America is not Germany in 1933. But we are tolerating a nativist, xenophobic, misogynist, deceitful President with autocratic tendencies. Impeachment proceedings have not begun and do not seem likely.
As a country, we are powerful and rich without equal, weaponized, bristling, and bungling. And some of us are rich. Some of us are still free. While one in three African-American males will be incarcerated during their lifetime, only one in seventeen Caucasian-American males will be (based on 2001 incarceration rates). And things have improved, but-still the 2010 census showed an incarceration rate of 2.2% for blacks and 0.4% for whites. I don’t like those odds. Meanwhile, Thirteenth is streaming on Netflix.
Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, LGBT folk, and the mentally ill are not the Jews. And I am not the silent, side-lined, fearful, addled majority. I don’t want to tweet, I don’t want to call my senator every week, and I don’t want to hear your “what about isms.” They distract and deflect me. I am just convicted in my complicity and impotency. I know that I will have to apologize for this coming Age of Darkness. But this sheep does not listen to the dog whistle. I hear the voice of the shepherd.
I admired President Carter as a young boy, and I scoffed at Reagan and the Moral Majority with the help of Bloom County. But it was on August 2, 1990, when I lost faith in the President of the United States. That day George Bush, the First, started the Gulf War. I was a going to be a sophomore at KU, I was home over the summer, and Wolf Blitzer was breaking the news of the Gulf War on CNN. My grandmother was sitting in her lazy-boy saying over and over again that she had been praying and praying that this would not happen.
Then grandma said, “Turn it to channel 9 for Wheel of Fortune,” but it had been preempted by the twenty-four-hour War-News-Cycle. She asked, “Is this channel 9?” I said, “Yes, grandma. They’re covering the war.”
And she said, “Then just turn it off.”
And I had been praying, too, that I would not be drafted to fight in a war that I could not understand. At least my prayer was answered.
Wikipedia explains the First Gulf War easily enough: Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of slant-drilling its oil. So he invaded Kuwait. The United Nations levied sanctions against Iraq, but when these did not result in Iraq withdrawing its forces, the United States led a coalition of the Willing (a group of 34 nations) into a conflict to push Iraq out of Kuwait. But President Bush didn’t invade Iraq; he did not remove Saddam Hussein from the Presidency.
And after 9/11/2001, Dubya didn’t rid the world of terror.
It’s now up to Trump, who is not Hitler, to build a wall and implement a travel ban.
But it still makes little sense. I don’t know why we started the fire, why he started the war, how a wall or travel ban will help, or why she swallowed the fly; perhaps we’ll die.
Very few of us are brave. We are not the best and brightest. But we lack all conviction. And we will not be denied first place at the wedding banquet of the church and the state.
But here is what I am pretty sure of, especially late at night: The United Stats is Rome, Incorporations are the incarnation of Moloch, and our cities are Babylon. We are divided by city limits and color lines. And we-the-people are the Second Coming, a bumper-sticker laden beast that is slouching out of the heartland, into the city and toward California, munching chocolate-covered almonds and carrying a concealed handgun, preaching law and order, with a gaze as pitiless as the bottom line. And we have a President who is carrying the key to nuclear annihilation, and I think he figures he can survive it.
And we know that the American Way is neither scalable nor sustainable, but we will not repent. We can neither afford to kill the people who hate our way of life nor allow those who envy us to have our standard of living. And we will not turn back. Our hearts are hardened. We are locusts, the eighth plague. Soon only those who are useful to the Incorporations will have health insurance, will be free to speed down the highway to their busy-work; they will have their ersatz Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Property. And when the fossil fuel runs out, when the merry-go-round creaks to a stop, Darkness (the ninth plague) will come. Next up… the Angel of Death.
Here is what these times are like. Donald Trump wants to be the star of his favorite television show, CNN. Trump thinks the world is his stage; but we in the audience know better. Some are scoffing; others are cheering; others are going about their busy-ness. We are players in a time-warped version of James Ensor’s “The Entry of Christ Trump into Brussels.” Or whisked into Tolkien’s Middle America, where the Biscuit is the ring of power, Trump is Sauron, and we are the orcs. And we are being caught on tape; and all the world’s a cage.
We (the divided states) are a twin, wrestling inside our mother’s womb, waiting to be born. We are eager to slurp up our brother’s stew and claim our birthright. [Genesis 25:39-34] And the lessor will best the greater. The pendulum will swing. The center will not hold. The cradle will rock and tip over, spilling our children into the desert, where they will be cared for by ravens. And they will become the ancestors of a great multitude, as many as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the shore of the steaming sea.