More Than Muslims, Remember Real Threat Today

11 09 2010

I’m a Southern girl born and bred. So I know a lot about burning — of books and flags and bridges, with passion and anger, repressed resentments and expressed bigotry. In my childhood culture, the resident gods saw everything in black and white and stayed too busy punishing teen sex with babies or at least shunning and damning Yankee carpetbaggers to hell from morning to night and twice on Sundays, to kindle culture war against furriner infidels.

The first book I loved enough to make me hate those who would burn it or ban it, was a bible as worth living by and dying for as any other, by god, the SOUTHERN bible — Gone With the Wind!

You never read it because it’s not your bible? Oh well, maybe you saw the movie, or at least a clip of the ignorant yet self-aggrandizing Prissy “don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies” as played by Butterfly McQueen, who as a real woman in real life read from many books and learned not to take its real meaning on faith:

What is the “faith of our forefathers” and how much faith does it have left in what’s right? Which identity is it we’re fighting to save, and which “them” is the real threat to it?

Their first class discussion was about the complex meaning of identity, thinking critically about how (and why) you define who you are as an individual within any society — or mob — relentlessly pressing individuals to conform with (often quite radical) norms.

Stubborn symbolic belief in “who we are” beyond all reason and science is all some folks have, the only story with any power to put them on top of a social group, and so they are willing to turn the sciences of larger society upside down, on the basis of that belief.

On this notorious day as Americans remember, reconstruct and reject both the best and worst of our national identity all at once — because whatever else we the people may be, we’re never easy! — the images of hate in my mind aren’t of burning towers but burning books, burning flags, burning bigotry and yes, burning flesh. Read the rest of this entry »

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