It happened. Previously when talking about the similarities between a particular Battlestar Galactica episode and this year’s election, I ended with the fact that although I wasn’t enthralled with the democratic offerings, the alternative was unthinkable. And now it appears that it happened. The unthinkable. The unthinkable has happened.
While the world is in shock and nobody quite understands how Trump, this Baltar-like candidate (sans the genius IQ) came to be the president elect, nobody is actually in shock and everybody really does understand how this came to be…right?
Because it started way before Trump came into the picture. It started before Obama was elected and a representative of South Carolina yelled, “You lie!” in the middle of a speech to a joint session of Congress–something which has never happened in the history of Congress…until it happened to a black President. It started before Black Lives Matter.It started before Civil Rights and Martin Luther was assassinated and before segregated armies during World War II where men fought and died the same but one faction was treated well while the other was not.
It started before Japanese American citizens were put in camps. It started before the Chinese worked on rail lines and were treated no better than dogs. It started before Texas (one of several states) was out and out stolen from Mexico. It started before even the kidnapping and slavery of Africans and the genocide of millions of Native Americans.
I want to say that it started with the Constitution, a document suggesting lofty ideals and principles for “all” but in reality was only aimed at “some.” But I think it started even before then. Before the colonists landed in America. Before they had no idea what they were doing, what to expect, how to prepare for “the new world”, many of them subsequently kept alive due only to the sympathy and generosity of the Native Americans.
It started before the country was founded and with the mindset of those who came here. Those who came here were escaping from something. Those who came here believed they were under siege–their particular beliefs, their principles. Religious persecution. Those who came here wanted to “start over”, begin again.
Years ago, the first Chucky movie came out, wherein the murderous, marauding doll carved a wide swath of violence throughout but, in the end, was destroyed. Good vs. evil. Good wins. But then a little while later, they made another Chucky movie! I was baffled and asked the guy in the video store, “What happened? I thought Chucky died. Didn’t he get burned to death in a fire?”
The video store clerk looked me straight in the eye and said, “Yeah, but they scraped the black stuff off.”
I see the colonists that way. They had a horrible life where they were. Or they thought it was horrible. Considering how they handled things here, one has to wonder if maybe they weren’t just a bunch of self-pitying whiners. They weren’t being treated fairly. They weren’t being listened to. They were being persecuted. So they got to start all over. Move to America. Scrape the black stuff off.
And then what happened? Happily ever after? Let’s all get along? I’ve walked a mile in your moccasins, so I know how it is, brother? Nah.They did to others exactly what they were fleeing from: They didn’t treat others fairly. They didn’t listen. They persecuted everybody.
Native Americans were savages. And let’s not even go into Africans and chattel slavery. Instead of empathy and compassion leading to affinity and inclusiveness, they remained steadfast that their own beliefs and rituals and way of living were the standard for all, no exceptions. They adopted Manifest Destiny as their inner moral compass and followed that, to the exclusion and decimation of everything and everyone else, to the other side of the country and to the other side of reality, where we are now.
With a beginning like that, trumpeting a mindset that has never really disappeared, a dislike of and inability to assimilate with “others” that has never really disappeared, none of us has the right to be shocked or surprised that Trump is the president elect. To be shocked or surprised is to be in complete denial.
But mostly, complete denial comes with naively and/or self-righteously believing that you can move to “a new world” and start over not by re-framing your perceptions, denouncing oppression in all forms, and adopting an open-mindedness aimed at opening doors instead of slamming them shut. Instead you just scrape the black stuff off, a thin patina left over from your old world and your old life, and simply continue being who you are. With impunity.