It's taken me an entire week to find sufficient zen to explore more complicated thoughts instead of just a stream of invective regarding the recent noteworthy racist bullshit. Even so, I need to pre-empt this particular rant with a few disclaimers.
DISCLAIMER #1: Cultural insensitivity to Indigenous Peoples
While I might be drawing some conceptual parallels to Native Americans, I in no way mean to suggest that there anything even remotely close to equivalency.
DISCLAIMER #2: Socio-Economic Realities In Some States
There are a lot of people suffering from shrinking local economies, which spawn a spiraling drug problems, and all contribute to a lack of realistic options. It probably makes it easy to bypass logic and reason when all your patience has been expended and your hopes have drained away and you find yourself being told by powerful, successful transnational entities that all people and cultures are valued - leaving you to stew on your own apparent lack of value. The natural resentment this engenders is primitive, and it is not a stretch to imagine how easy it would be to feel aligned with hatred. The most effective improvement is undoubtedly to improve education, access to healthcare, and investing in sustainable economies. Instead of pointing out how they're stupid, or screaming about the evil that comes out of the stupid, or trying to dehumanize them and establish them as 'other'.
DISCLAIMER #3: My Blinding Privilege
As John Scalzi would say, I'm living life with all the settings dialed down to their easiest notch.
white / male / middle-aged / cis / hetero / educated / professional / pretty¹
This renders my opinions suspect, at best, and I know it. If I mess these ideas up: mea culpa.
In the midst of fuming some visceral sense of fundamental validation of my strongly misanthropic tendencies, S pulled me up short and help up a mirror to some of the bullshit I was muttering. I may have been honest about my feelings, but they were not doing much to distinguish me from those kinds of thoughts we are struggling to overcome. It made me untangle some of the ideas that I had been carelessly stringing together in my reasoning fury. A couple did manage to stand out.
First was the memory of having it explained to me that Taranino's Django Unchained wasn't a movie about black people's revenge fantasy. It's a movie about white people's revenge fantasy against our racist peers. The seductive power of this undercurrent of anger and resentment is difficult to understand, but I am starting to respect the gravity of it's potential. In movie form, it can be cathartic. But outside of fantasy, it becomes nothing more then further evidence of how difficult and complicated human society is.
Then there was the satisfying pun of The Left. Discussing things in terms of political or social polarization, the left and the right are usually meant to describe the progressive and conservative sides of thinking. But thinking about the future, and what will be possible there both economically and socially, caused me to consider the present in context of the recent past. Of all the things that have changed, and are changing. In many ways, the two real sides of this conversation are the Leaving and the Left Behind.
The hilariously ugly accuracy of the pun, is that many of the Left have indeed left. Left the Cold War, left insularity, left hair bands, left victimhood, left trickle-down-economics, left schoolyard bullying, and left our hearts in Paris. So it becomes confusing to the Left why the Left Behind don't want to join us. Come to the future, we think, and partake in the awaiting bounties and challenges that face us all.
But what is easy to foget is that we also left behind some of our old identities. While others are very much attached to those identities and have no intention of being separated from them. Even if some aspects of those identities are, well, totally fucked up and shitty. I'm talking about so-called "real Americans" who also claim to be Nazis. For example.
The idea that struck me most was that what we have here is effectively a newer, more technologically-advanced, and more-materially-prosperous society clashing with an older, disadvantaged society. The world has seen this many times. The results are generally inevitable. And it's almost always ugly.
Is that what we're seeing now? Is this ugliness with the Indigenous Nazi Merkins the inevitable byproduct of the cultural rendering of the Old South? It behooves us to stop and consider the context of those thoughts. And with that in mind, be informed about how we proceed. And to not be surprised about what might be about to come.
¹ Am too. Shut up.