Most of the time…the vast majority of the time…Amazing Stories only concerns itself with the mundane world when something mundane impacts one of our sisteren or bretheren. And those kinds of things are – the vast majority of the time – only found in our news round-up on Sunday, presented as an item you might find interesting if you care to visit some other website to read, in other’s words, what they have to say.
I’m going to make a rare break in that wall today in order to put a plug in for sanity, for decency and for the future of not only the United States, but also for the displaced and rootless sub-culture that is the science fiction community, and for the future itself.
Minority sub-cultures always pay a price when autocrats, dictators and strongmen rule the roost. Always and without fail. Why? Because they are constantly in search of someone to blame and scapegoat; after you’ve rounded up one minority class and your problems aren’t solved, you need to round up another, and another and another….
There is something damning in our psyches that causes us to go against our better judgments and instincts from time to time and this time is one of those times. In the late 1800s we abolished slavery because we finally came to recognize that moral stain for what it was.. We emancipated an entire race of citizens. We made national heroes out of abolitionists, escaped slaves and a gangling, greatly troubled man from Illinois.
And then we allowed a whole region of this country to continue the practice of slavery in all but name. We are still shaming ourselves, daily, with that lapse of judgment and failure of character.
In the 1940s we rounded up a whole race of citizens because some thought they might not be as loyal to this country as other citizens were during a time of war.
After that war ended, we were ashamed of our actions. Our own Supreme Court found those actions to have been unconstitutional. We are just beginning to really deal with that shame, 70 years later.
Shortly after we’d “gotten over” the internment camp thing, we allowed a bigoted, self-aggrandizing, power-hungry, bullying junior Senator to cow us into doing the exact same thing with different tools. It was no longer necessary to lock the scapegoats up, all you had to do was deny them the opportunity to earn a living.
The legacy of that era is still with us. If nothing else, it changed our pledge and our money. Some of us thought it had made us wary of demagogues in politicians clothes.
Those are just the major beats of our well-established history of trampling on our own self-proclaimed rights, the moral integrity we routinely shout to the rest of the world. In the past we’ve justified the demonizing and scapegoating of Chinese, Jews, Irish, Italians, Latinos, Gays, Catholics,…: just about every minority you can think of has, at one time or another, been blamed for the ills of greater society and been made to pay.
About the only redeeming quality one can find in that sad history is that at some point, our better selves wake up once more, we castigate and flagellate ourselves, vow to do better next time….
…and then we don’t.
It is now the 16th year of the 21st century. Two hundred and forty years have passed since the founding of this country. It is long past the time when we should have learned this lesson.
Let us, please, not make the same mistake again.