It is clearly time to sort through our lexicon of sociopolitical terms and pejorative usages.
As we approach the End of Times according to those who believe the Mayans didn't simply run out of enthusiam or energy, and to those who live for the mad dream of immanentizing the Chritian eschaton , not to mention those who use politics and religion and safe havens for promulgating their sociopathy and gathering support for it, the dicourse has become course, and speech and actions once considered too shameful to display publicly, even by those who held them dear, have become increasingly common.
From the simple, clear and stunning public murder of Trayvon Martin to the passage of laws in various states reducing women to the status of cattle, the Far Right and Christian lunatic fringe have joined forces to seemingly issue the sort of cry for help that a mass-murderer often is seen to have broadcast prior to a slaughter of the innocents. Are these people pushing the envelope of sociopathy in order to be put forcefully in their place or do they truly believe they have the clout and/or firepower to bring us all to our knees?
The religious right seems bent upon returning us to "the good old days," when Negroes and women both knew their respective "places" and a Negro woman had virtually no place, but was regarded, rather, as a sort of necesary, utilitarian evil, because who else was going to pick up after these swine, submit to their sexual aggressions, and serve, from time to time, in place of the black Whipping Boy. The Good Old Days.
Damn you, Norman Rockwell.
These people on the far right (and there appears no longer to be any near right, no moderate right, no sane Republicanism as it once existed during the last of those Good Old Days when people like Dwight Eisenhower and yes, even the evolved Barry Goldwater provided some sort of intellectual and moral balance to the binary system in which we live and move and have our being), accept as their spokesmen people who are brutes, bigots, beasts, misogynists - and we are content to call them mere racists and pigs (an insult to pigs, at least).
Racists? Hell people, nearly everyone of us is racist, at least those of us who were born nominally white. I will accept that burden if the reader will not, if the gentle reader recoils in liberal righteous outrage at the suggestion that being born white almost confers a certain degree of racism along with all the rights and priviliges it continues to deny people of color. Yes, even I, the blackest white man most of you will ever meet, was born white, and so had a leg up on every black or brown person around me. Born and raised in Jim Crow DC in the mid-1940s, I was made aware, by my parents (particularly my mother) that we were given an advantage not conferred upon our black and brown bretheren. We could pass for white, even if we were of mixed ancestry, Irish, American Indian, and, yes, somewhere back there, a black guy, lost in the mists of time. We looked white. Of course the Irish did their turn at being black, Jews, members of a religion and perhaps sharing a sort of ethnicity, but basically white people, though racially sometimes different, sometimes darker, semitic, and so vulernable to charicature, had their own problems, and to a remarkable extent still do. In fact for many a Jew it's even worse, because they get to be white and an Jew at the same time, so the whiteness often does them less good than it does someone like me. Like the Irish, many a Jew learned to alter his last name so as to sound more Anglo-Saxon. This is pathetic.
Racism, then, is not the same as bigotry, and most of us, as I've already blurted out, are racist, at least those of us with the right skin tone and the right last names. We accept our advantage as a matter of course. We could reject it and put ourselves in the line of actual merit (wasn't that called "affirmative action," something that was forced on us so that "they" could take over and push us aside? I think I remember that). We live in and accept the terms of a basically racist society, simply by forgetting that our black or brown neighbors are, in fact, looked upon with suspicion and often have to work far harder to achieve the same level of material success and social acceptance that is give to us and which we can't even destroy by acting like literal monsters. So long as we don't go on mass murdering spress and confine ourselves to just the lone, occasional young black man, and so long as our sexual affinity for children goes undiscovered, we are pretty much free to pluck all the low-hanging fruit - and even then we get a pass more often than not if we but only act contrite once caught at our crimes.
We who pass for white get a better deal from the day we are born. And we take it for granted, even as we bemoan the lot of those less fortunate. In the words of William S. Burroughs, "Wouldn't you?" The system is rigged in our favor, and when we come to realize that, we realize we participate in a racist system, and that makes us racists. The least we can do is try to upend that system.
The same thing goes for sexism. It is an evil ideology as well, and any man who doesn't call it into question is less than a man.
The bigots are far, far worse, because those will preach from the pulpit or the podium or the public square or the electronic media their abject hatred for The Other. This deplorable condition is also generally found to co-exist with misgogyny, and while that has never fully gone away in our society, it had, for some decades, slowly made strides toward getting more nearly right - until now. Now the bigots, the mouth-foaming haters of non-whites and non-Europeans when you get down to it, are feeling more emboldened than ever to join the army of those who have decided to declare an all out war against women and the human rights of women. While these same people unfavorably compare Muslim society to ours by citing examples of (isolated) cases of Muslim patriarchy, they seek to create a Taliban-like standard for American womanhood and, in the most recent development on this front, as it unfolds state-by-state, have now, in Georgia, passed legislation that effectively reduces women to the status of cattle (by use of the argument that a cow must carry a dead calf full term, as though that is even somehow a good and human idea), so women should have to do the same - with certain merciful exceptions, but in no case be able to obtain an abortion beyond 20 weeks.
Given any latitude, bigots evolve into brutes who physically abuse, torture and kill - in the name of some sort of "God." This is the end result of the evolution of unreason.
And we liberals, who are our very own selves reactionaries for the most part, respond by reacting - with vitriol and self-righteous superiority, as though if we repeat the andidotal words often enough, we have not only done our duty to the right (as opposed to the Right) but somehow believe this will have some effect on events.
Meanwhile the landslide continues toward us at the base of the mountain where our village sits and we all tell each other "It hasn't gotten here yet."
The fact that there be monsters, that there are utterly despicable people among us who are given a platform from which to spew their poison, does not make us, by default, the Good Guys. We actually have to do something. We have to show up. Women, rise up, as the statistical majority you are, and take back your hard earned ground - now. Liberals, show up and be heard. We are now in the midst of an all-out assault on our good and decent American ideals and the fact that we are almost all, to some degree, racists, needs to be understood and acknowleged so that we can join ranks with our non-white brethren. No, it shouldn't matter, but the fact is it still does. We've come a ways, but we are far from the destination, which is elusive at best. The biggest enemy we have is our own notion that "all that" was resolved years ago, and the assault on human decency is some sort of surprise attack. It is not! This war has been building a head of steam for at least 30 years. It comes from a virus never fully eradicated, but which, like herpes, lives in dormancy until the time is right and the host is compromised. We compromised ourselves and let this thing get loose by assuming we had "won." We have our work cut out for us now, and we have an opportunity to at least push it back into its damp, dark hole so as to address the problem without having to dodge literal bullets.
We don't have the luxury of sitting around and talking about "them" as though this will somehow shame them back into line. At last, perhaps we can see, they do, in fact, have no decency.
As the great cartoonist philosopher Walt Kelly once wrote:
"Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us."