There’s no doubt, in America we have a problem with “them.” From the minute the Pilgrims set anchor in Cape Cod Bay, there’s been a “them” problem. The fact the Englishmen brought their government, ways, and economics to America created a very large “them” problem with the slave trade–the unbridgeable gap between those self-prolaimed “masters” and the despicable practice of calling others “property.” We are still living with that today.
The political left and Democrats, who in the 1960’s, saw themselves on the racist, losing side of black civil rights, flipped and bought loyalty with programs and money, starting with Johnson’s “Great Society.” Republicans tried to outbid the Democrats in buying loyalty, but fiscal conservatism and a belief in personal liberty and responsibility made that impossible.
What resulted is a baked-in Democrat-supporting wing of people used to getting something through outcome-based programs and handouts versus simply recognizing the value of hard work and equal opportunity. (An aside: equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcomes, but pursuing equal outcomes always results in a “them” problem.)
But the politics of “them” goes beyond simple race relations between African Americans and white-skinned people. In the 1960’s we thought we knew better and through immense struggle, by the 1990’s we thought we’d put most of the rancor behind us. But then. stupidly, we found other “them” targets like conservative Christians versus LGBTs.
In the last 8 years, the politics of “them” has made enormous strides to the forefront of America’s consciousness. Fueled by a president who believes firmly that America is the real “them” to the rest of the world–an obnoxious, self-righteous, quasi-colonial beast–and a media starved for ratings and any news story they can promote, “them” is now 24/7. Ferguson, Baltimore, and now popping up all over the country, the seeds of “them” have germinated into outright hate and violence.
GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump has made a science of “them.” He started in 2012 by declaring himself a “birther,” denying President Obama’s citizenship and eligibility to serve. He has never recanted. He has made inflammatory statements about Muslims, used anti-Semitic imagery, retweeted white supremacist statements, and expressed admiration for depots and Fascists.
If there’s a “them” out there, Trump has fanned the flames of blame.
But Trump is just one more symptom. Race baiters and social justice warriors in academia and the media have always sympathized with the view that white America is an invading evil which needs to be overthrown, caged, or otherwise stopped. They believe in racial group guilt and demand eternal reparations for all of history. They treat “them” like the injustices of the past are still going on. They nourish the politics of “them” without considering its consequences.
History proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the consequences of the politics of “them” is misery, suffering, death, and war. In every country, in every age, from France to Rwanda to Liberia to Russia to Spain, when those politics are embraced, tyranny and terror follow.
Skin color is less than 1 millimeter deep. Depravity, sin, morality and conscience are not unevenly distributed by race. They are taught by cultures. We must recognize that each American community within the whole has a different culture. African American culture is not the same as White Anglo Saxon Protestant culture, or Latino culture, or Jewish culture, or Irish culture, or Italian culture. But we all do need to get along on basic human dignity.
If President Obama refuses to stand up in his bully pulpit and proclaim these truths, then we must find someone who will. I’m not talking about November–although neither of the options at this point are acceptable–I’m talking about right now.
Who will rise up with moral authority and an iron will, and reclaim the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr? Who will yell “stop!” when the mobs on both sides start hurling blame at “them?” It needs to be a person valued in the African American community and trusted in the political realm. These people are too few and far between, but they do exist.
If nobody rises up, then BLM and its twins in the alt-right will have their way. Then we all lose.