereotype…we do it all the time. It is far more difficult to hate a person that you know on some basis…that you have been shown has the same fears, thoughts, desires and hopes that you do.
The effort to change the course of the country will likely take decades…but if we do not take a step to make it happen, it will never happen.
God Help us all.
Bee Man Dave.