Encyclopedias

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I’ve been looking at a stack of encyclopedias for two weeks, wondering how to give them away to someone who could use them for . . . anything. Book art. Collage. Origami. Because who needs outdated old books that just take up space when we have The Internet?

Apparently, we all do because we haven’t learnt that bit about “Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it.”*

We dismissed as hyperbole the comparisons to dictators, mesmerized crowds, inner circles of people with the most extreme viewpoints and palpable anger when confronted regarding those viewpoints. “This is a distraction from the distraction from the real thing.” The real thing was what? Loathing of the “other” and celebration of the mediocre. The real distraction was convincing us that never advancing in life, never “getting above your raising,” preserving the red clay and coal dust that drove our grandparents and great-grandparents into early graves was the American dream. Education is for the ignorant elitist (edit). Men belong in the mine and the factory. Women belong in the home. Black people belong in the shanty settlement just outside of town. People with disabilities shouldn’t be seen. LGBT people just shouldn’t be. If you can’t afford to call the doctor to your house, you don’t deserve to see the doctor. If you can afford to see the doctor, if you’re deserving, you’re blessed by God. If you’re poor, you don’t have God’s blessing, and no one should help you because if people keep helping you, you’ll never learn.

Did we learn anything in the last 24 hours from a bunch of entitled young male punks in khakis, carrying citronella torches from Party City? Did we learn anything from the fact that a person plowed their car into a group of anti-Nazi protestors, put it in reverse, and ran down more people? Did we learn anything from the murder of a woman struck by the car and the deaths of two law enforcement officers who were killed when their police helicopter crashed for as yet unknown reasons?

We better have fucking learned. We better have fucking learned that we have a mealy-mouthed imposter in the White House (except for when he’s golfing or holding Youth Rallies) who is pouring fuel all over the “disaffected” college dudebros like lighter fluid on charcoal. Are we going to demand his removal from office, or are we going to hand another can of lighter fluid to him?

I don’t think that we learned yet, YET, because the talking heads on the news still can’t call the tiki torch bros Nazis. I don’t think that we learned yet because the talking heads are still calling the vehicular homicide a “car accident.” I don’t think that we learned yet because no one has had the guts to say, “Nazis carried torches through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia and held a rally that led to three deaths over the removal of a statue.”

A statue.

A FUCKING STATUE.

The person who groped his way to the White House got there because:

He’s rich.

He’s a B-list celebrity that some find entertaining.

He vowed to undo everything that The Colored Man did.

He played to the fear and selfishness of the salt of the earth, who live vicariously through his bullshit.

I read a couple of comments from WWII vets and thought that they are like encyclopedias. What they have to say about the events in Charlottesville are critical, but we’re not going to learn because they’re outdated. And what they fought against could never really happen here, except it keeps happening, because we never learn.

*George Santayana

Edited for grammar 8-13-2017

 

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