E pluribus unum -- “out of many, one”
This Latin phrase is a 13-letter traditional motto of the United States of America. It appears on the Great Seal of the United States and was adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. The meaning originates from the concept that out of the Thirteen colonies emerged a single nation.
Although never codified by law, E Pluribus Unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.
The phrase “e pluribus unum” is a pledge of unity. While American residents originate from all nations around the earth, this amalgamation of people pledges their allegiance to the one country founded on the promise of equality, justice, and freedom for all.
However, not all Americans adhere to the ideals of equality. In fact, white supremacy has always occupied the landscape. White supremacists follow a racist ideology based upon the belief that white people are superior in many ways to people of other races and that, therefore, white people should be dominant over other races.
Beliefs in white supremacy have plagued America from the beginning of European settlement. Long before the American Revolution, early colonists began to dispossess Native Americans. Then, fueled by faith in manifest destiny, settlers traveled to new frontiers with goals of “redeeming” the west in the name of their own particular immigrant groups.
Of course, slavery was also instituted in America as early as 1555, and African-Americans have suffered bondage, oppression, and racism in the United States for hundreds of years. Throughout the history of the United States race has been used by whites for legitimizing and creating difference and social, economic and political exclusion of blacks. Slavery and racism are ugly stains in American heritage.
And yet in 2017 we still wonder if we will ever truly “come together” before we “come apart.”
Once more racial superiority has come out of the shadows – this time in Charlottesville, Virginia. The KKK, Neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist groups have been energized by the “Make America Great Again” movement of President Donald Trump, and the racists have boldly taken the stage to promote their evil agenda.
Is it any wonder? After all,
- Trump panders to white nationalists, bigots, and anti-Semites. Fearing he would lose their votes, he has refused to distance himself from these hate groups
- Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, formerly ran the right-wing Breitbart News while advocating the alt-right movement.
- Through his fear-mongering views that immigrants and other so-called “second-class citizens” are taking jobs and bringing crime, Trump has continually preached that some people are simply not fit for democracy.
- Trump is the same man who spent years questioning the birthplace of President Barack Obama, the nation's first black president. What were his motives for such a witch hunt?
- Trump is also the same man who in 1989 encouraged the mob anger that resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of the Central Park Five. Most remember the vengeful full-page ads.
- Trump's incessant, incendiary, half-baked tweets and comments fuel feelings of division and hatred. His words fall woefully short of encouraging diversity. Short on wisdom and long on judgment, Trump often allows his life of privilege to rule his mouth.
I don't know if President Trump is a racist. I hope not. I do know, however, that he is a mouthpiece – knowing or unknowing – for dangerous exclusion. He has chosen to maintain and even strengthen this position in his cabinet choices and in his own words. Since he has fueled this position with hardcore rhetoric and imprudent actions, he continually paints himself in the corner of ill-considered behaviors.
Be it in response to happenings in Charlottesville, Virginia, or in Pyongyang, North Korea, Americans look toward a leader in the White House with a wise, experienced, farsighted head. And, in my limited opinion, the chief executive that possesses those qualities is not home … even when he is “in the building.” You can bet he is busy … somewhere … promoting himself. So, I guess, he is practicing his own kind of “e pluribus unum” – expecting others to anoint him the “one.”