The politics of hatred
The election in the United States has resulted in the choice of a person who found that his rhetoric of hatred, division and outright racism resonated with a certain number of voters who agreed with him and voted for him in large numbers. This has happened after eight years of Obama who won Nobel peace prize for his effort to bring the people together instead of dividing them.
Almost everybody knows that Obama alone brought the country out of recession, created millions of jobs, made affordable health care universal, made the trade pacts with various nations that promote growth instead of stagnation, helped resettle thousands of refugees from war torn countries and gave them a chance at making a new life for them in the United States.
For the first time an African American was elected to the highest office and helped advance the cause of the minorities and other disadvantaged people in the country so everyone felt that the country had made tremendous progress under his administration bringing the unemployment down to 4.5% from a high of 13% a few years ago. This alone has sealed his legacy as one of the great presidents.
But obviously not everybody agrees with this assessment. They are the hard core republicans who were more motivated by their intolerance and negative feelings about a president based on his skin color than his achievement. In their eyes, a person of color could do nothing right even if the facts were staring at their faces so they elected a person who encouraged the voters to elect him because he made them believe that he was just like them and shared their hatred and values.
I always felt that there was an undercurrent of racism in the United States that was rooted in their past when the whites mistreated the non whites and kept them as slaves. This hatred gave rise to the KKK that routinely beat up the slaves, tortured them and hanged them for no reasons other than the skin color. They never accepted their defeat in the civil war and still keep the pictures of their heroes in their homes and fly the flag of confederacy in 2016.
True, the African Americans and others have come a long way from those days and can now participate in the national election and a few have even gained prominence in the political field by becoming congressmen, senators, governors and mayors but this election shows that there are forces that still exist that influence their politics and has the power to roll back all that has been gained over the years like the civil rights ,voting rights, equal treatment for everyone, equal job opportunities and many such gains.
The hatred and the division continues in the country that has given rise to the sentiment that was hidden just beneath the surface for some time and had never totally dissipated. Let us now analyze the cause of this resurgence of animosity toward the people of color and try to understand the reasons why obviously normal and sane people still feel that they are superior to others that gave rise to the racism in the first place.
I think the racism is rooted in the history of mankind. It existed in the past and it exists today in many shape and form almost everywhere. I have written extensively on the subject in my blog called “The ancient scourge called slavery” that is perhaps worth reading in this context.
Let us therefore once again state the reasons behind this resurgence of racism in America that has now come out in the open and is espoused by no less than the president elect himself. It is true that the country as a whole has moved away from the days of civil war in a positive way and continues to make progress toward a better racially integrated society but this has happened only in areas where the education level and the income associated to higher education has made it possible for the African Americans and the minorities to improve their lives. The election of Obama was an example indeed that anyone with education and ability could achieve what was once thought to be impossible.
Now the country has for the first time become a country of different ethnic groups, Latinos, Asians and the African Americans that outnumber the whites in total number although the communities still remain segregated. Whites tend to live in exclusive white neighborhoods where non whites are discouraged to move in and others live in their own communities that do not bode well for the idea of a more assimilated society as a whole.
The non whites have definitely made progress in terms of education and employment although if you really take a close look at the statistics, you will notice that the segment of the population that has made significant progress in education and jobs are mostly the Asians and others who came from countries where it was no longer safe for them to live. The education level among the African Americans and the Latinos has not risen as much as they could have or should have so they tend to get employed in jobs that are menial in nature like the farm jobs or in the service sector where higher education is not required.
The non whites also tend to live more harmoniously with each other and even inter marry which paves the way for a more racially integrated society as a whole. The children of such mixed marriages are accepted in their society as normal and some consistently win national awards of excellence in studies and spelling bee contests.
Now let us look at what has happened to the whites. They have lived as always in segregated societies where they rarely meet with or have a chance of mixing with others who are not like them. They tend to live in small towns or in rural America depending of farming or on the local factory or steel mill and the coal mines that are their only source of employment. The education level among them remains low because their employers do not demand it. They do not like to do the actual farm work that is left to the people from Mexico or other countries but prefer the jobs in paper mills, mines or other factories closer to where they live and earn a regular wage. The wages may be low but it keeps them employed at a certain level.
They are the whites who dislike people who are not like them and show contempt for educated whites and non whites lumped together as elites who do not share their values, their beliefs and even inter marry, who are richer and live in better homes, drive expensive cars and live a life of prosperity that still eludes the un educated or lowly educated whites.
They claim to be religious and regular church goers where they meet with their neighbors who are also like them. They go to their local pubs where they drink and watch the games on TV or exchange gossips with their neighbors or discuss the politics of election sweeping the country. Some of them hunt together and go on fishing trips. They socially mix with only their kind and invite each other to the bar be que parties or other social events like marriage or funerals.
Their children go to school up to a certain level where they are taught by teachers that the theory of evolution is not right, that they should get most of their knowledge from their Holy book of Bible, that they did not descend from apes, that they are whites and it is their manifest destiny to be superior to others who are not like them. They tell the children that the climate change is a hoax and the foreign religions are not true faiths. These things are taught in their Bible classes that they must attend. This is also repeated throughout the country by the tele evangelists who target these folks and solicit their contributions. Their school board makes sure that the children are not given books to read that do not support their beliefs and ideology. Their hire only those teachers who are compliant and teach what the parents believe in.
They do not have much faith in the elected officials and do not understand how the economy works in the modern world. They believe that most people are poor like them and a few are rich or super rich but believe that the rich are getting richer but also `know that poor are getting poorer. They do not believe that the world in interdependent and what happens in one country impacts them as well. Most of them have never traveled anywhere and many have never left their state in their lifetime. They only watch the local TV program and the soap opera or listen to the local radio run by the church or the religious people. They do not know where Aleppo is and do not care what is happening there.
Their concern is only with their day to day life, the farm prices, the local election, the local church and their pastimes like going to the pub or hunting. They are not at all concerned about the outside world and fail to understand why their mills or factories are closing but understand the implications. They become very angry that their only source of income is gone and they are unemployed who cannot find other source of income.
This is the story of the American heartland that is repeated everywhere. From this heartland the army and the navy recruits the young men and women to serve. The only requirement is to be strong and healthy and a willingness to serve the country and fight in a foreign war somewhere because they are patriotic just like their parents and believe that their government is always right fighting their enemies somewhere so they should do their part. Lt. Kelly came from such small towns whom they considered a hero for killing those women and children in My Lai because they were commies. They got what they deserved, right?
After seeing the brutality of war in a foreign country and losing their buddies, they come to a different conclusion about their country, their role in the fighting and the consequences especially when they come home and do not get adequate care and medical services for their injuries or trauma. They see in their TV the dirty rooms and cockroaches in the Walter Reed hospital where their injured friend is struggling for attention to his needs. They find out how corrupt the veteran’s administration is and how long they have to wait for an appointment just to see a doctor. This makes them think of the government at a lower esteem.
Now comes a politician who claims that he is uniquely qualified to solve all of their problems, build a wall to keep out the illegals who take American jobs, clean out Washington of all the rubbish that is cluttering the corridors of power there, mostly bring jobs back. This is music to their ears so they vote for him. Never mind if he talks dirty and sexually exploits women. Never mind if he does not pay his taxes and has failed in many of his businesses. Never mind if he blames everybody including all the foreigners who take away American jobs because he must be right. He is just like them. They too talk dirty and are not above shacking a woman if they get a chance. They too hate Washington which to them is a den of crooks that has let them down in a big way so yes they will vote for this man who promises Valhalla.
I have been to small town America and known these people first hand. Among them I found kindred souls who were really nice people but were only occupied with what concerned them most which was the economy and jobs. Their kids had never heard of BBC and VOA and asked me what strange stations I was listening to in my radio. They did not know that the short wave radios exist and you could listen to any station in the world.
I have written about this gap in their knowledge in my blog called “ The clash of generations”“that is perhaps worth reading where I explained this gap and their incomprehension of the modern world and how it is being governed by the technology.
It is quite unfortunate when a person comes along who tells these voters that only he can solve all of their problems, they believe him and forgive all his sins. Doesn’t the Bible say that no one is perfect so only he should cast his stone who has not sinned? Doesn’t the Bible say that one should forgive the sinner and not the sin? These small town people believe they are very religious and will tell you that all they need to know is in the Bible. Pity if you disagree with them and try to tell them something different.
If you look at the police force in any state, you will notice that 95% are white who come from such small towns and who replicate the values their parents taught them. They will stop you and speak to you roughly and ask for your papers just because you were driving at 46 miles per hour instead of 45 that is the limit, or you did not indicate a lane change on an empty street or parked on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and no one in sight. They do this particularly if you happen to be non white and driving a nice car. These so called violations are then entered into the police database that keeps a record of how many times you have been stopped and fined.
These white policemen do not hesitate to shoot to kill someone who is just selling a cigarette or a CD somewhere or wrestle him down in a choking strangle hold so that the man dies. They shove and push an old Indian man down and hurt him badly just because he was hard of hearing or could not understand the drawl of a policeman. Everyday a person of color is shot dead but such policemen are rarely accountable for their crimes. Some 25000 cases of police brutality have been registered but none except a miniscule 1% have ever faced trials and even lesser punished.
The hated KKK still exists and its members are often respected people who secretly support them and get their support in return. Now the hackers are making public their names so that everyone knows who they are and where they are. Even during the period of slavery, the KKK people always hid their faces so as to remain anonymous because they knew that what they were doing was wrong. The judges who were members of the KKK saw nothing wrong in lynching black men and forgave all those who committed such crimes. What is amazing is that such crimes are still being committed in America but no one is brought to justice.
Now in this divided country, a man comes along who wants to turn the clock back and undo whatever good a very intelligent and pragmatic president has done for the people because such hateful rhetoric got him enough votes to win. They say that in America, winning is everything and losers are soon forgotten but is that really true?
Many such people have brought disaster on the population due to their policies and have paid the price but who remembers history? Has Martin Luther King died in vain?