Since the beginning of time, people and the societies they built have said one thing and done another.
Our own country’s past, both distant and more recent, is lousy with examples of excruciating hypocrisy. Committing near genocide against Native People while claiming to seek religious freedom. Slave-owning men demanding that the King of England give them liberty or give them death. Monuments of freedom abound in our nation’s capitol – that slaves built. Lady Liberty stands erect welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” while imprisoning Chinese immigrants on Angel Island on the other coast.
But since the turn of the twenty-first century, some politicians have dropped the pretense – little by little.
Dog whistle politics resurged to signal the end of political correctness. Many politicians pandered to the lowest common denominator: stoking the fires of racial hatred, class resentment and fear of the intellectual.
You remember No Child Left Behind that took the “teach” out of teachers? Or the School Choice voucher program that eviscerated public education – leaving those who wanted public education without a choice.
Or the Clean Air Act that took the “clean” out of the air? You remember when the term “reverse discrimination” was added to the nation’s lexicon? Like what in the Hell is reverse discrimination? Sounds like an 1984-ism to me.
And all those years of sending coded messages bore fruit. White people are the true victims of affirmative action; men are the true victims of feminism; and the rich (aka job creators) are the victims of the socialist class war waged by the Left.
Enter stage right the reality TV star Donald Trump, and he makes explicit all the hushed undertones of racism and sexism and xenophobia.
He’s made it all right to be “that guy” who hates women and people of color and gays and immigrants and anyone else who refuses to bow down to the tyranny of oppression.
Now the bar has been set so low, a snake would be challenged to limbo under it. What was once whispered is now shouted.
Our ugliest impulses have taken center stage in politics and social media (which is what passes for social interaction these days), and it’s only a matter of time before it leeches into business and education – if it hasn’t already.
I harken back to what some old Black folks used to say, “I’d rather see my Klansman coming.” Meaning that Up North, folks were just as racist as Down South – the difference being that Up North, the white man would smile in your face while redlining your neighborhood, denying you a job, a house and an education. Down South, on the other hand, they were a whole lot more transparent in their hatred – they’d just string your ass up if they wanted to make a point – but at least you knew what you were dealing with.
So I ask my fellow Americans: Do we feel better or do we feel worse? Now that the true nature of such a large portion of our country’s population has been laid bare for all to see – do we like what we see?
Or is honesty overrated?