If there is a single chilling lesson to learn from the Trump presidency it’s that U.S. race relations have not progressed as far as people think. D Trump has dozens of times in rallies and from the rostrum spoken demeaningly of multiples races and backgrounds. His manipulative words have been received eagerly by certain segments of his audience — publicly. With no fear of reprisal, or sanction. His hate-mongering has gone largely unanswered by other Republicans — giving him freedom to continue his spread of racist hate.
In 1908 the Postmaster General of the United States banned the mailing of lynching postcards like the one below.
In this day and age we might think that an overreaction to an isolated instance, but the truth of the matter is that from the 1870’s on there it had become a popular thing to produce postcards as warnings, and as evidence of one’s position on the Negro situation; white supremacists were far more rampant than we’d like to remember — after all, we all ignore the truth for a little peace when it’s comfortable to do so. But a look at Wikipedia or a trip to the library will fill in the ugly truth that racism has been a standard part of life in the U.S.; we just like to pretend it doesn’t exist when we’re in polite company.
Even the Nazis did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz, but lynching scenes became a burgeoning subdepartment of the postcard industry. By 1908, the trade had grown so large, and the practice of sending postcards featuring the victims of mob murderers had become so repugnant, that the U.S. Postmaster General banned the cards from the mails.
— Wikipedia (read the entire article for more on this subject)
The thing is, in 2019 we pretend that the darkness of the past no longer exists. We have our media and our sports and our drugs of choice and the general population is quite content thinking that life is just fine as it is and there’s nothing worthy of getting really upset about. And that kind of complacency is the fertile soil of facism, racism, and ethnic cleansing.
When I was young and I first came across the Old Testament accounts of God’s instructions to the Israelites about how to vanquish their enemies I was horror struck. The idea that men, women, and children should be slaughtered seemed absolutely barbarian. And it is. I won’t try to pretend those passages aren’t in scripture, but as an older person I now see something I never wanted to look at when I was young and a lot more idealistic than I am now. Hatred is hard to eradicate.
If you look at the examples of ethnic cleansing that we have seen in just the past 50 years (you have libraries, go look it up) it’s easy to see that blood feuds last for centuries. Person A kills person B, then person c retaliates and kills person D who is avenged by person E, who in turn is avenged by person F. We have documented blood feuds have continued for centuries in countries, even in cities between rival families. All arising out of hatred.
As a lifelong pacifist I find violence abhorrent; but I am also able to see that you don’t get rid of hatred by ignoring it. And if you are going to eradicate it by education you have to be so thorough that any outbreak is harshly punished — which we have never seen on this planet. We quite happily continue killing other humans for all manner of reasons and while we give lip service to justice, as a society we continue to kill, maim, and murder both legally and illegally.
I wish I could be more optimistic about race relations in this country but I have no idea on what basis that could be done. All you have to do is look at the response Trump gets in his rallies to realize that the veneer of civilized behavior is very thin indeed, and that those who respond to his goading in public would be only too happy to go much further in private — where they could get away with doing what they feel in their black heart without reprisal.
It’s sad. It’s not just the U.S.. The Turkish shelling of the Kurds is just another example — one people hating another and thinking nothing about killing them off en masse.
I won’t even make a big deal (even though it IS a big deal) that Trump has signed the death notices for thousands and thousands of people who thought they were our allies. I can’t even begin to speak about how cowardly and horrible that act is.
We think we live in a civilized world. But I have to tell you, if you are paying attention to what’s going on, you should be very, very concerned. The people you live next to are not the people you think they are. And when hate mongering goes unanswered in public then acts of violence and racism aren’t far behind.