(Rambling ahead, I blame lack of sleep and political overload)
So this wrong side of history phrase. We’re hearing it a lot lately, along with variations like, history will not look kindly….
The thing is, we don’t know how history will see this phase of American history, because we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I know how I want it to turn out, but I’m not at all sure if I’m sorry or glad that I’ll likely be dead before those books are out. When I was in elementary school, I learned how happy the “Indians” were to help and be helped by the pilgrims. And of course, Columbus discovered America. That definitely improved by the time my kids were in elementary school, and hey, it only took 400 years. Progress is slow. You know what isn’t slow? Destruction and erasure. Recently I saw a tweet referring to this children’s history book, published in 2007, which describes the Trail of Tears (which my kids learned about in third grade) as “Moving Out”–because the First Nations peoples really wanted to make room for the new (white) settlers. For the record, this was definitely not the first time this type of rewrite in a history book has come across my screen. Putting whitewashing to the side, it will always depend on who’s doing the writing, who’s doing the reading, who’s doing the funding, and whether the readers, writers, and funders are from the side that won or lost.
I keep harping on the following point because I think it’s still being glossed over. Millions of Americans wanted this monstrosity leading (if you can call this leading) the country, and the bulk of those millions still do.
Do you like Cheetos? Not as good as dill pickle flavored chips, but still, who can resist artificial, practically glow in the dark salty cheese dust held together by edible styrofoam. I love them. I don’t buy them frequently because it’s easy to overindulge, and they’re a waste of both money and calories. My apartment isn’t a junk-food free zone, but I do try to keep it all balanced. I don’t want to wake up sick every day, feeling my organs waste away while I get fatter, and that definitely isn’t what I want for my children. A lot of people agree with me. Michelle Obama even got a Healthy School Lunch Program going nationwide. But many disagree, and a few months ago, this administration began a rollback of this policy, often using the straw man of kidsarehungryonthisprogrambecausetheyneedemptycaloriesandexcesssodium. Now why would that be?
Perhaps because good nutrition is necessary not just for growth and general health, but for brains. No one–least of all children–can think and learn effectively if they’re malnourished, regardless of what they weigh. If it’s a generation, or multiple generations, of malnourished minds that have also been told higher education and intellectualism are elitist (apparently a slur almost as bad as feminist) writing those yet to be written history books, I wonder what they’ll say. I also wonder why my mind keeps jumping back to the Reagan administration’s efforts to cut the budget for school lunches by classifying condiments as vegetables. I might even be wondering how many of those who voted for 45 were raised thinking a couple of tablespoons of ketchup was nutritionally equivalent to a cup of steamed broccoli.
Of course this is just one aspect of many. The vast majority are of what I’m calling aspects are symptoms. There is a disease in this country, and it’s both progressing and metastasizing. What else can it be, when millions of people in a democratic country vote for someone who is a demagogue; who is against freedom of the press, believes nepotism is the way to run a government, thinks white supremacists are good people, isn’t remotely concerned about our electoral process being hijacked by a hostile government (at best), freedom of speech, doesn’t care how many lose access to health care or whether or not citizens lead long and healthy lives, lies repeatedly without remorse or concern for proof and facts, bragged about sexual assault, brags about tax dodging and bankruptcies, threatens to jail competitors, threatens war like it’s a game of checkers and he can’t wait to howl “double king me!” is working hard to strip women’s rights, remove needed immigrants–both documented and not–has no interest in a separation between church and state or freedom of religion, antagonizes allies, can’t seem to form or follow a complex thought or policy, and appointed/surrounded himself with people dedicated to destroying the departments they were put in charge of and people dedicated to destroying our democratic nation itself?
Acknowledging and treating symptoms is important, but if you can’t identify and treat the underlying disease, it’s a game of whack-a-mole. If you don’t live in the world of medical mayhem, you might be surprised to know just how many diseases, known and unknown, have no cure. So just what is this disease? Well, my grandmother used to say you can’t fix stupid. We can call it Owen. Or Momma, a kernel of truth packaged in a disheveled bow of mean and bullshit.
Maybe we don’t have to worry what the US history books will say, because there won’t be anyone who can read or write them. And the rest of the world? I’m guessing they won’t be whitewashing our trail of tears in the early twenty-first century, as our administration works to destroy both the planet and any culture that doesn’t want to play checkers or draw their bath.