“Okay, class, who can tell me the first rule of real estate?”
“That is correct. The second?”
“Correct again. Can everyone guess the third?”
“Excellent! Now who can tell be three rules of American History from the beginning right up to today’s news?”
Are you pausing here? If you say, “Money, money, money” you will get some credit. But after watching the documentary about Ronald Reagan, I think the right answer is:
Please watch this documentary to more fully understand how what happened on Wednesday was the logical and predictable outcome of Reagan’s strategies carried forth by Republicans (and some Democrats) forward into the next 40 years. Coming at a time when racism was no longer wholly acceptable as a direct statement, it had to go into hiding under euphemisms. When Reagan’s chose “Make America great again” as his campaign slogan (did you know that?), he was talking about the America built on White Supremacy where everyone knew their place and if you were white, that was on top. Every single sound-byte that got the white voters riled up had race hiding behind it. A short glossary:
Welfare queens:If one black woman scams the system, it means all people on welfare are cheats. And even though the statistic was that two out of every three people on welfare was white, the image that went into the vacant brains of white folks standing up for their privilege was that black people were robbing the government from the white’s taxes.
Young bucks: The male image of the above.
Law and Order: We will arrest black folks for driving while black, especially if it’s close to your neighborhood. And we’ll make sure that none of them can move into your neighborhood.
State’s Rights: Upset about the Civil Rights Act and school integration? Don’t worry, we’ll defend your right to continue to oppress people as your state has done forever.
War on Drugs: Guess who’s taking drugs? That’s right, black folks and a few hippies. Don’t worry, we’ll lock them up, charge them with a felony, make sure felons can’t vote and insure that white folks will continue to dominate both state and federal offices. Oh, and for white folks taking cocaine? Why, lesser penalties, of course.
Trickle Down Effect: We’ll keep taxing the poor (ie mostly blacks) and giving tax breaks to the rich (whites) and their wealth will magically trickle down to help everyone in the economy. Of course, there are plenty of poor white folks, but we’ll make them feel part of the club so that years later, even the poorest will feel that Daddy’s rich boy Donald cares about them.
See how easy it is and how everyone can sleep peacefully at night knowing the bad guys (drug users, lawbreakers, welfare cheats) are getting their just desserts and that giving more breaks to rich whites will be beneficial to all? Who wouldn’t want to vote for that?
And you see how every single one of these double-speak nefarious and purposefully crafted lies is about race, race and did I mention, race? Reagan was more subtle in his lies— he claimed that three dollars of our taxes was used to pay for every dollar of welfare when the actual figure was 12 cents. But since he said it and he had such a charming smile, it must be true and so “no will convince me otherwise!” 40 years later, multiply those lies by a factor of a thousand (ie, if Reagan told 25 fact-checked lies, his successor told 25,000) and is anyone surprised that those brainwashed “patriots” were convinced that the election was stolen and the country they knew and loved (?) was being taken from them?
Of course, Reagan didn’t start racism, but he certainly moved that ball down the field in a more contemporary version of the game and then handed it off to Bush Sr.. Clinton went back and forth across the 50-yard line (his 1994 Crime Bill one of his terrible legacies) and then back to Bush Jr. for another 8 years. Obama was ready to turn things around in the right direction, but by then, the Republicans had so rigged the game that the rules were constantly changing. And then came the worst.
But even the apologists and enablers seem to be finally getting tired of a game so chaotic that all the rules are thrown out., That white folks can commit the most treasonous act in our nation’s history and maybe get charged with vandalism while 14,000 peaceful protestors suggesting that police should stop killing innocent black people got arrested and many more beaten, gassed and arrested. And then today Lindsey Graham, one of the most shameful consistent supporters of POTUS’s shameful antics, got harassed, booed, threatened and called traitor—by the very right-wing crowd he represented!!!! What goes around, comes around.
So class, two important summaries:
1) When you get nostalgic and long for “good old days” of Republicans like Reagan, don’t.
2) Remember the three rules of American history, yesterday, today and hopefully if we stay awake in classes like these, not tomorrow. Repeat after me: "Race, race and race." And then get to work for the three new rules (as outlined in Pete Seeger's song "If I Had a Hammer."): Justice. Freedom. Love.