Unfinished Business and the Sins of the Fathers

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Declaration_of_Independence (1819), by John Trumbull.

Trumpism out of step with 157 years of progress


“The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.” — Euripides (c. 485-406 B.C.)


Racism is still a problem in America. If you subscribe to the idea of “American Exceptionalism” — the belief that America is exceptional and better than other nations — you are a part of the problem. All of us who think we can claim to be the exception to exceptionalism, must now bear witness to the sins of the fathers visited upon the generations. So here we are, a week after the 244th anniversary of our nation’s forefathers declaring independence, we are still arguing over the clause, “All men are created equal.”

Clearly you thought this had been settled back in 1865 when the Confederacy lost the Civil War and the enslaved were freed or that the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution settled the issue of who were citizens and exactly what their civil rights were.  And just to make sure these rights were set in stone, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Most of this was glossed over in your high school history class while you were consumed by sex and the latest music craze.

All of these things were done well before the first Confederate statue was ever erected. Gen. Robert E. Lee, when declining an invitation to erect statues on the battlefield in Gettysburg said, “I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it has engendered.” Which was a very gentile way for the Confederate general to say we should bury the past along with 618,222 soldiers who died on both sides. I would add most of which were white men fighting over whether black people’s involuntary servitude status should end.

Which brings me to the realization that since that war, and for a long time prior, white people have been arguing with each other over the status of black people (and others of color) in our country. And it wasn’t for the lack of some very eloquent and highly educated black voices to call on the consciousness of America to rectify this original sin. From Frederick Douglass down to Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Angela Davis to name just a few —  the names of black American academics, writers and intellectuals fill volumes on the subject. These are books that many conservative Americans never read. Yet, something changed this time with the murder of George Floyd caught on a cell phone as he died at the hands of white Minnesota police officer. Suddenly Black Lives Matter wasn’t just a slogan exclusively for black activists but a rallying point for a multi-ethnic, multi-generational uprising that has shocked the collective consciousness — not just here but around the world.

Suddenly (even though it’s not really sudden), you have white students and elders marching alongside people of many shades to protest injustice. This has by its very diversity woken up America, the media and challenged Congress.

Then as a response we have Donald J. Trump on this Fourth of July giving a speech at one of the great national monuments — Mount Rushmore. Here’s his response: 

One of their [the democratic left’s] political weapons is “Cancel Culture” — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.  This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America. This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped, and it will be stopped very quickly.  We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life.

In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.  If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished.  It’s not going to happen to us.

Make no mistake: this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.  In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress.

To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.

Excuse me, but this is nothing more than gaslighting and accusing others of what he himself is guilty of.  Here is a lying hypocritical tyrant who continually accuses his adversaries of the very same actions that he has committed himself. He shames dissenters, demands total submission from his associates and underlings, threatens and censors the press, recites political mantras and promotes his own brand of fascism.  He does this even as he acts solicitously with our nation’s adversaries and curries favor with the world’s autocrats, dictators and oligarchs. The term, “treasonous,” comes to mind.

Trump is perhaps the best foil with which white America can now have the argument over what America owes black Americans. For surely their blood has stained this land as much as my ancestors,  earning them a proper place of actually being equal. Black Americans have fought, suffered and died to be equal in this nation and this is a special burden specifically for white America to rectify. Racism is defined here specifically between white and black America but it affects all. 

And one last thought … the cultural revolution that he so mistakenly brings up that is corrupting American values started when Chuck Berry took Rhythm and Blues and turned it into Rock & Roll and teenagers across the land started dancing to it and when Jackie Robinson started to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and white fans cheered.

The cultural revolution is the embracing of a national diversity that expresses the one core American creed that all people are created equal and we should all enjoy the freedoms of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This only became mainstream in the 1960s with the civil rights and anti-war  protests and songs and the rest shall we say, is history. This is something that the liar-in-chief knows so little about. And still the argument over racism in America comes down to a contest between two white men in their 70s trying to explain what freedom looks like to a country that is made up of many different shades of color.

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