Campaign slogans are usually “catchy” and promote a candidate’s platform, policy proposal and “agenda.” And since the election of President Obama, there has been this undercurrent beating like a bass drum to the chant of, “We want to take our country back!” Which is confusing because that statement begs the question, “Take your country back from whom?” The follow-up questions being: “Take your country back to where?” How far back do you want to go? Do you want to go back to the pre-Civil Rights era when Black people were victims of state-sponsored terrorism, brutalized by public lynching, cross burnings, legalized segregation and the violation of both their human rights and constitutional rights? Or, do you want to go back to the days when women did not have the right to vote and could be legally raped by their husbands without penalty because there was no such thing as “rape inside marriage”?
Or perhaps, you want to go back to when, by Executive Order, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of over 125,000 Japanese-American citizens because their country (the United States of America) was at war with Japan? No matter we were at war with Italy and Germany as well, and Italian and German Americans were not interned within the barbwire fences of concentrations camps and held without charges. Going back to those times would be a very costly proposition, indeed, for millions of American citizens.
Going back even further to a time in our nation’s history when President Andrew Jackson ordered thousands of people from the Cherokee Nation to abandon their lands and walk over 2,200 miles with all of their belongings to resettle in the deserted western territory of Oklahoma in the middle of winter. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced the removal of native tribes located in the south and southeast, the Cherokee being but one, to the western territories of the United States. Thousands died along the way renaming the expedition, the Trail of Tears.
Are these U.S. candidates for office, who call themselves patriots, asking us to go back to that time? They seem to want to dwell in the past, nostalgically remembering a time when America was great! Do we want to take our country back to a time when people were property and lands were stolen in the name of Manifest Destiny? The rhetoric is confusing and they are sending out “mixed messages” that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but as you look out on the large crowds gathered in support of the rhetoric that implies we have “lost” our country and need to take it back, or that somehow once we were great and now we’re not, the demographic makeup of those gathered cannot be ignored nor is it inconsequential.
There is a misguided anger towards the colorful and diverse demographic that has become, and is continuing to evolve, a nation that by the end of the next decade will no longer be predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant and male. The “great experiment” of building a nation of immigrants, exiles, people of all faiths, backgrounds and origin is finally taking root and these people, these Americans and their descendants, are cashing the check that was signed by the forefathers of this nation that we are ALL endowed by our creator with the right to life, and the ability to seek and obtain liberty and pursue happiness. We ALL will hold our government and those who seek to serve in any public office to that standard. Social justice is not an option; it is a right, and this country does not “belong” to any individual or group of individuals seeking to take it back to a place where injustice, terror, oppression, subjugation, and inequality reign down on those with less power, privilege or resources. We will NOT GO BACK!
Up Next Week: How “new” will the New Year be?