Union Army Flag, 1863–1865

The Founding Fathers of the United States were enlightened men, borne from the Age of Enlightenment, fueled by the fervor of revolution, inspired by the zeal of freedom, and forged by their brotherhood. They laid the foundations and ideals of a new nation that was three-thousand miles from the shores of their ancestry. Guided by the legacy of their European forebears, they established on its shores the laws and creed of this nation, enshrined in a palladium known as the Constitution that guaranteed, as implemented, freedom, justice and equality for its white citizens while denying such rights to its darker denizens.

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States

From the inception of this nation, its leaders have acted contrary to its founding creeds. Four out of the first five presidents were slaveowners. Moreover, the three-fifths rule, embedded in the Constitution, guaranteed that the slave-holding states would hold the levers of power, so much so that, prior to the Civil War, every two-term president was from a slave-holding state. Compromise after compromise failed to render a solution to its slave dilemma, culminating in the bloodiest war fought in the Western Hemisphere.

The Civil War ended slavery, but it did not remove the lashes of racism from the body we call America. One needs only to view the slave map of 1861 and the electoral map of 2016 to witness the scars of a much-divided nation. Our enemies know that, despite America’s greatness, race remains its Achilles’ heel. Therefore, they will not hesitate to use it as a silent weapon to further divide us.

By United_States_1861–01–1861–02–04.png: Made by User:Golbez.derivative work: Kenmayer (talk) — United_States_1861–01–1861–02–04.png, CC BY 2.5,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11784865

For centuries, race has been the skeleton in the closet, dancing in the darkness of this hidden and forbidden room. America’s Founding Fathers hoped that slavery would die a natural death, but today the ghost of racism still sits upon slavery’s cold grave. The election of an African American president in 2008 was not a panacea to this disease. Instead, we witnessed the better angels of our nature succumb to the racist demons of our past.

Fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, we do not uphold Dr. King’s dream of a nation in which “a person is not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Instead, we live in a country in which color trumps character, and palace intrigue is the news of the day. A nation in which the beacon of freedom remains obscured behind the walls of ignorance, bigotry and prejudice. A nation in which justice is neither rendered equally nor with all deliberate speed.

In an attempt to “Make America Great Again,” some turn a blind eye to immorality, incompetence and greed. White Identity Politics has become the shibboleth whispered in the halls of Republicanism. We fail to climb that mountain of freedom as former master and former slave. We fail to teach our children that America is the home of the brave. Instead, many white Americans nostalgically yearn for yesteryear — a time “when movies were in black and white and so was everything else” — a time in which white privilege was an inalienable right, despite how wrong it was.

We now live in a time when the lines of demarcation between reality and fiction have blurred and the truth obscured by the myths of our past. We no longer stand for something, and we are willing to fall for anything. In these troubling and turbulent times, “fair has become foul and foul has become fair.” We have learned to fear those that do not look like us, or worship the same God by a different name, or choose to love someone of the same sex. We ignore our friends and pay homage to our enemies. We call real news fake and fake news real.

Today, we are shipwrecked on the isthmus of our future, trapped between the shores of our better angels on one side and the demons of the past on the other. Our moral compass no longer points toward truth but toward what is acceptable and convenient. Never in the history of the presidency has so much effort been used to try to justify verifiable inaccuracies and blatant lies. We are in desperate need of a captain that will right our ship of state and not let it sail into the ocean of fallen empires. The question that lingers is whether we will “live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

My fellow Americans, do not fiddle while our great nation burns nor dance to the morbid beat of our demise. We the people are too powerful to be led by a ship of fools. We can no longer sit in silence in the theater of the absurd, nor can we fall prey to yellow journalism that fuels the fire of our discontent. We owe it not to ourselves but to the ideals of this nation, the forgotten martyrs of our past, and the begotten leaders of our future to right what we know is wrong and contrary to our creed.

Edited by Gene Limb

Author, educator, historian, former engineer at General Electric. Interested in the origins of all things. Author of A New Perspective richardlsingley@gmail.com