Ungrateful colonials

July 6, 2020

July 4 1776  – July 4 2020

I’ve always been an uneasy patriot. The country was founded with all its barefaced contradictions written into its very declaration of independence and constitution. It’s hard not to stifle a smirk when reading “All men are created equal,” knowing it was written and nobly approved by slaveholders, who’d also been self-righteously engaged in genocide for the previous 150 years or so upon the indigenous populations. In my own household, I grew up with a father who railed against blacks, kicked me out of the house for my participation in civil rights marches, yet whose best friend was a black man. (Who was as bad at picking horses at the track as my father was, bless his soul.)

I didn’t run with the My Country Right or Wrong crowd during the Vietnam war. Vagabonding in Europe in the early 1970s, I wore an army surplus jacket with an American flag sewn upside down, not out of disrespect, but as the international maritime symbol of distress that it symbolized. While I was incensed by the 9/11 attacks, I was equally incensed to learn it was in large part a result of abject intelligence failures, soon to be compounded by a series of ill-conceived wars based on blatant lies.

Even the election of our first black president went from courageous  to colonic with the birth of the thinly disguised white supremacist Tea Party practically the day after Obama was elected. Our historic, founding roots of racism are showing as never before here in 2020.

“I’m not sorry to say this: White lives don’t matter, as long as whites continue to refuse to acknowledge their brutal racist legacy.”

We’re closing in on 250 years of this experiment borne of the European Enlightenment, and it’s pretty clear we’re not going to ever get the hang of it. Each time we’ve made a true attempt at equality among our better angels, our worse ones seemed more than up to the task to beat it back. Klan terror, convict leasing, Jim Crow, mass incarceration were all equal, opposite and excessive reactions to any attempt by African Americans to rise to the perceived level of equality with whites. For a white to admit that a black is equal would mean whites admitting they were always wrong about blacks. Worse, they’d be admitting they weren’t all they’d cracked themselves up to be all this time. No Walmart waddling, pringle can guzzling, Franklin Graham praising Evangelical is ever going to admit to that.

The only good news is that the current, strident and overt expression of white supremacy has the last-gasp of a declining majority feel to it. The worst may still be yet to come for people of color, but the white race in America will eventually succumb to the numbers and the hate it has spawned.

When a young black child darted out in front of my father’s car one day decades ago, and disappeared beneath the hood only to emerge unscathed, my father breathed a heavy sigh and said, “That’s the closest I’ve ever come to killing a human being.” He didn’t mean because he’d just missed running over the child.

A lot of people have died for the ideals of this country over the last almost 250 years, beginning with the revolutionary army of George Washington. It appears it’s been a waste. There were no ideals. Never were. So no, you won’t catch me waving or embracing the stars and stripes any time soon, or resowing that upside down flag on my old army jacket.

I’m not sorry to say this: White lives don’t matter, as long as whites continue to refuse to acknowledge their brutal racist legacy.

Happy Treason Day, Ungrateful Colonials.

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