The rug that has covered up our country’s racism, avarice and yawning chasm between the vulgar rich and the very poor has now been ripped off the ugly mess it hid from view.
This week a poll of white Americans counted 11 million citizens who felt strongly about identifying with the alt-right, citing white identity, solidarity, and discrimination as bedrock for their political stance. This is the core of the Trump base, loathsome in my opinion, “base” as in without moral principles; ignoble in character.
I do understand that writing in such vivid, unconstrained prose adds fuel to the fire. And indeed, in the past my objective would have been to convert my high dungeon into civil discourse, aiming for a flexible middle that would allow for compromise and room for both of us under the same flag.
But a persistent insidious thought has crept into my consciousness. The level of vitriol, the increasing willingness to resort to violence, the blatant displays of unfiltered malevolence has turned “Make America Great Again” into a clarion call for the ascent of Hitler-style fascism.
Too much of a rant? Too far off the theme of counting our blessings and living an authentic, spiritual life to add joy and meaning to life?
Perhaps, but my generation has seen the Before and After of an America that turned a blind eye to Jim Crow and then opened its heart to Martin Luther King. We have in our memories both the blurred sepia tones of innocent men hanging from trees and the glorious reminder of President Obama’s soaring eloquence, “Yes we can.”
I watched the television interviews of members of the audience at the Trump rally in West Virginia, look-alikes straight out of the movie Deliverance with malevolent half-sneer smiles and no apologies for their unrelenting support of “their” president. What struck me went beyond the coal mine politics they blathered about; it was the dog whistle message behind the soot-smudged eye-sockets - “It’s our turn, boy. We’re taking back our country.”
The next morning, I picked up the business section of the Tribune and read a story citing the 18.9-million-dollar average salary of a Fortune 500 CEO; merely 319 times greater than the average take home pay of rank and file worker bees. In some ways this fact is more distressing than the cracker barrel mindset, the message being, “If you weren’t mowing my lawn, senor whatever-your-name, you wouldn’t exist at all.”
The Tribune story is followed by an article in the NY Times Magazine Section describing the ‘pleasure craft’ of one Mohammed bin Salman, a super yacht reportedly bought for $480 million! I leave it to the article’s author to deliver the message, “a reminder that extreme wealth floats on an ocean of human sweat.”
We must get up from the couch and actively petition, donate, educate, march, protest and VOTE for the candidates that refute the notions that some races are superior to others and a man’s balance sheet is the sole measure of his worth.
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