Let’s get this out of the way; I’m not crying a river over Confederate statues coming down. The U.S. is the only country that awards participation trophies for losing a war. There are no statues of George Washington at Buckingham Palace and at the onset of the Revolutionary War, we knocked over statues of King George and made them into musket ammo. While Jefferson and Washington were slave owners, history gets written by the winners.
So, there’s that.
As for going after every statue or monument, once Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee comes down and we bury the Confederate flag, it’s time to fry bigger fish. This is truer still, considering some of the misguided conflations. Columbus in the same company as Ulysses S. Grant? Read a book, please. These “arguments” are no better than the idiots who insist on the Confederacy being part of our “heritage.” If you want to look at dates of “monuments” or when the Confederate flag made a comeback (1948), look no further than as to why? Simply put, to keep “uppity blacks in their place.” So down they go.
So, what’s the point?
One concern is that the BLM movement is not fully focusing on the matter at hand: uncompromising police reform and are getting distracted. After that, there are a few more agenda items that matter as well and will live past cosmetic surgery. Now, is the time with BLM being a serious force for good, that they must stay focused.
In France, the Yellow Vests have been showing up every weekend for roughly a year and a half, against the Macron administration’s legion of neo-liberal blunders. Here’s the thing; the French have been demonstrating one fuck up at a time, not all at once. Macron wanted to get rid of free healthcare, protests started. Tax pensions? A highly raised Franco middle finger and on and on it has been going. They are winning, too.
What the BLMers (among others) should be doing is to stay on point, achieve and move on to the next point. Here’s a list of suggestions that could unify more Americans in addition to taking down giant racist memes:
1) Universal Basic Income. If we had a UBI, or something similar, the Congress would not have to bail out Corporate America, Wall St. and everyone else that got their beak wet. The EU countries guaranteed income to companies, which was cheaper than bailouts and paying unemployment. Moreover, in the U.S., barely 8% of those put out of work, because of the pandemic, have been able to file for benefits so far.
2) Medicare for All. This should be common sense. Even right wing Brit Tories think we’re stupid. The Marshall plan called for medical and college for the citizens of the countries we were looking to rebuild after WWII. Why? More money into an economy working to recreate manufacturing and commerce to move forward. We can’t do that here? We have the best medical system on earth with blocked access by Big Insurance.
3) Free College. I got out of school in 1987. I was paying $100 per quarter on the “all you can eat” plan. That same school is now $6,500 per quarter. Is a unit more valuable? Do I get sex and an espresso with each course? We used to provide for college, so it’s not like I want a pony. Saddling 22 year olds with six figure debt means less money into the economy. Housing, cars, and discretionary spending are all down, while credit card debt has reached one trillion dollars. In the spirit of “fuck the banks,” we should make them absolve credit card debt, since we give them one trillion dollars a day.
4) End the WARS. We have been at war for nineteen years. We have not one reason to be anywhere on earth right now, except to pillage resources from weaker nations and subjugate their citizens for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Our freedom is not at risk at all. We must quit being dumb on purpose. This is not about patriotism. How much did your family make off the war? It’s a racket.
5) Forgive Student Debt. Student debt in this country is $1.3 trillion dollars. As we have seen with the rash of bailouts, the money is there! One day of bank bailouts is the U.S. student loan debt. Also, allow those who paid for school on their own to get a massive tax credit, or a refund. Long as they have the receipts.
6) Federal Jobs Program. We have not had one of those since FDR put 11 million Americans to work in the 30s and 40s. Right now, we have a D+ infrastructure, and 60,000 bridges that need to be rebuilt or retrofitted. We could put 20 million to work now. That’s manual labor, engineers, architects, accountants, IT professionals, it’s a long list. It would also create and bolster communities that could use an economic shot in the arm or a full do over. Hospitals, retail, homes…that’s what happens when jobs arrive.
Buying into a new brand of Identity Politics is not the way to change. It’s the way in which the elite pacify the rest of us (see corporate label changes). Statues are just a giant meme to the ruling class. You must be ready to dig. Does it matter that the CEOs of the major defense contractors are women? (“Gee, they get to kill people like men, yay!”) To paraphrase an unintended joke out of American Exceptionalism, American Innocence by Danny Haiphong and Roberto Sirvent, “it’s like decrying the Mafia for their ethnocentric hiring practices.”
BLM, you have the opportunity to truly change history or we will fail again by repeating it.