Allegiance (Homogenized) and Diversity Stew

stewThe theme of homogenization is present in much of what I talk about in this blog because the president keeps doing it. If Trump weren’t trying to erase the identifying qualities of individuals it would not be an issue. His acceptance speech did nothing to identify any sub-group in the stew we call The United States of America. He simply doesn’t acknowledge the meat, potatoes, vegetables and seasonings in our bowl which provide unique contributions to the flavor of stew. He makes no effort to describe the difference between a bay leaf and a seared cube of beef. In his rhetoric we are interchangeable ingredients.

An effort is being made in this administration to avoid identifying one group over another unless he dislikes them. That’s why Jews were left out of the Holocaust Memorial statement, but the Muslims are banned by name. Identity groups are either an anonymous part of the stew who won’t get mentioned, or they are the named enemy who is vilified with disrespect and lies.That’s sort of a backhanded compliment to Jews in an odd way – inclusion in the group of the anonymous whole. Except that by ignoring the diversity of subsets in society they are homogenized into sameness. sheep20dogThe bullying behavior of the hate groups reinforces the drive toward conformity like sheepdogs steering the herd. They will knock over as many tombstones as necessary to keep the herd together. Trump said in his acceptance speech:

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

It seems as though he wants to put the stew through the food processor and make it grey-brown mush. He believes the flavor will still be there, but he doesn’t realize that humans want to taste, in each bite, the different flavors of beef, onion or carrot; that’s what defines a stew.  This reminds me of the Chinese grey-green uniforms with the red star on the caps. All groups are the same group; it sounds Orwellian. Ignore diversity to achieve homogeneity. Vibrant hues will be desaturated with the grayness of conformity.

porridge-President Obama enjoyed mentioning and discussing the nique characteristics of many diverse identity groups. In contrast, Trump has been forced to mention, at the top of his Address to Congress, the recent anti-Jewish violence, but he also felt the need to toss in a mention of Black History Month and a shooting in Kansas. He can be pressured into naming
a component identity group when necessary as long as it is accompanied by other groups to make them all the same. The less distinction the better, though, as he said in the address:

“while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”

There can be unity through diversity or unity through conformity.  Trump prefers conformity. The red baseball hats are a symbol of conformity. He began his dictatorship with all white followers, all christian, evangelicals, and all undereducated. He is now including in his admixture the rest of us by erasing uniqueness and encouraging sameness. He will make us bland and compliant. Allegiance is the foundation of authoritarian regimes. Total allegiance is Totalitarian.

The Lie and The Metaphor

I grew up in a Funeral Home. I knew about death and practicalities of addressing death, it was a blunt reality. Death was a daily component of my life so I understood it on that level. What I didn’t understand was the way other people addressed the topic. Their language was full of softer words like passed, or passed on, passed away or gone to a better place and even ‘kicked the bucket’ which tried to lessen the impact of the word ‘death’.  They have met their maker, gone to heaven, bought the farm, or given up the ghost as substitutes are easier than saying, ‘she died’. The goal is to avoid discomfort and mask the permanence of death.

Since I only ever heard the blunt truth at home I would easily become confused with the euphemisms of the world. This would make me upset. I was well into my teens before I figured out what R.I.P. meant on all those cartoon tombstones, I never saw it on the real ones. In well-mannered society, people hide behind pleasant words; I was simply confused by them. They weren’t saying what they meant. I’m not afraid of dying so the words don’t bother me. I’d prefer to stick around and experience more of my existence, but the condition of being dead seems quite natural too. I will live on in the memories of those who encountered me in life and my composite chemicals and minerals will return to the earth to continue the process of nature.

People prefer the gentle lie over harsh truths. We mask the hard edges of emotional extremes with manners and polite words. We formalize the events of life with rituals and build elaborate myths to dull the impact of death. An Easter Bunny myth moderates the violent death-myth of a deity. Labeling the day of Jesus’s death as “Good Friday” is an early example of truthiness, but I’m getting ahead of myself here. What I’m saying is that lies are not necessarily bad. They assist us communicate the hard realities. Metaphors are lies too. They are acknowledged to be what they are, in order to assist communication. I hate reducing the poetic elegance of a metaphor into “lie” but it is. When lies are meant to assist communication we find them acceptable and even artistic on occasion. The difference between the art of language manipulation and blatant falsehoods is one of extremities.

Speaking untrue statements with the malicious intent, to mislead or deceive is harmful; these are lies. There is no good purpose to that deception. Intent separates a malicious lie from other figures of speech and minor untruths. What is the intent of the speaker of lies? Who are they harming by making the statement? Why would people cause harm through lies? Well, that is a bigger topic than one expects to find in this discussion. Lets just say for now that evil exists.

What compels a serial teller-of-lies to do so? We seem to have a President who tells lies with the ease of a poet using metaphors. He sprinkles his statements with falsehoods as if he were clarifying his point. The problem is we are not sure how to take it. His spokespeople tell us to ignore his words and listen to his heart. No one seems to know how to do that, so that advice doesn’t really help.

TruthinessdictStephen Colbert brought us the word “truthiness” in reaction to deceptive practices of the political right. Instinct, lies and gut feelings guide truthiness not logic or reason or facts. The right to discriminate is called Religious Freedom, Fresh Air legislation allows for more pollution, you know, that sort of thing. Religious Freedom sounds great, but if your religion is immoral enough to cause you to discriminate, then how is that freedom for the excluded class it creates? Deceptive tricks like this are not the way to run a country. Deception through misnomer is wrong. It is also a favorite tool of the Republican party, so after George Bush did such a bang-up job with the economy and getting us into some wars, Republicans thought they would try kicking it up a notch by electing Trump.

He is a far better liar than Bush. He doesn’t care if what he says make sense at all. His bullshit is not meant to be understood. So, forget about kicking buckets – it is best to call death, death in this circumstance. Although, kicking something may be quite satisfying. We just need the plain-spoken truth.

His most dangerous lie is the one that takes away our diversity. His staffer, Michael Anton speaks vociferously against diversity. This manifests in acts of omission such as leaving the mention of Jews out of the Holocaust Remembrance. Trump’s inaugural speech said nothing about the vast diversity of the country when other politicians make sure to mention every group they represent. Native Americans are not a good enough reason to stop the pipeline, and Mexicans are a good reason to build a wall. Christians get preferential treatment at the borders. If things go Trump’s way the melting pot of America will become a cold hard lump. And that, my friends, is a metaphor.

So, America First, huh?

Where do real people fit into this plan? Is the hierarchy established yet? Who are we talking about when he say’s America: America the ideal, America the land, the laws, the constitution, the buffoon in charge, or does Mr. Trump have any of this mapped out yet? If his purpose is to include all people then great, but if he means only selected people then he should just say so as he did while running for office. Otherwise, why the change in tone? His generic word ‘people’ may not include me; I am gay.
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The central idea of his speech is to “re-build the country” and to “restore its promise for all of our people.” Not all people, our people. Who are “our people” exactly? Trump has given us the duty to be skeptical of his words due to his previous behavior. He does not call out any specific category nor mention any subgroups. The only description of ‘people’ takes place in this odd sentence: “You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.” What movement is he talking about? When and where did it happen? Who was part of the movement? He doesn’t say. Is he including only ‘those who came’ meaning his voters – white evangelicals, or is everyone else in the country included too? Just prior to that statement he said: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” Does this mean the minorities he has worked so hard to exclude in the past? We don’t know. If we give him the benefit of the doubt we’d be foolish due to the ridiculous lies he comes up with, like the most recent lie about attendance records at inaugurations.

There is the occasional poetic phrase plopped into the speech by someone who knows what they are doing, just not often enough to matter. He mentions protection a lot. He says: “You will never be ignored again” as if he is only speaking to middle class whites and evangelicals who believe they were ignored by Obama and vulnerable to all things ‘foreign’. Races, religions, nationalities and sexual identities were protected by Obama in addition to whites; but whites, who’d, in their own minds, had sole ownership of that protection, suddenly were required to share it. So, they came to doubt its value and felt ignored.

Here is another curious section lacking in clarity: “We are one nation – and their pain is our pain.”   Who’s pain are we talking about here? “Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success.”  Notice how dreams ‘are’ but success ‘will be;’  why change tense within the same sentence? Will ‘we’ take ‘their’ success once it occurs to make it “ours”? The use of the word ‘their’ suggests he is talking about some group other than us which he tries to equate to us while keeping a separation. Kind of separate but equal. Since he never specifies anyone outside of the nebulous group of “our people” the audience feels unsure about whom he is discussing.

The vulgar imagery of bleeding races was startling; it arrived without context. He promised to “eradicate completely from the face of the Earth”Radical Islamic Terrorism.” Terrorism is an idea and a collection of techniques not a thing; you can’t eradicate a technique no matter how radical or what religion it comes from.

He stole this sentence from proselytizing Christians: “When you open your heart to patriotism (Jesus), there is no room for prejudice.” Why suggest that allegiance to a political philosophy is the same as an allegiance to a religious belief? Is he saying that politics is holy? Maybe his own politics are!

Trump seems to endorse a form of diversity that becomes homogeneous: “We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.” This makes sense for a labor union fighting corporate overlords but a democracy relies upon compromise. Diversity of thought and conviction merged through compromise into a solution seldom leads to unanimity. The only solidarity represented by his election was the massive Women’s March.

If there had ever been any  attempts on his part to include blacks, Mexicans, or any minority, then I would just chalk this up to bad writing alone. The speech is total crap, obviously written by amateurs. There is no reason to trust any part of it. What makes me nervous about it is this: he is cheerleading for an ill-defined country that is populated by some undefined group of followers. He wants total allegiance to whatever he may mean by ‘America’ and suggests that we will be rewarded with camaraderie through this total devotion.

The speech is just another attempt to gaslight us. He is directing his minimally masked comments to an alt-right audience who will be his loyal comrades – “our” people? Could be!