Americans don’t cotton much to memory. Maybe that’s the defining trait–everything is always new. Ask any kid what’s their -least- favourite class? History. When you hear talk about reforming education? There’s never talk of ‘history’. And perhaps that’s why we seem to make the same mistakes over and over every few years.
I mention this because it’s Dr. King’s birthday and I wonder how many people really dig what he accomplished. Because I’m not sure the average person accepts how truly crappy things were for black people in America until -real- recently.
You ask the average person when slavery ended and they’ll say, you know… 1860 something. Rubbish. The civil war didn’t end until something like… what 1965?
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about ‘hyperbole’ with regard to civil rights but that’s another failure of memory. I went to high school with LOTS of kids who wore rebel flag clothing and used ‘the N word’ as freely as ‘like’ and ‘ya know’. And not behind close doors either. Right out front. In Detroit. In Chicago. In NYC. Everywhere.
Ya know what’s cool about Germany (there’s a point here). They -get- guilt. They have a national guilt about WWII. They don’t resent it. They acknowledge it. But without obsessing. Because they don’t feel ‘special’. It coulda happened anywhere.
And it has happened anywhere. It happened -here-. We inflicted as much pain and suffering on as many people as did Hitler. AS HITLER. We brutalised[...]