Hope in the Age of Obama

Today America reacted again to redeem itself through sacraments of political exigency. I watched unamazed as the Governor of South Carolina, followed by a series of would-be Republican Presidential nominees each pursue their absolution and provide the required rhetoric. As Governor Haley surrounded herself with those appealing to hope to confer upon her newfound awareness the requisite gravity to carry forward the charade, I remained unconvinced. America will need to do more than hold news conferences and take down flags.

Yesterday’s ardent apologists have now made their rhetorical revisions to suit the faithful, all calculated to insure a commitment to deeper unfeigned change.

“Part of the problem why we continue to visit these moments is because there is of a lack of honesty about how we got here. Racism, bigotry, prejudice and hatred are elements woven into the fabric of this country. There can be no healing in this land if we are not honest about who we are.”  –Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr. (the pastor at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, June 21 2015)

Both ideological constituents and financial directors can rest easy: the Governor’s words will not overwrite the convictions Reverend Walrond, Jr. so well understands.  America’s tortured reality will soon resume its natural course.  The Republican politicians fabricated duress will convert into more comfortable slogans or simply be elided from the next news cycle. This satisfying if not unexpected outcome is all part of the show for those for whom any change would be deemed bad for business.

As we see a potent symbol of our tawdry history disenfranchised for a brief, shining moment under the bright lights of the media’s imperative to reclaim America’s moral superiority, the more lasting message should not be mistaken: the solid ground upon which this Confederate battle flag stands is dutiful.  Its unapologetic meaning will endure even when it is no longer residing under the overt symbols of hatred sanctioned by the State. A significant portion of the American public today is as intractable in its inner volition as it is incapable of attending long enough to feel the discomforts deeper self-reflection would require. As Walmart moved to remove Confederate flags and decorations from its shelves, Amazon saw a 2,300% increase in sales: today.

Americans are not people for whom the realities of self-revision have much provenance beyond immediate economic gains unless it is to provide an update that reclaims old, well-founded prejudices. We prefer instead to act as if there were no yesterday, to pretend nothing endemic in the failure that lies at the root of our founding as a nation. To register “progress” because slavery has been abolished and racism is now beyond fashionable norms tells us less about what we have achieved than it does how much we prefer to refuse to understand. By next week, well, things will be just fine. Again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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