Saturday, March 27, 2010

care-fully remixing the USA

"Whose country is it?" asks New York Times columnist and blogger Charles M. Blow. I agree with his observation that the "bullying, threats, and acts of violence following the passage of health care reform have been shocking, but they’re only the most recent manifestations of an increasing sense of desperation."

Blow continues, "A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy."

Many on the left will cheer his closing remarks, "You may want 'your country back,' but you can’t have it. That sound you hear is the relentless, irrepressible march of change. Welcome to America: The Remix."

I, too, am thrilled by the possibilities of a remixed USA. However: there are a lot of our fellow citizens who do not feel welcome in our remixing country, and that frightens me. As I have blogged before, that "increasing sense of desperation" is likely to lead us one final step into full-blown fascism.

Sara Robinson wrote that the last, irreversible step occurs when legitimate politicians join with the violent disaffected. The pols think they can use the mob, but it has always--always--worked out badly. The more that violent tactics are accepted, the more things escalate. The more those who make the laws flirt with those who use destruction, the quicker the rule of law becomes the rule of violence.

Robinson writes that we can still prevent that last fateful step, by nonviolently countering lies and violence with truth and attention. Her other measures include passing healthcare reform (check!) and other ways of rebuilding the social contract.

What I do not find, in Robinson or Blow, is compassion for those who are so fearful that they see violence as a real option. If "we" rub "their" noses in the inevitability of change, then "they" may well react badly, and drag "us" along into chaos with them. Without embracing racism or any other oppression, we must reach out with compassion, and offer some stability in this remixing transition.

Imagining that there are two competing sides virtually guarantees that the more violent "side" will prevail. Knowing that we're all in this together, and working hard to accomodate the needs of everyone, may help us keep dancing to "America: the Remix."


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