Creative Writing

C-Span and Mirrors

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A general polemic against what has become the status quo: America as oligarchy.
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    1   Ten days after the appointment, the president   (Theodore Roosevelt –  R) was informed that   (Booker T.) Washington was in the capital city. He insisted that the black educator come to a private dinner at the White House with the Roosevelt family.  It was a dizzying sequence of events for Washington and other African Americans who shared his belief that accommodating discrimination while incrementally working to reverse it was the best route to black freedom. Here was proof, it seemed. Regardless of the struggles still faced by the majority of slave descendants, black men of accomplishment could rise to unprecedented levels of influence.  Blacks had visited the White House before, and prior presidents had sought the advice of black men. But never had a black man appeared to be among the very most influential figures in a president’s execution of so critical a task as selecting federal officials in an entire region. Yet more astonishing was that the white president who had taken his advice won accolades for the resulting decision [appointment of Jones –  a former confederate soldier and Dixie-crat to a federal judge post]. Black men could not be the leaders of whites in this regime, but they could quietly wield great influence as to who the rulers would be. Now, the president wished his African American counselor to openly sup with himself, his wife, and his children –  making no effort to conceal the event or minimize its significance.  Roosevelt had no hint of the reaction that would ensue. Notwithstanding Washi  ngton’s national fame and his widely known view that blacks should in most regards accept their legally inferior position in the South, word that “a Negro” had dined at the same table as the president, his wife, and his children –  violating one of the most sacrosanct protocols or southern racial custom –  provoked a sensational backlash. U.S. senator Ben “Pitchfork” Tillman of South Carolina sputtered: “Now that  Roosevelt has eaten with that nigger Washington, we shall have to kill a thousand niggers to ge t them back in their places.” The Memphis Press Scimitar called the evening meal “the most damnable outrage which has ever been perpetuated by any citizen of the United States.” The Richmond News declared that Roosevelt “at one stroke and by one act has destroyed regard for him. He has put himself further from us than any man who has ever been in the White House.” The governor of Georgia, Allen Candler, said, “No southerner can respect any white man who would eat with a negro.”       2    Laced throughout the vilifications was the implicit or explicit message that  Roosevelt’s decision to allow Washington to share his personal dining room amounted to an endorsement of sexual relations –  and predations –  between black men and white women. “It is simply a question of wh ether those who are invited to dine are fit to marry the sisters and daughters of their hosts,” said Governor Miles Benjamin  McSweeney of South Carolina. The opprobrium continued for months, growing more virulent with each announcement of another in the slow trickle of black appointees made by the White  House. After several black officeholders and their wives attended a White House reception in early 1903, the race-baiting Mississippi politician James K. Vardaman called Roosevelt a “little, mean, coon -fla vored miscegenationist.” The White House, Vardaman said was “so saturated with the odor of the nigger that the rats have taken refuge in the stable.” Vardaman was electe d governor of Mississippi the following year.  A century later it is difficult to comprehend the degree to which most southern whites had so thoroughly adopted the rationale embodied by the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling less than ten years earlier –  which effectively held that African Americans had no basis of legitimate complaint regarding the racial climate at the turn of the century, regardless of how overtly apparent was the disparate treatment of and opportunities  for whites and blacks.  Roosevelt’s overtures to blacks were not just violations of an accepted social custom, but galling because they suggested that in fact African Americans did have reason to object to their current status in the United States.   Slavery by Another Name: the Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II,   Douglas A. Blackmon, Part 2, Chapter VI: “Slavery is not a crime”      3   This was hard to reread and retype as excerpt. My heart raced; I had to take several deep  breaths to continue. This could have been Tweeted or posted to Facebook. “This is about race,”   the self-identified republican caller on C-Span said. “  The  Republicans hate that nigger Obama .”   Sadly, the speaker sounded (to me), African  American, slightly inebriated or both. The caller was promptly and responsibly, hung up on by the host.  An entire group of humans –   that’s what African Americans ARE: not niggers; “m ud people”; soulless automatons  but flesh, blood, breathing, living in a society suffering from PTSD –  posttraumatic slavery disorder [1] and vilified for the American Apartheid known as ghettos, as if we laid the brick and mortar; penned the deed restrictions and Jim Crow laws that kept us “separate and unequal” and after integration, the white flight and declining property values that further created them. To be fair, I have friends –  dear friends from every stripe; every ethnicity; every nationality: I have friends that don’t have my voting patterns AT ALL. Some voted for this   congress; some didn’t  vote at all. I still count them as friends; I still look upon them as humans. I try to see things from another’s perspective; I don’t stereotype. That of course, doesn’t mean everyone practices that philosophy.  The caller, and America, are sick. This extreme display of racism –  denied because they have a few crossovers, and that’s supposed to “prove” something –  is tearing our democratic republic apart. “United States” is purely a literary fiction; an oxymoron.  This excerpt is from a book about sharecropping –    where nothing was “shared” with   African American de facto  slave laborer. They, like my grandfather, forced labor on farms, most often in prison camps where men and women were arrested for any minor thing on trumped up charges in kangaroo courts; man  y “judges” had never set foot in a law school and could barely read themselves! Moses Pickett Goodwin died in his early fifties –  according to his death certificate –  from exhaustion and pneumonia.    4   Most of Mr. Blackmon’s prose stems from newspaper article s of the day. This is not Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter: this is America; this is US! I fully understand why authoritarians fight accurate history: there has to be a reckoning and a response to the uglier side of our beginnings. I fully comprehend why they fight science: it destroys their mythologies, self-delusions and pseudo walls of separation; their “specialness” for a lack of Melanin and having the reins of power.  History and science makes them question whether or not they deserve what they have –  it ’s easier to say they’ve been “blessed” with no accountability to the Native Americans whose land they stole; the African Americans who were kidnapped and placed in forced indentured servitude for centuries –    built the Executive Mansion, after Booker T’s v  isit to be then and evermore referred to as the “White House” (with emphasis) –  with no reparations in sight; the Chinese Americans whose ancestors built the railway system for the robber  barons (“not a Chinaman’s chance”) ; the  women that were beaten brutally  for the Suffrage movement; the Civil Rights movement and similar causes it spawned. They have  to fight it because it means they might not deserve what they have, and have to give an account to their selfishness: greed, racism, sexism, homophobia and cruelty. Like most authoritarians, they resist new information and change. What they cannot control –  as Eric Fromm stated –  they have to destroy  [2]. The elite of the authoritarians give their lesser something to vilify; some neck to stamp so they cannot and will not ask more probing questions about their plight and why their pockets are empty. 2042 terrifies them, even though most of them will not live to see this demographic shift. They are fighting with everything they’ve got –  tooth, nail and open-carry AR-15s –  to maintain their comfortable, Ozzie and Harriet Nirvana delusions. Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Michael Brown: all were the president in effigy. If these young men  were not human to their assailants; the president to the right is clearly not. The democrats who lost last Tuesday deserved their loss for their utter spinelessness. The Democratic Leadership Council  wanted a Bud- Lite “third way” to access the same dark blood money from corporations, Wall Street and billionaire donors. They deluded themselves thinking that Bill Clinton was proof that their method was working. Truth of the matter is, Bill Clinton was just a skilled politician –  timing helped a lot too. We were in recession ’88 - 92, and Pappy Bush had made his “read my lips”   declaration, then he had to raise taxes. That allowed Clinton to relentlessly repeat: “it’s the economy: stupid.”   Apparently, only Reagan can get away with it 11 times and still have a worship legacy as a fiscal conservative icon.
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