Every day, because of what I believe, other people seem hell bent to label me. They want to attach to me a strawman identity. They need a boogie man, so they create one they can degrade and beat on at will. I suppose spewing anger makes them feel better. At least better about themselves. After all, they’re slaying monsters.
If I do not agree with the viewpoint of a person of color, some call me a racist. If I do not agree with a woman, I’m called sexist. If I do not agree with homosexuals, I am a homophobe and a bigot. If I do not agree with Islam, I’m called Islamophobic, a racist and a bigot and probably a right wing fundamentalist proselytizing Christian that should never again be heard from. If I do not support abortion, I am against women’s rights. If I do not support illegal immigration, it’s because I’m a racist bigot. If I support the right to keep and bear arms, I have blood on my hands and the responsibility for every gun related death ever recorded. If I think using kids to push gun control, or any political action for that matter, is not the right thing, I am accused of lashing out at grieving children. With my southern heritage and twang, I must be a supporter of the KKK, a redneck, a white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot.
Those who know me personally may believe I’m some or none of that. These days, I cannot be too sure about who believes what. I am secure in who I am. But, those who proclaim loudly that diversity and inclusiveness are important (not to imply they aren’t) are many of the same people who work hard everyday to divide us by categories or identities that combine to make up Americana – our national identity. They do not give a rat’s rear end about your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual persuasion, religion or anything else about you. All they care about you is how you think and if you do not buy their ideological groupthink, they’ll come after you. Their playbook insists that dissenters be labeled. After all, who wants to hear the opinion of a racist bigot. This excludes of course the members of Congress who hang out with Louis Farrakhan. They not only want to silence opposing viewpoints they want to control commerce by attacking sponsors of the purveyors of those viewpoints. It’s also known as fascism. Unfortunately, it is being embraced by many who would willingly surrender their Constitutional freedoms.
I was born and raised in West Virginia’s coal mining communities. I spent some of my teenage years on the mean streets of Chicago. At age 16, I left the social experiment called Chicago public High School and became a minimum wage factory laborer. At age 18, I became a Soldier for the following 28 years. On nights and weekends, time permitting, I earned a college degree because I was conditioned through life to believe it necessary. In the Army, I succeeded. After the Army, I succeeded. In retirement, I am relativity comfortable. Some want you to think any success gained was not due to work ethic and personal drive, instead it was due to my white male privilege.
Some who know me may accept that privilege got me to the middle rung of middle class retirement. Honestly, I am not sure what anyone believes these days. I do know some “friends” abandoned my friend ship in recent years while other “friends” came aboard. It’s getting harder to know who my friends are. I may be simplifying some haughty doctoral theory, but I am an unpretentious man. I can only interpret the plain language message I receive. The message that says everything was given to me, nothing was earned. I never received any participation trophies. You can bet your hind end on that.
I’ve been quite physical most of my life. From heavy work in a factory to my years in the Army and life after. Although nowadays it consists of milder visits to the gym and mowing the yard. I just read the news report where the Army deems it necessary to toughen up basic training. Seems new Soldiers are not disciplined or physically tough. That caused me to look at the sweat stained campaign hat hanging on the bunker wall and wonder what happened. When I went through basic training, it was tough. It was tough because the Drill Sergeants were tough and unbending when it came to standards, discipline and fitness. In those days, they ran us in combat boots with full load bearing equipment and weapons sometimes until we lay in a puddle of our own puke. When running, company formations made U-turns to pick up stragglers. That could turn a short run into a long one and intensify peer pressure to suck it up. That is the mindset I and others carried with us when we became Drill Sergeants. I suppose they purged “toxic masculinity” from basic combat training. Apparently, toxic masculinity is holding some people back. I must admit, I think masculinity is a good thing just as is femininity. Strong men, strong women conditioned to be warriors at heart. In my day, that’s how the Army went rolling along.
What is our American identity these days. Into what category must one try to fit. Can’t I just be a God-fearing American? One who may disagree with you, but who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you to defend our great land. On top of that, I most want to be Grandpa to my raving beauty Granddaughters. I refuse to be categorized or labeled. Unless we remove all of that garbage from our daily discourse, we will continue eroding the glue holding our country together until we become something wholly unrecognizable. That, my friends, is the goal of the people who work to divide us. If we continue to follow their rulebook, we’ll cease to be….
© 2018 J. D. Pendry