Election 2016

As Trump Reminds Us, We Have Had the WMSVD Disease for Ages: It Is Time We Fight It Head On

Donald Trump’s victory represents something as old as the nation itself.

Donald Trump
Photo Credit: Max Goldberg/Flickr CC

A very long time ago, a Zika type virus escaped from the human laboratory.  Like Zika it deforms the human brain.  It assumes supremacy by human males over women and all other forms of life.  Its most prominent manifestation is male monotheistic religion—the obligation that humans worship a lone male deity.  No goddesses allowed. 

The sickness has passed ever since from generation to generation.

About 500 years ago in England,  Portugal and elsewhere,  the Christian form of the disease mutated to add white supremacy to its genetic code.  From its initially pacifist origins,  Christianity had already evolved over several hundred years to sponsor crusades,  the killing of “witches,”  inquisitions and the dispatch of missionaries to convert heathens. 

The necessity of moral justification for the slave-trade from Africa required a modification.  This led to the creation of whiteness and its concomitant blackness,  Negro-ness etc.  It became a powerful,  even an apex identity.  Skin color came to be more important than national origin, religion or other variables.  Males remained at the pinnacle of the hierarchy. 

Once slavery reached the colony that became the United States,  it mixed with an emerging hyper version of capitalism that generated enormous wealth and power.  It was based on the color-coded displacement and slaughter of humans defined as “red” and the enslaving and breeding of humans defined as black.  Race and economics combined like H20 to create the water in which we still swim.  It now menaces all life on earth. 

It incorporates an especially virulent,  eugenic strain of belief that those with white skin are the modern,  the superior,  the civilized and the God chosen variety of humans and that all others are generally backward,  barbaric and inferior.  (It is important to note that from the beginning it has allowed for individual exceptions.  Indeed they serve to “prove” the rule.) 

This White Male Supremacy Violence Disease (WMSVD) insinuated itself deeply into the brains of successive generations of white humans in religious,  government,  educational,  economic,  media and military institutions.  It also,  of course,  impacted the identity of Blacks,  North American Hispanics,  Native Americans and Asians.  It provided the intellectual underpinnings for the Holocaust. 

African-Americans,  women,  even some white men and others have worked on vaccines and cures for WMSVD.  Breakthroughs have been made.  But WMSVD has proven consistently resistant to both prevention and treatment.  Every effort to mitigate the disease is met with ferocious opposition.  

Much attention is paid to racial progress.  Too little to how white supremacy progresses as well.  The end of slavery, for example,  produced the backlash that came to be known as Jim Crow.  After the civil rights movement ended Jim Crow,  another backlash produced the Republican party’s Southern Strategy,  Reagan Democrats and mass incarceration. 

The election of Barack Obama,  together with an expanded media portrayal of blacks,  especially on television,  fed into the perpetual suspicion of many whites that African Americans are getting things they don’t deserve.  This sentiment has been expressed in terms like welfare queens,  the 47 percent and so on since the dawn of race-based chattel slavery. 

The shift in black visibility did not significantly change actual white advantages in income,  wealth,  health care,  employment,  racialized mass incarceration or other metrics.  In fact many racial disparities now benefit whites even more than had previously been the case.  What did twist was the context of the 2016 Presidential election.  An old pattern returned.  White fear,  entitlement and resentment came home to roost with a vengeance. 

So it is that WMSVD will soon give Donald Trump access to nuclear weapons capable of unimaginable destruction.  That and other powers invested in Mr. Trump make US women,  people of color,  non-Christians,  residents of foreign lands subject to US aggression and virtually every life form extremely vulnerable.  Whether they perceive it or not,  whites are at substantially greater peril as well. 

At the risk of stating the obvious,  Trump ran on an explicit WMSVD platform.  His appeal was to the diseased thinking that has been a permanent component of the white body politic for nearly 400 years.  His staff and Cabinet appointments thus far confirm that he has every intention of implementing a WMSVD platform.  Do not be fooled by bobbing, weaving and other feints. The Trump team has a WMSVD agenda and they intend to execute it. 

Early on in Trump’s candidacy some of us pointed to similarities with the campaign of Andrew Jackson.  Now,  Rudy Giuliani,  Steve Bannon and others are themselves proudly drawing the same comparisons.  The point is that President-elect Trump does not represent something new in US politics.  Of course some aspects are unique to Trump himself and to how things are done in 2016 as opposed to 1916,  1816 or 1716.  But at the root,  Trump’s victory represents something as old as the nation itself. 

Sadly,  pundit after pundit is shocked,  shocked,  shocked.  MSNBC is running a promo in which Chris Hayes is expounding with great passion to Rachel Maddow,  “We’ve never seen anything like this before.”  Rachel adds  “totally unchartered waters,  in so many ways” for good measure. 

An article here on AlterNet asked how a “Christian” could vote for Donald Trump.  As though Christians didn’t vote repeatedly for slavery; or carry out witch trials in Salem;  or elect brutal Indian remover Andrew Jackson in 1828;  or impose Jim Crow segregation in the United States;  or,  in 1912,  elect Woodrow Wilson whose first act as President was to fire all of the black employees of the Federal government;  or poison Viet Nam,  Laos and Cambodia with napalm and Agent Orange;  or set up torture sites all over the world after 9/11;  or create the biggest system of mass incarceration the world has ever known. 

To be fair,  some Christians opposed all of that.  But their version of Christianity did not and does not usually prevail. 

It may comfort some to imagine that tweaking the Democratic Party,  or a constitutional amendment,  improved get-out-the-vote software, eliminating the electoral college,  being patient until “the demographics” turn more in our favor or some other fix,  will make it all better. Not likely.  Ameliorating symptoms,  even when possible,  does not arrest the growth of the disease. 

More importantly it misses the opportunity we now have.  Humans created WMSVD and humans can and already are creating new systems that operate without it. 

Clarissa Pinkola Estes,  author of WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES,  put it eloquently in a recent essay:

Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Fifty years ago,  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for a radical revolution of values.  The late Grace Lee Boggs counseled us to “grow our souls.”  Lillian Genser urged us to “pledge allegiance to the world,  to care for earth and sea and air,  to cherish every living thing with peace and justice everywhere.” 

Answering the call of this moment starts with ourselves and in our own communities.  It begins and ends with love for all life on this earth. 

Let the living memory of successful non-violent direct action and thinking by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC),  Rosa Parks,  Dr. King,  Vincent Harding,  Mahatma Gandhi and others inspire and guide us. 

 

 

 

Frank Joyce is a lifelong Detroit based writer and activist.  He is co-editor with Karin Aguilar-San Juan of The People Make The Peace—Lessons From The Vietnam Antiwar Movement

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