Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Ugly American

In my class and place, I did not recognize myself as a racist because I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth. - Peggy McIntosh

As the flames of revolution are being stoked by the loyal opposition, the tea-partiers, and libertines everywhere I think it is interesting to note what issue is at the heart of this fervor. It seems odd to me that when George W. was spending money like a drunken sailor, dismantling the financial regulatory system, and expanding government that these angry mobs were nowhere to be found. So if we strip away the deficit spending, the expansion of government, socialism, radicalism and all of the other red herrings we are left with only a handful of possible issues. I think the largest and most dangerous is the issue that has always been simmering just below the surface in American history. This issue has never gone away but becomes more pronounced during periods of economic uncertainty and general fear by the majority population.

In spite of the great opportunity American presents to the world that people from different countries, races, and religions can live harmoniously together that opportunity has never truly been realized because at our core we are a very tribal nation. We have accepted the false dichotomy that in order for one tribe to prosper another has to decline so during times of economic uncertainty each tribe begins to protect what it perceives as its right to the remaining assets. The problem with this scenario is that it is based on the false premise that we are operating under a truly free market system and of course we are not. The system we are employing is akin to placing magnets on the roulette wheel in Vegas. It is slighted to one group over another already. I believe that a lot of the anger that is being displayed is legitimate. Hell, I’m angry. But I think it is being misplaced.

Instead of focusing on those who are using house money to make extravagant bets and when they win they keep their winnings, but when they lose their loses are being covered by the house. Imagine going to Vegas with 100,000 of someone else’s money and placing bets and if you win you keep all of the winnings, but if you lose the house pays your losses. We are the house and we are paying the winners and the losers. My problem with this round of protests is this. The majority of us are being screwed. The difference is that if you belong to the majority group you are getting lubricant while the rest of us are not, but make no mistake in the morning all of our butts are sore. My question is that if you wake up and your butt is sore and so is mine why would you blame me for what happened. It would seem to me that the logical thing to do would be to find those folks who do not have sore butts and ask them why not.

But the reason this is not happening is because of a little thing we have in this country called “white privilege”. To show how deep this runs in our society imagine if a group of Latinos would show up at an immigration rally armed or a group of blacks would show up at a affirmative action rally strapped what the reaction would be. You see the media and the talking heads debate the appropriateness of the venue of being armed but never that you have an angry mob of armed white folks talking revolution. White folks have an inherent right to be angry when their perceived privilege is threatened and this right goes without question, it is considered patriotic. However, when any other group replicates this behavior it is considered treason and a threat to our security.

What many of these protesters are angry about is not a real threat to America, but a perceived threat to their America”. What is “their America”? It is an America where their tribal right’s supersedes the rights of others. An example of this mentality would be when Pat Buchanan on MSNBC stated publicly that the white man single handedly built this country and that the only contribution of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians was the drag they put on the white man’s progress by living off of the system and abusing the kindness of white folks. Not to mention that the blacks were the cause of the “2nd American Revolution” when the Yankee aggressors took away the “states rights” from the peaceful southerners. To rewrite history in this way is akin to Japan stating that Pearl Harbor was a precursor to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive strikes to prevent the western aggressors from enslaving the peaceful Japanese people.

What we are seeing with these latest protests is that because they are really about maintaining white privilege there will not be a groundswell of support from those who are not white. This is just another example of “the ugly American” truth that we are not ready to put tribal differences aside for the sake of something larger like “country first”. Until we realize that we are all taking it on the chin for the sake of a few who are making out like bandits we will continue this tribal warfare against those whom we have the most in common with. All the while the real culprits will continue laughing all the way to the banks we bailed out in the cars we bought. Is this a great country or what?

Many of us believe that wrongs aren't wrong if it's done by nice people like ourselves. - Author Unknown

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