Broken and misunderstood, but not defeated

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

by Dr. William Scott

I believe, as many of us do, that we have been deceived or swindled by dishonesty (hoodwinked) in the recent election of our next president. And that thought frightens a lot of black folks, irrespective of their demographic placement (Boomers I, II, Generation X, Y and Z termed the millennials). The slogan, “Make American great, again” conjures up lynching imagines of the Jim-Crow Era, unpleasant attack-dogs and firehose imagines of the Civil Rights Era, the unending jobs, housing, education and citizenship struggles through the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and the difficulties we’ve faced in this millennium.

“Again” implies or suggests going back to what was and what was was not good to and for us black folks. The “Black Lives Matter” movement reflects these sentiments.

But to the majority population — especially the right wingers, Tea Partiers, conservatives, ultraconservative and the far-right extremist groups — “Make America great, again” (dog-whistle politics) allowed them to reject a third-term Obama presidency with Hillary Clinton at the helm.

We have been broken, bruised, battered and busted, even killed and misunderstood, but not defeated.

I used “hoodwinked” to express being deceived, but Lee Hamilton uses “Fake News.” Lee Herbert Hamilton is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and currently a member of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Hamilton’s article, “Why fake news is dangerous,” [Tidewater News, Dec. 9, 2016] is because “. . . it makes the basic responsibilities of citizenship much harder.”

What’s even more troubling is the movement that is breeding fake news or the rise of agnotology, the systemization of ignorance, the dissemination of untruths packaged in a narrative that’s attractively suggestive and seductive for a culture that is either in too much of a hurry to think or, too simple to understand the implications. That thought comes from Timothy F. Merrill, executive editor of Homiletics.

Whether you agree or not, it does give you pause to reflect. Have we allowed the world-wide web to enlighten us with news that is not properly securitized by “the fourth estate” of our representative democracy? If we have, then where are we as a nation, a society heading? Are we so divided that one’s point of view takes precedence over the welfare of us all? That we are so bent on espousing our position, that compromise is impossible? Under these condition, the only way to settle the disputes is war, political war — and it appears that we have just about arrived at that point. This scenario is, again, frightening!

Switching has already taken place both at the national, state and local levels. The prime example of the switching in Franklin was the removal of the high school principal and replacing him with a former FHS principal. This switch was granted by the interim superintendent.

Now the City Council has replaced the vacant school board with “like-minded members.” But if I read Tony Clark’s article called “Stop the insanity” correctly, his analysis is spot- on. Why did the City Council put the same people on the school board who were just fired? Why did they appoint the same people to fill the vacant positions? This switching scenario is both crazy (Clark calls it insanity) and, again, frightening.

When I read the online Virginian-Pilot newspaper, I’m presented with one point-of-view. When I read the New Journal & Guide, I’m privy to a completely different point-of-view. When I read the local Tidewater News at least two different points-of-view are offered, though not all in one edition. That drives me back to the name of this article, “Broken and misunderstood, but not defeated,” and Timothy F. Merrill’s use of the word called agnotology.

The word was coined by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor specializing in the history of science and technology. David Dunning is another academic who studies the spread of ignorance.

He warns that the internet is helping propagate ignorance. He says that “it is a place where everyone has a chance to be their own expert, which make them prey for powerful interest wishing to deliberately spread ignorance.”

Fake news — what’s truth and what’s untruth? What’s serious argument and what’s propaganda?

I met a young artist/poet named Warren Cobb and his wife, Angelia, at Shiloh’s college fair for high school students and below. He had some of his drawings on display near the entrance to the fair.

The one that caught my eye was a drawing he called “Broken.” To me it reflected the brokenness of “Black (Mixtus) -Americans” struggling to advance above their brokenness in a society that lacks empathy toward them.

Although broken conjures up all kinds of bad stuff — shattered dreams, wrecked households, damaged and fragmented behavior, dejected, baffled and a dispirited black demography — it nonetheless does not conjure or summons surrender, i.e., we are not defeated. 

Cobb’s approach to the “bad stuff” is again reflected in another drawing because he correctly accounts for the bad stuff by switching the blame away from we mixtus-Americans saying (artistically) we are “misunderstood.”

Hamilton says fake news is dangerous because it makes the basic responsibilities of citizenship much harder. Dunning says watch out for the powerful who deliberately spread ignorance. Cobb expresses the same sentiments: we are broken because we are misunderstood, which impacts the push for full citizenship — we are and have always been underutilized, undervalued, and marginalized.

Broken and misunderstood, but not defeated has a positive/optimistic side that is often overlooked because we home in on all the bad stuff: resilience. 

We ‘Mixtus-Americans’ are a resilient people.

DR. WILLIAM A. SCOTT is retired from the National Security Agency of the Department of Defense. Since his retirement, he has served as a Biblical instructor with the Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary and executive director and academic dean of Triangle Bible Institute (TBI), in Triangle, Virginia. He resides in Franklin and attends Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Boykins.