Today, I went to Barnes and Noble Booksellers and used my membership card which I had purchased just before the pandemic. I had been feeling cheated that I did not use it. But I got a free cookie, a discount on my niece’s first birthday gift and picked up the most recent issues of Poets and Writers and Writer’s Digest. The WD issue was put together before the pandemic but the P&W issue was entirely responsive to it. In part it was in response to all the writers discussing how they are responding to the pandemic that I found the energy and purpose to at least put out this blog post. Blogging is work, even if it is not remunerative in my case. But I decided to undertake the task today.
I have been away from this blog for a while. I am back, in part because I am finished moving for the second time in a year. Partly I am finding time to blog because I managed to renew my insurance license in June and get the contract application finished for the country that I would prefer to work for and am waiting to get final approval or start a job search. I am back to the blog partly because the ground was too soaked from recent rains for me to have cut grass all day and become too tired to blog. I am blogging partly because I have something to say.
There is a lot of uncertainty today and the raging pandemic is a big part of that uncertainty. The astronauts on the International Space Station and Elon Musk’s role in privately contracted space transportation hardly makes the news. The Arab and Chinese Mars missions which are not manned have gotten as much attention. America is currently defined not by technical triumphs but by a high Covid-19 death and infection total, social unrest and racial tension. The recent situation in which the United States of America is gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and the unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd is probably the time when anyone who was not me would look around and say, “Clearly the voice that I have spoken into the world is a voice that is not shaping the events of my time. It is an extremely dangerous time to be out on the edge of things alone and I should seize this opportunity to renounce all of the Far Right American ideas that I have put forward in public and try to run for cover.” But again those people who are not me never put forward my particular ideas in the first place. So I will not be doing that. I will probably not try to make a push for those ideas but not because I do not think that they are a better solution than other ideas out there. I will not make a push because there is no momentum or opportunity. The current crisis is not necessarily good and will not necessarily make things better.
So where are we? what is this crisis really about and what does it tell us about the future? I am going to try to find the time and energy to address those issues. We are burying activist, Congressman and ethnic leader of African- American national politics John Lewis. We have a presidential election coming up soon and all sorts of controversies about the major nominating conventions in a time of pandemic and unrest. We have armed militias holding standoffs (so far), we have racial violence perpetrated on all sides. We have state, local and federal government all making power plays opposing each other and based on some kind of principle. We have massive unemployment. We have an active hurricane season and I live on the Gulf Coast. The Federal government is busy struggling over a pandemic relief package that matters so much to so many. I can hardly list the major topics of today’s news in this blog post.
I am aware that we are all discussing things far beyond the merely immediate. I have my troubles but am, as of yet, not infected and not caught up in a riot. There have been impacts of the larger crisis on my life but not all of those impacts have been bad. So I could just not worry very much and that would make sense. I could just avoid commenting and that would make sense. But I feel the need to deal with what is out there now and what may be coming my way. I believe that there will be a lot of difference in the future depending on whether or not President Trump is reelected. But while he is at the focus of a lot of this outpouring of energy he did not create the wellsprings from which the energy flows. I feel that there is a move to remake America in a way which is not under the control of what passes as the established political Left in this country. There is an effort to define conservatism and the American tradition in a way that is not controlled by what passes for the established Right in this country. But these forces still need to win the Presidential election. Only one side will win and the tensions will get worse.
I think it is obvious to many that there is something deeply awry in the way things are playing out. We feel that the fact that there are both riots and peaceful protests filling the streets in times of a public health emergency indicates that a lot of things are not right. But we are so far beyond that basic conflict of priorities now. The contrast between the liberties taken by those involved in all these demonstrations of political unrest contrast sharply with the restrictions under which the rest of the population has struggled. We would have a sense of this being a crisis if those were the only facts. But they are far from the only facts.
Rioters have destroyed property from fire trucks to monuments to the African American troops who fought in the Civil War to end the slavery of their relatives. But Confederate monuments have been at the center of this wave upon ave of social violence. Now the feds are trying to defend a courthouse in Portland, Oregon. That is the current focus of violence. We have seen the sacking of Rodeo Drive and the beating of men waving American flags. But the Confederate monuments have been easy consign to ruin relatively speaking.
To many people the Civil War has seemed very remote in time for a long time. For me it does not seem so remote. This year the last recipient of a Union pension for civil war service died. Just recently the last real and true sons of Confederate Veterans of the War between the States have died. Now in this Black Live Matter, Antifa, Occupy Democrats and allied forces movement we see the proposed and often accepted end of the public display of a large majority of Confederate memorial sites and monuments. We also have seen a lot of them destroyed and defaced before they could be removed. But in the broader movement their is revealed the energy that makes people remember that there are other sides to the story of the period following the War Between the States than the currently acceptable versions. The history we live with has many aspects and it is useless to pretend that there is no connection that runs through all the many challenges that people are facing across the country in all parts of the country.
I have reposted reliable links across the period of the pandemic. I have engaged with left and right and those of no definite persuasion. I have engaged with Blacks and Whites as well as those who are not in those racial categories. But there is a lot going on in the country that probably needs to be dealt with.
Below is a Facebook conversation between me and a friend I only know on Facebook who is more open than most but not alone. Of course I have also had many comments with very different points of view.
This friend wrote about the death of Gorge Floyd and its aftermath as follows: Had a priest died, I police officer, probably even the pope had died, there would have been little to very little of what this nonsense is. Floyd was a man, one man, just like you or I. He was no more special than we are , but by many means very undeserving… He then went on to describe some of the more offensive aspects of the movement as it was being expressed.
When I said that I thought he had a right to be upset about some of these things he added to his narrative a social context as he perceived it.
Blacks are always throwing the race card to solve all their issues. The favorite line is ” its because I am black”. Well backs hate whites simply because they are white. They hate cops simply because they defy authority. No matter what society gives them or no matter how low the white man stools to below their level, they will never be satisfied. It is never enough. Welfare cash, its not enough money. Food stamps, not enough. Free housing, not fancy enough, free healthcare, it should include abortions. It is never enough. Equal rights is a joke. When you build your argument on the double standard, nothing is equal. Equal rights include everyone capable of being racist, not just whites. What is being demanded is superior rights. Not one white would have gotten away with the destruction these rioters are doing, so where is quality. Equality has become a matter of narrative and agenda.
I responded to the post at a time when there was a lot of effort to silence such voices. I think that there is a lot of truth in what you are saying. Many Blacks do not hate whites. Many work hard and pay their own way. Many have come from disadvantaged backgrounds in which the laws and rules against their progress were part of the reason their families had more limited means.
But there is a lot of justification for anger. Here are the stats for the racial breakdown of the District of Columbia:
According to 2017 Census Bureau data, the population of the District of Columbia, was 47.1% Black or African American, 45.1% White (36.8% non-Hispanic White), 4.3% Asian, 0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
But in DC 90% of the “lookouts” as they are called by police for violent crime are for young Black males.That means descriptions given by eyewitnesses and victims of the perpetrators of violent crimes are of of young Black Males 90% OF THE TIME. That is the reason and not police bias for te higher incarceration rate in that area. For poor whites in the area it is simply a fact that they live in an endless race war they have lost which is not assuaged by the fact that much of the violence is between young black men, much is directed at other blacks and the police sometimes increase, decrease or redirect the violence.
There is simply no way to justify the way the establishment in this country views life in these neighborhoods or attacks the institutions it does not itself care about when the endless violence spills up. Many of the worst looters in this process were young black men with criminal records and no jobs. Antifa, Occupy and foreign radical helped to direct the rampage. But at the same time we really do have less opportunity, more economic disparity, a decaying infrastructure. The protesters throngs contain many people seeking to be heard about how hard their lives are when on top of all their troubles they cannot live without fearing abuse of police power.
All of these forces as different as they are combine to make the life of a community or a neighborhood in society almost impossible. In my view we will come out of this and things will be much worse in many ways. I don’t think simple force to restore law and order is the answer. But I have no reason to believe we will find any of the right answers at all.
I have also posted BLACK LIVES MATTER and stated a number of critiques of the current police establishment. But there is no use pretending that this perception is not real to those who share it. Now we are facing a great deal of pressure which reveals how many people do not have legal status, how many people are not satisfied with the politics offered them, how many do not earn a real living wage, how many business have limited reserves, how many people do not have health insurance. The vulnerabilities go on and on.
But a real conservative response will take more than this recognition of listed problems. The future will have to be one in which our real deeper weaknesses will be addressed. We have to have a way forward that works. I do not believe we are close to that. There is not going to be a consensus in November. I am not sure that the country can win in November. I think that there can be many political outcomes that are worse or better. But we are not getting close to building a foundation for the America that preserves our essential traditions and makes progress possible for all citizens and has a hopeful influence to offer the world.