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Reflections on the Election 2020 Part 18

President Trump makes History - Impeached Again

We should have anticipated that a movie star would be president. After all, America has always gone to Hollywood when reality became too troubling. It could have been John Wayne. But, he was dead, and then when you add to the Hollywood syndrome the proclivity for the mean and narrow in times of crisis, we should have known it would be Ronald Reagan.

With Reagan’s election, we immediately saw the similarity between him and Rutherford B. Hayes. Reagan and Rutherford kind of go together:

  • favoritism to the constitution resistors

  • anti-busing; tax exemption status to racist schools

  • removal of legal protection

  • the decimation of voter rights

And the time that brought Reagan to power was so much like post-reconstruction. They call this movement the new right, but there is really nothing new about it. During the early days of American history, it was manifest destiny. During the Civil War

period, it was state's rights or home rule. During the heyday of American capitalism, it was rugged individuals. During the sixties, it was the white backlash but whatever it calls itself, it and always has been anti-constitutional, anti-Black, anti-Latino, anti-Chicano, anti-Native Americans, anti-semitic, anti -Asian, anti-poor, anti-women, anti-human rights.

They have always attracted to their ranks the KKK, the John Birchers, and the Anti- Semites. Everything crawls out of the holes and cemeteries when they make their move.

We must carefully observe the convergence of the aforementioned three categories of racism:

  • Sadistic: significantly also including the rise of KKK activity.

  • Sophisticated: big money, America's corporate giants pouring billions into this New Right movement.

  • Simple: a great number of decent folks were carried along by the desire for change.

(Since this chapter was written I’ve added another category Subtle Racism and Subtle Racism is the appearance of decency and liberalism but really an undercover racist. See page 42)

The surge of these three categories of racism defeated the “Shatterers” of Racism. We also need to observe a crisis in the electoral process: While Reagan’s people were boasting of a mandate from the people, the truth of the matter was that a significant number of Americans did not think it worth their while to participate. They simply did not vote.

There are two developments that make the New Right more menacing than ever before: economic crisis and conservative religion.

1. Economic Crisis

More serious than ever before was and is the economic crisis. Ronald Reagan was supposed to balance the budget and lead us to new heights of prosperity. What we have experienced is a budget that gives meat to the rich and bones to the poor. “a jelly-bean budget,” Vernon Jordan called it. “A Jones Town budget,” Lane Kirkland called it. The problem with Kirkland's description is that at Jones Town the culprit drank the poison too. It isn't likely Reagan will take the medicine he is dishing out. Even the Director of the Office of Management and the Budget, David Stockman, admitted that it was a rich-take-all budget wrapped up in new verbiage. What we have seen is a shift in the budget away from social programs to the military machine.

It is important to note that everybody is hurt by this budget except a very few, which again emphasizes the point continuously made: if the majority does not defend and promote the interests of the minority, eventually they will be in the same predicament. Corporations are closing and running off to other parts of the world in search of cheap labor. These are not good days for Americans, Blacks, or whites, Jews and non-Jews, religionists and non- religionists, young and old. In addition to the economic and social shockwaves, there are assaults on legal rights, not to mention human rights.

It cannot be overemphasized that an economic crisis brings out the worst in human beings. As the “Have a Little” experience a threat to their security, they turn on the “Have nots” and/or Minorities, and fix the blame on them. If only the “Have a Little” would redirect their attention to the “Have a Plenty” and demand economic justice for all, including the “Have Nots” the crisis could be resolved.

But the “Have a Plenty” has such control over the media and other informing institutions that they can keep the “Have a Little” in ignorance concerning their best interest.

An impartial distant observer must ask why poor working people cannot see they share a common predicament and that if they entered into solidarity they could improve their lot a thousandfold, and if they coalesced with all other ordinary, decent, excluded, dispossessed, alienated people—Blacks, Whites, and Chicano, Latino, Asian, Jews, students and intellectuals, men and women, young and old, all who share a desire for a better society, more humane, truly democratic society—they could go a long way towards achieving their objective.

But, divided and suspicious of each other, manipulated by forces that profit from their fragmentation and distrust, they will always be weak and vulnerable to the shifts of powerful people, interests, and drives, and there will always be a Constitutional crisis.

2. Conservative Religion

While fundamentalism and/or evangelism have always been politically ultra-conservative for most of America’s history, they have exercised their influence subtly. Oftentimes they have taken public stands against political involvement. But, even their silence has been acquiescence to the status quo, which has sustained their interest. So, in a real sense, there was no need to be politically involved.

Who can forget Billy Graham's friendship with Nixon, and Oral Roberts calling Nixon a praying man in September of the election year?

Significantly, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and other electronic holy superstars have never taken a stand against racism, sexism, and antisemitism and never supported any causes or launched any movement against economic exploitation or political exclusion.

Where were they during the Civil Rights days? They were where they are and where conservative religionists have always been — on the side of the rich and powerful. In foreign lands, they have stood with the colonizer and the most repressive dictatorial regimes. And in so doing, they have always been against poor people and minorities. They have made Christianity and capitalism synonymous. “Rugged individualism” translated in their jargon becomes “individual salvation”—purity of soul. They only want to purify the soul and deliver it safely to heaven. Never mind if the body is sick, ill-fed, homeless, poor, or uneducated — especially if it is a Black Brown Red, or Yellow body.

In recent times these non-political or apolitical religionists, who in times past silently and subtly supported the status quo, have come forth conspicuously to join the New Right — bringing all their resources with them. In American history, where super-patriotism joins hands with super-religion black and the poor are in super trouble. Remember when Nixon and his men used to wear the little American flag on their lapels? They were super-patriotic. Remember when the missionaries went to Africa to bring the blessing of Christianity to the Dark Continent? “When they came, we had the land and they had the Bible,” said the despondent African, “Now we have the Bible and they have the land.”

Remember the southern Sheriff who boasted he liked nothing better than “Bible reading, prayer meetings, Sunday service, and beating niggers”? Remember Southern America and South Africa boasting the greatest proliferation of Christianity?

The situation prevails because, in spite of the Evangelical profession of Biblical faith and trust in Jesus Christ, they have interpreted both according to their culture and interest.

The God of the Bible is the God who identifies with the poor and dispossessed, who takes side with the oppressed against the oppressor, who is angry with the wicked every day—and the wicked here is not some poor soul guilty of stealing a pocket book and knocking somebody in the head (probably a member of his own race). The wicked here are the exploiters who steal lands and countries, oil wells, and diamond mines. The wicked here is the colonizer who takes the wealth of countries to enhance his mother country. The wicked here are those who create political, and economic social systems which deny justice, opportunity, and human rights. Yes! The God of the Bible calls powerful individuals and oppressive institutions into judgment.

He even says to the pious religionists, stop your singing, praying, and fasting, cease your religious exercises until justice rolls down like water, righteousness like a mighty stream; Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and take care of the widows.

To be continued...

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