Friday, June 7, 2019

Don't Buy Into a Flase Narrative of Them vs. Us

David Brooks - whom I do have a problem with generally, but I am not angry here - brings up an interesting issue. But I think he gives America a false choice.

First his issue. He gives a quick history lesson here (which I agree with)...
When I was a boy I was taught a certain story about America. This was the land of opportunity. Immigrants came to this land and found an open field and a fair chance to pursue their dreams. In this story Benjamin Franklin could be held up as the quintessential American — the young hustler, who through his ingenuity and dogged self-improvement created new businesses and communities, a new sort of person and a new sort of country.
This was a unifying national story. When it dominated, politics was over which party could offer the most opportunity.
 But then he gives us a false new narrative. He divides the new thought process into "multiculturalists"  and "Trumpists".  Here is what he thinks.
Both Trumpists and their opponents have also de-emphasized the Ben Franklin narrative and embraced narratives that put race at the center. Trump’s narrative is: We real Americans (white) have to protect our culture from the alien (brown) who would weaken it.
The opposing narrative is something like this: America began with a crime — stealing the land from Native Americans. It continued with an atrocity, slavery. The American story is the conflict between oppressors who seek to preserve white supremacy and people who seek to move beyond it. The essential American struggle is to confront the national sin, have a racial reckoning and then seek reconciliation.
I think this is a false choice, completely.

I believe that, of course, we started from a bad place. But that doesn't mean ALL those old white men were horrible. The stealing of American was possible because of ravages of illnesses the natives weren't  immune to (I think that is pretty well defined). And the crimes of slavery were terrible.

But the answer is neither his choice A nor B. No. The only way to go forward is to make the "American Dream" accessible to all of our citizens. Spend less on military and more on people, on school, on opportunities. Build infrastructure for all. Create access for the internet in rural areas - we can do that. Open the American dream up to all Americans. Children in Westchester shouldn't have much better schools (and opportunities) than children in Harlem or the Bronx or SouthCentral LA.

We should have an option for public higher education. We opened High School up to all students because it was important when we did it. Now college or trade schools are important for all. I am not saying pay for Harvard for all, but I paid $700 a year for UCLA when I went in the 70s / 80s. It is $21,000 a year now (for in-state!). Public schools should be free or affordable.

Health care shouldn't bankrupt middle class after one accident!

We need a country that works for everyone. And that doesn't mean poor get "free stuff", it means that America runs for all of us.

That still leaves immigration a problem, I know that. But first things first.

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