Can America Ever Be ‘Free At Last’?
The country’s addiction to self-deception on race and racism is divisive and unsettling.
“Self deception: the action or practice of allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true…”
Truth & Freedom
Every day is a chance for America, our country, to set a new path for itself. A chance to be honest, truthful, and once and for all, to be free. It reminds me of something I read by the late African American critic Stephen E. Henderson.
In Henderson’s 1969 book, The Militant Black Writer, which he co-authored with Mercer Cook, Henderson wrote that America “has a seemingly endless capacity for self-deception.” Henderson, writing right after the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, adds that America “tires easily from moral confrontation.” His accusations were clear. America reacts to terrible things that happen, but then eventually, it goes back to business as usual. It never takes those final difficult steps toward moral rebirth.
In this case, Dr. King was killed in April 1968. His ‘Poor People’s Campaign’ fluttered and died on a vine. Then, the country elected Richard Nixon, a man who stood for most of the things King abhorred: militarism, inequality, and bigotry. This is self-deception. The nation thought it wanted what Dr. King wanted, but then, it decided that it didn’t. He died, and his values died with him in America. The country has been in a moral nosedive ever since.
In 1963, the nation embraced his dream, and then, it didn’t like King anymore because he demanded more of a nation that had tried to fix some of its ills. Freedom, equality, liberty, and pursuit of happiness were just words; the nation could not live by its own creed, or it just didn’t want to live by it.
This “self deception” happens so much to us Americans that some of us have grown weary now, but we press forward.