A very strange society...
Growing up in South Africa from 1946 to 1987 meant living with racism as actual government policy. Races were strictly segregated and compartmentalized; the better jobs were reserved for whites, while blacks were educated and trained primarily to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water." Intermingling was strictly forbidden; different races could not live together, eat together, sleep together, or marry each other.
Voters were segregated. If you were black, you were permitted to vote in your ancestral "homeland" — a small tribal area rather like an Indian reservation in America — that had no real political power and few resources and was located far from the centers of commerce and industry.
The white governing party enforced this policy of "apartheid" (apartness) with brutal efficiency. A white opposition party that proposed a more just and equitable society for all races in South Africa had no hope of ever winning an election, much to the (private) relief of its supporters.
It was, as one commentator observed, a very strange society. In case you were wondering about the meaning of the American left's new catchphrase, "systemic racism," and what it looks like when actually implemented and enforced, that was it, in South Africa, from 1948 to the early 1990s.
What we have in America is not "it." Not by the farthest stretch of the most fevered progressive imagination does America in 2020 come anywhere near systemic racism or endemic racism. Yes, of course there are racists in America, and murderers, thieves, rapists, and baby-killers, too. Their numbers are a fraction of the whole, and they are marginalized by our legal system and our culture (with the strange exception of baby-killers — but that's a topic for a different conversation).
When I came to America in 1990, first to work (as a "resident alien") and much later as a (legal) immigrant and newly minted American citizen, I was enormously grateful to have secured a future in a land of promise so different from anything I had seen during my travels to every part of the world. There has not been, and likely will never be again, anything quite like America as originally founded and constructed during its relatively young life.
But a mystifying fact became clear to me long before I gladly took the oath of citizenship: that America was descending blindly into a minefield of warring camps that would inevitably tear this great nation apart. The very strange society I had left behind seemed, incredibly, to be resurrecting on these fabled shores in a virulent new form of apartheid supported by black hyphenated Americans living in segregated enclaves where they attended segregated schools and colleges and voted in black congressional districts and celebrated a black Christmas named Kwanzaa, a fabrication with tenuous links to Africa, whose chief merit seemed to be the fact that it separated blacks from whites at a time of year that traditionally brought most people together.
It's not called apartheid here — the trendy new word is "multiculturalism." But it is just the same old thing in new clothes, given form and substance by white cultural elites dazzled by their own brilliance, who confer sainthood on shameless black race-hustlers working the system for fame and profit, and lately on anyone else who emerges as a leader of the next trendy cause that gives birth to a new cultural tribe staking claim to a slice of the American pie for its exclusive gain.
The whole thing is a deadly charade so bizarre that we are now expected to celebrate warring bands of fascist thugs looting and burning and shooting their way through our cities and suburbs in the name of anti-fascism.
The charade will not end well. We have, I believe, only one chance left, on Nov. 3, to stop our downward slide into an abyss from which we will not emerge for a long time, if ever. I pray we get it right, because I have nowhere else to go if America fails.
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Photo illustration by Monica Showalter with use of Needpix and Pixabay public domain images.