When prejudice is its own brand of patriotism

MarcoRubio1With Donald Trump leading the Republican polls on a wave of prejudicial fervor to “take back America,” and men like Marco Rubio taking the aggressive stance that conservative politics are the only answer to America’s social ills it might pay to step back and look at what that phrase “Take Back America” really means.

Because you could flip a couple words around in that phrase and find out what it really means. “Take America Back” might be a better description. Because that’s what conservatives really want to do, take America “back” to the supposed Good Old Days before social revolution opened the doors to real social equality.

Let’s first consider the fact that the “Good Old Days” never really existed in America. One could point to the period before the 1960s when white America and a largely Christian dynamic ruled the nation, and call that the Good Old Days. But in terms of equality for all Americans, the social mores of that period ignored millions of people in terms of civil rights. Blacks and other minorities were still banned from public spaces and certainly prevented from gaining certain kinds of employment. Women also were typically forced into subservient roles as housewives and order-takers in the work world.

That’s why the 1960s were a necessary step to break down a social order that evolved around the dominance of white males over society.

There was a convenience to those prejudices that fostered the dominance of white males. Those conveniences persist today, and are readily identifiable in the behavior of all those who respond to the dog-whistle racism of slogans such as Take Back America.

Prejudice is the easy choice for many Americans because:

  1. It excuses responsibility and blame for the real cause of social problems in America. Blaming the predominance of gun violence on black people is a convenient red herring distraction from mass shootings conducted by white individuals espousing racist worldviews. Same goes for white supremacy militias armed to the teeth in fear of the government. Gun violence is a product of disenfranchised people of all races that have easy access to guns. But blaming gun violence on race exonerates the vigilante justice system that has emerged in America.
  2. Racial prejudice dismisses and obscures valuable social contributions by people of all races. The best way to avoid acknowledging equality and the social competition it represents is to effectively target a race, nationality or religion with slurs, stereotypes and falsehoods that diminish genuine social contributions. That’s why men like Donald Trump categorize all Mexicans as criminals and rapists, to belittle one group while seemingly complimenting the other. In fact such tactics are an insult to the intelligence of all involved. But those who stand to gain from the power bloc represented by the accuser will often ignore or embrace the pain of others as a sign of their own superiority.
  3. Prejudice is an aggressive response to fear. Striking out against those you choose to fear is the principal measure taken by all those captive to racial, political or religious prejudice. As mentioned in #2, fear over social competition with other races is a frequent driver of oppression. This was the case with slavery in the south, followed by segregation that lasted well into the “Good Old Days” of the 1950s and beyond. In fact fear drives a deep strain of racism across all of America these days, and men like Donald Trump know how to leverage that fear into a political power base. The dog-whistle tactics of the NRA with its fear-mongering about “protection” against all sorts of perceived enemies is what raises money and garners political power for that organization. The power of prejudice is all about fear.
  4. Prejudice is all about feeling persecuted. Right beside fear as a prejudice-driver is typically a claim of persecution. When any group in society is losing a culture war of any type, be it religious, civil, business or nationality, persecution is the justification for lashing out against another group. Prejudice was the motivator for Adolph Hitler, whose goal it was to strike back and subjugate the perceived persecutors of Germany. He had all those he either feared or considered inferior put to death. A persecution complex is a product of tribalism, which is driven by the social need to dominate and conquer fear. But it amounts to little more than blaming others for the disadvantage people often create for themselves through their own shallow, often dogmatic thinking. Yes, there is genuine persecution in this world, and it should be confronted. But creating memes of persecution for the sake of attention and grabbing social power is inexcusable. We see that brand of persecution complex at work in the so-called “War On Christmas,” which is not a war at all, but in fact represents a justifiable disgust with the commercial and boorish nature of the holiday that has strayed so far from its original roots it barely exists as a religious holiday at all. Christians themselves are to blame for the grandiose commercialism that overshadows the meaning of the season, yet it is convenient to claim persecution by those who dare to question the dominance of the disgusting spectacle Christmas has become.

All these brands of fear and discrimination combine to form the prejudicially populist notion of what it means to “Take Back America.” Throw in a bit of disgust about taxes, social programs and other self-interested protestations that actually pale in comparison with how much our nation spends on militarily aggressive “defense spending” and the package of fearful prejudice as a nationalistic life force is complete.

Every Republican on the GOP ticket represents one form of prejudice or another. And sure enough, all they can ever find to say in defense of their fear-based, persecution-hugging worldview is that the liberal media is to blame for all their ills. It all fits the pattern. Prejudice rules among ignorant fools.

Even the lone black person among Republican candidates seems perpetually confused by his roles in this election cycle. Ben Carson has actually stated that slavery was essentially a good thing for blacks in America, and that blacks were happy before all this social revolution stuff occurred. Carson ironically fits the model of what many white Americans seem to want from a black candidate, one that speaks their own prejudices from a platform in which the oppressed speak the words of the oppressors.

And that’s Republican political strategy in a nutshell. Find a way to make people too stupid to recognize their own pain, and you’ve got a voting bloc that will do whatever you want, blame whoever you tell them to, and parrot talking points that actually kill the hopes of all involved.

These are strange times in which we live when prejudice is considered a brand of patriotism.

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