27 November 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving, with Mother's Day and Independence Day form the triad of civic holidays that in large part define America. We Americans, even and perhaps especially those whose ancestors had no part in the early colonies, claim the first European settlers. We claim their ideas of religious liberty, freedom of thought, rejection of monarchy, and the magnificent poetry Jefferson wrote to declare our independence as our own nation. We affirm our connection to our families in our faithful love of our moms.

In a sense there is nothing unique about this. Everyone, except for the nutcases that form the Taliban, loves and respects their moms. Most people claim and affirm their country, albeit a lot of them seem to want to leave them and come here.

If anything makes us unique, it is the diversity of our ancestors and our fanatic cleaving to our ideas about liberty. Only Canada can come close to our experience of immigrants. Few if any countries demand the "rights" Americans expect.
The temptation, especially on Thanksgiving is to paint the picture of this land in gold tone. We are one nation, under some god or another, joined in the immortal prose of Jefferson and Lincoln. Bound by the vision of Moroe, Madison and Adams, we are we say, one out of many.

Which is why, this day, this year, the violence and racism of Ferguson Missouri, and the disgusting racism in some reactions,  hits so hard. We do not like the mirror's report, nor should we. Ferguson, and Fox show us our failures and our realities: we do not like it.

We do not like the picture because it shows us something we want to deny. Black experience of America is that the police repress, kill, and limit. White experience is that they, "serve and protect." White experience is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. Black experience is that Lt. Berge (ex-Chicago Police) beats confessions from black and Latino people. White Americans tell themselves stories about how race is not the problem, that it is all a matter of class. Black Americans know they are a class.

This holiday, we cannot duck the mirror. We cannot duck the anger that leads African-Americans who should know better to burn their own neighborhoods. Riots never help. Decades after the last race riots in L.A. and Chicago, the burnouts are still visible.

We simply must fix this. Unless we actually become one people forged from many, we are doomed. Paul said that in the kingdom of God, there is neither slave nor freedman. A century and more after the Emancipation, Americans still do not get that. The worst offenders against the freedman, are the loudest proclaimers of the (silly) idea that America is, "a Christian Nation." Read Mathew on judgement, look at what we do, and tremble.
Note: In response to some offline comments. Yes I am sure some member of the Taliban loves and respects his mom. I think he is an exception.

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