This four-part essay explores the theory that we are living in an age and time when certain of the so-called"greatest nations in the world"are blighted by a plague of epidemic proportions. A plague that infests great masses of persons at all levels of society. Unlike all other plagues, this one is an illness of the mind.
The name by which this plague is known, which I also suggest as the moniker of our Age, is hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy.
In this finale I will show that while there may be no escaping the all-encompassing plague within the thralls of which you and I now squirm, there is a cure. As impossible as it sounds, our only hope lies in returning to our roots and following the example set by our wise and noble founders. Otherwise, I fear most of the populace may well be lost to hypocrisy for all eternity, otherwise known as Hell by members of certain religious cults who are themselves severely infected by the plague.
For the rest of us . . . well, let us read on.
As evidence in support of my theory regarding the existence of the aforementioned plague, I am offering a summary of certain historical facts and observations regarding the United States of America.
Why have I chosen America as such a ripe source of data?
To ask is to admit to a near crippling mental infection of Hypocrisy. The source of this particular strain is most often ignorance, complicated by denial. If you wish for a cure, come with me now as we conclude our stroll down Hypocrisy Lane . . . a thoroughfare that travels through the very heart of what we proudly proclaim as our American Heritage.
Previously, we found that the war we fought against Great Britain during our colonial period is known as The American Revolution. We think of it as a good and honorable thing and we teach our kids to be proud of the fact that we were traitors, rebels and militants.
After winning the independence we more or less already had, we, the newly formed United States Of America, continued our invasion of the Native American Nations. Our armies carried out systematic mass executions of entire villages down to the last living soul who could be found.
In American history books this campaign the “Indian Wars”.
Today, we might call this invasion, perpetrated by a powerful and technologically superior power against the sovereign peoples of much weaker nations, a willful act of genocide, or a mindless horror visited upon innocents. Perhaps that is why some call us hypocrites.
The invasion of the Native American peoples took 122 years. Gosh. Our military might has come a long way since those days. Now we can demolish an entire nation in a matter of months.
As we also learned previously, America has been good enough to restore a small fraction of the land to the descendents of its original inhabitants. But how can we ever truly compensate for the wholesale slaughter and near genocide we visited upon so very many Native American tribes?
Actually, believe it or not, it gets worse.
Today, America is the so-called protector of human rights. But in the bad old days, we not only invaded and conquered the Native Americans, we tried to enslave them as well.
The first colonists came to America to establish a lifestyle of greater religious and social freedom. However these same colonists, for the most part, did not see where wholesale freedom should also extend to people of color from so-call undeveloped countries. I believe the word they used was “savages”.
Though it is not known in many circles today and wouldn't be considered polite conversation if it were, the first people to be enslaved by Europeans in the New World were none other the Native Americans. However, this plan was flawed from the “get go.” Attempting to enslave a native people on their own turf proved to be way too much work for the enslavers. Ultimately, the majority of Native American slaves either revolted or escaped.
African slaves were introduced to the British settlements on the Atlantic coast with the arrival of the first shipload in Virginia in 1619. The raising of staple crops-coffee, tobacco, sugar, rice, and, much later, cotton-and the plantation economy made the importation of slaves particularly valuable in the Southern colonies of North America.
The slave trade moved in a triangle; setting out from British ports, ships would transport various goods to the western coast of Africa, where they would be exchanged for slaves. The slaves were then brought to the West Indies or to the colonies of North or South America, where they were traded for agricultural staples for the return voyage back to England. Later, New England ports were included in this last leg.
For years there appeared to be no end to the market. The number of slaves in some colonies increased to the point where they actually constituted a majority of the population!
Over time, however, slavery proved both unpopular and unprofitable in the Northern states; by the early 19th century it had disappeared. Its abolition had been hastened by the work of the Quakers, who, as in Great Britain, were staunchly opposed to slavery. Quakers, by definition, seem to enjoy a natural immunity to the plague, a trait not shared by most other religious sects. Because it was such an integral part of the plantation system, slavery appeared destined to remain unchanged in the South.
A study of the history of slavery in the land of the free generally reveals tons of copy devoted to an abundance of ridiculous commentaries and scholarly essays. Very little copy is devoted to the single most important point of all: How could slavery be allowed to exist in a nation with a Bill of Human Rights that boldly states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
How could such a nation allow one person to own another and still use mirrors each morning? There is only one answer: the plague; hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy. One American President in recent times offered an apology to the black people. The great man both acknowledged this wrong and attempted to apologize for it. Perhaps he also enjoys some immunity, if not from impeachment, at least from the plague.
But historians don't ask it. And theologians refrain from comment for the most part, unless they are black. Perhaps because so many members of the clergy not only endorsed slavery, they proved its righteousness with the Holy Bible and perhaps even owned slaves themselves . . .
One can also find essays exploring another interesting theory: What if slavery itself is really the main reason why feelings of racial superiority on the part of whites is so prevalent in American? Isn't this like asking which came first, the turkey vulture or the egg? And isn't the answer just as obvious? The plague strikes again!
Modern Americans are lulled into pacification by the fact that we did after all “free” the slaves, eventually. Didn't we? Ask any kid in any school what the “Civil War” was all about. Those who know enough to garner a reply will no doubt offer up something on the order of, “Like it was about slavery, wasn't it?”
Really, that's not a fair question. How can we expect the amateurs to know what the Civil War was really about when even the experts can't agree.
Historians like to prattle on about how the “War between the States” was not a class struggle, but a “sectional combat” having its roots in political, economic, social, and psychological elements so complex it's really hard to pin down its basic causes.
The so-called “Civil War”, was only about one thing: an entire nation with the plague. Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy. Historians don't know this, or if they do, for the most part, they aren't talking. Even the name is misleading. Civil wars are all about class struggles. In theory they involve the continuous fight for political and economic power between them that has and the worker drones whose blood, sweat and tears produce all the goods and services that make the rich and powerful, richer and more powerful.
If that sounds like slavery, it's what most American's still do all the live long day . . . toil away as “blue collar” workers so the fat cats in the towers can make their millions. I like to call it semi-voluntary slavery. It seems that the more things change, the more they do stay much the same.
No matter what it's cause or what it was about, the Civil War, like most wars, was a criminally stupid, unnecessary bloodletting brought on by arrogant extremists and blundering politicians.
Did it end slavery? Perhaps in the strictest sense of the word. However in too many ways, the Emancipation Proclamation just made matters worse for the newly emancipated. Such is the only way it could be in a nation awash with the plague.
Though it played a part in ending slavery, the Civil War did not result in the integration of the former slaves into American life. The few gains that were made under Reconstruction, were subsequently reversed by the Jim Crow laws. The what laws? Well, if you never heard of them you ought to.
These wretched rules and regulations were brought into being by God fearing communities all across the land of the free. The nation where all persons are created equal and have equal rights.
They were predated by the infamous “black codes” instituted by the ex-Confederate states in 1866. These codes dealt with the status of the newly freed slaves. They varied greatly from state to state as to their harshness and restrictiveness. Although the codes granted certain basic civil rights to blacks (the right to marry, to own personal property, and to sue in court), they also provided for the segregation of public facilities and placed severe restrictions on the black persons status as a free laborer, his right to own real estate, and his right to testify in court.
The Jim Crow “laws” were formal statutes enacted by Southern states and municipalities, beginning in the 1880s, that legalized segregation between blacks and whites. The Supreme Court ruled in 1896 (Plessy v. Ferguson) that separate facilities for whites and blacks were constitutional. Ah, where would we be with that grand old bastion and protector of individual rights; the highest court in the land, know by some as the Supreme Hypocrisy.
Thanks to that one ruling, railways and streetcars, public waiting rooms, restaurants, boardinghouses, theaters, and public parks throughout the South were segregated seemingly overnight; separate schools, hospitals, and other public institutions, generally of inferior quality, were designated for blacks. By World War I, even places of employment were segregated.
Plenty of black men were given the right to fight and die for their country in each of our various wars, but it wasn't be until after World War II that they finally made a little headway in their battle for equal rights at home.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, issued in 1863, declared all slaves in the Southern secessionist states free. But it would be 87 years before it actually began to mean much in the way of human rights. For example, it wasn't until 1950 that a black man, Herman Sweatt, finally made it into law school in Texas. And 1954 was the year the Supreme Court declared separate facilities by race to be unconstitutional. Hypocrisy anyone?
Blacks in the South were forced to use legal suits, mass sit-ins, and boycotts as weapons in their battle to gain the most basic of human rights. The march on Washington by over 200,000 in 1963 dramatized the movement to end the Jim Crow Laws. Southern whites often responded with violence, and federal troops were needed to preserve order and protect blacks. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 finally ended the legal sanctions to Jim Crow a mere 105 years the Emancipation Proclamation.
Excuse me, but don't we impose trade sanctions on nations who violate human rights? Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy!
Aren't we the ones who are at war with terrorists? Can't you hear the throaty roar of the red neck masses throughout the South and on into the West as far as Montana! And what is the roar demanding? Death to Osama Bin Laden and all other terrorists! Yes! Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy!
After all, leave us not forget that we are also the happy, land of the free that gave birth to the jolly old Ku Klux Klan! But they weren't terrorists where they? Asking just means you are infected! It's the plague, don't you see? Consider the facts . . .
After the Civil War, informal vigilante organizations or armed patrols were formed in almost all communities throughout the South. They went by such swell names as the Men of Justice, the Pale Faces, the Constitutional Union Guards, the White Brotherhood, the Order of the White Rose and of course The Ku Klux Klan, or KKK for short. Their mission was to maintain “white supremacy” and to protect themselves should any black outrages or insurrections occur. Can you call this anything but hypocrisy?
The Ku Klux Klan, organized in Tennessee in1866, was the best known of the bunch, and in time it absorbed most of the others. Their strange disguises, silent parades, midnight rides, and seemingly mysterious language and commands were all found to be most effective in playing upon the fears and superstitions of their victims. The riders muffled their horses' feet and covered the horses with white robes. Klan members dressed in flowing white sheets, their faces covered with white masks. Although the Klan was often able to achieve its aims by terrorism alone, whippings and lynchings were also commonly used.
Not to worry? The KKK went out of business a hundred years ago? Past history? Get over it and move on? But they were terrorists and we, as a nation, allowed them to remain within our borders. And who says they are out of business?
Actually, the Klan was brought back to life in 1915 by an ex-minister. This new Klan had a wider program than its forerunner, for it added to “white supremacy” an intense nativism and anti-Catholicism (it was also anti-Semitic needless to say). At its peak in the mid-1920s Klan membership was estimated at 4 million to 5 million spread throughout the North as well as the South!
In fact, terrorists such as the Klan thrived within our borders until the depression of the 1930s, when dues-paying membership shrank to almost nothing.
Southern civil-rights activities during the 1960s gave the Klan new life and led to revivals of scattered Klan organizations. The most notable of these were Mississippi's White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. These newly revived Klan groups claimed responsibility for violent terrorist attacks against blacks and civil-rights workers in cities throughout the South, many of which involved loss of life.
Support for the Klan once again manifested in the surprising popularity of David Duke of Louisiana during the early 1990s. Even now membership in Klan organizations is estimated to be in the thousands!
It reminds me of what we were told as kids . . . people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
We are the protectors of human rights! We hold certain truths to be self-evident, one of which is that all men are created equal. Perhaps this is why it took us 144 years to great our women the right to vote! Hard to believe, but it wasn't until 1920 and the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution that the land of the free granted nation-wide suffrage to women.
Women began formally demanding equal rights as early as 1848! Again, the question must be asked: why would such a demand even be necessary in a nation founded on the principle of freedom and equal justice for all? Yet American women have not only had to fight for the right to vote, but also for the right to higher education, the right to enter into trades and professions, and married women's rights to property ownership!
Would anyone believe that in the United States of American, the Leader of the Free World, women were still fighting for such basic rights as abortion rights, federally supported child care centers, equal pay for women, the occupational upgrading of women, the removal of all legal and social barriers to education, political influence, and economic power for women a full 200 years after the nations founding?
But it gets worse.
In 1972 the Senate passed an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) intended to prohibit all discrimination based on sex, but after failing to win ratification in a sufficient number of states, the ERA was abandoned! We're talking equal rights in America here. Can anyone believe this? Of course they can. So long as they understand it's the plague at work! Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy!
Today, we are a nation at holy war. We are the Champions of The World, the most powerful nation in recorded history. And we are now at war against terrorism. Terrorism is violence, or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping and assassination carried out for political purposes.
Our goal is to stamp our terrorism and terrorists for once and for all. Why? Well, the answer to this may be as difficult as trying to determine the cause of the Civil War. My answer to the question is of course the plague. I am certain this will not be espoused by many historians in the future. I doubt it will be endorsed by many persons even today. Why?
Because the masses are infested with the plague. It's so simple, isn't it? Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy!
Since I am a nothing and a nobody I can say things that a somebody can't. This gives me a sort of heady power that Kings and Presidents may only dream of. Sadly, even nobodies infected with the plague have this same power. But I am a thinking nobody who is also conscious; yet I am also aware of the plague. You know what that means? Yes!
Even a minor awareness of the plague means minimal infection at most. Perhaps that is why I can not only ask this simple question, I Absolutely Must Ask It. And I would think others must also be asking it, at least in the most private places of their minds if nowhere else.
If terrorism is violence, or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping and assassination carried out for political purposes; and if terrorists are those who commit acts of terrorism, who in fact are among the most heinous terrorists of all time?
Dare I say, we the people are? Surely this can't mean we are at war with ourselves, can it? I mean, we, the people of the United States Of America have done it all, haven't we?
We forged our country from within a smithy of terrorism, didn't we? Surely rebelling against our own rightful government and committing wanton acts of terrorism and war again our King, Parliament and our fellow citizens qualifies as terrorism of the highest order.
After winning the war we “declared” against our own sovereign nation (which also seems to qualify us as traitors, rebels and militants as well) we, the newly formed United States Of America, promptly continued to invade of the homelands of dozens of weaker nations of far inferior numbers and inferior technology. We carried out systematic violence against innocent people that approached genocide is some cases.
We endorsed and participated in kidnapping people; we bought and sold them too! Whether or not it was for political purposes, it still seems like acts of terrorism to me. And then, when we finally did turn the kidnapped and enslaved persons loose, we continued to terrorize them for another 112 years!
What we lack in other areas of terrorism, we more than make up for when it comes to bombing! In that we reign supreme. I will offer just a couple of examples. In 1945 we dropped a single bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Almost 130,000 people were instantly killed, injured, or missing, and 90% of the city was leveled. We did not tell them we were going to do this because all is fare in love and war. This was collateral damage at its best!
A mere three days later, before the people of Japan could even begin to fathom what had come to pass, we dropped a second and more powerful bomb on Nagasaki. This city instantly became famous as the target of the second atomic bomb ever detonated on a populated area. About 75,000 people were killed or wounded, and more than one third of the city was devastated.
I wonder what the Knights of the Round Table would have to say about that kind of warfare. I wonder how any of us can live in this world and yet remain sane. Perhaps this is the one good thing about the plague. If it weren't for the plague, surely we would all be mad!
Before I am branded the naïve, simpleton that I am, may I say that passing judgment on anyone or any institution or the actions of same is certainly not my intention. Nor am I trying to lay blame. I certainly am no better than anyone else, great or small, who has traveled this earth. No wiser nor stronger nor capable than any other.
I am aware that many developed nations have committed atrocities against other nations, against races of people, against institutions and against the rights of individual persons of all races, creeds and religions.
Yet I am an American citizen. I love America. There are millions of good, kind and decent people who live in America and call it home. As with any nation, there are also those who are not so good and who are not so kind nor decent. And they can be very good at hiding their true colors; their true agenda.
When I look about me, I see a nation that is so full of itself, it has perhaps lost the ability to be object, especially when it comes to introspection. I see a nation that is full of innocent hypocrites who are herded about like sheep by politicians, by big business and by what they see and hear on television, especially so-called news programs.
I look about me and see masses of people who pretend to be blind and deaf and dumb; citizens of a large, powerful nation who taken as a whole, appear to have lost the ability to reason. Our populace is growing more and more dependent on show business to tell them what is going on, why it is going on and what the preferred outcome might be.
When politicians speak, the media is there to tell us what they are saying and what it means. When events are happening, the media is there to point out the significance, if any, and how we should feel about it.
In the past two years, 2001-02, I have watched as the American people remained largely quiet regarding our Presidents proposal to withdraw from the 1972 ABM treaty so that we can spend billions on new weapons. How quiet would they be if Russia or China had announced the same intention? Another example of the plague!
I have watched as the administration refused to sign or endorse the international Kyoto agreement to combat global warming by sharply reducing emissions of industrial gases because it might make it a little more difficult for our bloated corporations to continue to paying their executives salaries that are totally out of all proportion to their worth. Yet America is the most prolific polluter and producer of green house gases in the world!
Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy!
I have listened as our President pushes forward plans to drill for more oil in natural, sacred places, when we all know more oil is not the answer that is best for we the people nor the rest of the world or the environment.
Like our entire nation, I wept when thousands died and were injured in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. I watched as our President seized the moment and declared war on terrorism. A war that will line the pockets of the few with wealth generated by the toil of the many; an army of workers who will never receive more than the smallest of fractions of the profits generated by their labor.
I watched the shinning eyes and listened to the media enhanced silver tongue of the President vowing that we would not falter, nor would be fail in our endeavor to bring justice to all and punish the guilty.
We can spend a billion dollars a day bombing Afghanistan, yet thousands of our citizens go hungry every day; hundreds of thousands can't afford health care. Hundreds of thousands live in substandard housing. And even worse, it is estimated that the number of homeless people in the United States in the late 1990s ranged from 700,000 per night to 2 million per year!
We pat ourselves on the back because some say we Americans are the most generous people in the whole wide world. However, isn't this just another example of the plague?
Where was our world-class generosity just a few years ago when the idea of compensating American blacks for their enslavement won widespread support? Reparations were paid to Holocaust victims, to Japanese Americans interned during World War II, and to some of the Native American tribes. African Americans continued to suffer from the vestiges of slavery and the discrimination that followed emancipation for over a hundred years, yet we just said no any form of compensation.
Hypocrisy, hypocrisy and nothing but hypocrisy!
The theory behind this discourse is simple: Ignorance is the result of two basic conditions: a lack of education or knowledge; and, the total unawareness of something, often something important. This being the case, we live in a time when entire nations are suffering from hypocrisy of epidemic proportions.
I have likened this sad state to a plague; a plague of the mind.
On the one hand I fear it is too late for the masses. They will live and die lost within a web of hypocrisy so entangled, so bewilderingly complex that I am certain they no longer possess even a residue of free will. Like automatons these robotic souls will pass like sheep through this life and on into the next.
Along the way they will repeat the mantras chanted by their chosen mentors and rulers. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
The rest of us, those few who appear not to be inflicted, will continue to exhibit our main trait . . . the one that has set us free.
We will ask questions. We will take nothing at face value. Instead, we will dig in and find answers that feel right. We will be interested in anything and everything; yet we will reserve the right to decide for ourselves what has meaning and what does not.
We will hold certain truths to be self-evident: that all persons are created equal, that they come into this life with certain rights that cannot be taken from them by any other person, government or group of persons. These rights include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We further hold that the only just Government which should be instituted among People, is one which protects these unalienable rights of individual persons. We further hold “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
My fellow Americans, it is time we faced facts. Based on our own track record as a nation and taking into account our own Declaration of Independence, only one alternative appears to be open to us.
Let the revolution begin!
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