There is a rising arctic winter wind blowing our way, ravishing the rights, lands and lives of the people. And it is an irony of history that the people who are denying climate change in nature are causing a climate change in society with similar devastating and disastrous effects and parallel denials of their destructiveness. And if we rightly read the signs and lessons of history, which Malcolm assures us “is best qualified to reward our research,” we cannot help seeing signs already of a coming Ice Age, a prevailing condition of deadly cold and bone-breaking callousness that is normalized and called “necessary” for the “common good” or to “make America great again” with no moral meaning attached to it.
Certainly, Trump’s the celebration at the White House of the passage of a bill that among other things would deny or make prohibitive health coverage and treatment for those with pre-existing conditions reflects the coldness and callousness of the changing climate. After all, how can lessening the possibility of preventable death and suffering merit celebration in a normal human mind and moral system? Billed as a victory celebration, the White House huddling and hurrahing resembled a death dance for many who see their lives and futures now hanging in the balance. What other than an ice age “morality” could justify or even explain a celebration of the denial of health care and health coverage for the poor and vulnerable while the rich rejoice in the Rose Garden?
Surely, we can only make sense of this senseless and immoral conception of victory and celebration, if we realize Trump and his cohorts and the society in which they do their dances and deeds of death are carriers and perpetrators of pre-existing conditions themselves, diseases of heart and mind that diminish and distort their sense of humanity, morality and fellow-feeling. It is pre-existing conditions of racism, classism, sexism and other forms of oppression and an accompanying moral numbness of others’ death, disease and suffering established at the very founding of the country. It is in this context of pre-existing social savagery and sickness that the issue of adequate health care for all becomes a problem rather than being accepted and embraced as a human right and moral obligation.
It is too easy and grossly inadequate to focus on Trump alone, for nobody and nothing comes into being by itself. Everyone and everything is rooted in a history and current condition that grounds them. So Trump could not be Trump without the sanction and support of the society that provided “the swamp”, to use his words, from which he and his mean-spiritedness, ruthlessness, and irrational and amoral proposals, plans and policies emerge.
Thus, if we are to survive and end this coming Ice Age of Trumpism unfolding in full blast in front of us, we must quickly admit the problem is not Trump himself, but his openly out-of-control supporters and his complicit enablers of various kinds and commitments and the pre-existing conditions that existed and brought him into being as president. The man, himself, though regularly offering a monstrous display of real ignorance and illusionary arrogance, did not elect himself, create the racism, classism, sexism, xenophobia, immigrant-bashing, religious chauvinism, Islamophobia, and all the other morally repugnant and humanly disastrous policies, proposals and practices with which his administration is infected and seeks to impose.
It is the context and the wide spectrum of Americans who have elected him, and that have given him the sanction and support that allows him to make claims without evidence, ramble on without reason and do his speech and acts of evil and injustice, and peddle them as worthy all-day news. And only a relentless and righteous resistance can halt the spread of the cold and callous things planned and reverse all those evil and ugly things already put in place.
The media never tires of vainly trying to give importance to Trump and those who follow him. Often they try to explain him away and his coarseness, callousness and abysmal lack of knowledge about almost anything relevant to the office he occupies or to the problems he proposes and pretends he’s going to solve. Tied to the philosophy of the media owners, these journalists justify Trump and his practices, refusing to seriously criticize and condemn the sick, insane, inane and other disordered words and actions emanating from his mouth and mind. And likewise, they don’t report or discuss the massive resistance to Trump in any meaningful and extended way. Nor do they speak assertively and critically of issues of poverty, suffering and social pain caused by structured social and racial injustice he proposes and practices or the real and destructive impact it will have on the lives and future of the people, the country or the world.
And so, it is up to us to refuse to be cowered or concede to the normalization of human coldness, callousness, evil and injustice that now so pervades the climate of this country. It is up to us to take responsibility for ensuring a righteous and relentless resistance in the coming Ice Age. This means we must remember Malcolm’s teachings that we must be responsible in our people’s eyes and assessment, not in our oppressors’. And it means that we must act responsibly for our people and outrageously toward the oppressor, interrupting and disrupting his planned business-as-usual, and putting another agenda on the table—an agenda more humane, dignity-affirming, just and contributive to the health, well-being and rightful flourishing of all.
We must stand up in the midst of the social madness and moral numbness around us and embrace our mission of serving as a moral and social vanguard which our ancestors, heaven and history have assigned us. We must fulfill the sacred mission of working and struggling to bring an inclusive and shared good in the world, creating places and spaces where freedom for all is a lived reality rather than an empty and hypocritical claim of a dominant race or class, and where justice is a normal process and product of our daily practice and exchange. And moral sensitivity, empathy and caring are understood and embraced as both normal and necessary to any real claim to being human.
To live is to choose and to act in ways that will day by day determine the course and quality of our lives and form the contours of our future. Therefore, in the face and context of oppression, we cannot honorably or responsibly choose other than struggle, righteous and relentless struggle. As our ancestors instruct us, we must defiantly and boldly “bear witness to truth and set the scales of justice in their proper place, especially among those who have no voice”, little visibility or ultimately less value in the eyes of the icemen, huddling in air-conditioned caves to deny them the rights and well-being they deserve.
Indeed, we must, as the ancestors teach us, bear witness to their poverty and pain, their suffering and suppression, their hunger and homelessness, and condemn and resist the bitter cold and bone-breaking callousness that defines the coming Ice Age in which we already and in great part live and struggle. And even when the icemen and women criminalize our criticism, prosecute our practice of active and defiant dissent, demonize and ostracize us and capture us and put us in prison on “Trumped-up” charges, we must still dare to struggle and dare to win, opening up the way to a new world and history of African people and humanity as a whole.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair of Africana Studies, California State University-Long Beach; Executive Director, African American Cultural Center (Us); Creator of Kwanzaa; and author of Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, The Message and Meaning of Kwanzaa: Bringing Good Into the World and Essays on Struggle: Position and Analysis, www.AfricanAmericanCulturalCenter-LA.org; ww.OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org; www.MaulanaKarenga.org.