Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Don’t be silly: We are NOT better than this

Workers in a cotton mill, Newberry, South Carolina, 1908.

     “We are better than this”?
     I’ve heard a lot of wistful liberal catch phrases in my day. From “The whole world is watching” (the whole world is living under a tarp hoping there’s dinner and couldn’t care less if the police bust your head) to “Not in my name” (funny, because your name was on the tax bill paying for it) and I have to say, the current indignation over immigrants, particularly children, being kept on the border in hellish conditions, is, well, cute.
     “We are better than this.”
     Since when? Leave it to Americans to turn our intentional abuse of refugees into an occasion for pride. Our government greets those turning to us for asylum by dividing their families and torturing their children, while our citizens start preening about how our supposed values are being violated by this freakish aberration.
     Pretty to think so, as Jake Barnes said.
     This isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. We are NOT better than this. We have NEVER been better than this. We are exactly this, and always have been.
     Cherokees had children too, you know.
     ”The bugle sounded and the wagon started rolling,” wrote John G. Burnett, a Tennessee soldier who saw Native Americans “loaded like cattle” as they set out on the “Trail of Tears” in 1838.
     ”Many of the children rose to their feet and waved their little hands goodbye to their mountain home, knowing they were leaving them forever,” Burnett wrote. “Many of these helpless people did not have blankets and many of them had been driven from home barefooted. ... The sufferings of the Cherokees were awful. The trail was a trail of death.”

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  1. You hit it out of the ballpark with this column, Mr. S.

  2. This is a very depressing jolt of truth: how easy it can be to do whatever awful thing to others for one’s own benefit, even in our beloved country. Perhaps it is a warped version of self-preservation that humans were born with and continue to abuse.
    I don’t know if this cycle of behavior will ever end. But in America, right now, it can only start with the removal of our current President.

  3. Thank you Neil. Excellent perspective, context and balance . Professional writing of the finest quality. You could go on , and should.
    Many more examples can be set forth to counter the notion of American exceptionalism .

    Our silence or inaction makes us complicate in the suffering of others.

    You show great courage with your words.

    As concerned citizens we all need to act.

  4. Reminds me of the movie The Searchers, in which John Wayne pursues an Indian band who have abducted his niece, Natalie Wood, with the intention of killing her because she has become the wife of the chief, but at last spares her life and brings her back to civilization. Wouldn't it be lovely if it were so.


  5. Let's not forget that the point of all this cruelty at the border is to discourage desperate people from fleeing here -- to make them think that whatever conditions are like at home, the horrors awaiting them and their children in America are at least comparable.

    Let that sink in. It is now the official policy of the United States government to erase, eradicate and pulverize the legacy of compassion and humanity, symbolized by the Statue of Liberty, for which this country used to be known.

    Of all the things I hate about the Trump administration, I think that's the most hateful.

  6. The notion that Americans are less capable of atrocities than people of other nations has long been an irritant to foreigners, at least going back as far as Dr. Johnson, who asked "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?" The great project of Indian removal during the 19th Century was marked by brutality and deceit well beyond "The Trail of
    Tears". In recent times the memory of Mai Lai has already faded. And to be really up to date, most Americans don't recall a little incident involving the USS Vincennes in the Persian Gulf, but we can be certain Iranians do.


  7. Per Maya Angelou, America has shown itself what we are, and we ought to believe it.

    This society, I suspect, has entered its death spiral. I don't see how we pull up and out of the institutional and cultural corrupting that Republican policies have created.

    Democrats for the most part have not helped, with our current fractiousness and relentless purity-test based call-outs.

    It will likely require the sort of catastrophe I'm not willing to live through to turn us around.

    1. You won't have a choice. It's 1859 and the clock is ticking. Version 2.0 is only a couple of years away. And there's no frontier "out West" to which you can escape the coming conflagration. You'll have to leave the country...Canada, Australia, the UK, even Costa Rica. They are all looking better every day.

      But I also want to stay and fight, even though I know I won't live to see the outcome. I have no illusions about that. What the hell, my time is short anyway.I'm old and I've had a good run.

      Better to lose one's life trying to save America than to live a few more years under the New Order. Unfortunately, I think the Confederacy will probably win this time. Fortunately, I won't be here to see it.

  8. Trump's policies and behaviors are supported by the 30-ish% of his people to whom he can literally do no wrong. Instead of shooting someone on 5th Ave. and getting away with it, he could shoot someone coming in across the border, and these people would cheer. How does this 30% have control over everything? If the people don't rise up in November and get rid of Trump, we're doomed. Ditto, Mitch McConnell.

    1. They're abetted by those who may not actively support these policies but are willing to look away while the (or their) economy is doing well.

  9. Three words: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
    THAT'S America, buddy...


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