Contrary to America’s politicians, America is not the greatest country in the world, and never has been. Currently we are ranked fourteenth in the world based on the ‘quality of life’ for the people, who compose the nation.
Our past is filled with white supremacy, bigotry and prejudice. Sadly, because the darkest elements in our nation have a leader in Washington today, the worst traits of our past are experiencing a level of influence not seen in decades.
In 1776 many of our founding fathers owned slaves. Several of the laws they created were written to protect this wretched practice, including the second amendment to the Constitution. This practice lasted until President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; 87 years later.
However, that did not end racism or white supremacy.
In 1865 the Ku Klux Klan emerged. Not only did it believe that African Americans were inferior to whites descended from Europe, it also denounced all non-Christians. The primary focus of its religious intolerance was Judaism.
Although racism and bigotry were common across America, white supremacist groups focused their attention on the southern states. Blacks were forbidden to enjoy equality with their white brothers and sisters. Schools were segregated, and establishments such as restaurants contained separate areas for black and white patrons. ‘Jim Crow’ laws required blacks to accept a second place position in American society. The extremes were deplorable. A young black man could be beaten and jailed for assumed admiration for the physical appearance of a white woman.
101 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. No longer could black men and women be denied the right to vote, or the right to have their children attend the same schools as white children. There could no longer be discrimination in businesses or in the workplace. Cities and towns could not establish separate areas for whites only.
However, this was only a law; it did not end racism or even the belief of many in white supremacy.
Growing up in Los Angeles prevented me from experiencing much of what continued to exist in other parts of my country. When I joined the United States Air Force in 1964, and was stationed in Mississippi, reality hit me right in the face. My first experience was to see signs which were very upsetting. Bathrooms outside of a restaurant were labeled ‘whites only’ and ‘blacks,’ with an arrow pointing to the rear of the establishment.
After a medical discharge in 1965, I returned home. Even in Los Angeles I saw the effects of the Civil Rights Act. As African Americans moved into the city’s surrounding areas, a situation labeled ‘white flight’ began and spread quickly. The development of cities in ‘Orange County,’ south of the city limits, saw white families escaping integration in the Los Angeles area. An area formerly dominated by fruit bearing trees was covered with tract homes as fast as they could be constructed.
The downtown area of Los Angeles now experienced a population of blacks and orientals; primarily from North and South Korea. The only whites were workers traveling to and from their places of employment.
The Civil Rights Act was signed 53 years ago. Where is America today? Was President Obama right when he claimed that our nation was experiencing less racism and bigotry in the 21st century? I love President Obama; he was a true hero for many Americans, but our current administration in Washington has proven him sorely mistaken.
When Hillary Clinton stated that many of Trump’s supporters were a “basket of deplorables,” she was not mistaken. The criticism she received was unfair and encouraged by Trump’s staff. Immediately after Trump’s illegitimate victory from the Electoral College, he selected his first top advisers. He chose Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist. Bannon is a self-avowed white supremacist, and articles he wrote and approved as the chief executive of Breitbart revealed that he is also homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic.
Trump then nominated the Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General. Sessions’ history if filled with racist words and actions. There is little doubt that in his closet is a white, hooded robe.
Trump has proven himself a white supremacist by his actions. His executive orders and proposed legislation all have negative effects on minorities and the poor.
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell was heard making jokes about African Americans in private meetings while President Obama was in the White House.
One entire party is attempting to pass legislation which will suppress the minority vote. They are also focused on preventing the LGBTQ community from their rights and equal protection under the law.
So what does this all mean? If I tell the complete truth, and I will, we are only a little better than we were in 1863. The dark elements of our society have come out of the shadows where some hid for decades. Trump has preached hatred and violence for more than two years, and millions of our nation’s most deplorable are listening.
Hate crimes have increased by an estimated 800 percent since Trump declared his candidacy in June of 2015. There have been numerous attacks of vandalism against predominately black churches, mosques, and synagogues.
I’m sorry to state this fact, but America is not a great country, and with Trump as our nation’s illegitimate president, both its reputation and its reality will continue to decline.
Please re-post; thank you.
Op-ed by James Turnage
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