“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.“ – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
The Party of Lincoln has abandoned Lincoln in its embrace of Donald Trump. I daresay, the The Party of Lincoln has abandoned the United States of America in it’s embrace of Donald Trump.
There is no other explanation. Honest Abe understood that what makes us “American” is the simple proposition that “all men are created equal.” Have we always lived up to that expectation? No. Our history is one of struggling with that ideal and overcoming the innate prejudices that animate us. From Harper’s Ferry through the Civil War, Reconstruction to Rosa Parks, The March on Washington to today, we have moved forward towards recognizing the inherent worth of all our citizens. Until now.
By selecting Trump as their standard-bearer, with his campaign rhetoric harkening back to the Know-Nothing Party of the 19th Century and a record of racist taunts and statements stretching back nearly 45 years, the Republican Party has taken a giant step back in time. If you aren’t sickened by Trump’s statements over the past ten days denigrating Hispanics, Muslims, Blacks and all Americans, then I don’t know what else to say to you. You are the same people who would have gladly posted signs in your shops announcing “Irish Need Not Apply” in the 1850’s or “No Wops Allowed” a century ago. You are the same people who would have loosed the dogs upon the marchers in Selma. You are the same people who threw bricks through the buses in Boston.
If you cannot denounce Trump and all he stands for, you must ask yourself what it is, that separates you from any other nationality in the world? You want a return to “American Exceptionalism”? Fine. But your embrace of Trump demonstrates that you haven’t the foggiest what that even is. You haven’t any idea what it is that allowed the United States to become the world’s preeminent power, what led to our economic successes and made us the envy of every other nation on the planet.
That exceptionalism lies in the fact that we’re willing to accept anyone who pledges loyalty to the Constitution of the United States of America as an American. We are the only nation on Earth that can say that. The core strength of our nation is that our nationality is not defined by where your parents or grandparents were born. We are united by loyalty to a common ideal rather than a bloodline. Our forefathers left those nations behind, as Mr. Lincoln said, to create a new type of nation – one where belief in liberty and justice for all is both our founding and guiding principle.
So if you want Trump’s overt racism as the standard for the United States of the future, understand what you’re buying into. Understand that by supporting Donald Trump, you are supporting the dissolution of the United States of America and the torching of our Constitution. Understand that you are setting in motion the end of the concept of free men.
So, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Christie, Mr. Sessions and all of the other Republican “leaders” who have jumped aboard the Trump Train: the choice laid before you can’t be more stark. You may continue to support Mr. Trump as your party’s nominee, and accept the permanent branding as racists. Or you can realize that he isn’t actually the nominee yet and totally not worthy of the Party of Lincoln, and as unceremoniously as possible dump him. The choice is yours.
Humans have used symbols to represent ideas and general concepts longer than there have been written languages. But sometimes, the meaning for a given symbol can change greatly, and sometimes that meaning can change in what seems like the blink of an eye.
For thousands of years, the swastika was used by cultures around the world. Originally, it was used to represent the sun, or strength, or power, or good luck. However, the German Nazi’s appropriated the symbol during their reign of terror. By the end of the Second World War, very few people outside of die-hard Nazis looked favorably upon the swastika. Today, it is a symbol that represents degradation, humiliation and overt racism. The original meaning is lost to the dust of history, and even the people who as recently as a century ago were using it as a good luck talisman have abandoned it.
2,000 years ago, the cross represented the very worst punishment the Roman Empire could mete out. Wherever crosses appeared, the most painful death imaginable was certain to follow. As a symbol, it represented the power of Rome and the emperor. Today, it is the principle symbol of the world’s 3 billion Christians. Rather than a symbol of oppression, it has become a symbol of freedom. Although I never met Emperor Nero, I doubt he would understand how, in less than a century, the Roman Imperial Eagle came to be replaced by the cross.
Today, we’re faced with another symbol that has undergone a radical transformation of it’s meaning: the Confederate Battle Flag. While it once stood for the right of individual states to protest the federal government and Southern Pride, it’s appropriation by various white supremacist groups today leaves it an undeniable symbol of racism and bigotry. Removing it’s use from public and/or official displays should be plain common sense.
There will still be occasions when it’s use is appropriate. Just as swastikas are flown during WWII reenactments, it’s a little hard to imagine a Civil War reenactment without the Stars and Bars. But by the same token, no matter how much I like Lynyrd Skynyrd, I just can’t imagine them continuing to use that flag as a stage prop – even though it’s been a staple of their shows for over 40 years. Yes, Skynyrd is proud to be Southern. but they’ve never embraced racism as a theme.
That’s what happens when symbols change meaning. You can continue to use them, hoping the world will understand you don’t agree with the new meaning. Or you can accept reality and move on. It’s time for us to move on and consign the Confederate Battle Flag to history.
For better or worse, race is an explosive topic in our country. A lot of that has to do with the inherent fear we have, as a society, to address the topic head-on. That’s largely because when somebody does address the topic calmly, rationally and in a non-PC way, they stand the very real chance of being slandered, vilified and demonized. Witness Mark Cuban, the often outspoken tech entrepreneur and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks:
“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. So in my businesses, I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I’m not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it’s not appropriate for me to throw stones.”
Cuban made those comments in an interview for Inc. magazine and was immediately slandered, vilified and demonized for them. He was labeled a racist for admitting that he, as with everyone else in the world, has prejudices. It was an over-reaction by people who’ve been conditioned in such a way as to confuse racism with prejudice.
Here’s the difference. A racist is not only someone who has prejudicial views, but refuses to acknowledge those prejudices – and then, by being in a position of power or authority, acts in a way that denigrates or injures the prejudiced. A racist varies from a bigot, in that a bigot allows their prejudices to form their world view but isn’t in any real position to act to perpetuate that view.
So, is Mark Cuban a racist? No. He is, in fact, the embodiment of what Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of when he pleaded with the world to judge men by their character, not their color.
Herein lies the problem with discussing race relations in this country: nobody, other than the PC, are allowed to talk about the topic. Unspoken in Cuban’s words, but certainly implied is that not only whites have prejudices – but other races, as well. And the PC brigades cannot allow for even the slightest possibility that such a truth to be uttered in public.
This is dangerous territory. The forced public misinterpretation of the relationship between prejudice and racism is more than a liberal meme – it is a lynchpin of liberal politics. For decades now, liberals have successfully blurred the distinction, so that blacks and latinos are told they cannot be prejudiced, because that would mean they’re also racists. At the same time, whites in liberal enclaves have been demonized and shamed into refusing to face their own prejudices. We’ve become a society where nobody is looking in the mirror, but everyone is yelling racism at the slightest perceived slight.
Further, by declaring that only white people with prejudicial feelings can be racists, the liberal crowd continues to prey on the “communities of color.” How? By constantly telling these people that their feelings aren’t prejudice, per se, but rather a natural reaction to centuries of being subjugated, they’re delivering a “message of empowerment.” It is, of course, a lot of hooey – and a message that consistently delivers a sizable voting bloc to the liberal cause.
But until everyone faces up to their own prejudices, the same way Mark Cuban has done – the same way very successful leader I’ve ever met has done – we will never get past the issue of race in our country. We’ll continue to be a nation of people with hyphens rather than a nation of Americans.