Friday, August 19, 2016

Found in Translation

I was born in Texas in 1959.

Sometimes I think about what that world must have been like. It was just 14 years after the end of WWII, less than 20 years before it all started.

The "enemy" then was communism, but there were plenty of nearby "enemies." The language I grew up around was vile, but I didn't know that at the time. It was taught.

I heard black people called the following: Niggers. Coons. Jigaboos. Negros. Colored People.

I heard Hispanic people called the following: Wetbacks. Spics. Greasers. Mexicans.

I heard Asians called the following: Chinks. Gooks. Slanties.

I heard gay people called the following: Homos. Fags/Faggots. Queers.

I heard women called the following: Bitches. Cunts. Whores. Sluts. Broads.

One of today's big enemies are Muslims. They weren't then high on the "hated" hierarchy, but there were still some epithets allocated: Ragheads. Arabs. Camel jockeys. Sand niggers.

The worst thing I ever heard about white people was "rednecks." Later, cracker came along, or honky. None of those seemed as remotely offensive as what the previous ones were.

I think about these poisons that were casually placed around my existence as a child, and it saddens me, but it also makes me deeply ashamed that this racism and hate was so prevalent and relatively unchallenged.

And I think about these vulgarities in the context of a man who wants to "Make America Great Again." Great for who?

I remember watching news footage of blacks being chased down the streets by angry mobs -- some of whom were law enforcement. Beaten. Assaulted by dogs. Spat upon. Murdered. Do blacks want that "Great America" again? No.

I remember Hispanics grouped as only "Mexicans" (I was in Texas) and characterized as mooches who were only good for menial jobs in fields, restaurant kitchens, or yardwork (charitably characterized as "gardening"). One presidential candidate broadly characterizes these people as "rapists."

When I look back at all that rampant ugliness, I think about the people in my life now, some of whom didn't have those horrible things on easy display. Do I want my black friends to live in a world where those things are back in vogue? Of course not. But their struggle isn't even over. Despite a black president, blacks are gunned down by whites on a daily basis. Urban blacks are born into worlds where the odds are stacked against them in the womb. Economic disparity favors white men, substantially.

As bad as things are now, it was worse then. "Make America Great Again?" This is as good for so-called "minorities" as it's ever been. No one wants to go back a single day.

Gays can get married in 50 states. It used to be that coming out of the closet marginalized these people who were only guilty of following their hearts and nature. Homophobia, like racism, is alive and well. But at least today, these communities have gotten to share at least a little of America's promise. Do they want to go back? Only if they're given the same respect and rights as white men have always had.

One presidential candidate doesn't want to share those dignities with them. His campaign slogan can be translated as this: "When I was a young white boy, niggers/spics/gooks/fags/bitches/ragheads knew their place, and it was behind us. We were the bosses. Make America Great Again."

I thought he was going to be usurped at the RNC, and replaced by Mitt -- who might have won. Thank the old gods and the new gods that the racists at the controls let it play out so that their demagogue could be put at the top of their ticket. Because their dark heart has now been exposed.

But the fight isn't ever. I don't like the two-party system and hope for its ruination, but in 2016, this is the hand we've been dealt. And there's only one way to play it.

America's always been great. It's why we've made the progress we have. The next step is to give women more of a say in how this country is run. Ann Richards, Wendy Davis, Amy Klobuchar, Gabby Giffords before (sadly), Liz Warren would be great leaders.

Hillary Clinton isn't the best choice -- but in 2016, she's the only choice. Keep America Great.