I keep having to look at the slew of calendars I have scattered throughout the house – the National Geographic, ASPCA, military veterans and one displaying houses I get every year from my real estate friend. They all assure me of the same thing: it’s 2019 – not 1919. Or 1969. Or even 1999. Nope! It’s 2019, my friends. We’re at the end of the second decade of the 21st century. Oh wait! Yes. I had to check again: 2019 – the two and the zero being the key factors here.
I have to do this because of the recent series of tirades Donald Trump has lavished upon certain members of Congress. Would somebody get the damn phone away from him?!
As if anyone should be surprised, our Dear Leader hasn’t quieted down verbal attacks against non-Whites who dare to speak their minds against him. Via his Twitter feed while safely ensconced in the White House, he created quite a stir recently, when he assailed four alphamore U.S. congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. Denouncing them as “The Squad”, he became enraged, after they criticized him for his response to the growing migrant crisis along the southern border – among other issues.
Ocasio-Cortez had already identified herself as a socialist when she won New York’s 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens boroughs – both of which have large non-White populations. In fact, I think non-Hispanic Whites are so scarce in the Bronx they might qualify for endangered species status.
Trump didn’t hold anything back when he assailed the four congresswomen (an attribute his devotees love) that, if the lawmakers “hate our country,” they can “go back” to the “broken and crime-infested” countries “from which they came”. For the record, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were all born and raised here in the United States; thus making them, well, natural-born Americans. Omar emigrated to the U.S. with her family as a child; the clan fleeing their Somali homeland, as it sunk further into political and social chaos. But she is now an American citizen. Omar has been openly critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, which garners the usual cries of anti-Semitism from all sides. But a statement about the 09/11 terrorist attacks as “some people did something” makes me think suspiciously of her. Yet, one has to look at that verbiage within the context of her entire speech. To her credit, she’s also said: “I do not blame every single white person when we have a white man who massacres children at a school, or moviegoers in a movie theatre. And I think this really horrendous narrative that says, as a Muslim, I’m supposed to explain, apologize, for the actions of someone who’s also terrorizing me, is absurd.”
Now Trump has gone after Congressman Elijah Cummings who represents Maryland’s 7th District, which includes Baltimore. Describing the majority-Black area as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live”, he drew widespread condemnation from Democrats and independents. I don’t know what incited that particular discourse, but it’s obvious Trump likes to play the proverbial race card when things get rough in the political arena, which is something like, oh…100% of the time. And I’ve found that, if you go for the jugular by mentioning race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality, you’ve essentially lost the debate. You’ve run out of legitimate things to say; you’ve exhausted your gallery of facts and logical points, but you want to keep arguing because you just absolutely have to have the last word.
As I’ve stated before, not everything wrong with America is the fault of White males. But again, I have to look at one of my calendars. Seriously?! We’re still dealing with this shit in 2019?! I heard that “go back” crap when I was in high school! It was a similar comment from a fellow student that propelled me into my first and only fight in high school – towards the end of my senior year. During my alphamore year a substitute teacher said my last name is un-Christian. I took that up with the school principal before I told my parents about it. I was concerned my proud father would go to the school and want to kick some old White ass.
I heard a little less racist language while in college. Key words – “a little less”. Occasionally, some idiot would throw a “you people” in my face, and I was just as quick to slur right back at them. By the 1990s, ironically, the people slinging racist vitriol at me the most were Black or other Hispanics.
So, how is it that this kind of talk has worked its way back into the mainstream? Retro may be cool in some nightclub situations, such as retro-70s. (I try to ignore “Retro 90s” nights!) But it’s not necessarily cool with a spoken language. Never mind that Trump’s “go back” comment might be illegal in a workplace setting. I’m still perplexed that we’ve gone from No-Drama-Obama to Czar Trump in a virtual blink of our collective eyes.
But, after 200 or so years of civil rights progress, it seems we’ve now started rolling backwards. To we Trump detractors, this is not news. Trump had pumped fuel into the “Birther” movement: the band of morons who questioned the birthright of President Obama. He never acknowledged he’d been wrong when he said his “researchers” had learned some odd things about Obama. Yet, he sat in the Oval Office next to Obama and called him a great man. Amazing how brave some people get when they’re behind a phone or a computer, isn’t it? It’s so different in person.
Thinking back to my high school tenure doesn’t bring back many good memories. I was so shy and introverted I often fell prey to bullies. So I try NOT to think about that period. It was so long ago anyway. Yet, that “go back” shit slammed into my conscious harder than seeing a Windows 3 screen.
My mother used to recount the number of times people had called her “half-breed” because her father was German-American and her mother was Mexican. My father told me of the day an older White woman at the printing shop where he worked said she saw “a bunch of Mexicans” working on a lawn and thought of him. He responded by saying something like, “Well, I saw a herd of cows in a field on my way to work and thought of you.”
A friend of mine once asked how is it that, in such a large city as Dallas, our fathers happened to know each other.
“All those old Mexicans knew each other!” I replied. “They were all crammed into the same neighborhoods and went to the same schools. They had to stick together. It was a matter of survival.”
She’s only a few years younger than me, and my answer seemed to surprise her. But she understood what I was saying.
In high school – and to some extent, even in college – I often felt isolated because I was one of the few Hispanic kids. But I was as much American as I was then and still am now. Some of my Spanish ancestors were here in Texas long before the Mayflower pilgrims; my Indian ancestors long before them. So I always pulled that from the depths of my mind whenever some fool threw a “go back” at me.
I suspect Donald Trump’s presidency is the final battle cry of the “Angry White Male” – the withering group of individuals who still feel they should run everything and should be allowed to say what they want. But, as a mostly White male myself, I know Trump gives all White men a bad name. I’ll never criticize people who voted for him in 2016. They had that right, and it’s not up to anyone else to decide what their selection should be. I definitely disagree with a recent essay by Pastor John Pavlovitz about Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment three years ago.
But still…“go back”? I’m hearing that again? From the president of the United States? Pardon me just a moment. Yes…still 2019. Time just won’t stop or roll backwards, no matter how much we beg.