Home Opinion Fred Ohwahwa: The demystification of America

Fred Ohwahwa: The demystification of America

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By Fred Ohwahwa

Wednesday November 6, 2021 will go down as a day of infamy in the history of the United States. It is a day many Americans would not like to be reminded of. Even millions of admirers of America across the world are equally embarrassed. When a mob of degenerates overrun your National Assembly, it is not a thing to be proud of.

For sure, there will be recriminations for the next few weeks on what happened and why it happened. That some hoodlums desecrated the United states Congress with minimal resistance from the law enforcement agencies is a telling indictment on the fragility of the American system. It is obvious that Americans spend so much time talking on television and paying scant attention to protecting the institutions that make America a beacon of hope to billions of people around the world. And it is such a shame that they have allowed partisanship to blind them to the need to be loyal first and foremost to their country and not to their parties or a fake demagogue.

Many American commentators have compared what happened on June 6, 2021 to things that happen in a dictatorship in so-called Third World countries. I respectfully disagree. This will not happen in such countries. No dictator will allow some hoodlums to threaten the subsisting government as we saw on that day. Some misguided idiots marching into the National Assembly, entering the chambers and one of them taking pictures while sitting on the Speaker’s chair. Naaa! That is inconceivable. It will not be allowed to happen. There will be enough policemen and soldiers to prevent that.

For many years, the United states served as an inspiration to different peoples all over the world; a country that was a beacon of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. People looked up to America for example to follow. Which is why the country remains a land of immigrants: a pot pourri of peoples of all nations. Many of the people who have achieved exceptional feats in various human endeavours who are Americans can readily trace their origins to other countries. Many migrated to the United States.

All that magnificent heritage was put at risk on Wednesday January 6, 2021 by Donald Trump and his supporters of bandits and philistines. Because they lack a sense of history and are actually idiots and miscreants, they do not know the overarching symbolism of the Capitol in Washington DC. They are the same people who would readily destroy the statues of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr which are nearby if they had the opportunity. Many of them do not know what those icons stand for.

They say they want to take their country back.  From whom? From where? So those who don’t agree with them are not citizens of America? Such wayward thinking is the hallmark of their worldview. Add the fact they operate in a fact-free world and are enmeshed in conspiracy theories, their pathetic picture is complete.

These are not Republican party members, though they claim to be and they coalesced to foist Donald Trump on the United States. Most of them are actually low-grade and no-class human beings. Now that their man is set to vacate the seat power, the party will surely reinvent itself and become recognizable.

In 1994, I had the opportunity of touring the Capitol with fellow international visitors from different countries. More than 26 years after, I still remember the sheer magnificence of the people’s parliament: the aura, the decorum, the order, the security (even before 911 changed the world), etc. During the four weeks I was in that country, I traversed many states and had a better understanding of the American political system and the American Dream. You are left with a better appreciation of their system and wish that back home, your country would be able to replicate a similar model.

It was during the same trip I was in Austin, Texas to further learn about the politics of the country. I remember it was that year that George W. Bush was contesting for the governorship of that state against the very popular incumbent, the late Ann Richards. We were at his campaign headquarters and I remember his Campaign Manager pulled some of us aside and conspiratorially confided that Bush’s aim for the Texas governor’s mansion is simply a forerunner for a push for the presidency. That was six before he ran for the President! That is the way America is structured. Not the nonsense we have seen in the past four years.

All human beings need people to inspire them. And we have seen how people have succeeded in life with inspiration role models and mentors. As it is true for individuals, so it is for countries. The United states and many other countries have inspired others over the years. That is one of the legacies Trump and his enablers have tried to damage in the past five years.

Some of us know that the United States is not a perfect society; we have refused to be hoodwinked by Hollywood and the avalanche of literature from that country. We are aware of its less than sterling history. This includes slavery and Jim crow, racism, misbegotten interventions in many countries in the name of fighting the Cold War and so many other deficiencies.

If you have read Roots by Alex Haley or watched the film, the evil of slavery upon which much of America was built will be clear to you. Books such Black Boy, Native Son, Uncle Tom’s Children by Richard Wright lay bare the ugliness of racism. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is the icing on the cake of the dehumanizing effects of racism on the Black American. So also The Fire Next Time and Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. Black American literature is replete with institutional racism and how Blacks have tried to overcome it over the centuries. Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Ta Nehisi-Coates in their writings remind us that racism is alive and well in America.

So, America is no perfect society. And the more reflective of its people, including politicians, recognize and acknowledge this. They talk about working towards “a more perfect union”. But not Trump and his crowd. They believe that they can make America great again by going to the past. The past that is replete with racism, discrimination and oppression. They are the people who want to close the gates against immigrants, forgetting that most of themselves are the children or grandchildren of immigrants. They are the ones who fail to recognize the native Americans, the original owners of the land they now claim is their own. The native Americans are still fighting for the rights in the land of their forebears.

This lack of historical understanding, this shameless ignorance, is a signal definition of Trump and his supporters. (That is those among them that Hillary Clinton called the “basket of deplorables”). If it were that alone, we would have been hopeful of a remedy. For though their society is so divided, there is nothing new about that; most societies are divided. But such divisions are well managed within civilized boundaries. But when you have many people which character deficiencies and values that rankle, you know that there is a problem. The Ku Klux Klan, the Proud Boys, the QANON, etc, are in this category. And they have a godfather in Trump, who is such a bad man.

A yob in the US capitol

Michael Cohen, his lawyer and confidant for more than a decade, described him thus: “Apart from his wife and children, I knew Trump better than anyone else did. In some ways, I knew him better than even his family did, because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”

When you have such a person superintending over the life of a sophisticated society like the United States, the predictable outcome is disaster. Even long time supporters and enablers have come to realise that he has crossed the line with this invasion of the Capitol. Don’t mind his afterthought condemnation of the event. For we have seen  a video of him and his clan salivating over the mayhem while it was going on.

Peggy Noonan, an arch-conservative who takes no prisoners characterized Trump thus after the ugly development: “He is a bad man and not a stable one and he is dangerous. America is not safe in his hands.”

Mercifully, he has less than 12 days to pack his load and leave the people’s house. And it is the hope that Americans will never elect such a disreputable person ever again.