One of the big themes of the upcoming inauguration, and indeed Obama's administration (if media reports about his agenda are to be believed) is a concept of "unity." All Americans, we learn, are to unite around a "common purpose."
There's just one problem -- it's not so much "unity" as "collectivism." And sorry, Obama, but I'm not interested. And fortunately, neither are millions of other Americans.
First, there's the little problem that "unity" isn't really what these guys are interested in. Oh, sure, they'll invite Rick Warren (but not David Duke) to show that even people who dislike other groups and use laws to attack their fellow citizens are part of the Great Patriotic Union.
But if you're in an unfavored group, you're still lacking basic access to various legal statuses. "Unity" for you means, "sit down and shut up."
Then, there's the flip side of "unity," which is "sacrifice."
You didn't buy an overpriced house that you couldn't afford with money you didn't have. But since "we're all united," you'll be paying for others' who threw caution to the wind and signed contracts that they didn't bother to understand (or even read). Others who also voted to remove your 14th amendment equal protection rights. You see, you're a filthy fag, or a dirty Wiccan, or what have you, but we'll take your filthy lucre just the same!
You didn't take out huge home equity loans for Disney vacations, expensive cars, and designer furniture. But since "we're all united," the money you'd be saving for a down payment for a home of your very own will be taxed away from you to pay for others' vacations, cars, and furniture. You've got to help your fellow man, you know. We're united.
You didn't ask for, nor did you receive, risky loans on stupid assets from poorly managed banks. But since "we're all in this together," you'll be paying higher taxes on massive increases in debt to ensure that the executives of the top banks get to stay in their penthouse suites and keep their prior years' bonuses and payouts intact.
You never supported the invasion of Iraq, or endless wars overseas in conflicts that have nothing to do with you. But "united we stand," so more children will be maimed and murdered by bombs paid for with your tax money -- which "isn't really yours," according to one recent outburst by a Republican Congresscritter.
For so many of us, "unity" means little other than being good little citizens who sit down, shut up, pay up, and accept the "inspired micromanagement" of self-promoting politicians who have never had a real job in their lives. (And very few of them have ever had a real job -- not Obama, not Biden, not Frank, not Kennedy, not Pelosi, not Specter, not Casey, and on and on).
We are to subsume our own dreams to pay for the foolishness of others. Our responsible conduct in the face of an insane consumption economy is a designation for punishment. The fruits of the excesses were not ours, nor will they ever be -- but the pain is ours to share, the liabilities are ours to pay for, and the ill-gotten gains remain in the hands of those who took them in the first place.
So today, as a new administration takes power, I celebrate the shattering of the last barrier to achievement for black Americans. But I also celebrate the crotchety, rugged individualist who refuses to subsume his basic dignity and individuality under a false patina of "unity." Long may they flip the proverbial bird to those who would enslave them in the service of irresponsible and unAmerican fellow citizens.