Gangstas speak on Colombus Day pic.twitter.com/Qsp42QbmqI— Shaniqua Posting Delusions (@DeIudedShaniqwa) October 11, 2021
Happy Columbus Day, friends. pic.twitter.com/w7WPxV6WBQ— Jack??FeII ?? (@JackFeII55) October 11, 2021
This International Day of the Girl, we speak out on behalf of girls’ empowerment and equal rights all across the world.— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) October 11, 2021
In NY, we will continue to elevate girls’ voices and make sure girls have all the opportunities to succeed that they deserve. #DayOfTheGirl
Happy Columbus Day to my Italianx friends— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) October 11, 2021
Whether you came out years ago, are speaking your truth today, aren’t ready yet or plan to someday soon, never doubt that you are seen, you are heard & you are loved.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 11, 2021
On #NationalComingOutDay, and every day, Americans are proud to stand with our LGBTQ community. pic.twitter.com/j0CDuAieAB
Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 11, 2021
Taking today to reflect on our Taíno and Arawak ancestors.
Their existence is reflected in words we use today like Hurricane (juracán), Barbecue (barbacoa), & Yuca, which come from Taíno language?
Drop any fave books, info, or resources below ?? pic.twitter.com/f0kx0OCq8P
A group of demonstrators of Native American descent and their supporters splashed red liquid on the plinth of the Christopher Columbus statue at a rally on the eve of Columbus Day in Tampa, Florida pic.twitter.com/Apf4gfKJew— RT (@RT_com) October 11, 2021
I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk since July.
It gets boring sharing YouTube clips and keeping up with the news cycle. I also don’t want to get trapped in the same old partisan politics. We covered the Biden administration so intensely in the first half of the year because it was new and interesting and because of the threat it posed to our civil liberties.
A new president only has a brief window at the outset of his term to make an impact these days before he loses his political capital and altitude in Washington. We saw this with Donald Trump whose first year culminated in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before jockeying for the 2018 midterms set in and he lost control of Congress and as a result legislation ground to a halt over the next three years. Donald Trump’s window to act closed in 2017. We’re approaching the same point with Joe Biden. We’ve likely seen all that Joe is going to do unless events intervene and there is a major foreign policy crisis or economic collapse.
I’ve been searching for a new theme to write about. I think I have found it in the concept of two Americas drifting apart. This seems to be the long term trend that is going on under the background noise of current events. The gap is widening by the day. Is it Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Is it October or LGBTQ History Month? Should I write more about the complete unraveling of American culture?
We’ve seen a huge assault on the memory of Christopher Columbus over the past year. Dozens of Columbus statues were torn down by mobs during the George Floyd riots. Columbus seems to be the most hated and politically incorrect non-Confederate figure whose memory is still celebrated in the public square. The Washington Post has put a map up of where Columbus statues are still standing to encourage vandalism. As a federal holiday, it is worth noting that Columbus Day didn’t exist until 1968. Both the Christopher Columbus and Confederate monuments went up in the 20th century. The Columbus statue that was torn down by the mob in Baltimore last summer went up in 1984.
The fate of both the Confederate monuments and Christopher Columbus monuments reflects a point that I have been making here in recent weeks. The roots of our present crisis are in the recent past, not the distant past. In the early 20th century, The Birth of a Nation and Gone With The Wind were blockbuster hits. Nostalgia for the Old South was ascendant in the early 20th century. The Dunning School was ascendant and Reconstruction had been broadly dismissed as a failure. Union and Confederate veterans got along better in the early 20th century at Civil War reunions than Americans to today.
The rift that caused the War Between the States – the one over slavery and secession – closed in the early 20th century. The Civil War generation died off. New issues arose. American politics shifted to addressing the consequences of industrialization and later to foreign policy. The country moved on as it made the leap to Empire. The federal government named 20th century military bases after Confederate generals. Until recently, only a tiny handful of Americans were pessimistic enough to consider dissolving the Union. American politics wasn’t nearly this polarized and toxic in the 1990s. This is a recent change.
This new cultural rift that has opened up between rural America and urban America can be traced back to the 1910s and 1920s.. It was in the 1920s when the urban population overtook the rural population for the first time in American history and began setting the tone of American culture. The earliest modernist cultural enclaves appeared in Chicago and New York City shortly before World War I. The culture of these urban counter-cultural enclaves became the new elite “mainstream” culture in the 1920s.
In retrospect, we can see that the new “mainstream” culture soaked down from metropolitan elites into the college educated professional class between the 1920s and 1970s. The Baby Boomers didn’t create the counter-culture. They were raised in it and exposed to it on campus. The 1960s and 1970s were only the point where the new modernist culture hit a critical mass. The “culture war” that followed and which has raged ever since down to our own times was a reaction to it hitting this tipping point.