History, Prophecy, Sages & Schmucks: Further Adventures in Identity Politics
Looking once again upon our zany misadventures in identity politics, I introduce myself as an elected Democratic Precinct Committeeperson, born on 15 Elul, 5720, which falls during this Year of the Rat three days ahead of the Gregorian calendar birthdate on my drivers license.
Clearly, since not every nation, people and tribe divides its years into months in exactly the same way, history can be subjective and dates may be arbitrary. Once upon a time, a fierce surprise military attack was launched by Egypt and Syria on 9 Ramadan, 1393, into Israel on Yom Kippur, 5734, in what was named by most of the world as the October War of 1973. Not long after the second ceasefire of that war, my family, our friends and I observed my becoming bar mitzvah on the new moon of Cheshvan. This is my multicultural perspective of a profound moment in history, upon which it still remains to be seen how significant it all has been in the greater story of human civilization.
Language is not only a means of communication but also a way of thinking. The Hebrew calendar in its own language is called luach, from tablet, something with which to write upon to count days, months and mark history. The Muslim calendar is called in its mother tongue hijra, from departure or exodus, used in reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE (or “common era,” noting the historically global socioeconomic primacy of Christendom), from the verb hajara, to emigrate or to abandon. The Gregorian calendar is a mess, wherein a good deal of its recorded history of human civilization is counted backwards from the birth of the executed and resurrected Jewish messiah, by order of the Roman Catholic Church.
Now, the approach to the end of my sixtieth earthly trip around the sun finds me in a struggle with the fascist death cult formerly known as the Republican Party; many of whom are my neighbors, most of whom count their years in anticipation of the return of whom they believe to be the king of the Jews.
Thus my country began its latest election season under a travel ban of Americans from much of our old allied nations since the last presidential election season ended shortly thereafter with an American travel ban on the people from many of the world’s Mohammedan nations.
Humanity is basically tribal; and the distinction can manifest as anything from ethnicity, national origin or the pseudoscientific notion of “race”; and to varying degrees. The America First cult appeals to a particular standard of normality that is always threatened by any socio-political progress for what (or whom) has historically and cynically been exploited, marginalized and/or demonized. To the true MAGA believer, America is a “melting pot” from which we are all supposed to emerge as straight white gas-guzzling God-fearing carnivorous nuclear families. Anything that allows for any other outcomes or directions betrays and threatens the “real” America’s greatness. But America is a freaky nation, because it is based on ideas instead of ethnicity. While the Enlightenment ethic of progress through reason and scientific method that made things like the American and French Revolutions possible is still there, for now we lack the kind of leadership that articulates the vision and inspires the people to realize the stuff that it takes “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Instead, our current brand of populists are motivated less by the goals enumerated in the US Constitution’s Preamble than by the historical rambling rationalizations of secession in defense of a down-home “peculiar institution.”
This is a very old war that many have been led to believe had been settled. While European nations were rocked by rebellious turbulence over the rights of their subjects and the distribution of their wealth, the American states were falling apart over the privilege to reduce the very humanity of its racial underclass in involuntary servitude. Arguing for the institution of slavery, the Richmond Enquirer editorialized that it was “our bulwark against anarchy and socialism.”
Indeed, as far back as the springtime of 1861 CE, none other than the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, Alexander H. Stephens clearly spelled it all out for Posterity.
“The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the ‘storm came and the wind blew.’
“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”
What makes this condition natural and normal to the Confederate mind? Well, the Lord, of course. “With us, all of the white race,” continued Vice President Stephens, “however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system.” Stephens therein cited support for his argument for white supremacy from the Word of God, particularly in Genesis, 9:20–27. “It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator.”
Stephens’ argument rests on what we hear today, in the parlance of our times, as “Judeo-Christian” values. And what goes on in those verses from Genesis? To put it bluntly, the alcoholic Noah got caught drunkenly rubbing one out in the privacy of his own tent by his son Ham, who was summarily cursed for sharing the news with his brothers Japheth and Shem. In some versions of biblical fan fiction, Ham is the post-diluvial seminal representation of black folks.
It did not make many waves beyond academia and boutique media but, when it was published by Princeton University in the fall of 2017, a study about how the Nazi Third Reich developed its master race doctrine into public policy based on contemporaneous U.S. law nevertheless remains as disquieting as it is profound. In his book Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, James Q. Whitman of Yale Law School wrote, “What the history presented in this book demands that we confront are questions not about the genesis of Nazism, but about the character of America.” Whitman’s book challenges American readers to come to stark terms with how far the American Revolution falls short of its specific mission to form a more perfect union, establishing justice and promoting the general welfare in a nation of equal citizens.
Nowadays — or last Wednesday, as of this writing, September 2, 2020 — “America’s Sheriff” Joe Arpaio, fresh off a presidential pardon for contempt of court, among other atrocities, announced the creation of a public interest watchdog vanity project, America’s Sheriff, “founded to defend America’s Judeo-Christian heritage as depicted in the Bible, where God looks to the counselors and judges to restore the Tarnished City to the Faithful City.” Defend America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, whatever that is, from whom? Well, “African-American anti-white separatists, radical Muslims, radicals of the Jewish left, anarchists, atheists, and other leftists of all races, sexes and persuasions,” of course!
For many of us, throwing this accomplishment onto the steaming pile of current Republican death cult policy priorities is truly a humiliating measure of how far we have or have not come as a nation since the Civil War. Nevertheless, it isn’t as if our white supremacist prophets haven’t warned us, lo these many generations.
“We are now the nucleus of a growing power which, if we are true to ourselves, our destiny, and high mission, will become the controlling power on this continent,” the Confederate Vice President continued. “To what extent accessions will go on in the process of time, or where it will end, the future will determine. So far as it concerns States of the old Union, this process will be upon no such principles of reconstruction as now spoken of, but upon reorganization and new assimilation. Such are some of the glimpses of the future as I catch them.”
So, what’s the score? Who’s winning?! Do I have to vote? (Yes, you fucking have to vote!) We are a shamelessly policy-illiterate electorate, wherein everybody has a poll in the top of their mind for a prediction on the tip of their tongue. The old British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said that democracy was the worst political system except for all the others. We in the United States of America have a fucked up republic, if we can keep it. We vote for electors to a ridiculously elite college; and that’s fucked up — but we still all have to fucking vote! It’s a participatory democracy. So, please participate your goddamn heads off! I am feeling much too old to throw rocks at tanks in the streets.