Black Americans Understand America’s Promise More Than White Americans Ever Have

The whole American franchise – our experiment in human self government – rests upon one thing: the vote. That’s where the self-government starts. If you screw with the vote, you’re screwing with the whole concept of self-government. If you stop some people from voting because of their race or creed in favor of others (because of their race or creed), you’ve veered away from democracy entirely. Instead of trying to win those votes via the retail politics “marketplace of ideas”, you’re blowing up the marketplace. Though America sold itself as a diverse democracy, it didn’t actually check off the necessary boxes to BE that thing until 1965 when we passed the Voting Rights Act which (finally!) put teeth into the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution and made it practical (a mere 95 years being ratified!) White Americans have always had the luxury of taking their right to vote for granted. Well, white, MALE Americans, that is… We need to look our origin story squarely in the face and allow for the fact that the white, Christian, land-owning MEN who founded America – while having a brilliant idea (self-government), got some of it terribly, terribly wrong.

The white, Christian, land-owning men who composed America’s founding documents were not perfect. They made mistakes as all humans do. They knew that the Constitution they’d fought over was imperfect. They built mechanisms for revision and renewal into the system they’d invented. The Constitution could be amended. In their minds, remember, no one was going to be a full time politician. Our founders envisioned citizens going to DC and spending a few years doing their civic duty before returning to their private lives while new citizens stepped forwards. Power, apparently, was more of an aphrodisiac than our founders anticipated. Hey, like I said – they weren’t perfect.

An even better example of how imperfect our founders were? They wrote “All men are created equal” but didn’t mean it. Well, they meant it in a way: white, Christian, land-owning men are equal.

The best example of all that our founders screwed up a great idea by compromising with a terrible idea? They cut a deal with slavery. In their defense, they found themselves between a rock and a hard place. If the Constitution had outlawed slavery, the Southern economy would have collapsed immediately because it was based almost entirely on stolen labor. The South relied on paying zero for all the intense labor it took to produce its three principle cash crops: tobacco, sugar cane and cotton. The whole point of making slaves do that work is that the slave masters and plantation owners got the work product for free – minus whatever it cost to house, clothe and feed their slaves (the cost of doing business). If slavery had never been on the table – and the South had been forced by circumstances to pay a fair market rate for all that labor? There wouldn’t have been a South.

Maybe there would have been a worker’s dream state…

Not only does a slave NOT get paid for the sweat of their brow, they don’t get to accumulate the wealth they’d get to accumulate because of that work. It’s a double whammy. But, we have to understand the impact this has on both sides of the equation. On one side, the white side, they get the full benefit of the American franchise – the vote plus unlimited economic potential. On the slave’s side you get to watch the American franchise work because of your free labor and lack of the vote. “If only I could get the vote,” this person thinks, “I might be able to conquer the unfair circumstances limiting me”. To the person who’s never had the rights the American experiment promised, getting those rights and keeping them are everything.

Citizenship without its benefits is not citizenship. But then, citizenship doesn’t just come with “benies”… it comes with responsibilities, too. One of those responsibilities is to see that the American franchise works the way it’s supposed to (not necessarily the way some of our racist founders drew it up). This means working constantly to see that every American eligible to vote gets the opportunity to vote. It also means that every single legitimately cast vote gets counted.

When you see your struggle through a long term lens, you expect there are going to be ups and downs. It’s a marathon v a sprint. You understand that you will win some fights and lose some – and some of those losses will hurt. But, if you gave up the struggle at every single downturn, you’d give up the struggle. That is exactly what white people do! White people have no idea what Black people and brown people and Asian people and LGBTQ people and everyone not white, Christian and male have had to endure from white people just to get where they are. Non-white people are never fighting other non-white people to get the rights due them. We’re always fighting WHITE PEOPLE.

Racist white America understands the American franchise as their white birthright. They think their whiteness is what makes America exceptional. They couldn’t be more wrong. James Madison insisted we put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. Madison had a complicated relationship w slavery; while he opposed it, he also compromised with it constantly. But, he did understand that America’s greatness – its real potential – lay in its diversity. “Out of many, one”. That is American Exceptionalism.

The American ideal is worth fighting for – not the way the founders did it (by getting it wrong because “racism”) – but the way the ideal has been maintained in the Black American imagination. Black women especially have borne the torch of this country’s democratic greatness even as they bore the brunt of its most racist cruelty. You can practically hear the American Ideal beating inside magnificent American patriots like Kamala Harris, Stacy Abrams, Val Dennings and Maxine Waters (among others). In their entire lives they have never taken a single one of their rights for granted because, unlike with white Americans, Black Americans have always known that their rights could be taken away just like that. As they have been.

Having to fight for a thing makes it precious. Never having to fight for a thing causes one to take it for granted. That’s why our news media approaches the struggle for civil rights and for the vote with such painful cynicism. It’s their whiteness shining through. The instant Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin made it clear they think a racist parliamentarian device – the filibuster – is more important that the vote, they expressed 1) their racism, 2) their corruption and 3) their whiteness. When the press pointed at those obstacles as insurmountable for the Democrats and proof that what they wanted could NEVER work, they were expressing THEIR whiteness – and their perspective-free inclination to give up at the slightest sign of resistance.

If there had not been a lot of money riding on American independence – “taxation without representation” is, first, a question of what one’s money buys in a political system – it’s possible America would never have happened. Independence didn’t just mean freedom to Americans, it meant the potential to acquire great wealth.

Of course, if you see other Americans through a lens of slavery (or just plain Republican racism), you’re terrified of those other Americans acquiring wealth and political power that comes with accumulated wealth. You dream of white hegemony. Of white people having all the political power and most of the money. That is a dead end street. The America white supremacists dream of isn’t a dynamic, world-beating country that can innovate its way out of any problem facing it. Conservatism fears innovation because innovation spurs change – and change is anathema to conservatives (who want to CONSERVE not so much what is, but what WAS). The America that racist white people want is NOT America.

It is however a first rate shithole country.

Why Do Republicans Insist On Behaving Exactly Like Slave Masters?

Never mind permanent minority rule, if the Republican Party could really have its way with America? They’d bring back slavery. That’s even more than they already have. In a number of disturbing ways, slavery really never ended in America. It shape shifted. Slavery, at its core, is stolen labor. The whole point of having a slave is they work for free. The slave master gets one hundred percent of the slave’s work output for nada. The only thing the slave master has to cover – to keep that work product coming – is whatever it costs to clothe, house and feed their slave. It’s simple business math: product minus costs equals profits. In America, in the agrarian South, they had three big cash crops: tobacco, sugar cane and cotton. All are labor intensive to farm. From a pure “cost-benefit” point of view, slavery asks “Hey, what if we could get all that farm labor (plus a little extra labor around the house) for nothing?” In a moral world, the response would have been “But, of course, slavery is wrong!” whereas, in America, the response was “Hey, so long as we can get away with it…”.

And that’s what happened. The American South – its business interests – got away with stealing the labor output of virtually all its essential farm labor. Not only did the slave economy not pay for that farm labor, it prevented those workers from ever building up the wealth they would have acquired HAD THEY been fairly paid for their work product. This is why reparations aren’t a “nicety”, they are demanded by any standard of decency.

What if the South hadn’t had the luxury of enslaving its farm work force? What if circumstances had compelled the South to pay a fair wage to every single person previously enslaved? There would never have been a Southern economy and, consequently, no Confederacy. Instead, who knows, a fairly paid work force producing those agricultural products may have been the basis for a worker’s paradise that would have shut Karl Marx’s mouth.

Alas, no such thing happened. Slavery did.

Are white Europeans more racist than anyone else? Hard to say. But they have been more successful than anyone else at spreading their racism across the planet and at profiting from it. The white, land-owning, Christian, European men who founded America’s government had a smashing idea in their collective heads: democratic self government. A hard thing to imagine, but even harder to keep (as Benjamin Franklin noted). What made the idea harder to keep than perhaps it should have been was piss poor execution of this smashing idea. Hey – just because white guys did it doesn’t mean the white guys got it right. In the case of founding America, they got it partially right. Either you mean “all people are created equal under the rule of law” or you mean “All men are created equal” by which you literally mean just “men” and by “men” you mean men who look exactly like you.

Sorry, but we’ll have to split that grade. “A” for the idea, “F” for the execution.

Originalism, you understand, is white men pointing at “All men are created equal” and insisting that THAT is how WE must understand the country today. That is all sorts of nasty-assed, liquid excrement.

This is conservatism’s goal however. The thing conservatives want to conserve is America the way it was. They’re terrified of America the way it’s about to be – where white people are a minority of the population – and, so, are doing everything they can think of (none of it legal, moral or ethical) to hold onto political power for as long as possible – hopefully forever. Conservatives don’t want to share power with the rest of us; in their minds, they’ve already shared too much – and look what it’s brought them!

It’s hard to say if race relations would be different in America had Restoration been allowed to happen in the South. Perversely, having forced Black people into slavery to begin with – the thing that brought the Civil War and the South’s ruin – after the war, white southerners blamed Black people for causing their economic collapse. Bitter at losing a war they maybe could have won, simmering with resentment, they saw everything in “zero sum game” terms. Whatever Black people had was at some white person’s expense. Few things enraged racists as much as Black success and Black wealth – especially if those enraged white people were failing because of their own woeful ignorance, profound laziness and copious inadequacies.

Want to know what really scares a racist more than anything? Having to compete in any way, shape or form.

Let’s go back to slavery. After the Civil War, one couldn’t literally enslave people anymore. Restoration’s failure (thanks, Andrew Johnson – if only he’d been convicted in the Senate!) disrupted the balance of power in the South. Black political power was truncated before it could even take root. Still, Black businesses and communities thrived, in part because of their insularity. That insularity enraged racists. That raged burned out Black Wall Street in Tulsa in June 1921 and Colfax, Louisiana in 1873,. It burned through Wilmington, NC in 1898 and through both Washington, DC and Elaine, AK in 1919. Racism took out the thriving Black community in Ococe, FL in 1920, and took out Rosewood, FL’s Black community in 1923. This was the white South reminding its Black inhabitants that they were nowhere near as free as they thought they were; nowhere near as free as the Constitution was attempting to make them.

Off to the side of this deeply embedded racism, sat “the money”. As Calvin Coolidge put it, “The business of America is business”. Capitalism is neither good nor evil. It’s an idea that can be good or evil. It depends how it’s executed and by whom. Socialized capitalism – like they have in Sweden and Denmark for instance (where wealth is spread as fairly as possible so as to not only reward hard work but to encourage constant innovation – produces a happy, healthy, innovative citizenry. Crony capitalism on the other hand is capitalism corrupted. There’s nothing good or worthwhile about it. Everything crony capitalism touches dies. Especially innovation.

We’ve all known bosses who tried to get us to work for nothing because they were short-sighted, greedy and stupid, and bosses who understood that compensating us fairly would get the best possible work from us – to their ultimate benefit. It’s just a fact: some people can only see value in money. They don’t see value in anything else – like good will or good faith or good relationships – even where their customers are concerned. They want every penny they can get in their pocket and no one else’s. To them, all workers are interchangeable and replaceable. They’re an expense that reduces the business’s profitability. Robots work cheaper (they’re practically slaves by design). That is precisely why so many businesses automate over hiring if possible.

For now however, our captains of industry must hire humans to do as much thankless work as possible for as long as possible for the least amount of pay possible.

It may not be literal slavery, but it can see slavery from its house. Can we call this condition “Slavery Adjacent”?

Republicans despise having a minimum wage because it conflicts with enslaving people. They hate any sort of social safety net because those people-empowering policies conflict with enslaving people. They can’t stand the idea of universal basic income because UBI especially undermines slavery (people can wait for work that suits them rather than take any job because they need the money). Republicans hate social security, medicare, free community college, free pre-school and even food for the hungry because all those things get in the way of re-enslaving Americans by turning America into a giant, corrupt, broken-to-its-core company town..

It’s just a stone cold fact. If we strip away all the pretense in virtually every Republican economic argument, what every Republican is really arguing for is either a return to slavery or a subtle variation on slavery’s theme.

There – I’ve answered my own question. Why do Republicans insist on behaving exactly like slave masters? Because that is what they are in their hearts and aspire to be out here in reality. Just like the Republicans remain hell bent on getting their coup d’etat right, they ache to get slavery right this time.

And they know, these Republicans, that if they score the one (permanent political power), the other (a return to slavery even if not by name) will come right along with it.

Some Americans (White Ones) Think They’re The “Most Equal” Americans Of All

The white, Christian, land-owning authors of America’s Constitution set us up for failure the moment they penned “All men are created equal” without actually meaning “all men”. They screwed the pooch just as badly (if not worse) by meaning JUST men. So, the fix was in from the start.

America was doomed because while aspiring to government of the people, by the people and for the people, we settled for a government of, by and for only some of the people. Let’s be kind and call it a rookie mistake. The men who wrote up our founding documents had never founded a country before. They were forward-thinking but only up to a point. Still, some did grasp America’s true potential – as when James Madison insisted we put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one” is precisely what makes America exceptional! That’s the thing that had never happened before in the whole history of humans. We created a new country borne of all the old ones, that aspired to give every citizen an equal shot at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Originalism (conservatism’s wettest wet dream) asserts that whatever those wealthy, white, Christian, land-owning men wrote down? That’s it. That’s the country America must always and can only ever be. Yeah, sure – the Constitution’s framers built in an amendment process (and even tossed in the first ten amendments, calling them “The Bill of Rights”) – but they didn’t foresee how “crazy” some of those amendments would be (like giving the vote to women and Black people). In the Originalist’s mind, America is a long-dead butterfly trapped in amber. Problem is, it isn’t a butterfly; it’s a moth aspiring to butterfly-hood. Nonetheless, originalists want that low-achieving moth revived and celebrated.

Want to stymie any conservative? Ask them directly: “what exactly is it that you want to conserve?” They’ll “hummina-hummina” about freedom and liberty and rugged individualism and how socialism is evil because even they can’t articulate what they want. But, it’s this: conservatives want to conserve the past – or as much of the past that’s still left in the present. Conservatives resist change. Many outright detest change. They want the world to remain as it is right now. If they could have made that happen yesterday – or the day (or century) before? They absolutely would have. American conservatives idealize an America that’s majority white and understands that their whiteness is what binds them together. Diversity – AKA “E Pluribus Unum” – terrifies them because all those “Pluribus” believe they’re equal to white people, a thing a full one third of America cannot tolerate.

In their defense, the white people now insisting on the Big Lie have all lived in the shadow of another “big lie” – the one where America t said “All men are created equal” while knowingly not meaning it. That “big lie” hung over America like a secret we were keeping from ourselves. Slavery, first and foremost, is stolen labor. The slave master gets the slave’s work product for nothing (minus the cost of feeding, clothing and housing the slave). Stolen labor was the basis for almost the entire Confederate economy. If the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane businesses had all had to pay fair wages for the labor they needed to get their product from field to factory? For one thing, there never would have been an American Civil War.

Alas, things didn’t go down that way. Instead, white people dug in their heels. They resisted sharing power with Black people by repeatedly either denying them the vote outright or by making it almost impossible to vote. Denying citizens the right to vote in a democracy is how you destroy the democracy. That assumes, of course, that you want to preserve our democracy.

The simple fact is, the GOP doesn’t want to preserve our democracy because democracy’s just not working out for them. Wanna win in “the marketplace of ideas”? Start by having a few ideas other than “let’s go live in the past”. But then, the past is where conservatives and white people (apparently) lived their best lives ever. Probably because, back then, they were all created equal while the rest of us weren’t.

America’s Love For Guns Is Directly Related To America’s Love for Racism

America isn’t the only country with a racist past. We are however the only (first world) country to have both a racist past and a deep, abiding love for guns and gun culture. America didn’t have to succumb to racism at its birth; that was a choice we made – an economic choice. But for slavery – and the free (because stolen) labor it provided to the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane businesses among others – the South would never have risen to begin with. Or, if they had, it would have been because they’d figured out a way to both make a profit and pay for the labor needed to bring their products to market. Instead, everyone involved succumbed to greed and their worst instincts. Our founders wrote down “All men are created equal” but they meant something else entirely: only white, Christian, land-owning men are equal. Everyone else is there for the white, Christian, land-owning men to exploit.

Slaves and slavery were so essential to the Southern economy that the slavers organized patrols to hunt down and capture escaped slaves. Policing in America originated with these “slave patrols” and that “people as property” mentality remains deeply embedded in how America thinks about (and hires) cops. Do we need any more evidence that America’s police departments are over-stocked with racists who see their job more as zoo keeping than protecting and serving? Our founders had the gall to think of slaves (all Black people, really) as “three-fifths of a man” (and that for political reasons!) When a white cop pulls out their weapon and aims it at an unarmed Black person, to them, that Black person is less of a person than they are and that’s why shooting and killing them is so easy.

But then, guns make killing easy because that’s what they’re designed to do: kill. Every gun is engineered from the ground up to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air – at speed – toward a live target, the goal being to kill it. You can’t send a piece of hot metal flying at someone without thinking it could kill them; death is baked into it. To think otherwise is a lie. While people who aspire to responsibly own a death machine might valiantly try to “be responsible”, the fact is, accidents happen. Unintended consequences happen. Children get ahold of their parents’ unsecured weapons all the time here in America. Don’t believe me? Google it, why don’tcha. Then prepare to spend some time reading.

Nancy Lanza was an avid gun owner and – if you’d have asked her – a responsible gun owner, too. That is, she was a responsible gun owner until the morning of December 14, 2012 when her son Adam murdered her with one of her own legally purchased firearms then headed to Sandy Hook Elementary School. The thing is, guns aren’t designed to sit in gun lockers. It’s like how cars aren’t designed to be driven by drunk people. But, when guns get out of their lockers – or drunk people drive – that’s when the tires hit the road – and the drunk driver kills someone. How responsible is a gun owner when their death machine is in their hands – or the hands of others? In America, 329 people are injured by firearms every single day. In 2019, according to UC Davis Health, 39,707 people died because their life intersected with a gun. That’s a hell of a lot of irresponsible gun ownership, no?

The “responsible gun owner” argument is that THEY aren’t like that. THEY are different, ya see. They’re “responsible”. Until they aren’t. Until something unexpected happens as it did yesterday when 15 year old Ethan Crumbley took the semi-automatic 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun his dad had purchased a few days before to school – where Ethan was already in trouble for “concerning classroom behavior”. We don’t know if Ethan’s parents were ever “responsible gun owners”, but they definitely failed that test in the end.

Ya see, that’s the problem for all of us out here who DON’T own death machines. We have to rely on the competence, good intentions and genuine “responsible-ness” of everyone who owns a gun. Gun non-owners won’t know ahead of time which gun owners are failing to be responsible. We never got a head’s up that James Holmes was going to the movies on July 20, 2012 at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Was James ever a responsible gun owner? Don’t know. But, if he ever was, he wasn’t that night when he killed twelve people. 70 others were injured, 58 from gunfire. Same token, we don’t know if Omar Mateen was ever a “responsible gun owner” before he killed 49 people and injured 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL which he shot up on June 12, 2016.

While racism itself isn’t behind most of our mass shootings – male dysfunction is – the easy availability of death machines across America makes it easy for every male with personality flaws and anger issues to use a gun as part of their “therapy”. The NRA seems to approve of its members using the second amendment to resolve all disputes. As Kyle Rittenhouse proved, you can even cry “self defense!” when shooting unarmed people because you feel “threatened” by them.

Want to know just how racist America is? Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to AR-15-toting Kyle Rittenhouse if he had been Black instead of privileged white. Think the cops there that night in Kenosha would have waved at Kyle and waved him through? Think all the armed racists there to threaten the Black Lives Matter protestors would have seen Black Kyle as one of their own? Puh-leeze! If Kyle Rittenhouse was black, they would have had to clean up what was left of him with a hose.

America’s gun lovers insist they need guns to protect them from an overzealous government. To call that horse shit is a kindness it doesn’t deserve. It’s right wing bullshit kabuki. It’s a lie. Right wing gun lovers do not fear the government; they just want it out of their way. Right wing gun lovers – almost entirely white – see themselves as surrounded. A diversifying America terrifies them because they refuse to share power. And the people they refuse to share power with is everyone not them – not white. And, to make their point of just how determined they are? They “open carry” their intentions.

No one at a supermarket is going to attack them. No one ever was going to. They gun owner knows that. The point of the exercise isn’t self-defense, it’s intimidation. It’s white people trying to impress everyone else that they – a gun owner – can hurt them bigger and better than the person without the gun can hurt the gun owner. No part of that thinking is even remotely “responsible”. But it is deeply racist.

Not every gun owner is a racist, but – count on it – every racist needs a gun to feel complete. They need a gun to do what they personally can’t – force people they don’t like to do what they want (including die).

A guns is to a racist what a good argument is to anyone else. The gun IS the racist’s argument.

Everyone Has Their Point Of View But Not Every Point Of View “Has A Point”

Does a raging, racist a-hole have a point? We know they have a point of view; they’re happy as hell braying it. But do these guys have a point to make? Do they? Is their racist, ignorant point really one we should take seriously?

Consider the professional criminal. He knows what he’s doing is completely against the law yet breaks the law anyway. The possibility of punishment is just part of the cost of doing criminal business. As the professional criminal — let’s say he’s a car thief with his eyes on your car — deliberately commits a crime (stealing your car) — he has a point of view in this scenario. So do you — now, a car thief’s victim. But the only point the car thief is making here is that your possession can be his. It’s a bully’s way of thinking. Your point of view is a crime victim’s. From the rule of law’s point of view, a wrong has been done you. The rule of law then has a “good point” to make here. Justice must be done. You, the crime victim, also have a “good point”. The injustice was done to you and that injustice needs to be fixed in whatever way we can. As for the perp? He’s the odd man out. The only one here who’s “point” was “bad”. In a court of law? His point describes a criminal.

That’s why criminals never argue the truth — the actual “why they did what they did” because that would equal a confession: “I wanted what wasn’t mine and so I took it.” That is, in fact, a thief’s point. Not their point of view, their point. The core “why” of why they did what they did.

How the hell did we get to a place where any point of view — regardless of how bad (meaning counter productive, incorrect or just plain illegal) — can be held up as being equally valid as a good point of view? The answer’s the same as why our news media used to present climate science and climate denial as equally valid points. Our news media all did that but no one did it with less self awareness and more counter productivity than our TV news media. At some point, when this is far enough in our rearview mirror that democracy can breathe a little more easily, we will have to give the news media its report card. A few will have passed the course with honors. But only a few. The overwhelming majority of American journalists failed America completely because they drank the “both sides do it” Kool Aid.

“Both sides do it” insists that journalists be completely “neutral”. It’s not for them to judge anything. If the person in front of them is a cannibal, it’s not for the “both sides do it” journalist to judge the cannibal for being a cannibal or cannibalism in general since, if that’s the cannibal’s thing, it must be valid because every point of view is “valid”. The eater’s point of view has the same “weight” as the to-be-eaten’s. The cannibal’s point is as valid as his dinner’s. In a world where cannibalism was accepted, I guess that would mean something. But, we don’t feel that way about cannibalism. It may have a point of view but we refuse to, um, swallow it.

The press is quite clear on what the Republican Party are doing to America. Between the breaking news (that’s always breaking) and the talking heads with their hair very much on fire, the point gets made over and over again: the Republicans are no longer interested in democracy because democracy is no longer interested in them or their ideas. The Republicans have a political problem on their hands that the Democrats don’t. Having become almost exclusively a white grievance party, the Republican agenda is focused on retaining power that a rapidly diversifying America is actively voting away from them. E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) is not a political cause, it’s a cultural safe space. It is the real promise of “All men are created equal” (so long as we understand that “all men” means literally “everyone”).

“Both sides do it” journalism insists that since Republicans do everything for political reasons, Democrats must therefore do everything for political reasons, too. So, when a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter’s ability to vote, the thinking goes, both the vote suppressing Republican and the suppressed Democratic voter are BOTH behaving politically. That is utter bullshit. The Republican is openly violating the Democrat’s Constitutional right to vote. They’re committing a literal crime albeit for a political purpose. It’s a crime all the same.

The Democrat here is NOT behaving politically regardless of what “both sides do it:” journalism says. Just like the car thief’s victim isn’t behaving like a criminal when they go to the police, neither is the suppressed democratic voter acting politically when they report the crime being committed against them. But, because our news media assumes both sides do everything for the very same reasons, they fail to see the Republicans’ actions as criminal (since, perversely, the Democrats’ reaction isn’t!) In this instance, they’re flipping “both sides do it” back onto itself. If the Democrats aren’t criminals then neither are the Republicans.

Stone cold fact: not every point of view has a point. Let’s tweak that to “not every point of view has a VALID point”. And, when our news media — towing the “both sides do it” line — gives validity and credence to points of view undeserving of that validity, they empower bullshit and give bullshit the very real potential to completely overwhelm Truth. That’s how you get a Nazi Germany. A North Korea. A Vladimir Putin.

A Donald Trump and the entire Republican Party.

America Is Only Just Realizing It Has A “White Audacity” Problem

The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict — in every way — points to how completely off kilter America is. “Self defense” now means you can provoke others to violence by threatening them with your gun but it’s their problem because their fists scared you into shooting them. Somehow hands grabbing a gun defensively equals bringing a gun to a fistfight in the first place. Of course that doesn’t add up. White privilege never does. And white people know it never has to. That’s the luxury of only ever having to look to your feelings for justification (while every other group has to bring facts to the conversation). Knowing you can get away with anything, well, that will a person think they can do whatever they want however they want whenever they want. Kyle Rittenhouse stepped onto the “playing field” that night in Kenosha with every advantage one could have.

If Kyle had had a bit more melanin in his skin, he wouldn’t have left that street alive. A Black kid firing a military style semi-automatic weapon wildly in a crowd? They’d have had to clean up what was left of him with a mop and a bucket. Not only did Kyle Rittenhouse walk away from the murder scene, he got waved on repeatedly by the cops! And in the immediate aftermath? Did Kyle weep for what he had done? Hell, no! Kyle went out drinking (he’s only 17)! He celebrated what he had done because he’s white and whiteness seems to entitle white people to all kinds of things they really aren’t entitled to. And every time they express that entitlement? We are rocked by its audacity.

What do we mean by “white people”? Let’s ask them. They’re always happy to share who they think is white and who they look at as an other. Perversely, white people really do behave like Dr. Seuss’s sneetches. Well, like one of the two groups of sneetches. The story is a good lesson about racism. But it’s not a great lesson. It’s kinda flawed actually…

Star bellied sneetches feel superior to sneetches without stars. But then a conman shows up and sells the star-free sneetches a machine that puts stars on their bellies. Suddenly, there’s no difference between the two groups. That offends the star-bellied sneetches. Good thing the conman’s machine can also remove stars from bellies. Suddenly it’s hipper to be without a star. And so it goes, backwards and forwards. stars off then back on again until the sneetches literally run out of money. The con man drives off, every penny every sneetch had now his. In the story, the sneetches realize they’re all alike and always were. A fine message. But pretty unfair. The sneetches who started the story without stars didn’t create the initial problem. The star bellied sneetches did. If they never behave like they were superior, the con man never has a way to take advantage of them.

Even Dr. Seuss didn’t realize how systemic racism works. The star bellied sneetches start the story with everything but end up with nothing. The non-star bellied sneetches begin the story with nothing and end up with nothing. The only consolation they get is the star bellied sneetches contrition at the end. That might improve their situation going forward, but it fails to address a long, terrible history of abuse, disrespect and mistreatment. History does not disappear just because we want it to. It’s very easy for a group that’s never been persecuted to dismiss persecution’s ripple effects on persecution’s survivors and descendants. Take this to the bank: if the persecution shoe were on the other foot? We would not be having this conversation.

The pecking order among the descendants of white Europeans in America seems to put WASPS (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) atop the pile. Northern Europeans — Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans, French and English seem to think of themselves as Europe’s best and brightest. The Spanish also thought of themselves as players — and they absolutely were (ask any Native American population they encountered and decimated). But, the English more than any other group saw themselves and their ways as superior. More importantly, they saw their commercial interests as superior.

Every single European venture to North America after the Vikings’ brief sojourn in at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in 1021 AD had one organizing principle: making money. Even the Pilgrims (who’d resettled in Holland before heading to Massachusetts) set sail for the New World in search of fortune not faith. See how even the history gets shifted to white peoples’ advantage? We’ve mythologized the Pilgrims into heroes in search of freedom when, in reality, they were economic itinerants who brought little with them except pathogens, violence and an unjustified superiority complex.

Want to talk audacity? You sail to another continent. You get off your boat. You step onto someone else’s land and you claim it as yours!

Yeah, it all starts there. “Manifest destiny” is pure white audacity.

White audacity is penning “All men are created equal” while meaning only white, Christian, land-owning MEN – like you.

Andrew Johnson strangling Reconstruction before it could get up to speed — that was white audacity. America’s entire westward expansion — white audacity. Every brutal attack on Native Americans whose territory we were seizing — white audacity. Basing the entire southern economy on slavery — stolen labor — white audacity. Declaring slaves to be but three-fifths of a white person — white audacity. Going to war to defend slavery — the whitest of white audacity. Continuing to fight the Civil War (in order to keep slavery alive even if “spiritually”) — that, it seems, is the whole point of white audacity. If white supremacists could bring back literal slavery, they absolutely positively would. And plenty of non-white supremacist white would shrug their shoulders and go along with it. Because they’re white and the audacity is now baked in.

Travis McMichael and his two co-defendants hunted Ahmaud Arbery down and shot him to death. Based only on their suspicions and crap information, these three racists deputized themselves as judge, jury and executioner because that’s what white privilege tells them they can do. Audacious, right? That they thought they could get away with “self defense” as a defense — wow! What audacity!

But then, every white lie is in service of The Big Lie. The fact that there even IS a “Big Lie”?

That’s the most audacious white audacity of all.

“Originalism” is Racism In A Judicial Robe

I almost admire the conservative ability to wardrobe utter bullcrap as serious legal argument — and get away with it. “Originalism” is one hundred percent pure, unadulterated bullcrap. The tell? It holds this truth to be “self evident” — that “all men are created equal”. Except the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote and stood by those words didn’t mean them literally. Yes, they meant only men. But, by “men”, they only meant white, Christian, land-owning humans possessing a Y chromosome (a thing they didn’t know existed). While some of America’s founders truly took their inspiration from the French Enlightenment, too many took their inspiration from the Bible — where slavery (and bigamy and child rape and all kinds of awfulness) was accepted. The Bible was used to justify slavery (and miscegeny and genocide). To this day, some of our most fervent Christians (by their description) are also our most fervent racists, misogynists, bigots and fans of genocide. Orginalism sees itself reflected in slavery and it likes what it sees.

Originalism is all about justification — justifying why modern people, despite being modern, are obligated to follow how things were done in the past simply because that’s how they were done in the past! That’s it. That’s conservatism’s entire rationale — what’s wrong with ‘how we did it’ even if ‘how we did it’ excluded, punished, disenfranchised or disadvantaged an increasing percentage of the rapidly diversifying population?

The term was coined in the early 1980’s by then Stanford Law School dean Paul Brest (who was actually critiquing originalism as a way of thinking). Legal minds and scholars were trying to wrestle to the ground “the founders’ original intent” as a “final arbiter” for how to interpret them. Now, let’s be clear up front — the founders did some serious heavy lifting. They articulated something that hadn’t ever been articulated before: what Lincoln would later call “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”. But, being fallible humans (being men even more fallible therefore!) America’s founders didn’t get it entirely right. For starters? They screwed the pooch on “All men are created equal”! We The People need to start there. Most people who aren’t white already do.

Originalism appealed to smart guys like Antonin Scalia because they saw in it a way to disguise their own racism. They want us to believe it’s not relevant that the founders lived in a hierarchical world of their own creation. That slavery existed then means, really, that slavery should still exist now. Republicans really and truly do believe that. It’s why they hate the whole idea of a “minimum wage”. A minimum wage means you can’t coerce someone to work for you for free. That is what slavery is after all — stolen labor. A slave owner steals the work product of his slaves (after deducting the costs of housing, clothing and feeding the slave). It must have been profitable because slavery persisted in America for as long as it did.

It took a whole Civil War to actually stop it. Though, looking back, clearly, we only stopped slavery as practiced out in the open. Slavery has endured to this day. It’s what killed Reconstruction dead before it could level the playing field. It’s what motivated every Jim Crow law (now and then). It’s what motivated poll taxes and voting restrictions. It’s what motivates white supremacy and pretty much the entire Republican “agenda” (such as it is). Originalism, don’t forget, made its peace with slavery: it accepted it outright.

And every originalist still does — still accepts, if not slavery itself (so messy!) then slavery’s cousins, nieces, nephews and entire extended family. Anything that forces America to be exactly how it was, or to think how it thought, wears its white supremacist purpose right there on its Klan robe. How much would you like to bet that more than a few conservatives — if given a way — would gladly bring back slavery?

Fortunately for America, some of its founders actually got what America was actually doing — saw its genius and framed that genius correctly: “E Pluribus Unum”. Out of many, one has always been the source of America’s genuine exceptionalism. Diversity. Ironically, diversity is originalism’s nemesis.

What more do you need to know about originalism? It excuses white people from ever having to work too hard, from having to compete, or from ever having to take responsibility for their actions. Imagine the chaos that corruption would cause if it slipped on a judicial robe and then legitimized itself. Hey — no need to tax your imagination. Show me an originalist, I’ll show you a racist — even if they present as a perfectly nice lady like Amy Coney Barrett. Institutional racism like theirs never has to sully itself with honesty. The racism embedded in the culture does all their heavy lifting.

Ditto the misogyny.

The RW money — seeing demographic extinction in its future — got proactive. The Mercers, the Kochs et al, put their money on (and into) the Mitch McConnell project to deny President Obama very possible lifetime federal bench seat while cramming through as many of Trump’s lifetime appointments as possible (including Amy Coney Barrett’s shotgun nomination and confirmation in the waning days of Traitor-In-Chief Donald Trump). The RW money represented the very same interests as white supremacy — but with a used car salesman’s disingenuous smile and a proctologist’s cold, fishy handshake. Democracy poses too many problems. It’s too, too unpredictable. That’s why it was always the RW money’s goal to do everything possible to undermine American democracy — it’s the shortest distance between where they are now and permanent minority rule.

If America’s founders had been all or mostly Black, do ya really suppose “originalism” would be a “thing” among white guys today? Of course it wouldn’t! And if Black guys spit back “originalism” every time a white guy demanded to know why he had no rights? This is one more conversation we would not be having.

The American Dream Isn’t So Much “Success” As The Level Playing Field That Makes Success Possible

American Exceptionalism is a very real thing. Let’s be crystal clear first what it isn’t: rich white guys and their money. That’s what rich white guys and their money want us to believe — that without them, America wouldn’t be America. That has always been top-of-the-line, the best-money-can-buy horse shit. Money has always played a part in what happened here in our slice of North America. Commercial interests drove almost every bit of European colonization. We credit the Pilgrims with seeking “religious freedom” for their coming here but that’s not what actually brought them. The Pilgrims’ first move after leaving England was to Holland where they settled in Leiden and found — to their own delight — a remarkable amount of religious freedom. Their problem was, in Holland, they couldn’t make a living. North America promised both “open-mindedness” and a chance to score financially. Even religious kooks could make it in America!

Opportunity. That’s why Europeans first started coming to North America. Reinvention and reward. The reward was essential to Europeans’ continued interest. The Vikings got to what is now Canada as early as 1021. Their settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows survived for a few decades and then they abandoned it. Their inability to get along with the Native population had lots to do with it. But so did economics. Leif Erickson had daringly crossed the Labrador Sea from the Viking settlement in Greenland which was, itself, a colony; the Vikings’ home was Northern Europe. Sustaining the Greenland colony was hard all by itself. Sustaining a colony of a colony — with zero reward coming back — that likely impacted their reasoning. When the Vikings retreated from what is now Newfoundland, as far as we know, they never went back. It wasn’t “worth it” to them.

After European pathogens like smallpox, measles and flu did their work (wiping out around 90% of the Native population), conquering the survivors of that germ tsunami became relatively easy. Then it became all about money chasing money. The Virginia Colony was an entirely private venture. “The company’s plan was to reward investors by locating gold and silver deposits and by finding a river route to the Pacific Ocean for trade with the Orient.” The settlers were all employees of a kind, beholden to a dream in their heads (unless they were sent here as a punishment) but also to the Company that sent them and supplied them. Almost from the get-go, though political power (in the form of royalty) claimed dominion over North America, money claimed all the real power. The rise of capitalism, its spread across Europe, undermined any “divine authority” claimed by any king. For all their divine rights, kings couldn’t pay for themselves because the feudal system they relied on for legitimacy was hopelessly corrupt, inefficient and hostile toward labor.

Funny irony? The bubonic plague that swept through Europe during the 14th century did more than just wipe out half to three quarters of the population. It destroyed feudalism. A shortage of laborers turned the labor market on its head; for the first time ever, the guy plowing the lord’s fields got to name his price for doing that plowing. He could just as easily go plow someone else’s field if they were paying more. This is precisely what COVID-19 and the coronavirus that causes it have done to our world. It drove a stake through the corrupt heart of our current economics. It changed not only how we work but what we work at. It drove home how beneficial it is to our economy if we UBI people (provide them a Universal Basic Income) until they can truly fly instead of forcing them to take low paying jobs that don’t match their skill sets or financial needs.

UBI works because it levels the playing field. It’s government doing what we need government to do — giving as many people as possible the same opportunity, the same chance to succeed as everyone else. When a rising tide floats all boats, all boats rise. People get happier and healthier (for reference, see Northern Europe — those Vikings may have gone home to Northern Europe but clearly they learned a thing or two from their travels). They live longer and live more fulfilled lives. They work in order to live. They don’t, as we do in America, live to work.

That unhealthy compulsion is a leftover from America’s founding principle: profit incentive. And don’t forget — one of the American Revolution’s big talking points for why revolution was necessary was “taxation without representation”. Want our money? Hear our voice. But, also let’s not forget that our founders made a Devil’s bargain with slavery at the founding. Instead of rejecting it outright, they compromised with it, making “All men are created equal” embarrassingly ironic. The white, Christian, land-owning men who drew up America’s founding documents had a great idea — “All men are created equal” — that they failed to stick on the landing. They didn’t mean “ALL men” though they they did mean “ONLY men”.

America remains to this day a great idea as yet unrealized. Which brings us to what American Exceptionalism actually IS: Our remarkable, never-happened-before-in-human-history diversity. Or, as our Great Seal puts it: “E Pluribus Unum”.

The nations of Europe that colonized North America were all products of at least fifteen hundred years of local tribes coalescing into national identities, each distinct and distinctive. The Germans are how they are just as the French, the Swiss, the Italians and the English are all how they are et cetera et cetera. Minus the Native American tribes, there was no “culture” in North America. There was no “native tribe” whose origin stories and mythology was the larger culture’s. That’s not to say one didn’t evolve. We have Thanksgiving and Independence Day as American rituals that grew out of mythologies about ourselves that we told ourselves. The same goes for “The American Dream”.

Whereas hierarchy and caste made it nearly impossible for a poor person to become anything other than a poor person, America’s lack of castes made it a place where truly anything could happen and a person could reinvent themselves completely. Opportunity. Reinvention. Promise. All those things flash in neon when the rest of the world contemplates America. If you’re willing to put in the sweat equity, America offers anyone and everyone a shot at greatness — that’s the lure. When it works, it works brilliantly. When it doesn’t — the onus is on us.

Immigration has always been the engine that renewed America’s exceptionalism. Not only do immigrants do the hard physical labor American workers don’t seem to want to do, they bring innovation with them too. Their aspirations counter the last group’s success and temptations to settle. New ideas force old ideas to compete. New ways of doing things make old ways obsolete — ditto the people doing those obsolete things. That’s why the people doing obsolete things get nuts when new ideas drop onto the table.

White people, having tilted the playing field at the start, are now loathe to allow the playing field to be corrected. It’s understandable — power sharing is less predictable than having permanent power in your hands alone. Lose power and you lose money. That also motivates white people to tilt the playing field as much as possible whenever possible.

Imagine if we could actually level the American playing field? Imagine if we could give as many Americans as possible the greatest possible chance to achieve the greatness within them? Think that’d be bad for America? I get depressed thinking of all the greatness America left on the table when it turned its back on Reconstruction and gave racism a boost instead. Think of all the Black minds that, had we but educated them, would have “returned on our investment” in ways we can’t even imagine — because we didn’t nurture the minds that would have scored those returns.

America Has Achieved A State Of “Intractable Absurdity” (But In Our Defense, We Were Born This Way)

Know why few things in America seem to make sense anymore? Because they don’t. Know why it feels like there’s no way to fix it (whatever the hell “it” is)? Because there is no way. “Insane Problem To Have”, meet “No Way To Fix It”. Have fun together!

There’s not a subject matter you can think of that the right wing hasn’t politicized for very political reasons. Voting is an act of patriotism. Protecting the right to vote therefore isn’t a political act, it’s an act of patriotism. And any attempt whatsoever to infringe upon any American’s right to vote in any way, shape or form is (quite literally) a crime! It’s not up for debate. It can’t be or, as Ben Franklin would point out, we don’t have a republic anymore because we couldn’t keep it. That Republicans turn everything into politics — for political reasons — is absurd!

Everything about Donald Trump’s rise from the shit heap of his genetics to the presidency drips with corruption (and absurdity). Trump is a vile, corrupt, racist and a serial rapist. It’s because Russia MADE Trump POTUS (and the GOP knew it!). Take Russia completely out of the Trump equation (out of the GOP equation, too) and Trump does not even enter the race. If you took every last dollar of dirty Russian money (that Trump was laundering) out of the picture? No one steps in to save Trump. Instead, Trump loses every bit of daddy’s empire and ends up broke. Some other Republican hump wins the nominiation and gets creamed by Hillary Clinton.

Mark Burnett owes America an explanation, an apology and every penny of profit he’s gotten from “The Apprentice”. Burnett (along with Tony Schwartz in “Art Of The Deal” but at least Tony apologized) invented “Donald Trump, Master Businessman”. Outside of the idiotic TV show, no such character exists.

Racism was Trump’s sales pitch as it had become the GOP’s. That’s what made Trump’s absurdity palatable to Republicans. They were totally willing to put up with every bit of Trump’s racism because they liked his economic policies. See how that works? Put a little coin in their pocket and suddenly you could murder nuns, orphans and puppies on prime time TV and they’d still have your back. Throw racism into the mix and now you’ve made everyone happy since, really, racism is now the GOP’s organizing principle. The Dixiecrats and Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” subsumed the Republicans long, long ago. Calling the GOP “the party of Lincoln” these days is to be cruelly ironic. And absurd.

In America’s defense though, we dropped the ball at the snap.

“All men are created equal” starts off in need of a rewrite. For starters, the white, Christian, land owning men who penned it didn’t mean it. Apparently, some men only counted as three-fifths of a man so, clearly, NOT all men are created equal especially those poor bastards. America’s founders cutting a deal with slavery was absurd. It’s like good cutting a deal with evil. Who will walk away more compromised in the end? Do you really have to ask?

Republican Glenn Youngkin making “alternative race theory” a campaign topic is intractably absurd since no such thing is taught in the schools that would concern any of the people who insist they’re really “concerned” about this. In fact, as news video showed, at least one Youngkin supporter was vehemently opposed to teaching our young-uns CRT even though he couldn’t say what it was — only that whatever it was, he didn’t like it! That is beyond absurd. And how the hell does one “fix it”?

That’s the problem. It can’t be fixed. It’s intractable. And it makes no sense. It’s absurd.

But, what if there were a fix… Let’s not go nuts here — it can’t be fixed all the way but what if we could finagle this in a way that knocked down absurdity’s impetus and bought us some time to find a more permanent solution? One thing we can do is prosecute those at the top of the Ponzi scheme — the ones bamboozling all the foot soldiers into marching along. Let’s start with the January 6 insurrectionists.

Even the judges adjudicating the assembly line of foot soldier miscreants are appalled by the Department of Justice’s “slap on the wrist” approach. That’s not an admonishment to a seditionist, it’s an open invitation to try again (and next time, get it right!). If the frontline prosecutors are simply using the lowest level useful idiots to flip the next tier up, they need to pick up the pace. One can be a little circumspect while prosecuting the mob — they’re criminality isn’t threatening to overthrow the republic. But, the stone cold fact is, everything about the insurrection, the power grab, the refusal to accept the peaceful transfer of power is a product of treason.

Treason, treason, treason, treason, TREASON!

A president of the United States committed treason — right in front of us. and his entire political party co-conspired with him. That should be crazy talk — conspiracy theory wack-a-doodle gibberish. Except it really happened.

How absurd!

Living At The Mercy Of A Lie

Though the news media has placed Donald Trump’s “final lie tally” above 30,000 (that means Trump must have lied on average 21 times a day), the truth is, Trump lied every single time he opened that anus-shaped mouth of his. For starters, there’s “The Big Lie” itself. We have a political party hewing to what everyone agrees is “a big lie”. Think about that! But then, Trump’s entire presidency was a lie. Trump was never, EVER, the legitimate POTUS. That’s not a political assessment, it’s a criminal justice assessment.

Just because we can’t officially call a car thief “a car thief” until he’s convicted for his car thievery, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a car thief every moment before we convicted him. In fact, he was a car thief the entire time. For reasons of fairness to the thief, we refused to acknowledge the stone cold truth about him until late in the game. In a sense, we were living inside a kind of “lie-adjacent” that the car thief was an honest actor and a good citizen when the truth stayed the same the whole time: he was and remains a criminal. At least, that’s a lie with a higher purpose.

The authority to govern flows from the election process. We elect people to govern us on our behalf. The assumption, of course, is that our elections are free and fair as is their tabulation. I’m not sure that’s ever really been the case here in America. White people have actively worked to keep everyone not them from voting since the founders stood by “All men are created equal” without actually meaning it. The truth of America has always been “E Pluribus Unum”. But white people — the descendants of white, Christian, mostly Northern European heritage — have always seen America through blinders of their own invention. That’s why America remains a great idea as yet unrealized. Because we persist in living not just one lie, but multiple lies — and every last one of them is a product of racism.

As Virginia holds an election today, our (always perspective-free) news media has made the tightening poll numbers for Virginia’s governor a referendum on Joe Biden, completely ignoring the fact that the Republican candidate — Glenn Youngkin — has made “critical race theory” the entire thrust of his campaign. The news media understands — they report it — that everything about the “critical race theory” debate is utter horse shit. More to the point — that it’s racist! But, because our news media never aggregates stories about Republicans (they still think Republicans — even as they stand beside insurrection and insurrectionists — are “honest actors”) and never questions their motives the way they question every Progressive’s, Youngkin tossing overt racism into the mix is just another “legitimate campaign strategy”. It’s not! It’s racism,, pure and simple! And that means that the reason the gubernatorial election in Virginia is close has zero to do with Joe Biden (who our news media insists this is about) and everything to do with racism.

But then, our news media thinks it’s up to racists to decide if they’re racists — so, when it comes to the whole topic of racism, our news media remains intensely white in their framing and viewpoint. Why would a journalist ask a racist if they’re racist? How the hell would they know? Unless they want to be a pariah, of course they’re going to deny being racist. FFS, Trump still insists he’s the “least racist person ever”. Anyone buying? No? So why ask this racist his opinion about anything related to race?

Right — because we insist on living inside a lie that racists can determine whether or not they’re racist.

Having been born in 1959, fourteen years after the death camps were liberated, I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust in a large, upper middle class Jewish suburb of Baltimore. My community didn’t shy away from the murder that had just been visited upon us. Even Jews who couldn’t point to an actual family member, felt the camps’ breath on them. I grew up identifying completely with the boy in this famous photo —

“Why me?” his eyes shout. “What did I ever do?”

The Holocaust was the product of nearly two thousand years of aggregated Jew hatred. What made Germany’s take on genocide so much more successful than any previous genocide was industrialization. Germany applied factory work dynamics to the murder of human beings. Jews became a commodity. If an individual Jew had value as a slave worker (that’s what you are when you work for free — a slave), they were kept alive (and then worked to death). If they had no value upon entering the camps, they were disposed of in the cheapest way possible. My first Hebrew School teache had a number tattooed into her forearm. She wasn’t shy about reminding us that she was among the “lucky ones”.

Where did such intense, homicidal anger come from? Why, it came from a lie, of course…

Ask almost one hundred percent of Christians where Christianity came from — what it’s actual origin story was — and they will get it wrong. More likely, they have no idea. The Truth was made irrelevant at the start, having been replaced by pure, unadulterated mythology. Jesus did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He taught Jewish lessons and mythology to other Jews who understood the context in which Jesus taught and spoke. When the priestly Saul of Tarsus “came to Jesus” on the road to Damascus and reinvented himself as “The Apostle Paul”, he set out to spread what he said was Jesus’s message. But, when he arrived in Jerusalem, Paul got pushback from Jesus’s family. The Jesus Paul had in his head wasn’t actual Jesus (Jeshua ben Joseph).

But, Paul persisted. Whether Jesus’s family believed (as Paul did) that their family member was the messiah, we don’t know. Regardless, Paul was better at it. And, when Paul turned away from the Jews (who’d rejected him and his version of Jesus) and took his version out to the Gentiles, he did it knowing he now had free rein to make “Jesus” into anything he wanted “Jesus” to be. None of the Greeks or Romans living in the far flung communities of Asia Minor to whom Paul wrote his letters and epistles were familiar with any of the Jewish mythology Paul was altering to make his version of Jesus fit into the larger accumulated Jewish messiah myths.

To appreciate Paul (and I think the guy was an absolute genius!), you have to see the world he was marketing his ideas to. He was, mostly, converting polytheists to monotheism (well, a kind of monotheism). Polytheist gods weren’t divine the way Yahweh (the Hebrews’ God — the one we now call “God”) was. And polytheistic gods weren’t really concerned with humans in any significant way. They certainly didn’t see humans as their creation the way Yahweh did. That was the first major disruptive change: Yahweh was a god who cared about humans because he personally created us.

Paul took that spiritual innovation and improved upon it. By the time Paul was done reimagining the Jewish mythology, he had this construct. All human beings are sinful because of Eve’s original sin in Eden. The only redemption available to sinning humans is via Jesus, who died in order to redeem humanity’s sins. And — bonus points (the point of the whole exercise in fact) — if the believer is willing to believe in Jesus and his story exactly the way the church teaches (to the letter!) then that believer can, like Jesus, conquer death.

That, in a nutshell, is Christianity’s sales pitch: believe in it and beat death. You can’t take away from its genius because we’re still talking about it.

Now, once you get into the actual tick tock of Jesus’s story (as cobbled together by the early church fathers from various third, fourth and fifth-hand accounts), you bump into myriad contradictions and fractured logic. Just for starters, if the whole point of Jesus is to redeem humanity via his death, then Jesus NOT dying would be a problem for Christianity. Does Paul have the same vision on the road to Damascus if Jesus dies in his bed, an old man surrounded by his loved ones (including wife and many children)? What’s his basis for Jesus’s messiah-hood then?

For the story/mythology logic to work, Jesus must die. Well, if that’s the case, then Judas’ betrayal is as essential to eternal life as Jesus’s dying. No betrayal, no crucifixion. No crucifixion, no Christianity. I won’t even bother with all the factual problems Paul’s (and the early Church’s) version of events presents. But then, Paul didn’t care about historical accuracy. In fact, historical accuracy was Paul’s enemy.

As it was the enemy of the church Paul’s letters and epistles was forming.

“Do unto others” is a simple teaching with profound implications. That did not interest Paul. In his defense, new religions need new rules. If new rules are going to stick (or be held out as divine), they have to carry weight. Ritual is essential to religion (as it is to most things humans do). But, the moment ritual becomes dogmatic, it starts to service itself and not the person performing the ritual. “Do unto others” becomes “Do what we say — or else!” Those aren’t the same messages.

“Jews killed Jesus” is, top to bottom, no true. Paul spreading it — knowing it wasn’t true — made it a lie. It has always been thus. The entire history of European anti-Semitism is based on this lie. The Holocaust was that lie’s biggest, ugliest, cruelest, most successful iteration.

So, lying on a cultural level is nothing new to us. Hey, “War On Christmas” anyone? “All men are created equal” is a bit of a lie if you consider that the men who wrote and stood by it didn’t mean “all men” though they did mean “only men”. Our news media is a product of white hegemony culture. That’s what pays the bills and their salaries. So, it’s hardly surprising that they frame everything from an embarrassingly white perspective. But, part of that bad framing insists that bad actors are good actors and criminals acting for political purposes are no different from the victims of their criminal behavior; a vote suppressor and the voter being suppressed “both do it” by this thinking.

That is a stinking lie.

Living a lie is exhausting. Living the GOP’s lie is potentially lethal to the republic. We The People need to call this lie out for every bit of the lie that it is. For the majority of Americans, the Truth will absolutely set us free. That same Truth will put a whole lot of Republicans behind bars forever.