As a honky-assed cracker, Black History Month is always emotional. When I think of the race issue in America, I want to weep. When good people (and when I refer to good people, I make no bones about skin tone) tried to end slavery, it became America’s bloodiest, most feral war.
When good people tried to institute Reconstruction of slave-states, White People shot our President and founded the Klan. When African-Americans tried to copy White society, to be just like them—so that no one could criticize anything about their behavior, in Tulsa, OK, in 1921—White People went mad at the sight of themselves with dark faces—and slaughtered the entire city.
By necessity, Blacks have kept their own culture—they have always been rebuffed by White People. And now they Have a Culture, as deep and long as the friggin DAR. White People appropriate it, they criticize it, they use it as a way to continue saying, “See? They’re not Like us.”
But Integration is now impossible. White People have been dickheads for too many centuries—African Americans have their own culture, their own comfort-zone, so ‘melting-in’ with the rest of ‘us’ requires an abandonment of all things their own—‘switching to honky talk’, if you will.
But let me add (so that I’m not mistaken) that integration has always been there, amongst Good People. That doesn’t mean the racism isn’t still thriving. Apparently, the default position for loser White People is: Racist. I don’t know why, I only know it makes me want to weep.
The major Western religions have a man: a prophet, a messiah, or a messenger, who walked the streets of Jerusalem. When Dark Age Europeans became restless, a trip to Jerusalem was the top choice among exotic voyages (excepting Polo). When Europeans tried to travel in the Dark Ages, it was part walking, part scouting, part defending against bands of robbers.
A favorite Era of mine is the one in which Europeans, first traveling to the “Holy Land”, were surprised to find travel much different in the Middle East. These travelers returned to Europe with virtually magical tales of hospitality, of how a traveler is treated like a king. They still condescended to these “Godless Saracens”, even while delighting in the culture and the sophisticated comfort of their society—because that’s what always happened. Someone else can write about why.
So, anyway, for that brief period, Western travelers found themselves in a traveler’s paradise, upon crossing into foreign territory. The pride in hospitality taken by their hosts, the connection hospitality had (in their minds) with spiritual rightness—all of this made for easy-pickings—and thus under-respected pickings, i.e. pearls before swine.
Soon enough, a flood of Europeans were passing through, disrespectfully greedy and completely unappreciative of the fact that their own culture offered no such bounty to strangers. The Middle East was quickly impoverished, and put on the defensive against travelers—and it soon became the harder part of the journey—leading to the so-called Crusades.
History is disgusting. It shows people, as a group, to be the most shameless pigs, with the occasional surprise mixed in. But I like to linger over those brief moments, when we surprise ourselves with generosity and splendor hitherto inconceivable. Promptly, such gardens are trampled by mobs—literally and figuratively—but that brief moment….
A traveler arrives. He is bruised and harried from a recent encounter with bandits. He delights in the contrast—this landscaped lane—these ordered orchards and fields—beautiful homes with airy courtyards. He is welcomed in by a smiling Father, the homeowner—tickled to death to have a chance to show off to his neighbors how great his hospitality.
The traveler is bathed with oils, showered with feasts, bedded in silks, clothed in gold-thread brocade—and generally made much of. Think Dark-Age Disneyworld. He is never asked to leave, quite the contrary, he cannot leave without protests from the Father.
Laden with gifts, supplies, and perhaps even servants and camels, the traveler proceeds fifty miles east and finds himself treated to the exact same hospitality. And on and on, there and back (and, no doubt, less-than-relieved to return to Europe’s dangerous roads and its cutthroats).
This was a brief era in history—when the globe began to reawaken from the crash of Rome’s glory. Before this era, no one in Europe went nowhere (plague, ya know). Soon after it, the trip to Jerusalem transformed from a fairyland’s wanderjahr , into a forced-march-in-enemy-territory—that’s what always happens.
Someone else can write about why.
This Black History Month, I can point to another brief stab of glory—Tulsa, OK, before the massacre. Another tragically short era, but, O, the beauty of it…
Cheer the Mighty Coming (as We Mourn the Going) (2021Feb 03)
Whoops, it’s my 65th birthday already. I’d thought I sat down here before midnight, but no such luck. Some party. My sister called last night to tell me our brother, Stephen, had passed (quietly, surrounded by his family) a little after midnight.
We’d been estranged for years, but he was, after all, my brother—the last one I had, come to that. Kath and I are the last two of the original seven. It’s been a gray 24 hours, if that’s understandable.
I won’t go into details about him, or me, or even the inclement weather. Let’s just say that, having been told by doctors I would be dead soon, 17 years ago, and more recently, even sooner, and then having survived my entire family, with the exception of my baby sister, and achieved the age of 65 (which used to mean something) I’m simply puzzled by the whole nonsense.
So, I’ve been thinking dark thoughts. Like, d’ya think people bestow Authority upon those in power, in the same way we bestow Love upon those we care for—that is, when they don’t necessarily deserve it, and almost never appreciate it?
What went through the minds of people who fell into Trump-zombie-hood, just before they lost all faith in the news they’d watched all their lives, the teachers, doctors and scientists they’d trusted all their lives, and turned into a simple receiver for Whatever Trump broadcasted from then on?
Now, politicians, generally, have no business fund-raising or any other nonsense. When I vote for someone, I expect a day’s work out of them—and not working on keeping their dang job, I tell ya! And we finally have that in good ol’ Unca Joe Biden—the new Unca Sam, ya hear?
And that’s why we’re all so uncomfortable—we’ve never done this before. I mean, we came close, voting for Obama, out of a desperate desire for ‘woke inclusion’, i.e. reason. But now we have voted for a president, simply because it was the correct and reasonable course of action (for anyone who hoped to keep America intact, at least).
We don’t love Biden. He is not our second coming. He is our safety. We are the people who want to live by virtue of reason—and he’s our F-ing guy. Charisma is not at issue today. And nerds, I exhort you, cheer the mighty coming of reason in democracy. May it linger awhile.