The time for cognitive dissonance, for denial, is past. It turns out Barack Obama was wrong. We are two Americas. It is true we are not separated by red and blue states. The contrast is far greater than that. Less superficial, more divisive and permanent. We are two hands. Two ambidextrous fists that keep slamming into each other unable to recognize that we are attached to the same body. One tattooed with the word “hate” across its knuckles and the other “love.”
We have denied the obvious for far too long. Handicapped ourselves by alternating which hand was tied behind our back for long stretches of our history. It is time to make a choice. To amputate an appendage and choose our country’s identity once and for all. To advance the dreams of our fathers requires we now pick a dominant side.
This is not a choice that can be prayed away. There are no alternative facts. One hand reflects the audacity of hope and dreams of our ancestors. It appends to those outraged by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and the countless other lives lost. Clenches in silent protest of those who kneel in defiance of the institutionalized racism that caused them. Points in condemnation of the prejudice rendered by Lady Justice that renders their deaths hollow.
It is the fist we used to smash through the bonds of slavery and defeat the grasp of Nazi facism. The hand extended by FDR, Susan B, MLK, Margaret, JFK, Ruth Bader and Barack as they took on world leaders and espoused the virtues of American exceptionalism. The fist we raise in pride for our immigrant heritage and in our standing as the beacon for hope and liberty to the world’s oppressed.
The other hand is no less powerful or prevalent in our nation’s history. It is the hand that draws false equivalents between those who protest for equality and freedom with those who represent hatred and ignorance. The one we use to point at and dehumanize people. The hand extended by those who kneel at the heels of Confederate statues and on the necks of our most vulnerable minorities. The one that cracks the whip and pulls refugees from our borders. That locks the cages on immigrant children as if they are less than human. As if they are “animals,” unworthy of the basic inalienable rights bestowed upon all men.
It is the fist that holds the tiki torches, burns crosses, and straps nooses and assault rifles to their bodies to intimidate. The one that targets our sons and daughters in their crosshairs and pulls the trigger as if they are of no more value than an avatar. The hand extended by Jackson, Lee, Cheney, McCarthy, Anton and Trump as they alienated world leaders and espoused the virtues of “America first.” The fist we raise in acknowledgement of white power and to build the walls that defend our borders.
It is time our citizenry choose a hand. The choice appears obvious to me. Love will always trump hate in the end.