This post was written on Memorial Day 2021 (Monday, May 31st, 2021).
On Memorial Day, many Americans remember their relatives who died or were injured defending our democracy and ideals of freedom. They might even visit a cemetery where a fallen family veteran rests or take part in a small patriotic parade.
But most Americans will just be having a backyard barbecue or taking a day trip to the beach or public park. Or watching professional sports on tv. It is a three-day vacation in a time of a receding pandemic and the beginning of summer.
The surreal, violent, and ultimately unsuccessful insurrection by mostly middle aged, middle class, mostly educated, white Americans is back in the news as the Republicans refused to allow a non-partisan investigation of the activities on and around January 6th. The insurrectionists believed that their leader, Donald Trump, was cheated out of a second term in the Oval Office by a deliberate fraudulent miscount of ballots masterminded by the Democratic Party.
And they were going to make spectacle of their grievances for the media.
But all objective and non-partisan legal research says the election was a legitimate expression of voter preference. Simply, Trump lost both the popular and electoral college vote by wide margins. Fair and square.
It was not surprising that the Confederate battle flag was prominently displayed during the siege of the capitol building. The violence was about maintaining white supremacy.
Like virtually all populist mobs, the GOP “freedom fighters” have their share of nutty and potentially dangerous oddballs.
One Trump insurrectionist wore a large fur hat with horns, had body paint all over his bare torso, and a menacing pointed spear with an American flag attached to the staff. This bizarre theatrical “shaman” became the iconic image of an unprecedented 21st century historical tragedy.
The insurrectionists threatened members of Congress and the Senate who were present in the Capital building during the riot. They urinated and defecated in offices. They built a noose, declaring that it was for Mike Pence. They did nearly $1.5 million dollars in damages. The mob killed a Capitol policeman. And yet a Republican Representative from Georgia, Andrew Clyde, declared that this group was just on a “normal tourist visit.”
Notably, Representative Clyde was one of those photographed barricading the doors of the House Chamber from these “normal tourists.”
Recent research polls show that over half of GOP voters do not believe Biden won the election or that Trump really lost. That is, over 37,000,000 Republican voters believe that Joe Biden is not really the duly elected President of the United States.
These self-styled conservatives are delusional, have broken with reality, and appear willing to destroy what is left of our American democratic norms.
Trump encouraged and sanctioned the insurrectionists and fanned the flames of hatred for over four years of his scandal-marked presidency.
Although the White House and the Capitol are only 2.3 miles apart, Trump and his party were never evacuated, even into the secure basement in the White House. Obviously, President Trump and his close aides never felt in danger from this partisan mob. The insurrectionists were simply doing their great leader’s bidding.
Trump will eventually fade from the scene but the Neo-Confederate dreams that he championed will likely endure for at least another generation or perhaps longer.
The Southern Confederacy was more than 11 rebellious slave-holding states. It is a bigoted meme as old as our Republic. And has always been embraced by racists throughout the United States.
This potentially lethal informational virus has no obvious vaccine other than a change of heart among white Americans—especially white citizens under the age of 35.
People of color need to be seen and treated as human beings by white Americans. And given opportunities commensurate with whites to achieve some of their social and economic goals in life like the rest of mainstream society.
This is much easier said than done. And perhaps something of wispy pipe dream of an aging baby boomer.
But peaceful and democratic change is possible through the U.S. Constitution.
And yes, it was largely written by white slave owners and rich guys who somehow managed to imagine a new and different model of human governance and progress.
Like all life-changing innovations fashioned by flawed and fallible human beings (of all genders, races, and political persuasions), it is far from perfect. But it has facilitated and bestowed great material and ethical progress for nearly 233 years and counting….
It might be something of a rhetorical exaggeration to say that, if the U.S. had no real immigration restrictions and genuinely open borders, then our nation could have the population of China in a decade. But it is no joke to say that a good part of humanity would move to America if given the opportunity. The country must be doing something right.
The American Constitution is a gift well worth cherishing, preserving, and amending when necessary.
As I see it, this well-worn document is our only real hope moving forward.
All the mixed-media collages were created on 100% cotton rag Epson Hot Press Bright White ink jet paper with archival pigmented inks. All adhesives are acid-free and permanent. Handmade and hand-painted papers are included in the art along with facsimile Confederate currency. The dimensions of the artwork are 8.5x11 inches and 11x17 inches.