by: Valerie Elverton-Dixon on October 25th, 2013 | 5 Comments »
It started out as an ordinary day. Get up, meditate, listen to Huggy Lowdown on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, do yoga, work on my next book, stop to watch General Hospital and have an early afternoon meal, back to work, 30-minutes on the stationary bike then dinner, evening TV and bed. But, this day a package came that transformed my ordinary day into an extremely extraordinary one.
A white ready post utility mailer waited for me along with some sale papers and bills in the mail. There was no return address. I was not expecting a package, so I opened it immediately. Inside I found a black genuine leather journal with gold edged pages and a long letter written on ivory parchment paper. The letter was written in small neat printing. Whoever wrote this letter was a careful, exacting person. It could not be a Halloween joke from one of my friends. None had the time to do a prank this elaborate. Something within told me to take this seriously. So, I turned on a lamp in the living room and sat down to read the letter.
Dear Dr. Dixon,
If you are reading this, I am dead. I have asked my attorney to send this journal to you. I am sending this to you because I think that you will know what to do with the information that it contains. I know that you study the religions of the African Diaspora as well as ethics, political philosophy and rhetoric. I hope that you will be able to at least begin to undo some of the harm I have done. I am also writing to you because I believe that you will know how to solve this problem without violence. You understand that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with powers, principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places. You know that these are emanations from idols, the created things we worship rather than worshiping Divine Love. So you know that what I am about to say to you is not a warrant for violence. You know that what I am about to say about the soulless living among us means that you and others will have to find a way to help these people find their humanity. You will have to love them back to health.
Zombies are all the rage these days. (Patience please. I do not digress.) When we see zombies on television, in the movies, and in video games, they are rotting corpses who are hungry for human flesh. They are ugly and obvious. Their bite turns their victims into zombies. They are the product of a virus or radiation poisoning or an alien invasion. After the zombies, human beings struggle to survive a dystopian apocalyptic world. The decision humans make to secure their own survival, the rivalries that emerge, the kinds of cooperation that happen provide the drama of the stories.
We both know this is pure fantasy. Yet zombies exist. The walking dead exist and have for millennia because people like me have ways of taking a person’s mind, will, heart and soul. And they look exactly like us. When we have taken the part of a person that connects with other human beings, when we have cut the ties that bind, when life becomes so miserable a person is willing to do anything, when a person loses hope that things can get better through human cooperation, when we have made people unthinking, uncritical actors, when we tell them what to think and what to do and they do it, we have created a zombie.
I am a Bokor, a zombie maker.
It happened in Haiti. As a young man I was rebellious. I wanted something other than a rich, white American life. I was the eldest of three children, and my father wanted to groom me to take over the family businesses. We have holdings in industries ranging from petro-chemicals, forestry, coal mining, and big agriculture to private equity and hedge funds. We are worth billions. Rather than learning how to run the businesses, I joined a Christian missionary group and spent time in West Africa and Haiti. I learned their religions or as much as they would teach a young white man from the United States. Clearly there are gaps in my knowledge.
When I returned to the United States, I did go to work in my family business. I wanted to change things from the inside. However, I was seduced by the money and by the power. After a certain point, the money itself became the goal. When you hear people say that money is only a way to keep score, they are right. I wanted to win the game by any means necessary. Instead of using psycho-pharmaceuticals to affect a mindless, soulless state, I used psycho-ideology, and psycho-rhetorics to make people do what I wanted them to do without question. However, in stealing souls, I lost my own.
This brings me to the zombification of the Republican Party. As you know, the Republican Party was founded as a pro-business anti-slavery party. After the Civil War, it was the party of African-Americans, mid-west small town America and business. Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive. The Democratic Party was the party of immigrants in the northern cities and the solid south. However, alignments started to shift during the Great Depression. The country needed a social safety net and FDR provided it. Many African-Americans began to vote Democratic. FDR, with help from his wife, held the Democratic coalition in place. The Dems started to lose the solid south when Truman integrated the armed forces. Kennedy’s reluctant support for civil rights– but support none-the-less– continued the exodus of the Dixiecrats to the GOP. When Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, he knew he had handed the south to us for at least a generation.
And we used the psychosis of white supremacy to our advantage. We hit the jack pot with Ronald Reagan who went to the Neshoba County Fair on August 3, 1980. Neshoba County contains Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place where three civil rights workers were tortured and killed. In a pleasant avuncular speech, he dropped one reference to state’s rights. Everyone present got the message. He did not speak a word about the murder of the civil rights workers. It was as if they never existed, or their tragic deaths never happened. For northern blue-collar workers, children of European immigrants, he spoke of Africa-American welfare queens. He injected race into the campaign in insidious ways. Lee Atwater continued this tactic, and also lived to regret his actions.
We tied conservative ideology to religion to personal piety, to racism, sexism, and homophobia. We tied these things to racial identity and to the fear of a loss of power and privilege. Then we built a media bubble. There were personalities who actually told their listeners that they did not have to listen to the Democrats because the host would do that for them and then tell them what to think. One host said straight up that he is a provocateur whose intent is to drive ratings by keeping people emotionally upset. He sells heat and not light.
Now people do not have to think or ask critical questions. They ignore facts and simply repeat talking points. The zombification of the party is complete. When poor and middle-class people vote for politicians who will serve the interests of people such as myself, the rich get richer and the poor poorer. The middle-class disappears. This is our zombie army. And, let me hasten to add that I have done very well under President Obama.
Now, I am not saying that every Republican is a soldier in our zombie army. I am saying that those who march with confederate flags in front of the White House and disrespect the president, who send money to some back bench representative who yells out that the president lies in a joint session of Congress, who are still infected with what you call “birther madness”, who cheer the death penalty, boo a Gay soldier serving in Iraq, who think people who do not have health insurance ought not to be treated in emergency rooms, who will drive a fire engine to a person’s house and then sit and watch it burn because the person did not pay a local fee to pay for fire protection and then have others defend such unneighborliness, who will advocate for personal responsibility to buy health insurance at one moment, then complain about the individual mandate in the health care law in the next moment are the zombies we have created.
Now we have lost control. They have elected people who are willing to not only shut down the government but they are willing to crash the world economic system by breaching the debt ceiling. This is not only bad for business, but this could cause a dystopian world reality the likes of which we have never seen. The zombies we created have infected the Republican Party. It is now the party of the walking dead. Again I say that not all Republicans are deadheads, ditto heads, or walkers. But those who are not are about to be overrun by those who are.
In this journal, I have written about my time in Haiti. I have explained the psycho-psychotic-ideological-rhetorical zombification of a political party. I hope that you can find an antidote to my tragic, misguided sorcery before it is too late.
Yours with deep regret,
When I finished reading the letter, day had turned to night. The wind chimes on the patio played a furious song. There was no wind. The white ready post mailer radiated its own eerie light casting large shadows across the room. I opened the journal. It began:
Gentle Reader. This is my confession. Forgive me because I have sinned.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.