Ever since 911, in my estimation, politicians, academics, people in general, have branded Muslims as scapegoats. In our popular usage in this culture a scapegoat is a person or a group that is blamed as a whole, for social, communal reasons, issues & problems.
Now, with Republican candidate Ben Carson’s (his statement that he wouldn’t want a Muslim to be President) throwing in the scapegoat card into the Republican race. At another speaking engagement (after his first comment) remarked that Muslims, or any other group that doesn’t respect the values, the culture, American principles of life, & lifestyle shouldn’t be chosen to be the leader of this nation, i.e., President.
Carson appears not to understand the dynamics of a White Supremacist System (here I’m not alluding to an extremist group, but to the overall systemic structure that fuels our nation). What he put into words is already being played out in our society today. For example, the White Supremacist System has always been about the enrichment of White Americans, and it’s always been about assimilation. Why? So they can do the work we don’t want to do.
Isn’t there even a slight possibility that people arriving from other cultures would like to participate in an open & free culture (on paper, that is), while continuing to preserve their own culture’s customs, ways of celebration & food, ways of noting important & significant time-milestones, music, dress, affinity with others who’ve arrived in the U.S., language, academics, trades, employment, potentializing their own prosperity for themselves & their families?
When the politics of racism, along with the rising rigidity, lack of tolerance & acceptance on the social scene, we have more of the politics of exclusivism, extremism & a more emotional & biased baseline than on a basis of facts, fewer statistics (don’t forget, you can still lie with statistics!) & political policies that often inhibit the wellness (in social, healthcare, & psychological dimensions) of the nation and immigrants who come here for a more improved life for themselves & families.
In light of a comparison with a more accurate picture of how the White Supremacist System functions, Carson’s political statements bring us down the river to unexpected twists, turns & derailments. So, we now have an African American presidential candidate, albeit, in his political discourse & simply arrogant claims (his statements merge into an image of ‘we’re the best culture & country in the world;’ thus, every person running for President across the board to the “average American,” is a representative of ‘our beautiful union).’ Ah, perfection is a many splendored thing!
In effect, Carson justifies a back-stepping by all those who love justice. He’s putting a kind of frosting on the cake that helps bring a Patriarchal Hierarchy (with a new set of clothes) back into our views & practices.
He’s thrown in his hand with the political agenda that will perpetuate the politics of fear, intimidation & imperialism. The motivation for this is spawned from the ready pool of those who feel superior to those of another ethnicity other than White, or those who feel internalized inferior due to the workings of the White Supremacist System. In other words, keeping ourselves on top while others are kept down.
My guess is that Ben Carson has forgotten much of what he knew about being an African American living in a racist culture. Elitism also plays a part here—don’t forget that he is a surgeon, a sometimes elite & professional role in work & the community; therefore, he seems to lack the graciousness & clear-thinking needed by any candidate for the presidency.
Another conjecture is that he knows he’s pandering to those who believe that all of our problems are due to Muslims, the scapegoats. Anecdotally, after he made these statements about Muslims, he bragged to the world, that his political coffers were filled—so he must figure this is one way to finance his campaign.
A good lesson for any politician is the recognition that people tend to throw money at problems. If you can’t fix it, try to buy it off, try some new project. When it comes to growing a racially-sound consciousness, we’re talking about something much deeper than buying raffle tickets.
And here’s the thing: for those who buy into these old school notions of cultural competency, and want to throw money or ridicule at people, they become commiserates & colluders with the White Supremacist System. Even silence is an assent to the system; it’s easier & more comfortable to jump in a river and let the current take you away, than to engage in political resistance. The latter takes consciousness, commitment & compassion. It’s not a day in the park, but a day in a kind of “bootcamp.”
Interestingly enough, September 22, 2015 was the Day of Atonement for folks of the Jewish religion. The day is based on the Judaic tradition, where once a year the High Priest would select a goat to carry the sins of the nation. A man took the goat out to the Judean desert. This was, for them, a ritualistic practice for reconciliation with God for all.
The man took the goat out to the desert & tried to push the goat down the side of a mountain to its sure demise; however, if the goat escaped from the goatly avalanche, got away, it was considered an evil omen.
After this, the man would take the broken bones & the carcass of the goat back to the High Priest, and they would begin the liturgical sacrifice.
Knowing how different the milieus were, from that time until now, we can see, the goat wasn’t really a scapegoat, but was a symbol for getting rid of sins, and reconciliation. The goat’s role was to do just what it did.
When we use the word scapegoat, those who have a ‘risen consciousness’ can see that this is a diabolical illusion. One person or group being the blame for everyone’s problems? What we don’t often think of is this: do I take my personal responsibility for trying to live a good life? I think I’m doing OK, so why not simply place it on someone else’s head?
When we listen to political rhetoric we have to use our critical thinking skills to ask ourselves a few questions:
1). What is the source of information that the politician uses for his/her claims?
2). Are their statements facts-based, or are they just personal opinions, fancies, stereotypical thinking, or inferences made, that become the politician’s story line?
3). Politicians use political rhetoric that is laced with self-generated bravado about their own ideas; political rhetoric is generally filled with “glittering generalities” and doesn’t talk much about the less abstract, incremental pieces of their platform.
Sadly, give me some of that old “American Spirit,” is a form of exceptionalism (the idea of an America in superiority to others, and that there is some “divine plan” that White, European Americans were chosen to fulfill over other peoples who inhabit earth). Better think twice on that one!