This will be my last article for The City Paper, so I’d like to express my thanks and gratitude to The City Paper for giving me the opportunity to write a weekly column, and to my editors William Williams and James Nix for catching my mistakes, which hopefully weren’t too many or too egregious. I would also like to thank my readers, because I know their time is valuable, and I really do appreciate the time they invested in my work. And I want to especially thank the readers who took the time to comment online: Loner, Captain Nemo, Govskeptic, Yogi, Dargent7, Budlight, Pswindle, Bfra, BenDover, Brrrk, and all the others ... thanks so very much!
Where do we go from here?
I hope to continue doing what I’ve been doing, which is trying to keep the spirit of the Confederacy from rising up like an impossible-to-kill Jason in a third-rate horror flick, intent on committing mindless mayhem and destroying lives. Quite seriously, that is how I see the current incarnation of the Grand Old Predators. A better analogy might be Jurassic Park, with raptor-like Republicans running around trying to exterminate anyone and everyone who’s more highly evolved.
Is it a stretch to say that they’re trying to kill us? Well, perhaps not intentionally, but stupidity can and does kill. A party that denies the clear evidence of global warming; that strips away the safety nets from the poor and elderly; that demands guns in bars, parks, trunks and schools; that insists being scared justifies mowing down minorities; and that obviously intends to keep doing the same reckless things in the Middle East, is going to get many Americans killed, and god-knows-how-many foreigners. Someone needs to stop the tiny-brained predators from wreaking so much havoc, so operating on the premise that the pen is mightier than empty noggins as well as the sword, I have tried to make other people aware of what I see so clearly myself.
The Republican Party has changed dramatically in recent years, in its hard shift to the far right, where grammar-challenged rubes like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann can become stars of the highest magnitudes. In my early working days, I was a Reagan Republican — perhaps a bit like the character Michael Fox played on Family Ties — because I was very concerned about the economy and my taxes. Like many young people intent on living out the American Dream, I wanted to have the finer things in life: nice cars, a nice house, etc. I preferred to enjoy the fruits of my labor, so it made sense for me to support fiscal responsibility on the part of the federal government. But the “trickle down” theory proved to be economic voodoo because rich people don’t have to spend most of the money they make. “Trickle up” might work much better because ordinary Joes and Janes will spend most of what they make, with the people who own businesses, stocks and bonds being the main beneficiaries.
But in any case, what I didn’t realize at the time, perhaps because it seemed so far-fetched, was that the spirit of the Confederacy was about to rise from the grave and reanimate. Thus, a vote for “fiscal responsibility” became a vote for chauvinism, racism, homophobia, intolerance and irrational religion (for instance, all the sins of heterosexual Christians can be forgiven freely by grace, but a homophobic God singles out gays and Muslims for “special consideration,” in the form of an eternal hell).
A vote for the GOP also became a vote for a return to feudalism, with a few rich layabout lords prospering from the incessant toil of their lowly serfs. As a result, today average Americans are working themselves into early graves while being told that the retirement plans and medical insurance they fund are “entitlements” the nation can’t afford, when trillions of dollars have been wasted on two wars fought on false premises. Meanwhile, super-wealthy businesses like Apple and individuals like Mitt Romney claim to “believe in America” while keeping most of their moolah stashed offshore. They obviously don’t “believe” in America enough to pay their fair share of the expenses of the wars being fought, at least ostensibly, to protect it.
This is not the American that I dreamed of, in my youthful idealism. I wanted the best of both worlds — prosperity and equality — not the worst of both, which is where the GOP will undoubtedly take us if we don’t stand our ground. The Confederacy may have lost the last few battles of the Civil War, but its spirit lives and raves on today in the bigotry and intolerance of the Tea Party. Those of us who agree with the stand abolitionists took against the enslavement of African-Americans must now take a similar stand against our own enslavement, and the enslavement of our children and grandchildren.
Where do we go from here? I may not have the opportunity to write another column in these days of diminishing paper and ink, but I will definitely continue to write and publish online. And as the primary author of the Burch-Elberry Peace Initiative (www.thehypertexts.com/peace.htm), I will continue to seek a peaceful settlement to the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, which could be the key to world peace.
I believe it is a fundamental truth that on this planet, peace requires justice, and justice requires equality. Three times in its history the United States has made terrible decisions to subvert justice and equality, which resulted in large-scale holocausts. One holocaust was the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Native Americans. Another was the enslavement of African-Americans. The third, in my opinion, is American support of the ethnic cleansing and slow genocide of Palestinians. In the first two cases, massacre after massacre resulted, with the oppressors insisting that their victims were the “problem.” But it turned out that Sitting Bull wasn’t really a “terrorist,” just a man forced to the warpath because his people lived on the brink of extermination. It turned out that John Brown wasn’t really a “terrorist,” but a man willing to risk his life to end the terrible treatment of African-Americans. And one day in the future, if the human race survives, I have no doubt that the more enlightened people who study the actual causes of 9-11 will shake their heads sadly and wonder how so many Americans of our era could have been so blind.
I wish everyone who reads this final article the best of luck, but sometimes we have to make our own luck in this world, so I hope you will join me in the continuing struggle to establish a lasting peace, which requires real justice, which in turn requires real equality, both at home and abroad. Unfortunately, the self-avowed “greatest nation of all time” has not always lived up to its stated ideals. But if we keep evolving, we just might escape the fate of those other dinosaurs who failed to evolve, and of course the dodos.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com