Oppression: The American Way
Do you know who the most destructive people are in the world? Oppressors.
An oppressor is someone who denies humanity and human rights to others. They are someone who benefits from denying those rights. They are a person who is anti-human.
This morning I read that Maine is in the process of joining the many states intent on instituting discrimination bills. So far we have Tennessee, North Carolina, and Mississippi actively passing laws that make it legal to deny rights to people based on their choice of romantic partner, lover, or spouse.
This is mind boggling to me. I honestly struggle with why people care about this. Like, it doesn’t impact them in ANY way. Why do they fight so hard?
Then I really think about it. I think about what people have to gain from restricting the rights of others and I start to understand.
Power. They get to feel powerful.
We live in a culture created by and fostered by colonialism. European history is filled with people who went to other countries, destroyed indigenous culture, occupied the land, and exploited the resources. It’s the way white people engaged with the world and you see it in EVERY country that has british governments. The power of these societies is in the subjugating the Native populations. It is in the decimation of Native cultures. It is in the overwriting other cultures, beliefs, and ideologies with their own. Colonialism is about erasure and it is oppressive as fuck.
America was founded in colonialism, exploitation, and hypocrisy. That the american constitution could be written by slave owners is a clear demonstration of that. American history is fraught with layers of oppression – it’s written into every aspect of this country and how its citizens interact with the world. Many american citizens view society through a hierarchy, where some need to be on top at the expense of those on the bottom. None of what we are taught embraces inclusivity. It’s all about oppression, power, and exploitation.
This is what we teach in our history books. We teach that colonialism is a good thing. A positive thing. We teach that erasing indigenous culture is not just a good thing; it’s the right of any european culture. U.S. history is a how-to on being an oppressor, sugar coated to make it more palatable.
So the influx of anti-gay legislation should not be a surprise. Oppressors have no power unless they are oppressing someone.
Oppressors also fear being erased if a group surpasses their power, because that’s what they do. So they sell the fear of being erased, of people doing to them what their ancestors did and what they continue to do. They sell a false narrative of us vs them, when it doesn’t have to be one group dominating another. This is an extreme perspective used to radicalize people and incite violence.
So when we see an uptick in discussions about some group that needs to be “put in their place” what you’re really hearing is a rallying cry for power. You are hearing the dominant group pulling together to fight to keep that power. You are hearing the use of fear to incite people to violence against those who are somehow different. And it is ugly.
Watching this happen is amazing to me. I thought we were past some of this but I was grossly mistaken. I’m struggling to hold on to my hope for people to be better, and that is the hardest part of all.