I know of no other response but abject horror to describe my feelings towards the chants of “USA!! USA!!” emitting from The Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this past week. My thoughts panned to Hitler youth rallies as I watched young white males chanting with something considerably more dangerous than simple anger in their pubescent crackling voices.
The Scouts were moved to spontaneous incantation by a racist white billionaire saying that he was going to crush the black man’s legacy. The billionaire had a better way of doing things. Even though, by most accounts, he had no plan at all or a plan that was much worse, this was of no consequence. The black man’s legacy had to be erased and the emperor’s complete lack of clothing was of no consequence.
There were many layers in that impassioned mantra of “USA!! USA!!” There was something greater than anger in the voices of the young men as they chanted the indoctrination. There was something in those young men’s voices long forgotten by most of us. There was patriotism, loyalty and pride. And it chilled me to my bones.
Implicit in this impromptu chant is Manifest Destiny. Hidden beneath the smiles of future lawyers, Senators and CEOs, covered in shiny merit badges, proving that they are prepared for the fight ahead, there is a doctrine of white nationalism that is as old as the country itself, but has been growing in strength and numbers radically since the dawn of the Internet. Not your grandfather’s KKK, the doctrine of white supremacy is all polished up and ready for public consumption. The idea that America is somehow destined to be a white Christian nation is very much alive and well. When the billionaire white man stands up in front of a group of 12-16 year old young men in uniforms and says that he is going to stop the black man’s healthcare bill and by extension punish our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, and those same young men raise their fists, without prompting and begin proudly chanting the name of their country, then you have more than a rally, you have a movement and in this particular case, a very dangerous one.
We have seen this movie before.
There is a white nationalist movement in every backyard in America. It’s in your neighborhood. It’s in your police force. It’s in your White House. It may even be in your home. It’s organized, heavily armed and ready to fight and die for it’s country. The most daunting aspect of this movement is that it’s members see themselves as patriots. They believe that they are defending the doctrines of our country’s founding fathers. While the rest of us are running around, working our asses off to build a world of science, technology and equality, there’s a growing contingency of Americans who believe that we should be focused on God, guns and government.
We cannot pretend this rift does not exist. There is a fundamental difference in values at work here. While we are all in agreement on fundamental truths that all Americans are entitled the basic freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we all know that these freedoms cease once they begin stepping on the freedoms of others. Therein lies the problem. Decades of irresponsible rhetoric spewed forth by politicians and their cohorts in the corporate media have resulted in millions of Americans actually believing the lie that their poverty and struggle is the result of the brown man. A friend of mine recently said “Michael, when you are used to privilege, equality seems like oppression.” And this is exactly what is going on. Add in the fact that the wealth siphoning to the 1% is destroying the middle-class, while automation combined with sending American jobs overseas has made it incredibly difficult for hard working Americans to make ends meet. And when people are poor, desperate and angry, they look for someone to blame. So when the billionaire, “self made”, American dream in a suit stands up and says that he’s going to kill the black man’s health bill and the young white men start chanting “USA!! USA!!”, well, we just might have a problem.
And the problem compounds upon itself, because there IS a fundamental value difference. We want to push things forward and they want things to be the way they used to be. We want Star Trek and they want Leave it to Fucking Beaver. We want equality for all and they want a world where the white man is special. The left knows that they are right and they don’t have time to bother with explaining the real truth as to why our country is falling apart at the seams. The left’s superior ideology causes them to look down their noses and become exasperated with anyone who sees things differently. Hardworking Conservatives have grown tired of being treated
The left may have the moral high-ground, but the right has all the guns. If those on the left are planning to continue in their roles as judge and jury to the lesser enlightened, then perhaps they should begin making frequent trips to the shooting range, because the they are exacerbating a very dangerous rift with a growing portion of our society. There is a not-so-civil war of ideologies happening in America right now. And as always, where blood is boiling, there are those who seek to profit off the strife caused by such misunderstanding.
The solution, is as it always is, compassion and communication. For the smug liberal this means putting away our sense of superiority to realize that those who seek comfort in old ways are not our enemies, but in fact want the same basic freedoms that you and I desire. In the common ground between us is the once-fertile soil of a now fledgling nation where we all want to plant seeds so that our children will be able to thrive in a new world that is scary to all of us. The antiquated notions that gender, skin-tone and sexual preference somehow make one greater or lesser is fueled by the corporate fear machine that seeks only to keep us divided so they can profit from our strife.
If our ideas are based in truth, if indeed it is better to move forward into a world where science reigns over superstition and equality wins out over division and hatred, then we must stop looking at those whom believe differently as mere obstacles to progress and start actively engaging these people in compassionate communication. We must come down from our ivory towers and become curious as to why those young men at the Boy Scout Jamboree felt moved to horrifying patriotism by the rich white man promising to destroy the black man’s legacy. Because pushing this mentality into the corner, shaming it and hoping that it goes away has proven to be a completely ineffective strategy.
We’ve seen this movie before.
The ending sucks.
And the middle’s even worse.