Another great argument going on today. Esquire magazine has a cover and an article about growing up a young white boy/young man in the USA when the left seems determined that white men and boys are toxic. Old white Senators are called members of a “blood cult” and young catholic school boys are called fascists because of the way they smile. The news has the ability to tell the difference between a nervous smile and a racist, sexist smirk you know. Anyway it is supposed to be an interesting piece and of course the usual objections are raised that it is “tone deaf” to do an article on a white middle class teen during black history month. The best answer to that objection that I have heard is since there is no white middle class teenager month what would be a good time?
Anyway identity politics is nasty and tends to come back on folks that promulgate it. The mess in Virginia is a like a Greek tragedy and the chorus is of course the press. The nattering that comes out of the Minnesota delegation to congress is fascinating as folks try and figure out who the real fascists are and of course drawing blood to find Indian ancestry is touchy business. Sadly there has always been a touch of identity politics in the country. The “Irish need not apply” signs were raised in Boston and New York and folks from the Balkans were loaded up and sent into the mining camps with unflattering notes pinned to their clothes. It wasn’t easy to write out names that were called “bohunk” names and of course the animus against Poles was so strong that an entire industry was raised about writing “polack jokes”. How does an immigrant explain that his last name is Pokrzywinski? Phonetic spelling? The story of our churches immigrant outreach was going to the piers in New Orleans when the immigrant ships arrived bringing brats and beer and gathering the Germans. Norwegians jokingly talk about land sales where they brought the stoniest ground because someone told them that the rocks would be worth more than the crops. Swedes used to joke that when blacks complained about sitting in the back of the bus they would invite them to stand in the front of the bus with them. Of course that is not considered funny anymore. Insensitivity of course is in the eyes of the beholder. We all have our “identity” and if we want we can joke about it or use it to try and make someone else’s life miserable.
I tell everyone who will listen that if you are over the age of 70 or if you have family members that are, you should make a project to write down something of your personal or family history. Things are changing so fast and history is being rewritten and lied about to a point that is getting to be frightening. If people refuse to believe an historical fact because they haven’t seen it in a movie or read about it in a tweet, civilization as we know can come crashing down and a great deal of it has already. Anyway my mother took on that project a few years ago and I have been trying to translate it for awhile. She, like me, writes the way she talks and her memoirs are not linear in time which is fascinating. I knew that we were not rich folks but I was a bit stunned at what my family on both mom and dad’s side went through.
The identity politics thing came up in my mothers writing when she talked about confirmation class and church. Here it is. I am removing the Pastors name for now. Here it is just as my mother wrote it.
Rev. ******** was one of those pastors that kept us in church for 2 hours. Never knew when to quit preaching. Our little church had a bell tower on top the rope came down inside the church. The janitor would pull the rope half hour before church and at starting time it was so neat could hear the ringing of the bell all over town. It was the same for the school house. Lenten services were always nice the roads would always be a mess with mud people would come in with the horses and wagons. After church people would stand outside and visit a little with each other. This one night after church everyone was outside when someone said “look at the moon,” it was really scary. It was a blood red color and looked like something running out of it. People were in shock and they said it was a sign from God showing us all the blood our soldiers had shed. During World War II the German people were looked down on because of Hitler, swaztikas were painted on the church doors and in Kramer 7 miles from Gardena when confirmation class was in session a man dressed all in black came and took all the catechisms and threw them in the river.
I thought that it was precious that the object of wrath was the Small Catechism. I think the Small catechism might be the perfect book for learning, edification, meditation and prayer, other than the Bible of course. So you attack a religion, a faith, a man (Luther) and terrify kids at the same time. I guess identity politics have the same playbook over time. Our culture right now has taken it a bit further when you can go at “kids” with impunity. Of course if you can kill them in the womb and even kill them after they are born going after them in the press and ruining their lives isn’t that big a deal.
By the way if you want a wonderful little read get “Why I Am Joyfully Lutheran?”, Instruction, Meditation, and Prayers on Luther’s Small Catechism by Matthew C. Harrison Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 2018