American Irony

The Music Man, 1962

Day in and day out we see people — usually identified as white or real Americans— who are appalled that the presidential candidate they that hoped could bring back to the Good Ol’ Days of reliable pensions, subsidized suburban housing through government backed loans, and single income households, has turned out to be exactly what he has always been: a liar. Like a used car salesperson of the same era that he often refers back to, he is someone who will say anything to you to get the car off of the lot. And no sooner wash his hands of you once the paperwork is signed. However, in the case of the Republican Party, President Trump, Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway — now aided by their new trumpeters Sean Spicer and Steven Miller — they nearly two years convincing you that the car you currently own, or your hypothetically owned car . One that if you didn’t buy one from them, it is the worst car in the world, and they are the only source of reliable, luxurious conveyance. Which we all know now is crap. Also, this version of history entirely fails to acknowledge that the Good Ol’ Days were a direct result the decimation of the biggest economies on the European continent during World War II. Moreover, the resulting prosperity in the United States was mainly afforded to whites at the expense of their black counterparts.

But for a particular group of people who consider themselves Real Americans, the crap is just now beginning to smell and they want nothing of it. And that is the great American Irony. For example, the issues around the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many Americans who emphatically voted for Trump (or against Hillary) who have benefitted from the (albeit flawed and expensive) ACA by another name, did not take the candidate Trump, or any republicans for that matter, seriously when he said that they would repeal it. There is a common misconception that these folks were too dumb to realize that their health insurance was, in fact, Obamacare. The sales people of right effectively were selling their constituents’ and customers hatred and fear of Obama — a proxy for anyone perceived as foreign — back to them. Obama new this, owned it, and even called it Obamacare himself as it was his signature bill. However it was not out of vanity. Obamacare was a cleverly coined nickname to pray on the prejudices of the population that believed the 44th president was a Muslim, not born in America or the antichrist. All in an attempt by the conservative class to vilify something that has helped many millions of people, the same way they vilified President Obama himself.

The conservative class also offered no real alternative, short a Paul Ryan plan that many doubt is actually feasible without upending millions of Americans’ existing coverage through the ACA. They based their entire argument in framing the ACA as the “worst thing in the world.” You see, for these people, they have to sell you an apocalyptic disaster first, at no cost to you, so they can sell you their solution at a price that they set. This is never a good sign, although it is a classic salesperson’s method.

This is perhaps the greatest illustration and example of people voting on prejudice and either being willfully ignorant, or in complete denial about the flimsy to non-existent policies that their preferred party campaigned around.

Irony, or the contradictions that it points out, cannot be detected when your whole foundation of truth is based in a reality where one can never be wrong.

In order for irony to truly exist, it requires self awareness. Like fire needs oxygen. If there is no self awareness, irony warps and begins to look like an accusation and one becomes defensive. But in reality, it is simply the truth presenting itself. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have the whole world look like a foreign place for the first time. However, what we are seeing now, all stems from the Great American Lie that: this land — or any land for that matter — that is The United States in particular, was divinely bequeathed to the European settlers who now call themselves white, via a gift from the Native American indigenous peoples. A Lie that has been reinforced through revisionist histories over a half a millennium. Irony, or the contradictions that it points out, cannot be detected when your whole foundation of truth is based in a reality where one can never be wrong. This is why there is no actual conservative comedy.

Here we have another American Irony. Neither hand is clean, and we, the people, have to suffer while they argue about which one is dirtiest. I’m afraid we do not have that much time.

Social conservatism — often touted as “traditional American values” — is, in effect, a contraction of the human spirit. The far right, conservative political class has done an impressive job of conflating people’s economic self-interests with morality and religion. Where as the liberal political class has done an equally good job at conflating the inhumane, anti-social behavior of the conservative class with economic and social. Essentially they are blaming each other for the same thing. All of this is self-serving, as both parties are funded primarily boy corporate and private interest monies. It is just that the left cloaks its interest in an appeal for humanity at home, while it destroys lives elsewhere through war in service of an economic interest. While the far right dispenses all of its contempt for humanity, and legislative terrorism equally, both domestically and abroad. Here we have another American Irony. Neither hand is clean, and we, the people, have to suffer while they argue about which one is dirtiest. I’m afraid we do not have that much time.

I write a lot about the black and white dichotomy in this country, as it is an apt contemporary allegory for all of human interaction, but mostly because affects me extremely personally. I am a young, black man. From my point of view, the world doesn’t care for me very much. They care for my art and my culture, but short of that, my humanity and my body are disposable. This is a hell of a way to go through life. This is why when I read stories like the one about the Georgia couple who terrorized a black child’s birthday party by screaming racial slurs and pointing weapons at them, I question my own sanity when I do not become immediately enraged.

After being sentenced to prison for celebrating their heritage, the female defendant turns around to say, through tears, that “that’s not me” and “I would never say that to you” whilst also apologizing as if they were not involved. All of this, even though though there is footage, is evidence of the The Lie and how it manifests in would be perpetrators of white terror. Somehow, white people can simultaneously do something, have their ugliness be unequivocally presented to them, and and then in their mind, can turn to their victim and deny it ever happened. This is a fantasy and delusion that I will never personally understand. But societally I do understand, and as the recipient and witness to this systemic abuse, I can say with absolute conviction that if we do not wake up soon, there will be nothing left to wake up to.

It is you. It has always been you. And these are your children.

The current administration is representative of a worldview that is about the size of a pinhole. It is a group of people so invested in The Lie that they will undo anything and everything around them that benefits anyone that challenges The Lie. People of color — especially black people — have always known this. And for some, participating in the lie means they can keep their life. And no, I’m not talking about a lifestyle, I mean their mortal life. But no matter how much say, an immigrant attempts to assimilate, a system based entirely The Great American Lie, will always have the potential to turn on you, no matter how much you play along. This fact is becoming more evident than ever because it is cracking the realities of the people who benefit from The Lie most.

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