Grab your tea, grab your shade.
Early Years & Revolution:
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful land.
In this beautiful, happy land lived beautiful, happy people toiling day by day, trying to figure out life and the natural world, their place in the cosmos, etc.
Then one day, a new group of people arrived. There was some initial conflict, but eventually, they were able to clear a space for themselves in their new home. And then a little more space. And then a little more. Eventually, the first people were ‘relocated’ to a much smaller, much less familiar patch of land to make room for group #2.
But group #2 wasn’t all bad! They were industrious – builders, explorers, inventors! In just a couple of centuries, they built up whole towns out of ‘nothing,’ and even broke free of their cruel oppressors. You see, they were paying taxes to a government that they felt did not represent them, and declared this an ‘injustice.’ They weren’t wrong. By today’s standards, that’s still upsetting.
But the point is, they kept building. (Because they were awesome. The awesomest. Ever.)
Have you forgotten about group #1 yet? Good. They won’t matter again for a long time.
Eventually, group #2 grew so large, it finally spanned from one coast to the next, in the completion of a vision known as ‘manifest destiny,’ which basically translates to “arbitrary ego thing” or “nonsensical precursor to concept of American Exceptionalism.”
And it ONLY happened through the magic of group #2’s hard work and superior religion!
There was no aid or guidance offered by the relocated first peoples, no massive deal with Napoleon, no war with Mexico in which we stole about half their land, and CERTAINLY no unpaid workforce of millions helping group #2 to achieve ‘greatness.’ And even if those things DID happen, there’s obviously no reason to focus on them, because their names aren’t on the sides of buildings, so who cares?
Also, no women. Not yet.
BACK TO GROUP #2.
They made a lot of money from all of this building and expanding.
So much so that they were starting to be taken seriously by the rest of the world, and the new nation entered the world of international trade. Soon enough, the two halves of group #2 (2A & 2B) got jealous of each other: one had factories, the other had crops, and neither could decide who was better.
They also had differing values in many respects, particularly concerning the size of government, and the practice of slavery – which was the whole reason 2B could boast about their crops at all.
So instead of getting along, 2A and 2B each tried to weaken each other, in various ways. For instance, the Bill of Rights was included as part of the Constitution, so that citizens could defend themselves from tyranny. Because who wants to be told what to do by someone else?
Speaking of slavery, group #2 ultimately decided on a “compromise” that more or less codified the growing geographical division (Kansas-Nebraska Act) by allowing new states to be either free or slave, depending on whosever turn it was – the start of a wonderful tradition of ‘just letting those other guys be assholes for now so we can get stuff done in the short run,’ or ‘kicking the can,’ as it were.
When one side felt as though its right to enslave other human beings and infringe upon their basic rights for their profit was itself being infringed upon, the aforementioned political and geographical division came to its natural conclusion in the form of an armed conflict that lasted 4 years, and became the bloodiest war in the beautiful land’s history. (Even when the warring ‘savages’ roamed the land, they never did THIS kind of damage to each other.
Group #2 really is the best at EVERYTHING.)
To this day, LIVING descendants of group 2B still insist that the war was fought over ‘states’ rights,’ which answers the question, ‘Why didn’t 2A just tell 2B to shut up in the first place, because they always had the moral high ground, instead of passing the stupid Kansas-Nebraska Act?”
It is also a hint as to how Donald Trump came to be nominated for President of the United States, but that’s much later.
Nothing happened to the former slaves. *cough* Jim Crow *cough*
They all lived happily ever after. Until the 1960s, I think.
In fact, nothing else happened in this period to anyone but group #2. African Americans (Now *technically* citizens! Yay! All your troubles are over!), Latin Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans were all perfectly content, and enjoyed equal privilege in society. So much equal privilege that they got lumped into those listed broad ethnic categories which have been embraced ever since, because that’s easier than learning new words like “Chumash” and “Senegal.”
And group #2 continued to fracture amongst Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Italian, and British immigrants. Because to group #2, cultural distinctions are VERY IMPORTANT, and we have to talk about them all in order to be wise and fair.
Even though, in this period, Group #2 (and all its various cultural sects) was actually SUUUUUUUPER BORING, and basically just did more building. And banking. And inventing.
But the politicians and bankers were crooks (Tammany Hall; rise of Wall Street; anti-trust laws came about in this time, etc.) and the inventors were thieves (Edison). The builders were a more ethically-diverse group, but let’s not look into who actually built our railroads. (Answer: lots & lots of Chinese laborers).
Oh! You know another thing group #2 did in this period? Mostly 2B, but not entirely. A relatively small number started donning these really fashionable white hoods and terrorizing people who were different. Not sure why. I assume they were trying to ‘make America great again.’
(Fun fact: this look is copied directly to illustrate Death Eaters’ racism in Harry Potter. But I guess comparing Donald Trump to Voldemort would be too… on-the-nose (pardon the villain-body-shaming pun).
In 1898, there was an oft-forgotten war with Spain. Group #2 was unable to swallow Cuba and the Philippines (and have been all pissy about it ever since) BUT they DID manage to swallow Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii in the process.
2 of which became states, and the other doesn’t have enough clout in territorial North America for me to even finish this sen
Anyway, group #2 made lots and lots of money in what was called the ‘Gilded Age.’ Because gold is valuable, you see, and that kind of thing is important to group #2.
Possibly the only thing, when it comes right down to it.
The wealthy became obscenely wealthy, and the poor became destitute.
A ship sank in 1912. This matters because it was expensive and famous rich people died.
Also, movies came about in this time. This matters because it was the first time poor people could become crazy rich without doing much work. Hence why every poor creative person (without connections) ever since has been looking for their ‘big break’ in Hollywood. Suckers.
Now is when we get to talk about women – they exist! And after a prolonged campaign to FINALLY acquire the same rights as those other, lesser, browner people, group #2’s women finally got group #2’s men to listen to them, and grudgingly enfranchise ALL women, including those not belonging to group #2. How generous of them!
Sexism and racism were then over forever.
World Wars and Other Wars that Matter:
But the beautiful land was lonely, and longed to be a part of the world at large.
It had been trading for a century already, building a reputation for itself, even gaining respect from its former motherland, who was starting to see it as a real ally.
That backfired when the beautiful land (not just group #2) was asked to help them fight in a war.
The beautiful land tried to broker a peace agreement, but failed, and so it got involved, and won!
Because it’s the possibly greatest country of all time!
The President even tried to create this weird multinational cooperative unit, but his countrymen knew it was silly, because they were obviously superior to other countries. Like, dude, they just proved that.
Then a crazy guy came to power in Germany, because the Germans were all depressed about that last war. And it was almost funny to laugh at his moustache for a while, but then our allies started screaming for help again, because they were getting bombed to shit or whatever. And some of the non-Christian people in occupied areas were kind of trying to come to the beautiful land for safety, because they were facing genocide, but like, they were gross so group #2 said no.
Then, our newly-swallowed kingdo- STATE of Hawaii got bombed, and that was it.
To seek vengeance, and prove we’re the greatest, and I guess to help our beleaguered allies, we finally got involved. And won again.
Now, the residents of the beautiful land knew FOR SURE that this was the greatest country of all time! Who could ever challenge them?
These cold-blooded, cold-hearted, cold-countried monsters were claiming to be the new “superpower,” as if they even read Captain America.
That could not stand.
So group #2 and Russia rattled sabres for a while, and for the next 4.5 decades, group #2 acted like this was the only thing that mattered.
There was a war in Korea all based around the spread of Communism, which was never in itself evil. But hey, mobs gonna mob. And an anti-communist fervour was born!
Group #2 started to cannibalize itself, clearing the riffraff out of Hollywood as best it could, all in fear of a political idea that cannot be stopped from spreading.
The spread resulted in a fringe counter-culture that valued things like racial and gender equality, peace, deep poetry and music, surfing & climbing rather than baseball & football, long hair, and marijuana – the anti-tobacco. To control and suppress this weird new group 2C, groups 2A and 2B had to treat them like all the other ethnic groups, even giving them special slur-names, like ‘hippies’ and ‘beatniks.’
Group 2A and 2B were just “people.”
And when 2A and 2B tried to start ANOTHER anti-communist bullshit war, 2C was none too thrilled about it. Many refused to fight.
Many simply sought convenient excuses not to fight. One of these might become be our 45th President.
And speaking of those ethnic groups, they were quite busy during this time, many striving for social respect and equality in the form of peaceful protest movements and civil rights activism.
There was a guy named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and I think he did some stuff.
There was also a guy named Malcolm X, and he also did some stuff. But for some reason, 2A and 2B really didn’t appreciate it. What the first guy did resonated with them much more. He has a holiday now! And racism was once more over in America.
I mean, it was already over, but now it’s super-duper over.
Post-Cold War/ Rise of “Millennials”
Apparently, racism isn’t over.
We just invent new kinds now. And calm down, we’re not talking about black people.
Why would we? They’re not out making groundbreaking, controversial music or anything. No, they’re safe and sound in the prison system, because group #2 decided in the 90s that they were scary, violent, and responsible for all drugs that weren’t Colombia’s fault.
Which brings us to Mexico – because one Spanish-speaking country might as well be another.
Group #2 had to figure out a way to keep ‘Mexicans’ out, because they kept immigrating to the beautiful land, because their country(ies) were becoming dangerous, thanks to the drug trade which was propped up by Group #2’s voracious consumption of illegal drugs.
Anyway, group 2B made immigration much harder, despite 2A insisting that it wasn’t really necessary.
In an effort to help poor foreign people, misguided 2A people passed NAFTA, leading to decades of exploitation and the resurgence of legally-sanctioned slavery. But HAHAHA don’t criticize them ‘cause they meant well.
Also, damn, have you seen those Arabs? Both 2A and 2B could agree: something had to be done about THEM. They were helpful during the Cold War, but now, I don’t know… oil is getting rather pricey.
And their religion is so barbaric. A damn shame for those poor women.
*totally sincere and not at all condescending sad face*
Then, for the first time since our precious stolen islands were attacked, we got attacked! And wouldn’t you know it – it was those damn Arabs! Specifically, an extremist group from Afghanistan armed with weapons we sold them during the Cold War. (Oh right, that.)
So obviously, group #2, and by this time, all other ethnic groups because the *media* was overwhelmingly staffed by members of group #2, decided this could not stand, and they started 2 wars, because they had it on REALLY, REALLY good authority that there were totally nukes hidden in Iraq.
They were wrong. And the beautiful land ended up obliterating the region’s already-fragile stability in the process. But what do you expect from those warring, primitive hill-folk?
They didn’t lose sight of the important thing: brown people are scary.
What was group 2B to do, then, when 2A and 2C (and all the other groups we don’t talk about) went off the deep end and elected one as President??!
Obviously, make sure he had the smallest, least significant impact on history he could!
Which wasn’t easy, because while the beautiful land was distracted by its ill-conceived wars, the banks were systematically screwing the people of the beautiful land over – group #2 and all other groups alike. Now that’s equality! It resulted in the biggest crash of the world’s economy since the Great Depression.
But the new President actually managed to get things under control, and back on track within 8 years, despite 2B’s crusade to destroy him. By the end of his presidency, Barack Obama left the country in a much greater state than he found it… Economically, anyway.
Because 2B was very frustrated by its recent failures. Because they’re NOT JUST recent failures. If you’ve been paying attention, 2B has been failing since the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The question of slavery symbolized the first time 2B realized that other members of group #2 do not see eye-to-eye with them on ALL things. That was the first time they were told they were wrong, in a historical context.
And they’ve been fighting the idea of being ‘historically wrong’ ever since.
We liberals call it ‘being on the wrong side of history.”
And now, they’re coming back with a vengeance. If they don’t “fix” history now, well, at least they’ve made their mark. One final, caterwauling swan song.
These are now Trump’s supporters.
The same people who fought for slavery so hard the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed,
The same people who invented a hate group in response to the emancipation of slaves,
The same people who refused to enfranchise women & yet still expected that to be enough,
The same people who rejected the League of Nations on face value alone,
The same people who denied entry to Jewish refugees while bragging up the Statue of Liberty,
The same people who wanted the military segregated, and supported internment,
The same people who still fear and hate Communism despite having access to enlightenment,
The same people who felt threatened by the mere existence of counter-cultures,
The same people who are constantly looking for new enemies (preferably, races) to fight,
The same people who refuse to educate themselves on banking or environmental FACTS, The same people who are trying to eliminate feminism and people of colour from history books,
The same people who protest every time a diverse casting announcement is made,
The same people who believe the ONLY reason people are voting for Hillary is her gender,
The same people who want to keep out Syrian refugees, like in WWII and for the same reasons,
The same people who support building a pipeline through sovereign Native territory,
The same people who believe money matters more than ethics,
The same people who despise the idea of a more global, less nationalistic world enough to want to BUILD A WALL to keep other people out —
BASICALLY, the same people who have fought progress for the entirety of American history, are the same people who are about to put their names on ballots marked “Trump” in November.
Don’t ask ‘how did we get here?”
We already know; we’ve been held back by these same people for centuries.
But by that token, DON’T ask, “What is the next thing they’re going to try to prevent, and how do we preemptively outsmart them for the sake of making human history the most positive thing it can be?” Though you might be tempted to.
What we should be asking is this:
“How do we get *those same people* to embrace the ideas of change and openness? How do we get them to fall naturally on the side of cooperation instead of fear? How do we reach out to them and make them see the same future we do? Can we come together & create that future?”
These aren’t easy questions to ask, let alone answer. That’s why they’re the ones worth asking.