Dateline: April 16, 2018
By Jack Moscou
Saw an interesting item suggesting our politicians should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers and put their corporate sponsors on their clothes. Since the NASCAR drivers are paid to promote their sponsors it seems to me only fair that politicians should get paid for promoting their sponsors as well. And since those contracts would be a matter of public record we, the public, could see how much each politician is worth to their various sponsors.
Thousands of books, many of them well meaning (never mind the overtly racist one’s) have been written, describing in great detail, how racism has produced all sorts of pathology in the Black community.
Just looking back over the last one hundred years or so, I can’t help but notice whites have engaged in wars with each other (never mind wars against “others”) killing well over one hundred millions of fellow whites, reducing similarly large numbers to a life of economic insecurity, creating untold numbers of suicides, rapes, murders, addicts, depressed people, and still having a double standard privileging men over women – to name just some of the ills plaguing whites. And yet I don’t seem to see a whole lot of books discussing how – just maybe – white supremacy has produced a pathology in the white community.
I don’t think it is accidental that almost every account of a criminal act committed by a Black is described using words like thug, depraved, violent, etc., making sure the adjective Black is mentioned loud, clear, and often. And invariably the act of the individual is linked to and associated with Blacks as a group.
Similar acts by whites usually describe the act as aberrant, committed by a loner, someone with a history of mental illness; and white is rarely attached to the description of the person and he (she) is almost never linked to and associated with being part of a white group.
While Timothy McVeigh and Dylann Roof were covered extensively and there was mention of their belonging to militia or hate groups, there were only passing references, at best, to the existence of white terrorism and/or white pathology.
Being white and part of the group doing the oppressing is definitely a lot easier on the psyche than being Black and part of the group that is being oppressed.
I recall the story of a little boy on a Pullman train (borrowed from my book, Why Not Utopia?) who said to his father as they turned in for the night, “Leave the light on. I’m afraid to sleep in the dark” The father replied, “You always sleep in the dark at home.” To which the little boy said, “I know, but that’s our dark.”
Not to belabor the point but I think a national discussion on our nation’s dark is long overdue.
It has been said that fools learn from experience while wise men learn from the experience of others – someone remind to stop using the masculine gender exclusively and develop a more “inclusive” speech pattern. On the other hand, at 88, I think I should be allowed a little slack – it doesn’t seem fair to ask me to unlearn a lifetime of miseducation at my age.
With that in mind I will quote Anatole France: “When a thing has been said, and well, have no scruple, take it and copy it.” And with that I will cheerfully “borrow” (with attribution) some quotes from famous people.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past
In 1984 Orwell famously coined the phrase “down the memory hole” to describe the process. While lies, lying, and liars have been with us for a long, long, long time, Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Fox News, and large segments of talk radio have taken lying to heights Orwell would have truly appreciated.
I hasten to add that outlets such as MSNBC and CNN skew the news also but with two very significant differences: they show the other side in a fair amount of depth; and they present and give air time to opposing views.
The question is, how do you reason with people who get all their information from Fox News and assorted like-minded outlets? My quick answer is you can’t.
Confirmation theory suggests, and in my mind pretty conclusively, that when people are presented with facts that do not fit into their preconceived views they react in one of three ways (and sometimes all three at the same time): dismissing those facts, doubling down on the facts they already believe, and when all else fails becoming angry at the messenger. This is why facts are often not only ineffective but actually counter-productive.
It is both painful and frustrating to live in a world with people who live in an alternative reality rooted in misogyny, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and denial of science. Combine this with their Manichaean good vs. evil world view that does not desire a win-win solution but prefers (indeed, insists on) a win-lose outcome, and it is not only painful and difficult but downright scary. I say scary deliberately because of the level at which right wing anger spews vitriol, hatred, and outright threats ranging from “lock them up” to “somebody needs to kill them.”
Let me quote R. Buckminster Fuller:
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
My take on the Fuller quote is that we should support every group struggling to make America a more just society. We should, however, note that history suggests that without changing into a new model our efforts will prove to be exercises in futility as today’s gains are rolled back tomorrow.
At the same time we should acknowledge “new” models, have been around forever, and my Utopian* model, how to create a perfect world, is no exception.
*Shameless Plug: Check out my book, Why Not Utopia?: A political platform in search of a party.
* * *
Jack Moscou is a co-founder of The Writers Collective. He has an extensive background in management training, strategic planning, and political consulting. His commentary on political events was previously posted in www.bloggingforutopia.com. He is the author of Why Not Utopia?: A Political Platform in Search of a Party.