On Sept. 11, 2001, (9/11), passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 stormed the terrorists planning to blow up our Capitol in Washington, D.C. These heroes succeeded where our Capitol police failed. They gave their lives to save this symbol of American Democracy, our Capitol Building. The police failed miserably in their duty to protect the same building.
I’m sure there will be enough blame to go around to cover several security departments, but surely the chaos of last week in our Capitol Building should never happen again. How the security forces could not have foreseen the danger when violent groups like the Proud Boys and Oath keepers were vowing on social media to stir up big trouble in D.C. is implausible! As Michael Chertoff, a former Homeland Security secretary said, “A five year old would know this (Capitol Building) would be a center of focus.”
One takeaway I have from the trashing of our Capitol by Trump supporters is how correct author Isabel Wilkenson was in her book, “Caste.” She documented how the highest caste (class) are treated very differently from the lower caste, who are mostly of color.
Where was the show of force, rubber bullets, tear gas canisters that were showered upon the Black Lives Matter demonstrators? Videos of last week revealed how casual the enforcement of law was in Washington, D.C. One police officer was caught taking a ‘selfie’ with a rioter – really?
Americans admit to class distinctions, but shy away from the term ‘caste’ because of the demeaning connotation associated with the caste “untouchables” in India. The dictionary defines ‘caste’ as a division of society based on differences of wealth, inherited rank, or privilege. Isabel Wilkenson would add ‘color of skin’. For our purposes the term caste/class are interchangeable.
Whatever we call our class divisions, history records what happens when there are only two classes of people – the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’ It is a timeless recipe for revolution.
Luckily in the U.S class system we have buffer classes such as ‘upper middle class’ and ‘lower middle class’ separating the privileged, dominant white class from the lower class of mainly but not exclusively, people of color. Unlike the caste system in India, there is much more upward mobility between our castes e.g. athletes in sports, and stars of movies and music tend to steal the spotlight with their inflated salaries, but many others climb the ladder of success by dint of education, motivation and very hard work.
Friends and I have tried to pinpoint the classes we find in Coronado. Atop the ladder are the famous ‘one percenters,’ the richest of the rich. Next come the affluent class, visible by their superb homes and vehicles. These folks never look at their receipts from stores, food markets, gasoline pumps etc. – they don’t need to. They blend into the upper middle class buttressed by the lower middle class who may budget their expenses. Then there are those who find themselves on the lower rungs of the ladder due to extremely bad fortune. They just about get by with assistance from the government and others. Finally, we have to go over the bridge to engage our most unfortunate citizens, the homeless.
Regardless of our class/caste, we are all called upon to support our country against “foreign and domestic” forces that threaten us. Recent events in Washington D.C. reveal that our Republic is still a work in progress. Our classes/castes are not immutable. One of the goals of the new Congress should be to assist the upward mobility of all classes of Americans, especially those suffering the most.