The usual epilogue to one of our mindless national acts of violence or misbehaving is some noted American claiming, “This is not who we are.” Asking the “who” question was likely one of the first sentient headscratchers voiced by our ancestors. A few years later my favorite rock and roll anecdote came along when The Who wrote “Who Are You?” to confront the burgeoning punk rock scene. Later still, after 9/11 a French Muslim visited all fifty of our states. His trip report answered a portion of the “who” question. The visitor was amazed that Americans, who he found to be decent, generous, friendly and welcoming, could elect and support the most heinous and heartless of governments. I think such contradictory behavior is exactly who we are.

“Love is but a song we sing, fear’s the way we die,” The Youngbloods sang in their 1967 hit “Get Together.” Studying who we are is like diving into a black, bottomless pit. Terror defines and explains a lot about our makeup, and this primal fear came over on the Mayflower. Life was hard in the old world but downright dangerous in the new one. Banding together was the only way to survive the harsh winters and indignant indigenous peoples who didn’t enjoy sharing their sacred hunting grounds.

Unfortunately, we have polarized into either “‘A’ Mericans” and “‘B’ Mericans.” Conservatives get the ‘A’ Mericans designation since they are the quickest to pull the “true naturally born patriots” card. I reside in a group I’ll call ‘B’ Mericans. As a student I was taught that this country was one. I soon learned, though, that history is written by the victors, and the states were never united, let alone the enclaves of sub-cultures clumped inside our self-imposed boundaries. The history of red-lining and real estate segregation is just as gnarly as the overt kind of racism many of our citizens love to put on display for all to see.

Still, I believe our most precious national resource is our diversity. We are truly a melting pot, although it is probably not politically correct to use that term nowadays. We draw from a talent pool that is from all over the world. Still, the reality of life in the Mericas is that, as a population, we tend to live in areas with people similar to ourselves. Amador, Tuolumne, and Calaveras counties are about 80% white. This means we do not mind benefiting from our diversity but do not want to live around people who are not like us. And this need to isolate is across the board and born of fear and uncomfortableness. As the once dominant group, white people wrote and published the history books, and they only paid lip service to diversity, usually presenting the country’s exceptionalism as being underwritten by white people alone.

To drill down deeper into the roots of iconoclasm, the State of Jefferson movement here in Northern California wants to form a new state due to inadequate representation, but District 4 representative Tom “MacClinTrump” couldn’t be more supportive of conservative doggerel. What the movement really wants are two more GOP senators and open carry. Guns imply a need for protection, which is a euphemism for fear. How would Jefferson even afford to build a capitol? The recently defeated recall of Governor Newsom cost taxpayers a quarter-of-a-billion dollars, so the right doesn’t seem to mind the deep pockets of the mother state when they go off joisting “libtards’” windmills.

Some gasp when a Taliban soldier kicks a pregnant woman in the stomach but say nothing when a gunman assassinates a doctor caught in the crossfire of the reproductive rights war. The courts allowed Texas to put a ten-grand bounty on anyone giving someone as much a ride to a reproductive clinic. Our so-called spiritual leaders are the Christian Taliban. Once a forced baby is delivered, though, they peek at the little pink bundle and start cutting back on things like SNAP and post-natal care for the poor. Unwanted kids are starving but the Pentagon losing a trillion dollars is not even a blinkable offense. Remember, Medicare and Medicaid had to be withheld from segregated states to force them to allow Black patients out of the hospital basements and into proper wards with sick white people.

The Who’s musical question asked above was answered when they met with The Clash over a pint and agreed that the old and the young need each other. They had mutual fears, and total nihilism was not the solution. ‘A’ and ‘B’ Mericans also need to agree because, right now, democracy is under full attack from groups who feel that their guidelines make them the only people who can successfully chart the course of the world’s most diverse country. They are wrong.

Jerry Tuck is a retired San Andreas resident and an indie author. Contact him at olwhofan@aol.com or at his website, tucknrole.com

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