Here is a guest blog from a fellow writer, a great literary talent from the US and, although I’ve never met him in person, someone I would call a close friend. Please read his thoughtful post. As with his fiction, it is very well worth your time.
“Christoph, I wanted to write to thank you for developing this blog as a place where progressives and voices for tolerance can air their thoughts, even though we increasingly appear to be voices crying in the wilderness.
I had wanted to post something when you first created this blog in late October, but I opted to wait until after the American election. If nothing else, I thought I’d be able to crow a bit about how superior we were in overcoming the hate and fear rampant throughout the campaign. In my post, I’d be able to point out that the raw emotions and venom exposed during Brexit was a phenomenon peculiar to your side of the pond. Well, guess how that turned out.
I then was going to post right after the election but I decided to hold off lest my choice of words offend some of the more delicate ears among your followers. I also thought that if I waited a week or so it may give me the opportunity to look back on the results with sober reflection. Well, given the fact that I may not be sober for the next four plus years, that also is not working out as planned. In any case, time has passed and some thoughts have gelled in my mind and I would like to beg the indulgence of you and your readers to express them now.
“E pluribus unum” or “In many one” is a motto that has been on the American landscape for as long as the country has been around. It can be found on the Great Seal of the United States, our currency, our passports, on many buildings. You name it. While it is believed that the motto was originally conceived to reference the states that were banding together into one nation, over the years it also came to represent the many peoples, races, religions, etc. that have come together in one great nation. Our melting pot, we called it. Regardless of our many, many differences, we could all come together and call ourselves Americans. Given the fact that this country has endured the scourges of slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment, witch hunts of various undesirables and the like, it’s not an ideal we’ve fully lived up to. But it was an ideal nonetheless that we could at least delude ourselves we were striving towards. It was an ideal that not only I was proud of but millions of my countrymen as well. In fact, it was an ideal that has been lauded around the world.
With the results of this past election I’ve been thinking that perhaps our motto should be changed, replacing “E pluribus unum” with “Odio et timore” or “Hate and fear”. These are the themes that resonated with the American voters this time around. People were made to believe that times were terrible in America, that we were living in a Trumpian hellhole. Like you (“We never had it so good on this beautiful planet.”), I just did not see it. Obviously, millions of other Americans not only saw it much differently but even had a host of “others” who they could blame for their woes. They argue that all we need to do is control, limit or otherwise handle immigrants, Mexicans, and Muslims, Black Lives Matter while at the same time getting rid of Obamacare and stop all this silly talk of climate change. Do this and all would be set right. In the meantime, those who hated were progressively emboldened to the point where the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups could be outwardly vocal in their support.
Over the years, despite the fact that friends of mine who were people of color told me otherwise, I truly believed that we were inexorably heading in the right direction where Dr. King’s dream that we judge each other based on the “content of their character, not on the color of our skin”. We’d have the occasional backsliding, but we were slowly plodding ahead. I also somehow believed that we were a people who embraced knowledge and that, as we got more educated and learned more about the world, we would see that the differences were ephemeral. This campaign has exposed how wrong I was on both counts. Donald Trump did not invent the racism and ignorance in this country, he only exposed what was there all along .
Perhaps as time goes on I’ll be able to post more positive comments, to say once again that the final line of the old Hitchcock movie “Foreign Correspondent”, spoken from a London radio studio as the bombs were raining down during the Blitz, applies to the U.S. That line is “Hang on to your lights America. They’re the only lights left in the world.” I long for the day when that rings true again.
I do want to close on a more positive note as I have always strived to be a glass half guy. The fact that the more progressive candidate by far won the popular election and the spontaneous protests that have sprung up throughout the country give me hope that maybe we are not as far gone as I think. There are many, many people willing to fight for what’s right, so let’s move forward, not backward.”