Since the publication of the novel 1984, George Orwell’s dystopian missive about a fictionalized country called Oceania which is ruled by a totalitarian style government that controls all aspects of life and routinely rewrites history and changes the meaning of words, from time to time elements of the book show up in these United States.
In the 1990s, as his affair with a White House intern came to light, my guy President Bill Clinton tried to redefine the meaning of the phrase sexual intercourse.
During the early days of the “War On Terror,” the George W. Bush administration told us that the enhanced interrogation of prisoners being held at black ops sites was not torture.
For almost two weeks and counting, I, and other people of color and conscience, had to listen to administration officials, elected politicians and other supine defenders of Donald Trump tell us that his suggesting that the four black and brown Congresswomen who have dared to challenge his authoritarian whims to go back to the countries they came from is not racist.
From the Black Bottom where I see things and first heard these words screamed at me from a speeding vehicle full of white people as I walked along Washington Street decades ago, I disdainfully call BS.
As I wrote last week, the use of this phrase by a white person when speaking to or about a person of color or someone who has migrated to this country from somewhere deemed a lesser place by the user is on the same level as the worse racial epithet one can say.
With that being said again, there’s very little doubt in my mind that most of the people who took up the chant for 13 seconds at Trump’s rally in North Carolina last Wednesday were using it that way, as Der Leader stood at the podium basking in and soaking up the racist call and response.
While I wasn’t surprised that “send her back” quickly became the new version of “lock her up” at the latest new Klan…err I mean Trump rally,
I was angered and frightened, especially when the cameras switched to shots of the crowds as they chanted.
When I teach students about the Civil Rights Era in the United States, I show them video clips of civil rights activists being harassed and beaten by crowds of angry whites.
During a scene that shows the screaming violent mob, I’ll pause the video and tell students to look for the young faces in the crowd.
After a few moments I remind them that many of the people in that scene are still alive, and some still feel the same way and that the views of the ones who were not buried with them.
In my mind, I thought about those video clips as I watched the 13 seconds from the Trump rally last Wednesday and mentally shed a tear and remembered the saying, “The past is not past, it’s not even prologue”.
With their racist chant, Trump’s North Carolina crowd was helping to define who is entitled to be an American citizen as well as the parameters they must operate on.
There have been no chants of send them back for white critics of Trump, they only wanted Hillary to be locked up or for others to be run out of office.
While “send her back” were the words being said, the message being sent in those 13 seconds was that if you aren’t a loyal and subservient white conservative heterosexual Christian in Donald Trump’s version of America, at best you are tolerated and marginalized, and at worst you are demonized and subject to be returned.
Sadly, the question of who is and can be a citizen of these United States isn’t a new argument.
The country’s first immigration law in 1790 “limited naturalization to free white persons” of “good character.” Even then there were questions about who was truly “white” and worthy.
Despite my disgust and anger at the occupant of the White House and his minions last week I was able to find something enjoyable to read and watch- several articles and documentaries about the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 successfully landing two men on the moon.
Saturday, for a few hours, I was able to forget the troubles of this world and became an 8-year-old space geek complete with models of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft.
From sundown to the wee hours of the following morning, I read and watched things on that historic moment in American and human history.
Around the time when the Eagle landed on the moon, I stepped outside and looked up at Earth’s heavenly companion and thought about how far that young space geek had come and how things on planet Earth had changed and stayed the same.
If you missed the documentaries, the best ones I saw were the “Moon Landing Live,” “The Moon Landing — The Lost Tapes,” “The Moon Landing — The Forgotten Tapes” and “Apollo 11.”
But the coolest thing I saw was what the NASA channel did. Starting at 9:30 pm Saturday they aired the moon landing and three-plus hours of every moment Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the surface.
Hopefully after hearing former special counsel Robert Mueller Wednesday, the leaders of the Democratic Party will take a small step of their own.
Hi, Momma Lois.
TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.