When President Trump's largely Republican "Make America Great Again" mob staged an ugly insurrection at the nation's capital, Washington DC, the pundits and political experts of all hues, stripes, and shades hogged the mainstream news media wringing their hands and lamenting that "this is not who we are." Embarrassed and angry over the fact that American leaders have long firmly stated that "this could not happen here," and that modern-day insurrections were things and events that happened in such far-off places like Eastern Europe and other undeveloped countries. Can't happen here. Not in "civilized and industrialized" nations like the United States of America where we do politics largely peacefully. But all of that is so much hogwash and political obfuscation that's designed to hoodwink ordinary Americans.
The blunt fact is that white supremacy has and is an important part of American history; part of the nation's foundation. Indeed, the American Confederacy, whose flag was waved in the Capitol building during the failed coup attempt, was a four-year alignment of 11 states all committed, among other things, to the right to own slaves. This emerged toward the end of a 100-long period during which it was popularly assumed by most white people that the role of Black people was to provide them with free labor from sun up to sundown, until death. So, no matter how you cut it or dice it, the very foundations of U.S. wealth and reach today, are buttressed and supported by heavy pilons sunken into the tragic bloody soil of that centuries long uncompensated labor.
In many ways the rise of the neo-confederacy was the direct result of the chance that Americans took in 2016 when they elected a known racist and fascist wannabe in the person of Donald Trump. In many ways the adherents and sympathizers of the treasonous confederacy never really went away since the losing South and their "Southern Strategy" at its core was to keep the confederacy alive and well - under the table. Remember that on a number of occasions the federal government had to intervene to enforce national laws, especially at the end of Jim Crow and Southern Segregation. Now with a champion in the White House and a major political party that coddles and embraces white supremacy, the time was right for the "Make America Great Again Mob" to show its true colors. And there are many flags that could be created and waved if the issue at hand for the MAGA Mob were the right of states to their notion to self-determine their own destinies. However, those who claim the U.S. Confederacy - overtly or covertly - are easily aligning with a very specific and racist right - a very specific kind of modern, 21st century, white supremacy.
Recall: The American Civil War started primarily as a result of the long-standing disagreement between the Union and the Confederacy over the institution of slavery. Thousands of white people were willing to fight and die rather than equally share the collective load of labor needed for any successful national economy. On January 6, thousands of unmasked mostly white people showed up ready to fight and die rather than quarantine, rather than relinquish racial supremacy, and rather than participate in a modern multiracial society. They crowded together amid a raging pandemic that has killed nearly 400,000 people, and entered a building bent on overthrowing the United States government by violent means.
Historically, in the 19th century, the Union was declared the winner over the Confederacy, and eventually emancipation, freedom from slavery, was technically true and a reality on paper. But the slave economic systems and race relations were not abolished. If anything, they morphed into dispersed versions of white supremacy presenting in new and now more dangerous forms. Donald Trump weaponized and radicalized white supremacist organizations and allowed them to find common cause. The Internet and Social Media helped these organizations to share information, recruit like-minded ignoramuses, peddle conspiracy theories, solicit money and develop a network of contacts that demonstrated on January 6 by the degree of organization of the MAGA Mob. This violent event also exposed the fact that the wounds of confederacy are not yet healed even after they morphed into Jim Crow and then again into surface post-racialism and razor-sharp microaggressions and racist policies. Today they still fester and percolate just under the surface; unseen by the public.
There are lessons to be learned from the Storming of the Capitol. First, America is far from that evolved post-racial space. Second, Republicans who bet on white supremacy, even before Donald Trump came to power, just as they bet on the Confederacy, have lost - badly. Today, they have lost the presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate. All in four years. This is history unfolding, a pendulum swinging back and forth along prescribed national political lines. Thirdly, Americans and the body politick, must find a way out of those rigid lines if the nation plans to outlive the Neo-Confederacy and its modern versions built on white supremacy and racism.
Thanks to the Internet, Social Media and the 24/7 news cycle most Americans and the world saw on January 6 an America that the Establishment has tried very hard to hide. The corporate media has worked hard at "manufactured consent" and mass censorship when it comes to what's presented as news and information. Duped for years to believe that America is exceptional, many white Americans see themselves as better than others, in particular Black and Brown people. And to pretend that somehow this country has moved past its racist and white supremacist foundations, indeed its very founding, is just plain disingenuous.