Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
6 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

The Two Americas Should Be Discussed Further

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Well Said 1   Interesting 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H3 11/24/12

Become a Fan
  (16 fans)

opednews.com

(Article changed on November 24, 2012 at 16:42)

Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) November 24, 2012: In his column titled "Lincoln, Liberty and Two Americas" in the NEW YORK TIMES dated November 23, 2012, Charles M. Blow, an African American, quotes the well-known passage from President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in which he reflects on "the proposition that all men are created equal." Lincoln understood that the "great civil war" was "testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and dedicated, can long endure."

It still remains to be seen how long the nation dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal will endure. (Following the conventional usage of his time, Lincoln used the term "men" as a generic term to refer to all human persons, both men and women.)

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is a famous statement made by a President of the United States who had not been an abolitionist before he became President. Had he been an abolitionist, he would never have emerged as President of the United States.

But the white American novelist William Faulkner perceptively titled one of his novels about the American Civil War THE UNVANQUISHED. As a white commentator who grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and who then lived in St. Louis, Missouri for more than a decade, I would like to take a hint from that novel's title and suggest that many white Southerners who had supported the Confederacy remained unvanquished in their hearts and minds long after General Lee surrendered and that many Americans today still resist in their hearts and minds the radical experiment of a nation conceived and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal.

Moreover, in his novel ABSALOM, ABSALOM! Faulkner brilliantly uses his creative imagination to construct the character Thomas Sutpen, the strong and talented and enterprising self-made man who is a white supremacist slave-holder and manipulative sexist. Faulkner was prescient in connecting white supremacy and manipulative male patriarchy in his portrayal of Thomas Sutpen.

For the sake of discussion, I am going to say that Faulkner is basically right in connecting white supremacy and manipulative male patriarchy, just as he is basically right in suggesting that many people who supported the Confederacy remained unvanquished in their hearts and minds after the end of the American Civil War.

So in response to Charles M. Blow's column about two Americas today, I say, "Yes, the elections of 2012 show that there are indeed two Americas today: one is composed of Americans who in their hearts and minds would like to embrace the radical experiment of a nation conceived and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal, whereas the other is composed of Americans who in their hearts and minds want to resist the radical experiment of equality before the law and cling instead to white supremacy and to manipulative male patriarchy.

In his book THE OBAMA HATE MACHINE: THE LIES, DISTORTIONS, AND PERSONAL ATTACKS ON THE PRESIDENT -- AND WHO IS BEHIND THEM (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2012), Bill Press devotes an entire chapter (titled "The I Hate Obama Book Club," pages 137-175) to surveying 61 books critical of President Barack Obama. After some introductory discussion, Bill Press proceeds to list the 61 books alphabetically by each author's surname with complete bibliographic information about each book followed then by Bill Press's discussion of each book.

Now, if we were to buy into the attacks on Obama advanced in those 61 books, we might imagine that he is some kind of radical liberal. But for the most part, Obama has governed as a centrist, not as a radical liberal.

Indeed, after President Obama won re-election, William Saletan at SLATE MAGAZINE online published an article telling the GOP to cheer up because we had just elected a moderate Republican. I understand his point. However, he does not comment explicitly on the trend of radical Republicans attempting to purge moderate Republicans from the party by referring to them pejoratively as Republicans in name only (RINOS, for short).

Certain Republicans like to console themselves by repeating the mantra that we are a center-right nation. It makes me sad to say, but, yes, today we probably are a center-right nation. However, for the most part President Obama has governed as a center-right president. But the very same Republicans who repeat the mantra about our being a center-right nation do not seem to take any comfort from having a center-right President. On the contrary, they assail him for an endless array of thought crimes, some of which are real but many of which are imaginary. Indeed, he seems to be a lightning rod for conservative attacks, as First Lady Hilary Clinton was for years a lightning rod for a vast right-wing conspiracy.

To be sure, Obama often pays lip-service to certain liberal ideas. Occasionally, he even shows some backbone and stands up for women's rights. As I say, I think that William Faulkner was prescient in connecting white supremacy and manipulative male patriarchy in his portrayal of Thomas Sutpen. Because of the color of President Obama's skin, it is not hard to understand why people whose attitude of white supremacy remains unvanquished in their hearts and minds would see him as a symbolic target to their reservations about the proposition that all men and women are created equal. Because he occasionally shows some backbone in supporting women's rights, it is not hard to understand why he has drawn the fire of rear-guard defenders of manipulative male patriarchy.

But if all men and women are by nature equal because all of us share the same human nature, then our nation is dedicated to a radical proposition, and a government dedicated to such a radical proposition is a radical experiment in human history.

So I agree with Charles M. Blow that today there are two Americas, just as there were two Americas before the American Civil War. The American Civil War settled certain legal issues. Nevertheless, white supremacy and manipulative male patriarchy live on in the hearts and minds of many Americans today. President Obama's re-election in 2012 did not resolve this divide between the two Americas today.

Another civil war will not resolve this divide in the hearts and minds of the American people, just as the American Civil War did not once and for all resolve this divide in the hearts and minds of 19th-century Americans.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Tell Americans to discuss the equality of all men and women

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell

Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from (more...)
 
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Who Was Walter Ong, and Why Is His Thought Important Today?

More Americans Should Live Heroic Lives of Virtue (Review Essay)

Martha Nussbaum on Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Book Review)

Hillary Clinton Urges Us to Stand Up to Extremists in the U.S.

Matthew Fox's Critique of the Roman Catholic Church

President Kennedy's assassination was a coup d'etat (BOOK REVIEW)

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
5 people are discussing this page, with 6 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

In his second inaugural address, President Obama s... by Thomas Farrell on Saturday, Nov 24, 2012 at 1:09:27 PM
   White supremacy and and male manipula... by richard on Saturday, Nov 24, 2012 at 8:14:53 PM
Of course my analysis of the two Americas may be m... by Thomas Farrell on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 7:54:27 AM
 Americans have lost a lot. The whole nation ... by BFalcon on Monday, Nov 26, 2012 at 11:40:40 AM
I believe both Thomas Farrell and "Richard" have r... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012 at 11:27:25 PM
One might almost argue that to look at the polit... by Siegfried Othmer on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 at 2:17:46 PM