The noted American novelist, William Faulkner, empirically observed “The past is not dead, it is not even past.” Faulkner, especially interested in the Southern dynamic during the Civil War postbellum period, is revealed to be brilliantly prescient by, among many other probative illustrations, the shameful perpetuation of Jim Crow prejudice among many white citizens in the contemporary United States. The identical ignorance, unfounded fear, and biased perception, constituting the signature components of racial prejudice, seem to constitute a chronic pathology, prolonging its virulent sepsis over the decades. Ingrained prejudice has proven to be a resistant part of the bigot’s psyche, empirically, as amenable to amendment, as the ignorant bigot’s systemic resistance to enlightenment.
Such atavistic replication was made demonstrably evident and was typified, by a poster boy of the pernicious Dark Ages, Donald J. Trump; who, himself, conceivably, was as much a tragic product, as a disruptor, of our overblown presumptions of significant progress in rational enlightenment and modernity. It does not require a sociologist or anthropologist, to observe the analogous replication of many Dark Ages, inhumane practices, and irrational beliefs, prevalent in our “modern” society.
Faulkner’s literary observation is ubiquitously valid in all contexts, literary, empirical, and historical. Although contemporary America may be externally perceived as glamorously adorned in the glitzy costume of contemporary digital electronics, in competently construing medical marvels such as anti-virus vaccines, in exponentially improving devices for inter-active communication capability and most remarkably, human probing of the borders of outer space. Nevertheless, as we see it, objective and incisive analysis will predictably result in the observation that “modern America” is, fundamentally replicating many of the appalling features of mankind in Medieval Europe’s “Dark Ages.”
The cruel practice of capital punishment persists. While the signature sadistic practices of torture and killing in Medieval days, have been stylistically replaced by modern high voltage and lethal injection, we remain sufficiently savage to administer painful death to convicted criminals [at times, erroneously].
The Dark Ages’ rejection of secular advancement through science and enlightenment, is today replicated by millions of “modern” American citizens, who, for advice and information, refer to the body of superstitious beliefs, contained in the “Good Book,” [written, 2nd Century BCE], and to empirically disproven aphorisms, myths, and delusionally based conspiracies. Trump tactically utilized such inclination to irrationality, to amass a base of upwards of 70 million loyal and ignorant sycophants.
The many thousands of lives lost through cultish compliance with Trump’s populist style and ignorance, in advising inaction [non-protection] against a world pandemic of an infectious and aggressively mutating virus, is not entirely distinguishable from the context of bells and black uniforms and chanting, of the Medieval period of the Black Plague. Unfortunately, our contemporary plague still thrives in its unrelenting infection and lethality, due to the prevailing ignorance of millions of Americans, i.e., Trump “anti-vaxers” and the irrational believers in propitiation by non-worldly agents.
Our “modern” nation is a replicative study of Medieval, Dark History, in its xenophobia and resistance to foreign immigration; the eternally perceived threat of malevolent “others” continues, full bore. Agreements or Concords between Nations are in most part, essentially, compacts for alignment in the event of war. National hatreds, viz., North and South Korea. Russia and the United States, Ethiopia, Yemen and Eritrea, Iran v. Israel, Palestinians against Israel, Russia v, Belarus, Mainland China against Taiwan, China against Hong Kong, and far too many others; not to exclude the many bloody, religious wars between respective, Sunni and Shia Middle East Countries.
We might as well candidly confess to the Nation’s religious hatred, sexual travesties, unabated murder by zealous gun owners, racial and ethnic prejudice, reductionist ignorance, acts of sociopathic hatred against the gay community, privileged class treatment [ re: taxes, university, employment], unjust criminal system, irresponsible despoiling of the environment, crass worship of wealth and influence above enlightenment and wisdom, tribal, insular divisiveness, populist false dogma, and generally and embarrassingly, to slightly less than half of the Nation, being insufficiently schooled and informed.
It will not profit America to continue to content itself with the rationalization, founded on a comparative basis, that it is the most progressive and democratic of Nations. We cannot realistically aspire to the goal of a truly rational, moral, and desirable society, unless and until, we beneficially comprehend and face, the grim American reality of widespread, illiteracy, bias, irrational belief systems, xenophobia, and paucity of universal empathy.
We might profitably start, with a candid and objective look at the evils of American Black Slavery and as well, the history of the Federal Government’s duplicitous treatment of the first Americans. It well may be that a thoughtful, albeit at times painful, glance into the National looking glass is ultimately, the best impetus, toward the desired achievement of the classic American promise.