This piece was started days ago, but I kept arguing with myself about finishing it. Much of my belief system stems from what I learned from this man, but only now do I see that my hero has feet of clay…
I lost a beloved hero today- Gore Vidal. In an interview with Andrew Gumbel who asked him about Obama as president, Vidal replied “Slaves have a hard time making poetry,” he said, relishing the shock factor, “unless it’s got a beat.”
Now Vidal makes pithy statements all of the time. It’s one reason I liked him. He has a wonderful mind and the ability to see through the B/S that befuddle others, but this time he showed his fucking soul- he’s an aristocratic, Racist fuckmook.
“Slaves”? Fuck you and your supposed airs. Fuck the fact that you have perfect diction and a good mind. Fuck the assertion that your forebearers helped “shape” this nation since 1690 (and we have seen where that “shaping” has brought us.). Fuck you for believing that you are the ne plus ultra and the rest of us are chattel.
Believe it or not Mr. Vidal, you are a symptom of the sickness that is “Real America”. Your white-bread roots are not America… those of us who toil each and every day taking care of our lives and families are the true Americans, not your effete “distinguished” bloodlines. Even though you rail away about the classicism of America, you consider yourself to be a Patrician. Sorry Darlin’, you are not. You are not far removed from the Racist rednecks that hang or burn Black folk.
My people have been here in New Orleans since the early 1700′s. My father’s line came over with William Penn to create Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (In fact my ancestor was Penn’s estate manager). My folks were farmers, artisans and fishing people. None of my line were famous, but all of them lived honorable lives. People like them are the true elite of America, not your kind of “elite”. (and no, this is not “Joe the Plumber” shit)
Elitists? I consider my self in that “class”. I am educated, experienced and continue to grow further in that segment of my life. I know much of the World because I have been there, on the ground and in the grind. I have also worked hard to provide service and keep my life together. My life has as it’s main focus to help those who are trying to grow and become, no matter what that entails. I have served my country proudly, but not for the likes of you and yours… I did it for the folks that I truly believe are the heart and soul of America. Often I disagree with them on many social issues, but they have my respect for being just who they are- American folk.
So Mr. Vidal, where the fuck do you get off deriding Barack Obama’s self-made life by that fucking statement, “Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat.”? And you consider Harry Truman to be a helot?
You Mr. Vidal, with all the respect that I have left, are just like what my tribes call Triple A Gays- those who look down at most of the community and constantly trashing us. Those mooks couldn’t be bothered to help for the community’s rights, and none of us mattered personally to them. We are just worker bees to the queens. (Examples are evident in the “Tales of the City” series.)
You sir are nothing more than an effete, snobbish, over-educated, connected boor. Yes you know things, many of them, but you come to wrong applications of your knowledge when viewing your fellow Human Beings. I believed that you possesed a spirit that cared for others by telling truth about History and the matters of Culture.
I now know I was wrong. There is something missing from your pronouncements- you hold Humanity in a sense of contempt because we are not you. We are bugs to the likes of your kind. Your kind is the wheat and we are the chaff.
My mother used to say that you can know everything and yet not be wise. Wisdom comes from true experience, not something read in a book or told to you. Wisdom is the harsh gift that comes from facing the daily grind, the murders, deaths from illness and the fight required to live a life in this country. In other words, wisdom comes from real experience, not a slide-show. Life cannot rely just on one’s score on a class exam, it comes from what you do with what you have learned.
And that in turn depends upon the content of your character and the bent of your heart. Remember that we are judged by our works. It ain’t a Bible thing, but a thing those of us who really live use as our guideposts in negotiating the currents of Life. I saw you as a beacon. Now all I see is a shallow, educated but unknowledgeable fool.
So today we part paths. You just observe, but I live Life. Your sight is only of pages or a screen from your tower… what I see is my hands in the muck and the blood trying to understand and accept it all. The feel, the smell, horror, joy and enjoyment of just being is my gift, but all of those things escape you. The world you inhabit is a fairy place floating in the clouds.
Those of us who live have our feet on the ground.