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  • January 15th, 2018

LIVING IN A SPIT HOLE

By Joel M. Vance

A while back I spit in a test tube and dutifully sent my slobber off to 23 and me with a modest check so the chromosome folks could tell me who my ancestors were, where they came from and what their genetic makeup was.
23 and me is one of several DNA-oriented companies that check your spit for your roots, without benefit of Alex Haley to record the results. I pretty well knew anyway where I came from thanks to a shirt tail relative who did a genealogy search of my branch of the Vance family years ago and tracked my forebears back to the early 1700s. According to the lady, who wasn’t even named Vance, our clan derives from a bunch of Frenchman who crossed the channel during the Norman conquest, more than 1000 years ago, who then were named Vaux which, over the centuries, morphed into Vans and finally into Vance. Somewhere along the line some of them crossed the ocean and settled in this country, ultimately migrating to Missouri where they have been ever since.
Like every human being in the United States of America including so-called Native Americans who migrated to this continent either from Siberia or up from Central America, I derive from immigrants— and so does Donald Trump, that awful human being, who pretends to be our president.
So, are the Vances, one time citizens of France, a country of fine food and fine wine, entitled to brag about our pure heritage, immigrants worthy of praise from the likes of the Trump? A History Channel story on attitudes toward a certain class of immigrants in the 1840s said this, summing up the prejudiced attitudes of many Americans at the time: “The refugees seeking haven in America were poor and disease ridden. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were bringing with them crime. They were accused of being rapists. And worst of all, these undesirables were….Irish.
Do I hear loud echoes of Pres. Trump and his toxic rhetoric more than 150 years later castigating immigrants from Africa from Central America, from Middle Eastern countries, from Mexico, and from anywhere else except, apparently, Norway. Nothing it seems ever changes, especially in the mind of Donald Trump where vile opinions are set in concrete. (Reaction from Norway has been universally, “Thanks, but no thanks to Trump’s suggestion we need more Norwegian immigrants).
Yes, Ireland in 1848, was, in the minds of the worst of the United States, a shit hole country. Never mind, that the Irish were fleeing from a multi-year famine that killed hundreds if not thousands of the country’s citizens, mostly because of a repressive regime imposed on them by England.
My mother’s maiden name was Soper which means one who makes soap. Soper is an English name so I have in me the genetic make up of the oppressors and the oppressed. Mom once washed my mouth out with soap for having called a disagreeable playmate a son of a b. I was basically innocent, apparently having heard the term without the “itch” attached and didn’t realize its profane significance. But that cut no ice with my mother who decided, somewhat reluctantly, to use the moment as an object lesson. Like Ralphie in Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story” after Ralphie had used the F word, and got to taste a cake of Lifeboy soap, which had as he described it “a certain piquancy” I can testify that soap does have a distinct piquancy, but not one that you’re likely to find in fine wine.
Anyway, where is a mother, when one needs one to wash out the mouth of the president of the United States for having acted like a five-year-old, using words that he heard his old man use. Only Trump is not a five-year-old—he just acts like one most of the time. The Soper clan is a large one worldwide and I’m sure that I among them are a number of mothers of a liberal bent who would volunteer to stuff the mouth of Donald Trump with a cake of Lifeboy soap, if not to cure him of vile language, at least to shut him up.
Some psychiatrists are pretty sure that Donald Trump is several gold bricks shy of a full load,while others maintain it is wrong to psychoanalyze without examination. Maybe so. Not to draw conclusions but it seems that every time he applies his stubby fingers to the cell phone and vomits forth another erratic tweet right out of the Looney Tunes playbook he reinforces the belief of those of us who think he is off the rails crazy.
It’s discouraging that his base does not realize that this 70-year-old spoiled brat is no more advanced as a human being than a five-year-old who is upset about something. Does this mean that his base is composed of adult children acting like unruly grade schoolers during recess? I suspect so. We don’t see condemnation nor regret among those who voted for this despicable excuse for a world leader. And what’s more discouraging is that we don’t see a wholesale repudiation of the man by his own party leaders. Some have offered halfhearted pats on the wrist after one of the Donald’s outrageous tweets, but most have either murmured obfuscations or been AWOL when asked what they now think of the Screwball in Chief.
Some sub-Saharan African nations that Donald Trump denigrates as shit holes where people live in huts, have a GDP equivalent to or greater than that of the United States. Yes, some of them have their problems, but look around you— so does the United States, the major of which is that it continues to be a racist society unable to come to grips with its intolerant past and increasingly intolerant of those of everywhere else. And everywhere else is where our ancestors migrated from. Spit in a test tube and find out you aren’t as pure as you think you are.
We have so much in our history to apologize for, us white people. Start with people of color shanghaied to a life as slaves and add to that the shameful way we have treated what we now call native Americans. We deny that anyone who is not derived from northern Europeans (think Norwegians who already have many of the things that Trump wants to take away from us, like universal healthcare) can be a true American and is one who deserves to be barred from entry into our country. We propose to emulate the Soviet Union and East Germany by building a wall to bar immigrants from Mexico. How stupid and regressive is that? As long as we continue to deny our repressed racism, we WILL continue to practice it— and, I’m afraid, continue to elect sub humans like Trump and those who wallow in the toxic mud of racism.
The father of our granddaughter in law, a successful Kenyan businessman, emailed our daughter Carrie after Carrie had apologized on behalf of decent Americans for the hateful words of Donald Trump, “Dear Carrie, Thank you for your kind remarks. First I would like to say that it is not your fault, and we as members of your family know very well how you feel. It is disappointing to hear the president of the US talk the way he has just done about immigrants. I am currently in Kenya, and I would like to take this opportunity to give you salaams from here…my mother especially has asked me to give you and your family her very kind regards. We love you all as well, just as much.”
Tony’s mother owns a large plantation in Kenya and our granddaughter in law now has dual citizenship with Kenya and the United States. She was born in Kenya, educated in England, emigrated to the United States and joined the U.S, Army for four years as a path to her citizenship in this country. She has been a teacher and best of all has become a treasured member of our extended family.
As I said, her father Tony is a successful businessman in Africa. Compare him to Donald Trump who has declared bankruptcy at least seven times, and who is without doubt financed today by Russian money, tied to Vladimir Putin and his oligarch allies. Trump is a money laundering machine for the Russians— there is no doubt in my mind the man is an, as yet, unindicted criminal who somehow has managed to con his way into the most powerful office in the world and who brags that he has a larger nuclear button than his equally insane North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.
Is it somehow unpatriotic to call the president of the United States an insane criminal? As an imperturbable major league baseball umpire once told an irate Yankee manager Casey Stengel, who was objecting vehemently, to a called third strike, “I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.” New Yorker Casey Stengel was a credit to the city where he managed; his counterpart New Yorker Donald Trump is merely a disgrace, not just to New York City, but to the entire world. No, make that a disgrace to all humanity, and to the idea of man having evolved into a superior animal. Give me the simple fealty of a Labrador retriever any day.
Meanwhile, where is a Soper, armed with a large bar of Lifeboy and access to the Oval Office and to the man who squats behind the desk there like our own Jabba the Hutt, with the intent of laundering, not Russian money, but the dirty mouth Donald Trump.

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