25 August 2017

About Hate

by O'Neil De Noux

Hate breeds hate. No need for me to preach this. We all know it.

How the hell do we have people in America proudly going around waving the Nazi swastika, spewing Nazi slogans? Why are we returning to the great divide of our civil war?

How did we end up with a neo-confederate president from New York? How did we end up with a president so consumed with anger, a president so ignorant of history, a president lacking the intelligence to grasp international relations? I wish him no malice. I hope he is OK and not as crazy as he seems. My biggest worry is the 65+ million Americans who voted for him.

I know a lot voted against Hillary rather than for him. It seems Hillary was too polarizing to the elected. But this anger, this hatred seething in white-males-who-did-not-go-to-collage, is so divisive. I'm old enough to remember how it started. Nixon reached out to them, calling them the silent majority. Goldwater had tried but he was flat-out crazy (sound familiar). Then Reagan brought it all together, the anti-Washington loathing, the gosh-darn-it's-OK-to-be-uneducated and the nation has never recovered. How many times have we wondered why our best and brightest aren't leading us? Barack Obama excepted.

How the hell do you drain a swamp when the swamp is what the foundering fathers designed? The US Government was constructed to be inefficient, to move slowly, to have checks and balances, for the women and men running the show to negotiate, compromise. The dunces McConnell and Ryan are the antithesis of compromise.

Hate breeds hate.

When I started in law enforcement in the late 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan (also known as the Knights of the White Camelia* here in Louisiana) was listed as a terrorist organization by the US Justice Department and the FBI vigorously investigated, infiltrated, disrupted, indicted and broke them up. Why isn't the FBI doing the same against right wing organizations today? How the hell did we end up with Nazi swastika flags waving in Virginia (and other places).

*Not a typo. That's the French spelling of camellia. In Louisiana we have Vermilion Bay not Vermillion.

One final thought about the confederate battle flag. For a short time in the early 1990s, I lived in beautiful Oregon. One day my wife and I entered a rustic mountain cafe and found a huge confederate flag nailed to the wall. Being a southerner, I asked about it and was told by a fiery-eyed, foaming saliva-mouthed cafe owner that the flag wasn't there to honor confederate soldiers. It stood for white supremacy. He was right. The flag has been absconded by white supremacists much as the swastika had been absconded from ancient India by the Nazis. It is a symbol of hatred.

So when you see the old stars-and-bars, it's not about honoring the confederate dead, when you see statues of confederate leaders, it's not about honoring the old south - it's about white supremacy.

When I posted my feelings about confederate monuments towering over New Orleans here on SleuthSayers and on my personal blog, I thought I put up a quiet, sincere, thoughtful piece. Many of my friends and family did not think so. They act as if I'd spit in the face of Robert E. Lee and the great Louisiana French Creole Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.

When will the white majority ever try to understand the horrible legacy of slavery? Racism has never gone away. What's happened to our compassion? My God, people are railing against Jews. It's Hitler and Goebbels all over again. Blame someone else for your problems, then attack them.

Are we strong enough to find our way out of this? I have to believe we are. I have to.

Enough preaching.

4 comments:

janice law said...

A good piece.

Eve Fisher said...

Sadly, racism and anti-Semitism never left, it just went underground. But now it's been let out of the basement, to ooze up all over the kitchen floor.

Some of it is quite simply keeping the "right" pecking order at all costs. As LBJ said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

Some of it is "magical thinking" - I know a white man in Florida who told me with perfect seriousness and some raving that the reason he couldn't get a job was because of all the blacks and Hispanics (I'm cleaning the language up) taking the jobs from the white men of this world. He ignored the fact that he'd dropped out of high school and had some serious addiction issues. As long as there's someone to blame... There's a Ray Bradbury story "Way in the Middle of the Air" (From the Martian Chronicles) where the African-Americans of the South pool all their money and buy rockets, to go to Mars. As they leave, one of them calls out to the white men watching them go, "What you goin' to DO nights?" i.e., no more lynching. Also, no more innate superiority. And a couple of the whites go after them...

And some of it, a huge part of it, is that we have never, ever, ever dealt in an adult way with race and class and money in this country. Our culture blames the poor for being poor, not rich; blames women for being women, not men; blames blacks and Hispanics for not being white. And the reason that's done is because the norm is supposed to be White, WASP white, preferably, from some Northern European country (Italians and Greeks are still a little suspect - I keep getting taken for part whatever minority is considered inferior). Frankly, I understand why the white supremacists are constantly being dicks; when your whole world view is based on something as thin as skin...

But enough of this rant. I'm with you, O'Neil, all the way.

Elizabeth said...

I'm a white woman, raised in the south, who lives in a black neighborhood in Buffalo. We've been here 13 years & I'm the secretary of the block club. I've never said or done anything overtly racist. But I've walked past Confederate flags & statues without comment & I never challenged someone in my family, now deceased, who was an officer of the local chapter of the Klan. It is hard to admit, but I'm guilty of passive racism. I think people like me are partially responsible for the resurgence of white supremacy.

Leigh Lundin said...

Wow, Elizabeth’s self-aware comment really zings. It’s rare to hear people say that. I admire Eve’s comment too.

(The following observation isn't meant to favor or disfavor one party or another.) It amazes me that not only did a majority of white men vote against Hillary, so did white women by a not small margin (10%). This wrinkle is usually glossed over with statements like ‘women supported Hillary by a 12% margin.’ Moreover, white women comprise much of the fiercest, most loyal core of Trump supporters. Part of the attachment is considered partly GOP loyalty, partly feminist backlash, partly anti-immigration, partly anti-Washington, partly benign conservatism, and partly for darker reasons.

Where did Hillary’s popular majority numbers come from? Largely minorities who believed in her. Roughly 90% of minority women voted Hillary. White males notoriously voted for Trump by a 20% margin… but it’s also the same margin they voted for Romney. Like Trump’s hard core women voters, Hillary also had a small but hardened core of male voters. The stats aren’t always what they seem upon casual reporting. The ‘hardness’ of one’s position can make a big difference.