As baseball's greatest philosopher Yogi Berra might have put it, "If ya fuhget about history, it comes back to bite ya in the ass." Yes, my reworking of the shopworn saw about those who forget history being doomed to repeat it, into Yogi's irresistible vulgate, certainly offers a fresh new perspective. And with the same-old, same-old political muck we're mired in, new ways of seeing are certainly what we urgently need.
Sometimes our own biases are what bar us from finding the required fresh perspective. Or, to continue my mucky metaphor, the needed Ram pickup and winch. See, in my last OEN article I came down pretty damn hard on America's political rednecks. Now, in a 180-degree twist of perspective that may well give your poor neck a Linda Blair Exorcist moment, I'm going to ask you to put yourself in their clay- (or worse-) encrusted shoes. Prepare, gentle progressive reader, to "set a spell" and identify with rednecks.
Say what? Progressives identifying for one coon hound's heartbeat with rednecks--what's this world coming to? More on that in due time. But for now, just remember that in the late 1960s Bob Dylan's backup boys The Band went solo and suddenly made redneck music all the rage. The Bobster himself went Johnny Cash on us and did the album Nashville Skyline, and even Bob's Madonna and Muse, ultra-flower-child-cum-peacenik-activist Joan Baez, covered The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Granted, The Band did a better job, but even four out of five of them were friggin' CANADIANS, mind you. So, if these hippie icons were willing to pretend to be sympathetic to--or what's more, even considerably identify with--rednecks, I don't see why a few harmless minutes of such identification here should traumatize you.
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (just LOVE that creepy harmonica on The Band's version) makes a perfect segue here, for it's precisely the sort of historical poor "redneck" wailing his woes in that song with whom I'm asking you to identify. Exactly the sort whose homelands were ravaged by Sherman's March, whose home states were subjugated by predatory Northern carpetbaggers, and who later, regrettably and tragically, vengefully found his natural home in the KKK.
Yeah, history "sure 'nuff ain't purty"; and neither,
therefore, is its repetition. So Lincoln, whom even many Southerners revered as
a noble and generous foe, was assassinated; his message of binding wounds was
disregarded as so much yada-yada; and with Honest Abe conveniently out of the
way, opportunistic Northern vultures got down to their proper business.
Now, a question lost to history is how pampered suck-up black house slaves, those opportunistic Uncle Toms, reacted to all this. Without knowing any relevant formal history, my best-guess answer is, "opportunistically"--though if we take a long historical perspective (and make certain metaphysical assumptions), I'd say one got reincarnated as Barack Obama. But I have to imagine the Toms of the time sampled the prevailing winds, scented what side their biscuits would be buttered on, and offered their services accordingly. Doubtless, that was often on the side of the carpetbaggers. In other words, they served White Power, but not exactly the sort of White Power soon to be tragically advocated by the KKK.
In one of those sublime historic ironies that always come back and bite human beings in the ass, America's first African American president is a servile lackey of White Power--and again not of the sort advocated by the KKK. No, Obama has pledged his soul to a new species of white carpetbaggers as hell-bent on grinding poor blacks under their heel as they are to subjugating the poor and lower-middle-class whites who form the supporter base of the modern KKK. And if the KKK ever appears at all on the radar of that arch neo-carpetbagger and Obama patroness Penny Pritzker, she must have a good screaming laugh at their chants of "White Power." For Princess Penny knows pretty damn well where White Power lies--and it sure as hell ain't with those white racist "boys in the hood." From a different standpoint, those rival carpetbaggers known as the Koch brothers must share the same loud, sick guffaw.
Of course, my astute readers may ask on what basis I speak of "carpetbaggers." And of course I'll astutely answer. See, the common thread is a civil war that left massive devastation in its wake and rendered government an excellent tool of self-serving predation. In fact, liking to cover my exposed editorial butt with the authority of people better known than your humble scribe, I have an excellent book to recommend: The Predator State, by second-generation famous economist James K. Galbraith. See, Galbraith fils is one of those economists (the only kind I respect, actually) who feel capitalist economies depend crucially on effective government, and that due to a certain civil war--let's call it for convenience the "class war''--the crucial role of government has been more and more effectively eroded. Eroded, in fact, to the extent that under the Bush, Jr. administration, government had become little more than a tool for predation on its subject citizens. Strikingly like the deeply resented carpetbagger governments of the postbellum South.
Sadly, despite the deliberately misleading, extremely well-funded campaign invocations of that friend to all races (if only they knew it!) MLK, carpetbagging under "Uncle Tom's White House" has remained just as predatory. Though it is perhaps more dangerous, as it now has--to use Mumia Abu-Jamal's term--"the black face of empire" to cover it.
So what lesson do we draw from all this? That under today's carpetbagging, predatory U.S. federal and state governments, we not of "the 1%" are all rednecks. Ich bin ein Rednecker--and that applies to us poor, struggling slobs, whether we're black, white, red, yellow, brown, or what have you. Probably the great religious souls of this world are right in counseling us not to hate, but if there is room for hate, we'd be far better doing it across CLASS and not racial or ethnic lines. But if we do bar hate, there's still plenty of room for outrage and peaceful revolt. Consider joining the one young political movement hell-bent on pulling the carpet from under today's carpetbaggers of both major parties: www.facebook.com/TrueBlueDemocratsAProgressiveRevolt .