Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Cake That Was America

The obvious analogy is that we've finally witnessed the straw breaking the camel's back.

But I've always thought that that is a stupid, facile, useless and probably biblical allusion, so I don't use it.

But events in the last several days scream for some kind of analogy driven drivel.

So I'll throw my hat in that ring, and see if anybody salutes.

America is a four hundred year old cake.

The foundation layer is slavery.

That layer produced vast wealth for a limited number of white people and left millions of black people dead, and left the heirs to that aggregation of dead black people in an economically negative net worth situation - a condition that they have been privileged to pass down through the centuries to all who followed, thus making no hope a hereditary condition.  The economics of this cake layer are only the awful mechanics of the overall cake; the psychology of slavery and its resulting eternal state of semi-humanness are the real flavor of the foundation layer.

There was some frosting between that layer and the next layer on the pile. The ingredients of that between-layer frosting are the Civil War and the Thirteenth Amendment; but, as is always the case with the frosting between the layers of a piece of cake, this frosting was pretty disappointing.

The second layer was the guerilla war that commenced after General Lee surrendered.  That gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan and a reign of terror among the fiercest in human history.

The frosting-between was President Grant's dismantling of the Klan.  It was nice but just frosting nonetheless.

Layer three has been called Jim Crow.  The Klan went underground, the South coalesced into a terror driven  aggregation of feudal principalities.  The economics and psychology of slavery were made permanent in this layer.  Black people in America were cast into a permanent state of being vitally necessary to the "system" but permanently outside of the circle of the "system's" beneficiaries.

The between layer this time had more substance than its predecessors.  This frosting consists of the northward seepage of the mechanics and psychology of Jim Crow to all the states of which the gradually maturing cake was composed.  This frosting was a bit more robust from the viewpoint of the "system".  It had more sugar, butter and a bit of strawberry jam.  It was the best between-layer frosting so far in the cake.

Layer four had to be thrown in the trash.  It had been intended to be composed of civil liberties, voting rights and civil rights but while it was in the mixing bowl somebody forgot to put in any baking powder and it came out flat.

So layer three has been the most recent layer until most recently.

Until they baked a new layer four.  This one is comprised of the distilled essence of all three preceding layers, subjected to all the refinement, subtlety, nuance and targeting that modern communication, marketing and mind science can deliver.  Additionally, it includes a very large dollop of unfettered bloody fanged capitalism.  It also includes a very sophisticated ingredient taken from a cupboard housing only the most rare and sophisticated spices: the "system" is bloody fangedly capitalistic during good times and utterly self servedly socialistic during bad times.  That ingredient optimizes the "system's" access to both the pockets of the average citizen during good times and also to their tax payments in bad times. This layer puts the stamp of permanence upon the concept and existence of an economically and psychologically hindered underclass.  The subtlety of the layer is that it has been vastly expanded to include most of those who live in the United States.  In fact, it includes everyone except a very small number of very rich white people. This layer is an odd one.  Even after being baked and laid atop the cake it needs to age and mature - sort of like a fruit cake.  At final aged maturity, the end game of this layer is a permanent mudsill of serfs; the black serfs being allowed to exist as an object lesson to their fellow - white and non black - serfs of what the bottom really looks like.

Nobody put any frosting between layer three and layer four: the requirement for aging and the need for that aging to amalgamate the ingredients of layer three and layer four eliminate the possibility for any such frosting.

Everybody has always assumed that, even though the cake is over four hundred years old, it is a work in progress, so no final frosting has yet been concocted to wrap the layers into a finished product.

But that might have changed.

In a secret bakery the best of breed bakers of our time have been readying what they claim will be the final layer.

Layer five is not traditionally shaped.

It is instead a lion-man shaped head, a head that looks vaguely human, vaguely simian (an orangutan comes to mind) but also vaguely leonine (the installation a vast arrays of yellow cooked pasta passing as hair contribute to this impression).

And its ingredients are legion:  hate, lies, innuendo, venality, sociopathy, stupidity, ignorance and racism.

The cooks have lots more but they decided to keep this layer simple and focussed.

And they have a special frosting.

It has one ingredient additional to the basic butter, egg and sugar - sort of a strawberry jam substitute: state sponsored murder of black men.

And that frosting is not only for the between layer, it is intended to envelope the entire cake: "voila, c'est un fait accompli" was heard emanating from the kitchen as the frosting was slathered in place.

Over the last week the cake proved to be top heavy; the between-the-layers frosting proved to be too deeply slathered, its single novel ingredient too noxious; the installation of that frosting as "the icing on the cake" proved to be eating away - selectively - at all the layers.

And then came the mighty wind.

It caught the copiously random pasta hair of the lion-monkey head such that the layer crashed to the table, then to the ground then into the floor drain in the middle of the kitchen floor.

And the other four layers sit madly askew.

Another gust will no doubt finish the job.

So how do I end this metaphorical tale?

Humpy Dumpty allusions seem best.

But, in a catastrophe, I have learned that it is unwise to employ mixed metaphors.

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