2024: The Year We Learn the Truth About America

"The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness." -George Washington, January 9, 1790 (Hold your breath George, we might have to shelve this quote).

2024: The Year We Learn the Truth About America

Will Ignorance and hatred become the national pastime?

"The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness."
-George Washington, January 9, 1790

(Hold your breath George, we might have to shelve this quote).

Is there any other continent or country in the world like this one? The answer is/was no. For whatever reason, the forces of the Universe conspired to create a meeting place of Indigenous Peoples, invaders, enslaved people, immigrants, treasure hunters, humanitarians, and thieves of all makes and models. Our history is neither all good nor all bad; it is the story of diverse people with diverse purposes sharing space. Some days we got it right. Let’s hope in 2024 we don’t get it tragically wrong.

Our country is known as the great experiment or the great social experiment. From its inception, the United States of America has been gifted with a halo of decency and humanity. From the so-named founding fathers to historical and political scholars, American exceptionalism has been coined and renamed more than today’s sports teams. But the spirit of the exceptionalism is based on the natural diversity of our climate, politics, and fluid class system.

The American Historical Association puts it this way, “The social, and especially the political institutions of the United States, have, for the whole of the current century, been the subject in Europe, not merely of curious speculation, but of the deepest interest. We have been regarded as engaged in trying a great experiment, involving not merely the future fate and welfare of this Western continent, but the hopes and prospects of the whole human race. Is it possible for a Government to be permanently maintained without privileged classes, without a standing army, and without either hereditary or self-appointed rulers? Is the democratic principle of equal rights, general suffrage, and government by a majority, capable of being carried into practical operation, and that, too, over a large extent of country?”

They go on to put rightful tarnish on the American halo by acknowledging the internment of Indigenous Peoples and the enslavement of African people. The writers also issued a subtle warning that the American experiment could not last.

Historian and writer, Kenneth C. Davis wrote, The American Contradiction: Conceived in Liberty, Born in Shackles. In it he says, “Let’s be clear. American slavery was not a minor subplot in the American drama, but one of the central acts in its history.”

There is an American obsession with attempting to erase the ugly in our history as some families (mine) have done with errant relatives. Despite personal accounts and factual details about slavery, a great number of Americans seem to want those years of the murders, rapes, forced labor camps and the kidnappings that occurred during enslavement swept under a rug as if hiding these truths will threaten American mythology.

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, we were taught American mythology under the guise of history. In my view, this resulted in brainwashing entire generations into believing this was the land of the free (for all), and home of truth and justice. Believers become enraged when those myths are discredited as if the lies bring them stability and comfort that truth will disrupt.

Spoken word performer and poet Gil Scott-Heron called America the ‘international Jekyll and Hyde, the land of a thousand disguises.” Scott-Heron and other performers in the 1950s, 60s and 70s challenged American propaganda with music, comedy, and poetry. They opened receptive minds and became the background recordings of protests. They also became targets of those invested in protecting American untruths.

Mark Twain: “A lie can travel around the world and back while truth is still lacing up its boots.

I’m not sure if we’re awash in more lies than before or have greater access to them thanks to our technology of today. But millions of dollars and systemic knuckle-gripping are being used to viciously wrestle truth with one hand and spread lies with the other. I call this manufactured ignorance.

I believe in similar fashion to Kenneth C. Davis that slavery was not a footnote, but central to the soul of this nation. And despite any and all rewrites, it will remain part of the American DNA. No one can outrun history because while it may be behind us, it supplied the shoes. And I agree with all writers and activists who believe that while class may divide us in this country, hatred, defines us. This brings me to the presidential race and our future. In my modest opinion, this race is not about policies, economics, budgets, guns, freedom of personal choice, or school violence. These are labels used to cover the root of these conversations. At their core are ignorance, hatred, greed, and inhumanity.

We should take note of the admonishment by the ghost of Christmas present in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol who reveals an unhoused boy and girl to Scrooge. The boy is called, Ignorance and the girl is Want. The ghost says, “Beware of them both in all their degree, but most of all beware this boy.” Lies live in ignorance and ignorance is destructive.

In 2024, two men, nearly the same age are facing off again in the presidential election.

Each flawed or as older relatives used to say, have feet of clay. Dramatically different biographies, one wants to maintain our current form of government, the other (judging from his speeches and social media posts), wants one-party, autocratic rule and has been working with conspirators to make that happen. For some he has undermined confidence in government, law enforcement, the free press, educational institutions, medicine, all aspects of life. And while he has no expertise in either of those subjects, he has a cadre of followers. He is boldly racist, sexist, homophobic and attempts to incite violence. ,

It is my sincere belief that trump followers are all-in for either one of two reasons; they are deeply racist and believe in white supremacy at all costs. Or they are brainwashed and unable to recognize how a white supremacist will damage their lives.

We can also look to Texas for one example of how this works.

An attorney general who faces two counts of securities fraud, a first-degree felony with a punishment of up to 99 years in prison, and one count of failing to register with state securities regulators, a third-degree felony with a maximum of 10 years in prison and no medical degree prevents a woman with a major medical condition from getting an abortion procedure to preserve her ability to have children in the future. And she and her doctor are threatened with prison time.

Years ago I would’ve thought this was the synopsis of a crime thriller, one of those the-future-is-shitty movies that leaves you with chills. But it’s America today. We are a crime thriller as a criminally indicted candidate can raise money to run for office and garner voter support. If so-called God-fearing, law-abiding citizens can support criminals, I can only deduce they are in it for the racism.

So, that’s where we are.

If the American people or more accurately, the electoral college puts in office a man in his late 70s who is facing 91 criminal counts, inherited millions and managed to go bankrupt 6 times, and who spews hatred and violence, we will know what this country truly is—a monstrous shithole unworthy of respect or the greatness it professed. And we may as well burn the old myth with the U.S. Constitution and bury those aspirations.

We will know who we are in 2024.