Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Problem With Unity

 Unity in America has always had a lot of external characteristics that can be summed up, when they have existed, as a state of easy to acquire consensus on major national questions and issues.

In recent history, the feeling that came the day after the twin towers came down would be a good example.

I don't think that overnight from September 11 2001 all Americans had their viewpoints, opinions, prejudices and beliefs reset in such a way that all those millions of us had the same setting; I think it was just that a higher belief, that being the belief in America as a good greater than all those individual viewpoints, opinions, prejudices and beliefs.

And America had been on an amazing post-Vietnam run up to 911.

So there was some spill over of belief in the greater good from the fall of the Soviet Union and the quick victory in the First Gulf War.

Having said all of that, the "unity" seemingly present during those times covered over amazingly dichotomous differences.

It's possible to go through a mind numbing by content and an equally mind numbing by quantity list of those differences; but I offer a single fact: during the second half of the Twentieth Century America was becoming locationally different at warp speed; the big cities were rapidly becoming racial, cultural and social melting pots at a rate alarming to the rural part - geographically the majority part of America - and most of the money being made in America was being made in those big cities; it wasn't evenly or fairly distributed (but it wasn't completely fixed, either - it was more like a crap shoot) but it was in those cities where it was being made; and the rural locations became poorer and left behind.  Even culture seemed to be totally becoming urban, hybrid and loud. Those rural locations needed some sort of rationale upon which to hang the obvious fact that they were being left behind.

"It must be that polyglot of non-whiteness that exists in our cities" they said to themselves.

And then they began saying it on Facebook.

And the rest is history.

Any high level consensus in America, above the opinions, prejudices and beliefs of individuals has gotten lost in a maze of conspiracies and a haze of associated hatred.

And from a psychologically surgical point of view that is completely understandable.

Things are not best of all possible worlds in the heartland.

Nor are they so in the cities.

Happy faced assertion that things are all great would mean that Americans had all become cretins somewhere along the way.

But understanding a disease is far from curing it.

As with most diseases this one has spun off variants.

And those variants keep spinning off variants.

And the variants cross pollinate one another.

And they infect back and forth, from the heartland, into the cities and back again.

And again.

And again.

And so forth and so on.

That original conspiracy theory has had multiple children.

And they all have become driving forces for and key components of the beliefs of a large portion of the population of America.

There can be no unity because the beguilingly self serving nature of the various conspiracies makes them undeniable: believing that Barack Obama is a Muslim and not born in America gives a shred of rationale for the intense need to hold back the racial and cultural wave of non white humans that seem to many Americans to be engulfing our country.

Saying that he is fully American, half Italian, half Kenyan, born in a hospital in Honolulu would be as unacceptable  to the holders of that belief as would be defecating on the floors our nation's Capitol.

(I have been surprised that a supporting plank in the birther conspiracy has not been that Hawaii is not really a legitimate state).

There can be no unity because a minority, but a large minority, of Americans believe all those conspiracies.

And they don't want to stop believing.

Believing bestows meaning.

As long as they believe, Tinkerbell will live.

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