Culture

The Civil War Never Ended: The Racist Deep Culture Foundation of Trump’s Insurrection Riot (part 3)


This is the third installment of a three, but maybe we’re going to expand it to four, part series on the racist deep culture that is driving the political divide in the US. The first post laid the foundation by defining and discussing deep culture and how it linked to Trump’s insurrection riot and his Big Lie about the election. The second one examined the lingering influences of our Puritan and Calvinist forebears. And, this third one will look at how our racist deep culture has caused the worst compromises over race in our country. We’ll begin with a quick review of deep culture and the views of Puritans and Calvinists that have made it into American culture.

Introducing Deep Culture and the Contributions of the Puritans and Calvinists

Deep culture is the unconscious collection of beliefs, norms, and values that form the foundation of our behaviors and mental processes. It operates wholly outside of our conscious awareness yet still has great influence over our behavior and mental processes. These presumptions are what allow an armed white guy to present a fraudulent inauguration document and be armed with a loaded glock and carrying 550 rounds with him to be arrested and not shot to death as most black people would be in that situation. The police looking at this guy saw the same thing, a harmless white guy despite Trump’s insurrection riot having taken place a week ago and threats against the inauguration. And, deep culture allows police to see the same thing when they stop a black person, a threat so severe, they fear for their very lives. It allows us to predict the outcome of most social situations by allowing us to understand the motivations of those we encounter. These cultural beliefs are passed from one generation to the next, so it changes very slowly.

Puritans and Calvinists believed that god would show his love for us as individuals by preordaining us to live successful Christian lives. So, if you were successful, it was because god had preordained your trip to heaven. If you were poor or unsuccessful, it was because god didn’t love you and you were destined for hell. This belief gave rise to a mighty motivation to be successful and to watch and judge your neighbors. Since black people came to America as slaves, our forebears assumed it was because god wanted us not only to have slaves but to have these people as slaves. They had earned it by not being successful and loved by god. It made for a very convenient circular self-fulfilling prophesy.

This attitude coursed through all aspects of the fledgling country right up to and into our Founding Documents and beyond.

The Constitution: Enfranchising Slavery in the Fabric of America

After the Revolution, there was real tension between those advocating a stronger federal government and those for stronger states. We have seen this notion of state’s rights come up again and again in our history. Specifically, slave-holding states thought they should have the right to own real live human beings because it made them a lot of money and showed how much god loved them and hated them slaves.

The opposite wasn’t necessarily true, though. It wasn’t so much that the federalists were against slavery – most of them were proud slave owners – it was that they thought a stronger federal government would make the country easier to govern.

When it came time to cypher out how many Representatives each state would have in Congress, the slave states wanted the slaves to be counted as equals even though they weren’t real live white people.

The non-slave states were having none of that nonsense, so the three-fifths compromise came about. It wasn’t about the morality of slavery or the humanness of Black people, it was about who could out vote who in Congress. Just like the Electoral College is about ensuring sparsely populated rural states — one time slave-holding states — could dictate the winner of presidential elections to densely populated states. Or that the Senate would give all states equal representation no matter how unevenly population was distributed. The structure of our federal government strengthened the influence of the slave-holding states by ensuring Blacks were disenfranchised but counted towards representation in the House and Electoral College and the Senate treated all states equally.

State’s rights is so deeply embedded into our psyche that when the Ol’ Pussy Grabber declines to organize a national federal government response to the #COVID19 pandemic, it resonates with all those racist state’s-rights folks hiding in the American South and Mid-West despite 4,000 deaths and 350,000 new infections occurring every day. The acceptance of the debacle of Trump’s handling the pandemic by MAGA Nation and his Repube enablers in Congress and state governments is just another legacy of our deep culture and directly related to the racism that is its foundation.

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From the Civil War and Reconstruction to Civil Rights and Trump’s Insurrection Riot

We fought the Civil War from 1861 – 1865 because the Confederacy refused to give up slavery. The South lost the military conflict, but it did not mean that the South gave up or stopped fighting for slavery and racism. Immediately after the Civil War came Reconstruction in which the South was to be re-integrated into American society and the economy. The South was never integrated into the country, though, it was only rebuilt.

Reconstruction, 1865 – 1877

Let’s run through a history of Reconstruction and see what our original attempt at forging national unity and healing after nearly tearing ourselves apart over racism got us:

  • Lincoln’s plan for reunifying the country was both generous and non-punitive. It didn’t get enacted, though. Thanks Booth!
  • Andrew Johnson’s plan just waved a finger at the South required them to sign a loyalty oath and presto bingo Bob’s your uncle and Fanny’s your aunt, the South was back in America again. And they promptly passed the black codes to control the labor and behavior of Blacks.
  • Congress stepped in and appointed governors and the army occupied the South to ensure laws were followed and protect the state governments from insurrection. But, it gradually faded until the debacle of the 1876 election was created.
  • The Compromise of 1877 allowed Rutherford Hayes to be president in exchange for withdrawing the few remaining occupying forces from the South and allowing white supremacy to reign once again. Blacks couldn’t be enslaved but they could do the next best thing through Jim Crow laws that oppressed Blacks in the South for the next eighty years or so culminating with George Wallace’s infamous segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever speech.
  • The Civil War did not end. It carried on under a different means.

The Enduring Legacy of White Supremacy

White people were taught that the country was built on the backs of the Protestant work ethic (Calvinism) and American ingenuity, and because of that, hard work was rewarded. But, we had a significant segment of society for which this wasn’t true. When Black people were slaves, they had plenty of hard work, but no reward. In modern America, they just don’t have work. Black unemployment is always the highest and their work the lowest paid.

White people have justified it by mixing the laziness and criminality of Black people into our deep culture. It is a deep and abiding belief that if Black people would just straighten up and fly right, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work hard at menial jobs, they, too, would enjoy the fruits of the American dream… eventually… in their own neighborhoods… which we burn to the ground and massacre Black people for their success, so sure, tell us about how Blacks can pull themselves up by their bootstraps as long as they don’t pull themselves up too far.

The insidious effects of the racism and white supremacy in America’s deep culture are the most easily seen in the white grievances that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and the Repubes have cynically nurtured, harvested, and fertilized with fear mongering the growth of non-white populations in the US. If god shows his love through material success on earth, not only the material success of individuals, but also of nations and races, then any success by a non-white race and non-USA country threatens this belief. It threatens your deep culture. The very thing you rely on to make sense of your social world.

In that sense, Black people cannot be allowed to be successful if America’s deep culture is to continue unchanged. American exceptionalism is part of that deep culture. God loves the USA best, so we have all the successes. God loves white folks best, so we have all the successes. If god suddenly starts loving Black folks the same as he loves whites, it just cannot be. We’ve lived with this strict rigid social structure of whites on top and Blacks on the bottom for so long that changing it is intolerable to many white people. They refuse to even consider it. They refuse to even acknowledge the possibility that our culture is driven by racism.

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31 replies »

    • Howdy Colorful!
      Thanks for stopping in and leaving a sign of life! Blogging can be a lonely business with only the cold hard stats of views and visitors to keep you warm at night.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  1. One of the presumptions of non-White criminality long promoted by whichever party is in charge of enforcing that racism is about voting fraud. They still don’t want Those People voting. Trump didn’t invert that, he just put it on steroids (or maybe Meth).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!
      Deep in that deep culture is the notion that Black people are not real citizens. They don’t deserve real jobs, real votes, or real benefits of being citizens. By challenging the votes in predominately Black counties, they are essentially saying that (a) their votes aren’t valid and disenfranchising them and (b) that by voting, they broke the law and committed voter fraud. It is one of the most insidious expressions of systemic racism and white privilege possible. The very epitome of what the system is supposed to produce.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 2 people

      • Exactly, and for one political party that has now expanded to the position that any election can only be valid if they win. Add to that a malignant narcissist at the top of the ticket and here we are.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Howdy Bob!
          It goes back to that Calvinist absolute certainty that they’re right and everyone else is wrong. When you’re that certain, you feel any action is justified and don’t want to submit to the ideas of others. Trump was able to take advantage of people wanting to be told what they wanted to hear. It really is a vast circular self-reinforcing argument and reasoning. It’s analogous to the reasoning that we have to investigate the election because so many people doubt its veracity because I’ve been talking so much about how untrustworthy the elections is without evidence. It’s ridiculous.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 2 people

          • It is ridiculous, but no less dangerous for all that. I’m thinking that what we have is beyond a political divide (“These are the facts. Now what shall we o about them?”) but both a cognitive (“What are the facts?”) and epistemological (“What is truth and how can we know it?”) divide. Although it is not new, going back to the split between purported Divine Revelation and Scientific Inquiry, the toxicity has been laid bare.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Howdy Bob!
              I guess there are two continuums that cross: the truth continuum and the political continuum. On truth you go from only facts to only opinion and on the political continuum you go from being fair to all sides to all is fair in love and war. Many in Congress are all the way over on all is fair in love in war but they know the facts. They are just trying to cynically use the situation to their political advantage and if that means a million Americans have to die and hundreds of thousands are evicted, then so be it. The MAGAs are all the way over on opinion and are scattered along the political continuum with a preponderance located on the all is fair in love and war side.

              This is a toxic witch’s brew that may be difficult to neutralize.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 2 people

              • It is very toxic and a pattern symptomatic of a failed or failing state. It seems that the traditionalist wing of the GOP (Mitch, et. al.), however much they may be on the all-is-fair track, do want to at lest sideline to crazies and operate from facts with executive functioning. Mitch wants to put the trial off into February. I interpret that in two ways: 1) leave Trump in limbo to strew and do something stupid. 2) make sure he’s got the 17 votes on the GOP side lined up solid to convict. At this point, the prospect of Trump being able to run again in 2024 is a nightmare he wants to avoid.

                When I look at the militia groups, I have to think of those countries where private, sectarian, and religio-political militias are either tolerated or cannot be suppressed, they all qualify as failed states; Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, CAR, Somalia, etc. The unwillingness or inability to maintain an effective monopoly on organized lethal force is pretty much the definition of a failed state.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!
                  The motivations of the GOP are the same as those of the leaders of failed states. They want it all for themselves and they don’t care how they get there. The militias in failed states are willing to vie with each other for domination even if it means destroying the country and ruling over impoverished misery. It is the same with the GOP. They see their path to single-party pseudo-democracy as being proving the Dems can’t rule — no one can in a democracy without compromise, so it is easy to destroy once you commit to one hundred percent obstructionism. If these means we have another 400,000 dead from #COVID19, so be it. It will be worth it in their estimation if it means they are no longer constrained by elections.

                  McConnell realizes that he needs to have the majority or a near majority in the Senate to obstruct a Dem president. To do that, he needs the fanatical devotion of the MAGAs to keep them voting against their best interest. Unfortunately, with that lot as your base, you’re likely to get QAnon candidates who are not on board for all the corruption all the time but for all the destruction all the time.

                  McConnell knows what it means to run a country and to milk it for all it is worth financially. The MAGAs and QAnon folks don’t. If they hold too much sway, they will wreck the financial base of the country limiting the opportunities for corruption. Kind of like the Tea Party threatened to do. For McConnell it is a balancing act to keep the base voting against their best interest and co-opting the crazy that they elect as soon as they get into office.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Co-opting the True Believer crazies is very hard because they know they are The Bearers Of Truth. So, the strategy is to field candidates who are pretend crazies, who can survive the primary, but are already co-opted and corrupted, and will continue to make all the right noises to keep the base jacked up.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      We know that low-information voters will vote for a person and agree with the positions of that person over any ideology, so if we could get some very popular crazy politicians to become more sane once in office and start pushing more reasonable policies, we might could bridge that crazy-gap. Unfortunately, for the next few weeks, most of the MAGAs are still only going to be tuned into Trump and believing what he says. Hopefully, the next Trump will be less self-serving and more amenable to using their popularity for good rather than evil.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • We can hope, but the combination of the personality traits that make a crazed candidate popular and real pro-social motivation and decent executive functioning is rare at best.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      Either you get a psychopath or narcissist with executive functioning in either case they won’t do anything for anyone unless it helps them. Luckily, there isn’t anyone in the Republican world who currently has enough popularity to actually take over Trump’s cult of personality. So, I guess, it is just a pipe dream better suited to bad fiction than anything else.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I think the only way to get the combination, and even this is a long shot, is the rise to the top of a smart technocrat in a single party system. Mr. Xi may be the closest example I can think of, and he still has to deal with a “shoot the messenger” apparatus at the lower levels (as in the attempt to hide the Wo Han initial outbreak). Even in that case, Xi rose in a long-standing system and followed a similar leader who rose through the bureaucracy.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      One of the things that was obvious to me living in China, is that Xi and the party recognize that they are in power only by keeping the growing middle class happy. They have to be able to deliver economic growth, wealth, luxury and consumer goods, and global achievements. If they fail at that, their will be unrest. So far, they’re doing it in the same way franchises make money, expansion. They keep pushing their dense coastal populations into the hinterland and subsidizing the moves and transitions. They are willing to give their middle class money to spend in the economy. They’ve got a lot of room to grow, so this model isn’t likely to quit on them anytime soon.

                      One of the things that makes Xi effective is his ability to work the bureaucracy. His successor will be from the same lineage. Whoever it is has to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the bureaucracy and how to get it to deliver for them. What Trump showed us is what happens when you don’t use the bureaucracy effectively. In fact, he sidestepped the bureaucracy and delivered the worst pandemic response in the history of the world. We essentially survived on the states and momentum during Trump’s years in office.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Xi and the Party do understand which way The Mandate Of Heaven points in their system. As for the bureaucracy, every Chinese ruler since the First Emperor has had to understand, work through, and manage it, or fail. Trump never understood bureaucracy except as an impediment, because he never had one, and it was filled with career professionals who insisted on doing their jobs as previously defined, not following his impulses and contradictory demands. The “Deep State” is, in that sense, real, and essential to governance in a large system, rather like the flywheel of an engine.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      My mother worked in the federal civil service for her entire career. She was dismayed to see the professionalism of and respect for the civil service decline as far as it did. Of course, she blamed liberals.

                      During Trump’s first six months in office, he lost an entire air craft carrier group because he didn’t understand the chain of command. For the presidency to be effective, the president has to use the bureaucracy effectively. It is one of the reasons Trump was so singularly ineffective. And, it will make Biden effective. So far, he seems to have a good understanding of how the government works and is willing to let them do their jobs. Being too hands off and too much of a micro-manager makes for the least effective presidents.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Biden looks likely to be able to manage the right balance between hands off and micro-management. And, many in the civil service are breathing a sigh of relief and will work their butts off for him.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      I think there is something to the notion that Biden is the right person for the times. He seems to have a skill set that will accomplish the things we need done. Of course, the GOP and Joe Manchin will be there fighting him all the way.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      And yet, the organizing resolution has not passed and Republicans are still the committee chairs and have the majorities on the committees. I don’t know the mechanics of getting the organizing resolution passed, but it seems a bit slow. The Dems have always tied one hand behind their backs.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • It is slow because the Republicans want an “equal” power sharing, which they never granted the Democrats when they were in charge. Odd, isn’t it that they become anti-majoritarian when they are in the minority. The 50-50 split is being used as a justification.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Mitch famously proclaimed that winners make policy; losers go home. I guess Mitch has forgotten that little lesson. It reflects his fundamental misunderstanding of democracy.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      Good point. McConnell is somewhat of an enigma, but one that I’m sick of dealing with. Which ever it turns out to be, he is explicitly working to end our democracy. Whether his cognitive dissonance allows him to realize it or not.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

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