American Rhymes

Gus Chinn/Courtesy of the DC Public Library Washington Star Collection
Washington Post

“When they crowded around my table and started demanding that I raise my fist, it was their insistence that I participate in something that I did not understand that led me to withhold my hand.”  -Lauren Victor, diner and reluctant fist-raiser.

Top photo:  Sit-in at the lunch counter of the Cherrydale Drugstore, Arlington, Virginia, 1960.

Apart from the historical irony, I can’t help wondering which of these tableaus is worse.   That I should be asking this question in 2020 says a lot about how far we have strayed from e Pluribus Unum and where we are inevitably headed.

If one can only be either fully woke or stand accused of being a white supremacist then our public space has become awfully small in a very short window of time. Most of us choose the path of least resistance, which precludes sitting alone on principle.  The intimidators are banking on this.

3 thoughts on “American Rhymes”

  1. When we look at the internet for hours a day, it’s easy to make up a story, or go along with a story, about how crazy everything is. But real life, our daily lived experience, is very different from the internet. We give too much weight to images and videos of some thing or other happening in a cafe or on a street somewhere. Are there big systemic problems we need to overcome? You betcha.

    Is your water coming through the tap? Yes? That’s good. Is the grocery store shelf stocked? Yes? Good. Is everyone still getting most of their “news” though TV and Facebook feeds? Yes? That’s bad.

    A hyped-up mob of smartphone addicts gets excited and makes a scene. Now we all need to weigh in on that? Um, that’s actually a luxury activity only available to those of us — like you and me —  pathetically addicted to internetting out minds.

    1. I half agree with you…but there is that thorny issue of people being beaten in the street which is not taking place online. Also, arson. And the looting of stores. And the execution of policemen in the line of duty. These things are creeping into the realm of my lived experience.

  2. The intimidators are quite fond of the path of least resistance themselves. I’d love to see them go into a sports bar and try to do this to a table of men. Extra points if it happens during a UFC event.

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