COLUMBIA — I can vaguely remember when it was considered impolite to bring up politics or religion in public discussions. That, of course, was during the time when there was such a thing as appropriate and inappropriate behavior and being well-brought up was considered a social grace and people cared about things like that.
Nowadays, America is considered a place where anything goes, and that's the way the general public likes it. After all, if people were forbidden to tell lies about other people over the Internet, the government would be accused of interfering with somebody's right to freedom of speech.
One could probably hear Missouri people screaming from here to Washington, D.C. At least these days none but the most unscrupulous talebearer would try to convince anyone that America is the great melting pot. The country is full of large groups and small ones that stoke the fires of racial, cultural and religious animosity around the clock. Apparently, this is what some Americans think is freedom, and they are letting it ring out.
It's pitiful that these race-cultural-religious haters are creating such a fuss over something that they must ultimately endure. Actually, I would imagine that there aren't many neighborhoods in the United States that have not undergone a cultural change or two in the last five years.
With our literacy problems, I, personally, have a difficult time taking a lot of these arguments seriously. It's been my experience that some Americans know very little about any race, culture or religion except their own. They get most of their information not from books but from other people, mostly people they hear speaking in their churches and on television. Most of the Christians in my acquaintance know very little about Judaism and are completely ignorant on the subject of Islam or the Hindu religion. Many of them are basically clueless about the differences between Catholics and Protestants.
I'm convinced that if television were used exclusively as an educational tool then within two years most of this anger based on race, culture and religion would come to an end. But, because it is used as a tool for the perpetuation of capitalism, the animosity will go on, endlessly. So, we must go on losing ground while other countries build themselves up.
If all these people who claim they want their country back had a plan to solve all the real problems we have in this country then most of us would be thrilled to have them take it back. America is never going to be populated by individuals of one race, one culture or one religion. And surprisingly, a lot of us like it that way.
America is never again going to be controlled by one race. So, if that is what people mean about taking their country back, they should have been told a long time ago that the country does not belong to them.
Fortunately, we still have a substantial number among our millions who continue to read newspapers and books and will never buy into this hogwash being peddled by dishonest politicians and their friends. Most Americans, I think, truly want the country to live up to its promise. They want the country to be respected among nations. Only a minority made up of idiots wants to see America drown in a cesspool of racial, cultural and religious bigotry.
This entire uproar is about individuals who cannot stand to have a biracial president. Every man, woman and child who grew up in America and lived through the civil rights movement of the 1960s understands that all the racists who showed their loyalties to Southern culture then have not changed their position today. Most of us successfully overlooked them in the past.
The new reality of having a man of color as the country's leader is too much for them to handle, so like children they must act out. And undoubtedly, they will make trouble wherever they can.
The good news is that there are not many avenues for them to travel. This may well be the last opportunity they have to express their hatefulness because they will be very lucky if the next generation tolerates their toxic agenda.
Most of us would like to put the past behind us and move forward. Those who are unable to do that will probably live out the rest of their lives trying to resurrect dead ideas and bad history.
I'll say it again: Life is too short for that sort of thing.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.