I had hoped to contribute essays in my own order… one that I felt would best present a vision of how we got to where we are now. Events, however, are throwing up powerful manifestations of the struggle for power in the America that cannot be ignored. So, I must respond to events.
While the SCOTUS/Roe v. Wade revelation highlighted the use of anti-abortion to mobile confused and troubled Americans in support of right-wing and (so called) conservative leaders, the murders in Buffalo NY reach down to THE fundamental control element in American politics.
We will discuss the One Ring of Power. The power of being White. And the power to determine who is White.
It is a result of America’s genetic defect at conception: Slavery.*
* I cannot go into a full exposition of American history, here. The compromises made with the slave holding states to bring forth the constitution; the emergence of two separate economies doomed to clash; etc., all requires a good deal of exposition. This will be offered, shortly, in my blog, Drawing the Curtain. However, we can touch upon key elements, some drawn from my own personal history.
During a campaign visit to Tennessee in the early 1960s, Lyndon Johnson said to his aide, a young Bill Moyers:
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
This is the essential source of power in American politics. The one Ring that rules them all… No other comes close.
And it is jealously guarded. Witness the furor over the discussion and teaching of Critical Race Theory. The right wing, their mouthpieces, and their billionaire masters, went into a frenzy of attack to protect this most powerful tool of control.
Some years ago I took my family to Gettysburg PA and spent two days exploring the battleground park. One afternoon, I, my wife, and two daughters walked the almost one mile between Seminary Ridge (where Confederate forces were poised) to Cemetery Ridge (where the Union forces were entrenched). We walked through the same corn field, over the fence and across the road, up to Cemetery Ridge.
It is a long walk. And on that day in July 1863, all in the face of massed artillery in front and to the side from the Round Top hills.
Historians know that walk as Pickett’s Charge. It was a slaughter.
During the 15 to 20 minutes it took to walk, I thought about the poor farmers, yeoman mechanics and such that made up the South’s rank and file. Few, if any, had ever owned — or would ever own — a slave. I wondered what compelled them to make that walk.
Also, I considered the Confederate general officers, saddled on horses, waiting behind them, giving orders — slave owners all… moneyed gentlemen of political power. What magic spell did they weave to have these men walk into hell?
A few years later, I was in a taxi cab in New York City. From the name on the driver’s license and his accent I surmised the driver was newly in America from Eastern Europe. In conversation, we talked about living in New York and such and he suddenly volunteered that it was better that we (he and I) stay away from the n*****s.
I went quiet. Afterward, I realized he was attempting a rite of passage that all Europeans make upon coming to America. A declaration of being White — being in solidarity with me on this most elemental level. He was in this country no more than a few years, could barely speak English, and already he understood the power of the Ring.
And I thought of what Lyndon Johnson said sixty years ago.
I have since considered about my father’s people struggling in America. Italian immigrants who strove to be included. And how, finally receiving the blessing of those who had already made the rite of passage, they too became White. And, then I considered the fool with an Italian name who is the head of the Proud Boys. A dupe.
Being a man of the mid-20th Century, I recall a lot of what life was like before integration. One thing I recall is that always in cases of unease, argument or strife — be it in a bar, or on the ball field, or at work — as a last resort someone would make the appeal that, at least we are all White. Some years ago I named this the ‘Least Common Denominator’ ploy.
I hear and read about Democratic Party leaders wondering why they are losing Hispanic voters to the Republican Party.
They are puzzled. Even with all the striving for inclusion; the declaring that we all stand with them, as part of a great rainbow coalition, they are defecting…
But the powers in the Republican Party understand something the Democrats do not: Many Hispanics, like many of the Italians, Jews, etc., etc., before them, don’t want to be part of any effin’ coalition!
Hell no! In that dark place of their hearts, there is a hunger.
THEY WANT TO BE WHITE!!
White, when they walk into a restaurant;
White, when they look for a house;
White when placing their kids in school.
White, when they get stopped by a cop.
As long as being White bestows privilege, the spell will not be broken:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
The fight is clear and the challenge defined: Deny the Republican Party the power to bestow that privilege.
And expose that privilege for the dark secret it is represents.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.