Hang Separately

America is not a nice country. Hardly any of the other countries think so. If they say the U.S. is a nice nation, that’s for show, to stay on our good side. It’s just to be nice.

Animation of light going through a prism
Click for animation. John Roland Hans Penner, Wikipedia Commons. Creative Commons 3.0 license

We are a nation led by elected officials, often compromised by “contributions,” as we call them.

We are a nation of laws tented by a tarp of unalienable rights. If Americans love to love its laws, we continuously labor to subvert those proclaimed rights. Our truths turn out not to all that self-evident in each generation.

We are a nation of immigrants, all of whom on occasion fall into reasons to hate. (Blacks are descended from non-voluntary immigrants. The earliest migrants forded the Bering Strait.) After all, my mom can whup yours, my family is better, my clan is tops, my tribe has it down, and America Tis of Thee right or wrong love it or leave it, pry the flag pole from my cold dead hands.

When in the course of trying to figure things out, the democratic preamble rambles.

This mess of trouble will get worse. The lone gunman’s terroristic shooting up of historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in historic Charleston, South Carolina, during Wednesday evening Bible study June 17, 2015, is merely the latest attack.

It’s not just them.

It’s not just us.

Nine died in Charleston. Three people were killed April 13, 2014, in the shooting spree of a lone gunman outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. Another long gunman is awaiting trial for the Feb. 10, 2015, slaying of three young Muslim adults in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The KC suspect killed no Jews. The North Carolina suspect found rationale with parking.

Lone is the only number you’ll ever do. Just because these are not conspiracies doesn’t mean mass delusion isn’t real enough to cowboy up.

This doesn’t explain why a few police officers, scattered throughout the country, exercise their duties irresponsibly, at times with needless violence. I read that all of the U.S. racial riots or near-riots in this or the last century — with one exception — were incited by anger over police racial violence. The exception was the unrest following the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


Within the fortnight, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce a decision on the rights of non-heterosexual couples in Obergefell v. Hodges. In recent years, expanding marriage — with its privileges, rights and responsibilities — to gay folks has moved into the rights arena where a generation go (1967) interracial marriage was allowed, having been banned in many states and generally derided in all.

I believe in love, that long-lasting love between people is real no matter who they are.

Gay marriage, gay rights overall, the fact that American business owners forget that enterprises have been regulated since Colonial days, could well be a recent part of this tipping point for mass confusion over differences.

Closeting sexual with racial and religious bigotry? We can’t argue with headlines clambering one on top of the other here in the aught-teens.

Could these beweaponed freaks see their days of rage as numbered, moving more of them to act on fantasies of paranoia? Possible.

Pick a decade, though, and find mayhem. Just because we don’t hear about it in some far corner of the round Earth doesn’t mean blood is spilled for scant reason. It is, lakes of blood, year round.

Yet here is this sunny June Saturday. The roar of mowers rake the air. The recession has ended, though recovery is slow. U.S. military action is low and continues to decrease. Guns and butter? How about beating swords into weed whackers, drones into kites?

For the second year, the government of Fayetteville, Arkansas, is proposing more universal regulations to remove discrimination — citing gender in particular — surely inspiring another campaign of hit-or-myth fearmongering.

I have a friend in another state who likes a logo T-shirt that reads, “I might be gay.” The intent is noble, but changing “I am Spartacus” to “I might be Spartacus” flags the intent.

A few weeks ago I found a meme I would wear.

In the May 11, 2015, issue of The New Yorker, cartoonist Alison Bechdel was profiled in a Talk of the Town snapshot “Finish Line.” A stage musical of her graphic (that is, rendered by illustration) memoir Fun Home weeks later won five Tonys. Both concern Bechdel’s sexuality and her family.

As a closing quote, reporter Judith Thurman chose from Bechdel’s interview: “I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all queer — there is no normal.”

Who am I to predict this three-pronged national hullabaloo? Just a white panreligious Jewish hetero whose head hasn’t quite grayed out.

My T-shirt would read:

We’re all queer. There is no normal.”

Copyright 2015 Ben S. Pollock Jr.

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2 thoughts on “Hang Separately

  1. I love your t shirt message!

    And your written words demonstrate the intricacies of what we are all dealing with. I appreciate your taking the time to articulate what is in you about those very layers of meaning as we wend our way through them.

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