Ah, politics and political faux pas, you just have to love them. I am such a basket case of deplorables, a delightful and contented basket case of deplorables. Who does not identify with Despicable Me and those adorable little minions?
“Deplorable,” our political candidate could not have chosen a worse word, because it is my favorite word, it is a word that goes right to the heart of what it means to be an American. Deplorable, it means shockingly bad, defiant, deserving strong condemnation, socially unacceptable. “Deplorable” actually comes from the French word, déplorer meaning “to give up as hopeless.” Hopeless as in cats one simply cannot herd and force into conformity.
This is a country of somewhat rugged individuals born of defiance and a willingness to go against the grain and chart new territory. Rather than sitting with royalty and having a polite tea, we dressed up in costumes and threw it all in the bay. That’s the American version of a tea party, we practically revel in our capacity to be deplorable.
There are some people who try to claim America is not a “race,” that we have no real culture of our own, that one cannot actually become an American. Magic Dirt theories, they falsely claim that one does not set foot in this country and acclimatize. Oh but we do, ask any grandparent from the old country lamenting the Americanization of the second or third generation. America may not be a race, but we sure are a tribe, a divided and frequently bickering tribe, but a tribe just the same, a tribe of deplorables.
“Deplorable,” that there just singed my eyebrows, sent my little tribalistic heart reeling as if to say, now hold up here. Those are Americans, those are my Americans. True, there’s some pretty appalling specimens out there, hearts all full of genuine hatred and wrestling with assorted -isms, the sexism, the racism, the classism, BUT WAIT, those are still American deplorables, members of my tribe. It is one thing to complain about your own family’s grave and significant shortcomings, it is an entirely different thing to have random strangers come up to point and ridicule.
Here on the Lord’s Day, on this anniversary of 911, I am once again reminded that America really is a tribe, that we can and do and have found our unity, often in the face of tragedy and grief. This process of coming together, of finding common ground, can be messy and painful, it can look like complete chaos to those on the outside, but there is a three fold cord that entwines this country like no other.
A three fold cord is not easily broken.