09 December 2015

The (Not Archie) Bunker Mentality

One of these things is not like the other
Growing up on the tough (and by tough I mean 'Mom, why can't I ride my bike to Smitty's to get a slice of pizza?') streets of Scottsdale, Arizona, it wasn't like we were in the thick of the cultural tumult that was America in the 1970's. Trust me when I tell you we weren't. Diversity came through the magic of one of the five measly TV channels we got at the time in the form of 'The Jeffersons' and 'Soul Train.' Controversy wasn't very welcome in our home which is why 'All in the Family' was pretty much verboten. Although I was not yet five years old when the show debuted, it ran until 1979 and I can remember furtively watching it from time to time, not appreciating the satire at play, but sensing this Archie Bunker guy really was some kind of a tool.

'All in the Family' served as vehicle to bring the uncomfortable truths (e.g. racism, war, xenophobia) America was facing at the time into the national discussion. Served up in the form of comedy, it made  talking about those issues easier. Somehow, laughing at the bigoted "U.S.-born, heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male") rantings of Archie made his rants seem ludicrous. Seeing Archie bloviate about the black family that had just moved in next door gave viewers the chance to see how inane that attitude was in reality. Ironically, Mr. Bunker's vain attempts to understand the world helped viewers to break free from their own states of bunker mentality.

A bunker mentality is defined as an attitude of extreme defensiveness and self-justification based on an often exaggerated sense of being under persistent attack from others. Archie Bunker certainly displayed that mentality and it was probably no accident that the creators of the show gave him that last name. While Archie Bunker served as a comedic foil for the angst that the United States faced more than 40 years ago, there is a far less funny (and by far less funny, I mean not funny at all - if you are looking for proof, see his recent train wreck appearance on "Saturday Night Live") and truly bigoted "U.S.-born, heterosexual White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male" making what Archie did look like child's play.

I speak, of course, of Donald J. Trump. It appeared for awhile, at least, that his position behind the steering wheel of the Klown Kar that is the Republican Presidential Campaign was more of an exercise in self-promotion the likes of which our nation has never seen than anything else. From overstating his ratings performance while at NBC, to calling the voters of Iowa stupid, to bullying other candidates as if he were Nelson Muntz come to life, to suggesting he'd date his daughter, he could not outcrass himself, and somehow the people answering pollsters questions could not get enough of him.

Then came his xenophobic and Hitler-esque assertion that he would register all Muslims living in the United States. But he reminded us all that he's not a bigot. In the wake of the mass shootings in San Bernadino perpetrated by an American citizen, a Muslim, and his wife in San Bernadino, Trump let his bunker mentality freak flag fly higher than ever when he proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States and peppering that with the idea of internment camps for Muslims as well. But he reminded us all that he's not a bigot. Methinks he doth protest too much.

Ask any Japanese-American who lived in the internment camps the United States established during WWII about how that went for them. Spoiler alert - it didn't go well. Read "Infamy" by Richard Reeves for more about the camps. I'd suggest that Trump read it but since his name is nowhere to be found in its pages, he won't be picking it up anytime soon. Despite that dark chapter in our history, the U.S. is not a nation prone to rounding groups of people up and imprisoning them based solely on suspicion and ethnicity. In Trump's bunker mentality version of U.S. democracy, it appears round ups would be all too real. It was all too real for the Jews and anyone else who didn't fit the Aryan ideal under the madness of Hitler. Look how that turned out. Spoiler alert - it went well for no one.

Winston Churchill once said, "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." I'm afraid that since the lessons of WWII to be learned from Japanese internment camps in the United States or the xenophobia that a bigoted megalomaniac created in Germany are lost on Trump since his name is not mentioned in the history books, it will be up to the American people to make this madness stop. Norman Lear helped us see the inanity of racism through the bluster of his character, Archie Bunker, and our nation changed bit by bit. Maybe this time, it'll be Twitter that gets the job done.

@JebBush Donald Trump is unhinged. His "policy" proposals are not serious."
@JennyJohnsonHi5 It's like Donald Trump is running for the office of America's Angry Racist Grandma

Even Satan himself isn't having it:
@s8n Comparing Donald Trump to me is really insulting

You know it's bad when Satan has been offended.

C'mon, America. Seriously. We are better than the paranoid state an unhinged megalomaniac would have us believe. We are better than this.

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