Hyphenated-Americanism Disunites Us

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Some politicians talk about unity, but their actions foment disunity.

“Juneteenth” (June 19th) is a significant observation of that day in 1865, 155 years ago, when the last slaves, those in Texas, received word of their freedom. That represented another step toward the fulfillment of the principles of Liberty enumerated by our nation's Founders 89 years earlier in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But, as we approach our upcoming July 4th observation of the signing of the Declaration, it is important to recognize that interpreting history in the current context is NOT understanding history in the proper context.
To that end, this reflection from Frederick Douglas written a decade prior to emancipation, is informative: "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages."

Such perspective is important in order to understand history -- the good, bad and ugly. It is likewise important to NOT confuse historical context for the current context as is apparent amid all the disgraceful endeavors to "cancel history" nationwide.

Unfortunately this year’s Juneteenth observation was sullied by the perennial election-year provocation of racial tensions by leftist protagonists and their mainstream media publicists, who have little regard for history. This year’s theme is “systemic racism,” which they claim is plaguing our system of justice and, by extension, virtually every other aspect of American life.

Right on cue, on Juneteenth Andy Berke led a parade of constituents bearing Pan-African “black liberation” flags, a banner created by radical separatist Marcus Garvey in 1920. That Afro-centric flag re-emerged in 2014 after the high-profile shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. (Recall that an investigation by Barack Obama’s Justice Department determined that officer’s actions were justified.)

Berke's exercise in virtue signaling took place on Walnut Street Bridge, which is rich in irony because most leftist politicians certainly don’t want to bridge the racial gap they have spent generations creating. This flag display was not to unite our community but to divide us -- such division being the staple of leftist political strategy. To that end, note that residents of our nation’s inner cities, under generations of oppressive Democrat policies and political regimes, have effectively been institutionally enslaved on urban poverty plantations.

By way of example of such oppression, consider the unjustified death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Who was in charge? The Minneapolis mayor, city council president, police chief, county prosecutor, and U.S. House district representative are all Democrats. The Minnesota governor, state attorney general, and both U.S. Senators are all Democrats. So where exactly does the change need to begin?

However, what struck me most about the Pan-African banners is that the Juneteenth liberation of slaves took place under the American flag, not a fabricated “black liberation” banner. (Look up the actions to defend the American flag by Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, William Harvey Carney -- who was born a slave.) In fact, the European slave trade was dependent on Pan-African networks of black rulers and slave traders who captured other Africans and delivered them in chains to ports for export.

Notably, the slave trade is still thriving today and Africa remains the epicenter of that enslavement. The Global Slavery Index estimates that more than 40 million people are subjugated by some form of modern chattel slavery, generically referred to now as “human trafficking.” Of course, the nation taking the most action to end enslavement worldwide is … the United States.

Beyond African slave trafficking, the current tribal genocide in Nigeria and other African nations -- the slaughter of tens of thousands of men, women, and children -- rarely receives a media mention.

Celebrating the freedom of slaves under a Pan-African banner is at best, uninformed. But when it comes to Democrat efforts to divide Americans into dependent constituencies, virtue signaling supersedes substance. As Demo Joe Biden declared, “We choose truth over facts,” meaning to ensure the ends justify the means, a manufactured “truth” takes precedence over the facts.

Martin Luther King never burned and looted, or attacked anyone. He observed: "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Indeed, his life and legacy were characterized by love and unity.

We should all embrace Martin King's “dream that one day ... the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘My country 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrims’ pride, From every mountainside, Let freedom ring.‘ When we let freedom ring … we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children -- black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics -- will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, We are free at last!’”

That freedom will only be found in the unity reflected in love and respect for each other, regardless of our race or creeds. But as long as politicians succeed in dividing Americans by race, disuniting us with hyphenated-Americanism, there will be no lasting peace. That divisive strategy is the real "systemic racism" plaguing our nation, and those who practice it defile King's legacy and his most essential message: All Lives Matter.

Mark Caldwell

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