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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/24/12

The Two Americas Should Be Discussed Further

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(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.)

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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 Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 
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