A Nightmare in Elm City

Please note: this story includes many things which are not real and relies on some stereotypes to make its point.

Seth O’Malley had lived all his life in Elm City.  So had his grandparents, and great-grandparents and their parents before them.  No one in the family was really sure when their ancestors had arrived in the metropolis, or even exactly where they had come from, except for the clues left by their Irish surname and the pale, freckled skin that was so common among them.

All Seth and his family knew now was that they were afraid.  Their lives might never be the same.  And there wasn’t a thing they could do about it.

When Seth O’Malley and the beautiful Emma Hansen had kissed at the altar just 8 years ago, things seemed like they were going to go well for the new O’Malley clan.  Seth was taking over the family business, a neighborhood grocery store the family had run for 75 years.  Like many of the white people in the city, the O’Malley’s had found success in business.

Unfortunately, this success was a constant irritant to the majority black population.  Generations ago, the O’Malley’s had faced boycotts by their black neighbors, who were determined to drive them out of the neighborhood.  Seth’s father could remember going through the protest line as a child to get to the family store, being spit at, shoved and insulted by the angry crowd.

Since that time, things had settled down.  The ugliness of the protests had disgusted the moderate majority in the city, and the government passed ordinances protecting the rights of people of all colors to own businesses without the fear of harassment.  It had been an uphill climb, and Seth had plenty of his own memories of dirty looks and whispered slurs, but generally things seemed to be going in the right direction.

Eight years ago, when he and Emma were married, the city had elected its first white mayor since the Civil War.  The city had a preference for Democratic mayors, but the previous administration had been so incompetent that people turned to a Republican, and a white Republican at that.

Mayor Jimmy Thorvilson had electrified the city with his promises of change, but those promises remained mostly unrealized.  Sadly, the hope and change he represented was long forgotten.  This was due in no small part to the opposition of the Democrat-dominated city council, which had vowed to “take our city back.”  Seth knew that his black Democrat friends meant they wanted a Democrat-led government again, but to him the phrase “take our city back” seemed to have dark undertones.  “Take it back from who?” he wondered, “the majority that voted for a Republican?”

The mayor faced constant rumors that he was secretly a Mormon, which many black residents of the city despised due to the church’s former racism.  The mayor’s biological father was a Mormon and he had lived in Provo, Utah for several years when he was a child, until his parents divorced.  Rumors were rife that he had attended Primary and secretly still believed what he had been taught there.  People even claimed that he was not really a resident of the city when he ran his campaign–which was against the city charter–and no amount of evidence would convince them otherwise.  What seemed odd to Seth was that all these rumors happened after Democrats first claimed the candidate wasn’t “really” white because he had spent been raised by a black step-father, just so they could reduce his appeal to white voters.  Like always, his black Democrat friends said the opposition to Jimmy Thorvilson was entirely political and had nothing to do with his race, but, like always, Seth suspected otherwise.

Mayor Thorvilson had managed to win reelection four years later, but many Democrats blamed that on a lackluster campaign by his polite, Seventh-Day Adventist rival.  They had been sure that election was theirs to lose.  This time around, they were hungry for someone more aggressive.

They had found just such a man in David Henry, a rich, black real-estate developer.  David Henry had been a celebrity in town for decades, known for his lavish lifestyle and his no-nonsense manner.  Democrats swore he was just the man to break up the deadlocked city government and turn the city around.

David Henry made Seth nervous.  As a candidate, the man regularly said things that Seth and his family thought were anti-white and anti-Catholic.  Decades earlier, he had been sued by the government for refusing to do business with whites after the city ordinances had banned such discrimination.  His most enthusiastic supporters belonged to anti-Catholic groups, the Black Panthers and the Black Vipers.  This last group was a shadowy organization that claimed black people were genetically superior to whites because of the Neanderthal DNA that all white people carry.  They sought to turn the city into a blacks-only paradise.

David Henry had started his campaign by calling illegal businesses predators and vampires who sucked the life blood out of the city.  He said he would shut down all the illegal businesses in town and make sure none started up again.  It was his signature issue.

The issue of illegal businesses was a long-running problem in Elm City.  The city had significant regulatory barriers to starting a business.  Fees were high and, except in rare cases, only a lawyer could navigate the system successfully.  People with a dream but little money often started a business anyway, in the shadows.  David Henry and many others claimed the businesses siphoned off tax money from the government and blamed them for making it hard for legal businesses to compete.  Seth knew that many businesses used falsified permits to get past government inspectors, permits which were regularly tracked for payment of taxes.  He knew that many illegal business owners paid plenty in taxes, but they could not apply for the subsidies and government contracts available to legitimate enterprises: the government didn’t check very carefully when it was taking tax money, but it was extremely careful when it paid money out.

Seth thought the illegal businesses filled niches that the larger, less-flexible legal businesses did not bother with.  He thought their owners were often more creative and innovative.  He knew them to be honest, hard-working people, who simply wanted to fulfill a dream, but had been stopped by a bureaucratic nightmare.  He couldn’t imagine the well-connected, well-funded legal businesses bothering with the kinds of risks and sacrifices that his illegal business owner friends dealt with on a daily basis.  There was a reason those market niches were open, after all.

Seth worried about the children of his illegal business owner friends.  The city had several years earlier promised college scholarships and living expenses to allow every resident born in the city to get a degree.  His illegal business owner friends were counting on those so that their children could thrive in the city legally.

They had few other opportunities in the city.  Unions had a stranglehold over hiring, and you had to know the right person to get a job.  The network of contacts was dominated by the black majority, which was why most of the illegal business owners were white.  If their businesses were banned, some of them would leave their children behind with one parent while the other fled to another city, where regulations weren’t so tight and they could work or do business legally.  Others would take their children with them and leave behind their dreams of a better life.

Once again, it seemed to Seth that the candidate David Henry was against the illegal business owners because of their race.  The way he talked about them as predators and vampires was revealing, and at his rallies he always whipped up the Black Panther and Black Viper attendees into mouth-foaming anger.

David Henry said he wanted to wanted to put Elm City first and make it great again, but Seth thought that things were actually going fairly well and, in any case, reducing business regulations and loosening the union’s grip on hiring would go a long way towards making things better.  Quite a few of his black friends agreed with him, but their moderate voices were drowned out by the seething anger at Henry’s rallies.  Henry claimed he was fighting for the real Elm City people, those who had lived here for generations, like Seth had, but with a different color of skin.  Seth thought this was ironic because Henry’s grandparents had themselves immigrated to the city from Haiti, where their surname had been Henri.  Still, his supporters feverishly promoted his goal of making the city great again, calling for a return to the city’s glory days, which happened to be the time when boycotts of white businesses like Seth’s were common.

David Henry was running against the wife of a former mayor, Sheila Jackson.  Her political ambitions were well-known.  Her husband had been a popular Republican moderate, but Democrats did everything they could to bring him down, dragging him through the mud at every opportunity.  She had run for mayor in the Republican primary eight years ago, and had lost to the great white hope of Jimmy Thorvilson.  The Democratic city council had had four years to prepare to run against Sheila Jackson, and they had kept her name in the papers as much as possible with accusation after accusation.

Seth thought that the accusations against her weren’t all that serious.  The evidence didn’t really support them and what it did reveal didn’t seem worse than what previous mayors had done.  Sure, she wasn’t the inspiring, good-hearted Jimmy Thorvilson that Democrats hated so much, but someone like him wasn’t coming around again any time soon.

Seth thought she had good ideas for the city.  She seemed to have a good head for business and a genuine understanding of what was needed.  He thought the problems were that she was a woman, a Republican and a Jackson, and that the Democrats had had four years to plow the ground for scandal-mongering.

In any case, David Henry was not exactly a role model.  He was in his third marriage, each wife younger than the last.  He had cheated on his first wife with his second wife, on his second wife with his third wife, and rumor had it that he had cheated on his third wife, but a local paper that was allied with him had bought the story to keep it quiet.  He had left a long trail of cheated partners, lawsuits and bankruptcies.  His success seemed to be built on nothing more than flash and salesmanship.  He had inherited quite a bit of money from his father and Seth knew that if the man had just invested his inheritance in the stock market and left it alone, he would be worth several times more than he was.  The candidate refused to release details about his business dealings and told lie after lie, but his supporters loved him.

Seth was even more concerned by the foreign money that seemed to come into the campaign.  Some of Henry’s support came from Zimbabwe, which was ruled by Robert Mugabe, a man who had fought against the white Apartheid-like government there in the 1970’s when it was called Rhodesia.  Mugabe had made a career out of demonizing white landowners, finally taking their land from them and plunging the country into economic chaos.  He was elected president of that country and kept power through control of the press, intimidation and other dirty tricks.  Seth was bothered by the fact that David Henry was so complimentary to Mugabe, and to Raul Castro in Cuba and the socialist government in Venezuela, as well, but many of his black friends thought he was just a nutty conspiracy-theorist.

David Henry threatened to sue the newspapers who criticized him.  He had banned a few of them from attending his press conferences and rallies, simply because he didn’t like what they said about him.  He later relented and allowed them back in, but only when it seemed like he wasn’t going to win the election if he didn’t improve his image with moderate black voters.  That was the same time period when he uncomfortably spoke to a gathering of Catholic voters, who practically booed him off the stage and tried to woo white voters by telling them “What have you got to lose?”  Henry regularly said the election was rigged against him and said he might not concede if he lost.  He told his supporters to go to white neighborhoods and “watch” the polls there.  Some of his supporters said there would be a revolution if he didn’t win, and they had plenty of guns.

Henry had also proposed to ban Catholics and Mormons from having positions of influence in the city.  He claimed they all did the will of either the Pope or the Prophet.  No one but his supporters believed this was constitutional, but the threats and the talk scared Seth and his Catholic family.  He talked about enacting harsh penalties on business owners who broke obscure regulations, penalties that could destroy Seth’s family and everything they had taken generations to build.

The long electoral campaign had been dominated by Henry’s angry rhetoric and offensive words about whites and Catholics.  Henry had even hired the editor of an anti-white, anti-Catholic newspaper to run his campaign.  To Seth, it looked like the Democrats had abandoned everything good they ever stood for and had only kept the anger and the hate.  And with that anger and hate and big promises (half of which he couldn’t deliver and many others Seth thought he might not keep, given his unscrupulous business record), Henry had won the election.

The Black Panthers and Black Vipers marched in victory.  Whites protested the new mayor.  Henry immediately began reneging on some of his promises, but he did make his hate-mongering campaign chairman his new chief of staff.  Anti-white, anti-Catholic sentiment seemed to be the one thing that Henry and his biggest supporters were really committed to.

Seth was scared.  His hopeful life had become a nightmare.  He didn’t know what was going to happen to his family and his city.  There were no options.  All he could do was pray.  And he did so, fumbling his rosary as if even it would soon slip out of his hands.

Please note: Much of the content of this story is frighteningly true.  It candidacy of David Henry parallels real events that have actually unfolded in the United States.  The darkness present in it is real.  The unreal features in this story include a level of anti-white, anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon sentiment that does not actually exist.  Any actual anti-white, anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon sentiment in the country has been greatly, greatly exaggerated here to vaguely resemble the level of racism, antisemitism and anti-Islam feeling that really does exist.  Additionally, this story deliberately relies on some stereotypes commonly accepted by white conservatives in order to make it more impactful.


Noble Selfishness: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, the Brexit and Islamic Terrorism

I woke up this morning in a world that seemed somehow changed.  After months of hourly news developments related to Donald Trump’s latest outrage, followed by the “worst mass shooting in American history,” (which may or may not have been an act of terrorism), even as we approached one year since a white supremacist murdered nine blacks in a historic Charleston church, we now face a British vote to exit the European Union.  As my mind struggles to make sense of it all, I recall a common phenomenon I have noticed among parents: noble selfishness.

An individual’s efforts to advance their own welfare are labeled, quite appropriately, as acts of selfishness, but a parent’s efforts to advance the welfare of their children are often seen as acts of love.  It is rare when a parent’s advocacy for their children is seen as a fault.

Coincidentally, we have also seen one of those rare moments in recent weeks, as the father of a young rapist was dragged through hell on the internet for defending his son and brushing aside the profound effect his son’s actions had on another human being.  Even so, the selfishness of his words would have been completely overlooked if the tears of his distraught victim had not spread around the nation before his unfortunate letter did.  Having absorbed her pain before we heard his compassion for his son, we reacted quite differently than the lenient judge who decided the case.

While that case may be extreme, it is hardly an isolated phenomenon.  Parents are usually given great leeway in advancing the interests of their children, even when other children are indirectly—or even directly—harmed as a result.  Schools and teachers are quite familiar with this kind of noble selfishness as they deal with the righteous indignation of a parent whose child did not receive every benefit and every accolade the school could provide.

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