Democracy, yes! Trumpocracy, no!
Published 11:00 am Friday, October 6, 2017
From the very start of President Barack Obama’s presidency, I have witnessed the cancerous effects of white privilege. Since 2009, we have been sugar-coating the issue in all facets of our society and the term has gained footage over those years.
The propensity to kill Native Americans and enslave millions of blacks, as well as to disenfranchise Asian immigrants, Mexicans in the southwestern states, even Inuits (Eskimos) of the north was encouraged by “Divine Providence,” a term that hid the real intent of expansionism called manifest destiny. And it spread throughout the Pacific region, especially in the Hawaiian Islands. Whatever you want to call it, it remains white privilege.
Of cause, white privilege is not new to the USA. It’s been around long before we became the United States. The concept of white privilege (social inequality) was first highlighted in the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois (1903) when he published his essay titled, “The Souls of Black Folk.” He writes that although blacks were observant and conscious of racial discrimination, whites did not think much about black Americans, nor about the effects of racial discrimination. In 1935, Du Bois wrote about what he called the “wages of whiteness,” where he described courtesy and deference, unimpeded admittance to all public functions, lenient treatment in court and access to the best schools. From that point in our history, wages of whiteness have been steadily eroding, slowly but steadily — the gains achieved during the civil rights movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s coupled with the push for inclusion of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s sparked hopeful signs of a multicultural society irrespective of the social inequality that lingered. With the election of President Barack Obama, it felt like the country had finally “turned the page.”
I cried big tears when I heard that he had been elected. And when Aretha Franklin sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” during President Obama’s inauguration, I cried even more. My body and soul flooded with pride because I felt that all the bad stuff I had been through for a lifetime was over. Yet on that day — that same day — while millions of Americans celebrated this history changing event, the bad side of white privilege surfaced. On the day President Obama was sworn into office, the entire Republican senate vowed, in writing, to oppose him completely; the economic health of our country’s institutions didn’t matter. Every success was viewed as a failure and every failure was amplified and broadcast to the nation. Every negative cartoon imaginable was posted all over the social media. Even his wife was depicted as being more masculine sexually and muscular then him.
For eight years, conservative radio, TV and social media butchered him with negative, hurtful and derogatory rhetoric. And through it all Obama remained dedicated to his charge and elevated with dignity, at lease to me, the highest office in the land, perhaps in the world. Hope still remained audacious!
Now, today, our democracy is at stake. It is no longer a fight between far-right Republicans and centric Republicans, between Democrats or the non-committed independents but the heart and soul of America. Since the election of Donald Trump, I have witnessed the extreme sides of white privilege: white supremacy, KKK, Alt-Right, Breitbart, Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Aryan Nation and other likeminded groups — the “birthers” (birther movement) and the Alt-right exemplify my claim.
In less than a year in office, the Trump Presidency has steered and guided our country toward major breakdowns in all areas of our democracy. Every institution (now depicted as a cesspool or a swamp) is wearing ragtag clothing: the executive office and every cabinet department is in shambles; the legislative branch (both houses) is dysfunctional; the judicial branch is waffling back and forth in its decisions.
Not only that, baseball, basketball and football owners and players have been deemed ‘Un-American.’ NASCAR and Hockey has been pitted against these sports simply to divide. Hurricane tragedies have not received adequate attention at the federal level and the potential for a nuclear war looms ever so close. We have lost respect in the world. After nearly seven years, the fight to repeal and replace “Obamacare” goes on still — the Obama onslaught continues. From the start (2009) the blitz has been fueled by the dark side of white privilege.
Although white privilege is systemic to our culture and for the most part gravitates to the negative, it ought not be completely linked to inflammatory terms as prejudice, bigotry, intolerance, racialism and others. Michael Kimmel, a noted American sociologist, describes the state of having privilege as being “like running with the wind at your back, unaware of invisible sustenance, support and propulsion.” Most people are reluctant to acknowledge their privilege and look for ways to justify or minimize the effects of privilege stating that their privilege was fully earned. Whatever side we come down on, that view does not give us the license to demonize the opposing opinion. Most white Americans (particularly the Gen Xs and Millennials or Gen Ys) do not subscribe to the negative side of white privilege. And most do want equality for all. Rather than a functional democracy we are morphing into a dysfunctional Trumpocracy — unless the tide is turned, we are heading down the road toward a dictatorial form of government.
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 in Triangle, Virginia. He resides in Franklin and attends Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Boykins.