Hello again! This Sunday, we’re going to talk about how America gets distracted. In the meantime, for those who get their news through blogs and Facebook, I hope you’ll read this. No, we’re not going to be talking about the overdiagnosis of ADHD in Americans or the fact that social media and technology is supposedly slowly destroying the millennials (all of which, I should remind you, are now all at least eighteen years old and the oldest of which would be over thirty). We’re going to be talking about a far older epidemic and that is America’s extraordinary ability to get distracted and also what they missed while distracted in the light of recent events.
Today, let’s start with a question. Why does America just seem to be eternally going in circles, each time only inching forward a little bit? Take the abolition movement. A dedicated group of abolitionists have existed in the United States since the beginning in the form of the Quakers and more joined their ranks in time (although their influence would remain limited throughout most of America’s history). And with each cycle of religious revivalism and war, the spirit of abolition would grow along with other humanitarian movements. And yet, when the Civil War handed the issue of abolition to the American people on a silver platter, it was dropped several years later and everything went back to the way they were before. The failure to follow through with the Reconstruction is what pushed the issue of true equality to the late 1900s. Since the beginning, Americans loved to dawdle on important issues because they either benefitted from whatever was controversial or they were distracted by something else.
I’m aware that some parts of the South still teach Reconstruction like it was an invasion of their values and an affront to their way of life. When you look at it, the method with which it was carried out did make it look that way. Certainly, martial law was not needed to enforce the three new amendments that came out of the Civil War. No. Of course, it was necessary! You can see that right after the North withdrew troops from the South, the Southerners went back to their old ways. However, there was a clear lack of effort in trying to really integrate the freedmen into society. Therefore, the old racial attitudes remained in place and reasserted itself after the North withdrew the troops. The dismal state of the Southern economy didn’t really help either and I can imagine that part of the blame fell on the freedmen. And what was the distraction that time around? The Northerners were tired of funding the troops in the South and the divided Republican party meant that policies were hotly debated and often not implemented. The economic boom of the North after the war also served as a distraction as new economic problems sprang up and had to be addressed. This half-assed effort is the first of the failures to address the follow-through of the Civil War and it only went from ok to really really bad. You can still see the residual hatred left over from something that should have been resolved over a century ago. Do you see what I mean? Missed opportunities and the constant backtracking after a little bit of progress.
Speaking of backtracking, this brings me to today’s main topic: what Congress and their Trump (or Trump and his Congress, I don’t know) has done in the recent weeks. Not only has he appointed people who are clearly not qualified to many of his Cabinet positions, he’s picked people that are not only detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the American people but can also affect the planet on a larger scale. He’s rolled back regulatory laws that restrict a company’s ability to dump their waste into nearby streams, he’s opened up protected ecosystems harboring endangered animals to logging and drilling and using the Congressional Review Act, he has undone so many of the things that President Obama has fought for in the last six months of his presidency including the decision to stop the crude oil pipeline that ran within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Native American reservation. Do you see this?
And of course, to serve as a distraction, Micheal Flynn and another potential connection to Russia pops up. I’ll explain why you should care more about what I said in the last paragraph rather than the Russians– because you can’t do anything about the Russians!! Let the CIA and the other intelligence agencies do their job and instead, worry about what’s going on right under your nose! Call your congressman, spread awareness and pay attention! It’s not all about Trump and his shady business. It’s also about you, me and the world. If the current government gets its way, the worse thing wouldn’t be Russia, it will be the toxic goop that will be our water supply. Wake up.
I’ll talk to you on Wednesday.