By Dan Bodine
Yeah, I’m soapy at fortune-telling, which this piece gets into! I’m a political junkie — e.g., always sensing for the next cusp! This one’s been a while in coming, yes!
But you have to be a little blind not to see a cultural reckoning happening among us now. For example:
CHICAGO (Jan. 27) — The South Side home of Emmett Till gained landmark status Wednesday, five months after thousands of people rallied in the nation’s capital on the 65th anniversary of his murder to call for policing and voting rights reforms.
The two-flat Woodlawn home – where Till moved with his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and her husband when he was 10 years old – was granted preliminary landmark status in September. Chicago City Council made the designation official on Wednesday.
In August 1955, Till, then 14, was visiting relatives near Money, Mississippi, when he was lynched after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. Two men were later acquitted on murder charges, and a grand jury refused to indict them on kidnapping charges. Years later, the white woman involved in the incident said she had been lying when she claimed Till had touched her.
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Hee, hee! Whites, indeed, are thinking about becoming Primos/-as [as in ugly cousins] with Blacks and other traditional cultural minorities! Lawd, preachers, pass the plates! The meltin’ pot for a true multiracial democracy is aqui! Empire’s been routed! For now, anyway!
Or, to lower the decibel, as one Catholic voice explained online, “The long history (of a country) … is a struggle for its people … to come out of empire (politics) into the new life and freedom of loving nonviolence.”
Uh, Huh! And it sure looks like we’re coming out of one ratt now. If’n we can just keep Republicans back long enough they don’t trample down the seedlings! Arizona, i.e., is just one of several states already where Republicans are attempting to shrink Election 2020 voting lists.
Hee, hee! Those uppity voices are rising: “Git these damn poor, dumb folks outta here!” the message might as well be. “What’re they doing up here with us anyway?! They really think their votes count as much as ours!?”
Oh, how the sands of time ferret out Empire’s rhyme!
Let’s start with these white-privilege, dominion-seeking, conservative evangelicals, of all people. All of ‘em! Protestants, Jewish and Catholics included! Their fingerprints on what eventually became predominantly white nationalists and empire politics need to be singled out. Don’t just slap ‘em; kick ‘em in the teeth! Hard!!
And if’n you think I’m being a little too rough on these right-wing evangelicals, listen to this interview of one explaining the January D.C. riot to a Tennessee ABC TV journalists – a rioter who thinks there’s some unfairness in the portrayal of this “Storming the Capitol” event. (Emphasis mine, of course.)
“It (the riot) was about to get together to love on the President, to love on fellow Americans and to celebrate this country’s freedoms and liberties,” said Myers. “I felt like God was talking to me, and I felt like He was telling me that I need to be there, that I need to be a part of this experience, that I need to participate and contribute my energy in a positive way.”
So I’m countering especially conservative, right-wing radical extremists that empire has spun out! Yes, it’s a radical capitalism disease, spread by more affluent gotta-getters onto the shoulders of true believers!
I don’t think anyone has written as much about this ol’ power grab as Religion Scholar and Professor Wes Howard-Brook, author of Come Out My People!: God’s Call out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond – described by longtime National Catholic Reporter and researcher John Dear as “a defining moment in scripture study”.
Howard-Brook walks us through the entire Hebrew Bible and its “war of myths” leading up to the nonviolent Jesus, St. Paul’s writings and the concluding book of Revelation to see the movement of God through history as a call to humanity out of empire into God’s realm of peace, love and justice.
The cumulative effect is nothing less than a revelation. It’s as if we’ve missed the point of the Bible for centuries, using it to support our wars, injustices, violence and empires.
Instead, the Bible is a summons to cut all ties with empire — with all the political structures and systems which claim God’s power — and to enter the freedom, nonviolence, peace, and justice of God and God’s creation.
So, Trumpism evangelicals are under the gun especially, yes. But disassociating from these people won’t be easy!
For instance, when I saw the Proud Boys and that motley mob on TV that day storm the D.C. Capitol – and then, once inside, kneel and “give thanks” to God – all I could say was, “Oh Lord, p-p-poleeze tell me I ain’t kin to any of ‘em!”
And you know what that little message down in my heart was, that the Big Voice Upstairs immediately put there: “Hey, Cuz!”
But these types and their spin-off’s fell for the Big Lie first, right?! In their rush to glorify their own selves first thru a flimsy veneered “glorification of the Lord” drumbeat! Jethro, talk to me here! That’s gotta count for sumpthin’, right!? Huh? Awareness!
Even going way-y-y back, these same strong-armed religious neophytes have chased empire for centuries to re-create their own realities! And we’re now at one of those “questioning” junctures.
Even going back to St. Paul’s warnings against empire – especially “against the Caesar-cult, and the entire panoply of pagan empires” that arose with it – these folks were hard-headers! Went off on a tangent!
And centuries later expanding into Norte America, mostly European Caucasian colonialists who kept this conspiracy about divine empire sovereignty going, right?
At the exclusion, of course, of any concern for any Native American or indigenous person’s right of ownership. Same ol’ song and dance: Bible as a struggle between two competing religions – “the religion of empire and the religion of creation”!
We might’ve jostled sovereignties some, but that’s all. Killings, stealings, all done thru better weapon’s might-makes-right logic – and then sanitized more thru another Big Lie, finders keepers — only of different Crowns! E.g., always conservatively spreading Christianized Civilization over you poor, stupid folks and your assets in the Western Hemisphere!
Why, we’re gonna SAVE your SOULS, brothers and sisters! You don’t wanna bow down and kiss my ring for it?
Hijole! My repulsion at this evil soared sky-high recently when my favorite ol’ religious studies blogging professor shared his view of the new film, News of the World, with Tom Hanks in it:
“Why are Americans so wedded to their guns, people elsewhere in the world ask? Why do the roots of racism seem to run so much deeper in North America than anywhere else?
Because these are the tools used to perpetrate the crime. Land was stolen, sometimes outright and sometimes through crooked dealings and the kind of swindling through business that has itself become such a characteristic part of our culture.
Racism was crucial in dehumanizing the victims and blunting the recognition of what was being done to fellow human beings. Racism and a sense of cultural superiority was the only thing that could allow the slaughtering of those who dared oppose our theft of their land and their freedom… (emphases mine)
I don’t think we will see true, genuine repentance in White America until we can collectively acknowledge that we are built on theft, murder, sheer unbridled criminality.”
Whoo! Admittedly, throughout history people of God have used faith-infused government as weapons — both for recruiting and for demonizing others. It puts the “Mo” in Mojo! The tides have come and gone. But does that ever morally make it right? Killing? Stealing? Just protecting your want? Of course not!
But we’re at one of those crucial turning points now where lost opportunity on a civil correction may be a curse on all of us, forever! Let us bend knee.
The end of our nation’s last era of this drunken foolishness ended with November’s election, yes — as wooly as results were. The back of the powerful right-wing voting machine set in place over 40 years ago now has been cracked.
Jury still out on how much were the damages, yes. But this is certainly no time for Progressives to take their foot off the gas pedal! Push that monster off the cliff! Now!
Look at what’s unfolding! Many white supremacists who’d muscled their way into leadership positions now being investigated and jailed as terrorists! Along with some evangelical double-crossers I’d guess, sooner or later at least!
And former President Donald Trump, yes, even may be thinking as the latest messiah — now exiled to Florida — he can reenter politics in 2024 and be hailed as the king again! But not with all the lawsuits chasing him! No way! It’s over! Kaput! Empire for this run, anyway.
As a journalist 41 years ago last August I stood in the press media‘s balcony section at the new Dallas Convention Center and stared incredulously at the beginning of this latest Conservative Revolt era in our nation’s political history — a week-long Public Affairs Briefing.
Afterwards, I drove back home crying, feeling pain and torture to come to this country because of the convention’s empire message – swallowed whole, it was, by these mostly Baptist ministers naïve to political currents. Approximately 5,000 of ‘em!
They were told God had given them a new mission! To save the country from President Jimmy Carter’s immoral Democrats, by replacing them with a conservative government!
Amidst the sizzling-hot, economic Sunbelt Movement spreading rapidly thru the Southwest then, mind ‘ya, greedy (I can call them now) corporate members of a newly organized Republican New Right group instructed them how to take over America’s national, state and local governments — beginning with the upcoming November elections.
The New Right included Richard A. Viguerie, a national direct mail whiz who’d mastered the art of slinging promotional “junk” mail out by specific zip codes. For both enlisting and fundraising, the success of the method became the new rage! Here’s a wikipedia snippet:
“…In early 1965 he went to the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives which by law had a record of every donor to a Presidential campaign that gave over $50 which it made available for public inspection. Viguerie copied by longhand 12,500 donors that had given to Goldwater’s 1964 campaign.
This was the beginning of a grass-roots conservative mailing list that would continue to grow throughout Viguerie’s career…
‘Thanks to direct mail, conservatives — and their candidates — were able to become an independent, vibrant force, free of the fetters imposed by the Republican political hierarchy and the liberal media,’ he said.
So, yes, a new show in Republican politics it became during this time! But aimed at the jugular of the democratic structures as a whole, though!
And, of course, the cat jumped out of the bag restraining empire. By limiting connections — e.g., larger donors only to a massive democratic production line, say — what else but ersatz democracy can come from it? Trumpism is but the latest model in being damned and determined to skirt inclusiveness!
These New Right members in Dallas that August enlisted those preachers as Moral Majority evangelical volunteers — thousands of Southern Baptist ministers mostly flush with church membership recruitment addresses – and goaded ‘em into political activity.
Subsequent drives were not only for the upcoming national elections [Yes, President Carter and Democrats would fall like dominoes that November], but in statehouses, courthouses and local councils and school districts across the country in the years ahead also.
And It’s God’s will, damn it! was the blatant message. Bold and public! Which, of course, meant our will – the message of empire!
The scheme was bare knuckle politics, granted! Voters were to grade elected representatives, senators and such on a number of moral and conservative issues on scorecards, these preacher-conscripts were told –and give guidance to their church memberships with them.
Scorecards on everything from abortion and cutting funds for women’s reproduction rights, say, to wasteful fair-housing spending and such; on down the line! Make ‘em up as Hit Lists! To take to the polls with them.
And then come election time, let these mailing lists that all rolled out from the various Gates of Heaven be consecrated!
Frankly, the model was brutally successful. Yes, democratic heads rolled; liberal-tards over the decades became a new demeaned lexicon of the Religious Right; and the social conscience of a nation (progressive Democrats felt) was ripped from it.
There were occasional slivers of hope, of course. And slowly the latest era of the conservative resurgence would wane over the years. Tiredness set in on both sides of the moral issue, of course. Hate is a difficult constant between bar stools.
Then persistent shouts over these decades finally to recognize constitutional LGBT rights, i.e., succeeded in recent years – creating opportunities for inclusive Democrats in places.
And then Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer – competing against a Pandemic ravaging the nation – came oh so close to pushing white America to another repentance stage! It didn’t totally rout white supremacists, but it definitely started something that can’t be turned back, I feel!
Besides that, there’s a whole lot of health in studies of rising interracial marriages. In fact, one collegiate columnist states “between 2000 and 2010, the number of biracial black and white Americans has more than doubled, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
And if you start chasing down cross-cultural courses being offered by major colleges and universities, and results of this country’s long-standing role to integrate the work force, you’re going to find the same blossoms.
So, are we there, yet?!
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