Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Variants, Remnants, Liars and Fools.

October 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Health, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) To say that our country is not in a very good place right now would be a colossal understatement.  We have lost more people to COVID than those who died in the 1918 Spanish Flu: and they never had a vaccine.  Wildfires out west are bigger and storms in the east are more frequent.  And our political polarization is as pronounced as at any time since the turbulent 1960s.

But beneath this surface tumult lies even more troubling trends.  Major demographic and cultural shifts are shaking the foundations of our society and we have to acknowledge them in order to address the unrest they are causing.

It starts with culture.  In his book “Sapiens” Yuval Noah Harari wrote, “Any large-scale human cooperation whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imaginations.”  In our modern state, that has been the function of public education.  Instilling the myths of the country’s founding – virtuous pilgrims and happy slaves – that until recently had not been prominently challenged in the mainstream.

That changed when the New York Times put its masthead behind The 1619 Project.  This myth-busting piece of journalism, and follow-on efforts at other media outlets, is responsible for the backlash attacks against Critical Race Theory, or, teaching the American story in full.  This is straight out of George Orwell’s 1984: “Who controls the past controls the future.  Who controls the present controls the past.”

The American story was founded on what Isabelle Wilkerson calls in “Caste” the “ladder of humanity” theory.  Southern educator Thomas Pearce put it succinctly, “Let the lowest white man count for more than the highest negro.”

The Nazis used this concept to designate Jews as “untermenshen,” or sub-human.  In fact, after researching the world’s legal systems, they settled on our Jim Crow laws for their own jurisprudence.  Remember, everything Hitler did was “legal” in Germany at the time.  Just as segregation was here.



Francis Fukuyama in his book “Identity” talks about peoples’ desire to be recognized as equal (thymos).  He also describes the desire by some to be recognized as superior, which he called megalothymia.  He says, “Demand for recognition of one’s identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in the world today.  The most dangerous of these new right-wing identities are ones related to race.”

The driver of this angst in the white supremacist crowd is what they call the “Great Replacement.”  It has been embraced by members of congress and media personalities like Tucker Carlson.  Simply stated, they believe white people are being overrun, or outbred, by blacks, Hispanics and non-white immigrants.  It was the chant of the Unite the Right mob in Charlottesville: “Jews will not replace us.”  And 2020 census data only added fuel to this fire showing the percentage of white Americans has decreased.

Demographers like William Frye have been predicting that by mid-century people of color will comprise the new majority of U.S. residents (majority minority is an oxymoron).  But more importantly according to Frye, going forward “minorities will be the source of all growth in the nation’s youth and working age populations, most of the growth in its voters and much of the growth in its consumers and tax base as far into the future as we can see.”  It’s the projected growth in eligible voters that has politicians in the Republican Party worried as young and minority voters tend to skew Democratic.

Divided and broken

These demographic and cultural trends have divided us and broken one of our political parties.  Republicans know they have only won the popular vote for president once since 1988 (Bush in 2004).

And it’s worth remembering that the most diverse metropolitan areas in the country are also the greatest contributors to the nation’s wealth.  California and New York alone account for 23% of our GDP.

To counter this, a normal political party would have composed a platform for its presidential candidate to run on in 2020 to expand its base.  Republicans had no platform.  A normal party would expel a candidate who welcomed foreign interference to win an election, extorted a foreign leader trying to win the next election and incited an insurrection after losing that election.  The Republican Party has not.

You would think an administration so incompetent that it went through two Secretaries of State, three Secretaries of Defense and three Attorneys General in four years would be repudiated.  Nope.

Instead, Republicans are raising basic questions about who is eligible to vote and how ballots cast shall be counted.  It’s akin to complaints South Carolina, the first southern state to secede, raised with northern states in its secession statement for “elevating to citizenship, [black] persons who, by the supreme law of the land are incapable of becoming citizens…”  Sound familiar?

It’s the Republicans who are now questioning “birthright citizenship” or proposing other schemes about the forms of identification that are required in order to vote.  The most anti-democratic laws they are putting forward would allow states to overturn elections without any evidence of improprieties or fraud.

Who has so weaponized public discourse that the mere mention of the word “variant” will spark confrontations between vaccine recipients and anti-vaxxers, or “remnant” will ignite vehement denials of climate change as to its cause?  Ida killed more people 1500 miles away than where it landed.

Who encourages their followers to take the animal pharmaceutical ivermectin as a cure for COVID? That’s some Jim Jones, People’s Temple shit.  Fools.  Or who sends children into schools, banning measures to protect them from coronavirus infections like wearing masks?

Let’s stop pretending the Republicans are operating in the tradition of American political parties.  The blatant attempts to suppress votes, and routine employment of outright lies on matters great and small are in no way equivalent to the party’s past record or practices on the other side of the aisle.

None of these things are the actions of a responsible political party fit to govern a nuclear armed nation of three hundred million people and calling itself the leader of the free world.

Common ground and common good

These voting restrictions, though they disproportionately affect black and brown people, have a wider impact.  Restrictions on mail-in ballots for instance will affect the young, the elderly and people with disabilities as well.  That’s why it’s imperative to broaden the fight against these efforts, and for things like police reform, beyond racial appeals and find common ground with other affected groups.  We have to adopt the strategy that “it ain’t how look, it’s how you think.” We have too many Clarence Thomases, Tim Scotts and Daniel Camerons in our midst to limit our reach for allies based solely on ethnicity.

In addition to common ground, we have to promote policies that support the common good.  COVID has shown us that the pseudo-libertarian “my body my choice” approach to vaccinations harms us all.  There would be no pyramids, Parthenon, or U.S. Capitol if human history was every man for himself.  By seeking common ground and promoting the common good, we can maintain the majority that won 2020.

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell

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