The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
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The Cowards and Traitors Are Still Among Us
September 22, 2016 -- Fifteen years ago this week, on the night I created JoeSentMe with an odd mix of defiance and technological ignorance, these were some of the words in my first column:
We are not tribal. We share no common race or creed or ethnicity or culture. All we have is our diversity--and our allegiance to a set of beliefs. We are free only because we are all free. We are equal only because we are all equal. We are Americans only because we say we are.
Fifteen years later, it is hard not to despair of our commitment to an America that reflects us all.
Charlotte is wounded because some thugs hijacked a peaceful protest of another black man killed by another police officer for no apparent reason other than he was a black man.
A thug of a presidential candidate tells us we must ban people because of their religion. He calls Mexicans rapists and women pigs. He tells us that a judge born in Indiana is biased against him for no reason other than the judge's family heritage. He makes fun of the disabled, ridicules war heroes and attacks a grieving Gold Star mother.
His thug of a son tweets white supremacist memes and likens war refugees to poisoned candy. His vice presidential running mate can't bring himself to place the label "deplorable" on David Duke, a race-baiting thug proud of his past as a leader of the Klu Klux Klan.
What are we doing to ourselves? To America? To the idea that we draw our strength from the best, and, yes, sometimes the worst, of the waves of immigrants who have come to these shores for more than 200 years?
There have always been nasty strains of racial, religious and ethnic hatred in this country. Slavery is our original sin. The Know Nothings were convinced that German and Irish immigrants were destroying America. Lindbergh, that paragon of aviation greatness, was probably an anti-Semite. Henry Ford certainly was. Strom Thurmond opposed the admission of Hawaii to the Union because too many Orientals lived there.
America has never been pure. Even on his deathbed, Jefferson, the man who wrote many of the words we revere, couldn't bring himself to free his slaves. His other obvious weaknesses notwithstanding, President Obama seems most hated by people who can't accept his race or his name. Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, seems most politically handicapped simply because she is a woman.
I get it. America is not, has never been, probably will never be the idealistic melting pot they talked about in school. We've got issues. Soul-sapping, gut-wrenching problems that are difficult to discuss and even harder to solve.
But when did we stop trying to be better? Why did we stop trying to be better?
All of my grandparents came to this country from Italy after World War I. My mother worked in a factory. My father fought in World War II and became a lawyer on the GI Bill before going into the family business.
And I sit here today, a child of these people who fought for their place and their race in America, wondering why we refuse to support and defend what has historically made America great. Why are we listening to people who traffic in fear for their own political and financial profit?
I know I am a cockeyed optimist. I'm a hopeless sucker for the rhetoric of America's inherent exceptionalism. Last night I even misted up--for about the hundredth time--when William Shatner did his ridiculously hammy reading of the preamble of the Constitution in an awful episode of Star Trek.
But when did "We the people" become the rallying cry of racists whose goal is to keep America all white and always afraid? Who are these people who proudly display a green frog to remind you they are white supremacists? Who are these so-called Americans, children of immigrants all, who think the future of this country is a wall and a walking orange spigot of childish taunts and mindless slurs?
I'm just an average guy, a normal American. My life hasn't amounted to very much. Writing a few things doesn't compare to the impossible journeys my grandparents made. Running a few magazines is nothing compared to my father's going to war and then being the only kid whose name ended in a vowel at a white-shoes law firm.
But if I am proud of anything I've done in my life, it is the column I wrote as the first Brancatelli File to appear at this poor little excuse of a Web site.
I said it 15 years ago and I will say it again today: There are cowards and traitors among us.
They will play on fear, paint anyone who doesn't look or think or believe or talk or love like them as "the others." They will demonize anyone who threatens their narrow, nasty, crabbed little view of America. They revel in hate and they stoke our darkest instincts.
I reject them. I deplore them. I will fight them.
As I did 15 years ago, I insist again today that we are not tribal. We share no common race or creed or ethnicity or culture. All that we have is our diversity--and our allegiance to a set of beliefs. We are free only because we are all free. We are equal only because we are all equal. We are Americans only because we say we are.
The cowards and the traitors among us are frightened by that kind of America.
We need to rise up against them before they destroy us with their bigotry and their fear and their ignorance and their hate.
This column is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.