Ugly Americans

Might as well call it: We’re about to endure one of the ugliest elections in American history.

Granted, we’ve only been around for sixty years of it, so we might be giving undue weight to the present, which, unlike the past, is always uncertain. And granted as well, the 1860 election had certain consequences that we’re not facing. Yet.

Funny thing about the Civil War: It broke out five weeks after Lincoln’s inauguration, and ended—

See, that’s the funny thing. It hasn’t.

We grew up thinking it had, that the Civil War was long past, that the colored drinking fountains of Jim Crow were artifacts revealed in old photos, that the moral arc of history was indeed bending towards justice, that there was an inevitability to it all, although you had to be very patient about it.

We were also born in an America that was almost nine in ten white folk. Last count, that was below three in four. You wouldn’t believe what a difference that makes. There’s overwhelming, and then there’s overwhelming. Remove the italics, and all hell breaks loose.

So we’re gonna have an historically ugly election because white folk aren’t fucking enough.

(The Pill? 1960. There’s your demographic freefall from italic to roman.)

White males in particular have a problem playing nice with others, as we’ve been seeing — again — the past week. A brown woman who worships the wrong god — or the right god in the wrong way, to be historically specific — is being attacked for what she is, although everyone is taking pains to say it’s really about something else. A white woman who’s good at hard math is being attacked because her hard math gave us a groovy picture of a black hole, and surely some dude did the work instead, even if it turns out he’s gay. And our Great White Male Leader is making his usual noises about brown people from warmer climates.

Everyone wants to make it about Trump. It’s not about Trump. It’s about the ugly forces he’s unleashed, forces that were there all along, forces that have been nurtured by one major political party since 1968, a mere three years after that last major piece of civil-rights legislation, the one that fooled us into thinking the moral arc of history was bending as designed.

The Civil War never ended. We’ve been living in a Cold Civil War for more than 150 years. And it’s gonna get really ugly over the next eighteen months.

It’s gonna get ugly because there’s nobody around to shame it. Us, sure, and you, but neither of us is a New York Times columnist. Neither of us is a power-fellating political reporter. Neither of us runs a cable news network. Neither of us is in the leadership of a major political party. It’s gonna get ugly because the institutions of American civil society are gonna let it get ugly, just like they’ve been letting it get ugly the past ten years, or the past forty, or fifty, or 150.

They really can’t help themselves. We’d do better to stop expecting them to.

To be fair about the historical evolution of justice, this may just be the last burst of white racism, the death rattle of an overwhelming majority before it descends into the abyss of mere dominant plurality. American White Males like us — well, a generation or two younger than us — may finally learn to play well with others, because others finally have some toys.

Which would be fine, except by then the world will be more trashed than Julian Assange’s embassy digs.

It’s gonna get ugly. And then it’s gonna get even uglier.

15 comments:

4:32 pm • Sunday • April 14, 2019

This was rather…grim. But please don’t forget about the 53% of white women that voted for Trump. I’m happy to kick dirt on white guys all day, every day and the fact remains that 53 % of white women heard that orange turd say that he like to grab women by the pussy (who the fuck even thinks that’s a thing to do?) and voted for him anyway.

12:22 am • Monday • April 15, 2019

Well! Haven’t done a server switch in a few years!

1:32 am • Monday • April 15, 2019

My head hurts.

ADD: here’s some cello in Laredo

1:10 pm • Monday • April 15, 2019

I’d prefer to look at this moment as the death spasms of white supremacy, as all of the dead-enders wedded to that sinister ideology seem to be powerful right before going over a cliff.

3:17 pm • Monday • April 15, 2019

I like what Robert Reich has to say on the subject:

My hopes really do outweigh my fears. I’m basically optimistic about the future, notwithstanding everything I’ve said. I’m optimistic first because I am a student of history. I know that there are dark moments in American history. After the first Gilded Age we did repair our system considerably between 1901 and ultimately 1940. We are now in a second Gilded Age, and I think the pendulum will swing back accordingly. I’m also very optimistic about grassroots political movements. Donald Trump’s only positive legacy, I think, will be the revival of progressive politics at the grassroots all over this country. Many people are getting involved for the first time. Some people who got involved during the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements are now becoming re-involved and reactivated.

The third thing that makes me optimistic is young people. They are idealistic and committed. They are dedicated to the fundamental principles of our economy and democracy in ways that are very powerful. I’ve been teaching for 40 years. I’ve never taught a generation of young people as committed to reforming the system as young people today. It’s not just Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is the tip of a vast pool of wonderful young people who are going to inherit this mess and reform it.

6:46 pm • Monday • April 15, 2019

Today in even better news:

More Americans are rejecting organized religion than belong to the Catholic Church: report

Political scientist Ryan Burge found that the percent of Americans claiming no religious affiliation is now so large that it rivals the other two largest groups, Catholics and evangelical Christians, according to a new analysis of the General Social Survey.

According to the data, those claiming “no religion” — often called “nones” — now make up 23.1 percent of the population. Evangelicals are 22.8 percent of the population, while Catholics are at 23 percent. For statistical purposes, all of these numbers can be treated as essentially equal.

4:21 pm • Tuesday • April 16, 2019

@SanFranLefty: Beautiful. That man is a national treasure.

12:48 pm • Wednesday • April 17, 2019

Spoiler Alert: William P. Barr, Prezinazi AntiChrist’s bloated, sleazy, dishonest defense attorney, is gonna release a report so redacted it’ll look like a reverse Mad Libs.

10:03 am • Thursday • April 18, 2019

“In assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation, as he entered into office and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office and the conduct of some of his associates.”

Totally different if Hillary had won, of course.

11:00 am • Thursday • April 18, 2019

11am ET, and everybody’s talking about something nobody’s seen.

11:12 am • Thursday • April 18, 2019
12:45 pm • Thursday • April 18, 2019

Whatta pathetic farce. The only surprise at this point is that none of the empty suits in the DOJ have the decency and integrity to resign and go public after being falsely smeared for spying by their own boss.

The DOJ’s tattered reputation is now officially shredded for a generation by these paper-tiger cowards who’ve bowed down in obsequious servitude to Prezinazi AntiChrist.

Newsflash: The emperor has no clothes, dumfux.

2:17 pm • Friday • April 19, 2019

“Whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love.”

— John F. Kennedy

“I’M FUCKED!!!”

— Dotard Judas Tdumbp

1:29 am • Saturday • April 20, 2019

My Fogey Liberal Friends are debating the political efficacy of impeachment, forgetting that we grew up during a military quagmire resting on similar arguments.

3:06 pm • Saturday • April 20, 2019

/And now for something completely different/

If you enjoy high-minded, aspirational essays on alternative structures for human societies, then this essay is 4 U.

How Will Future Generations Remember Our Time?

Our nation is on the wrong course not because Americans have the wrong values. It is on the wrong course because of remnant imperial institutions that give unaccountable power to a small alliance of right-wing extremists who call themselves conservative and claim to support family and community values, but whose preferred economic and social policies constitute a ruthless war against children, families, communities, and the environment.

The distinctive human capacity for reflection and intentional choice carries a corresponding moral responsibility to care for one another and the planet. Indeed, our deepest desire is to live in loving relationships with one another. The hunger for loving families and communities is a powerful, but latent, unifying force and the potential foundation of a winning political coalition dedicated to creating societies that support every person in actualizing his or her highest potential.

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