Monday, March 27, 2006

The Great American Schism

Peering out across the Dallas skyline, I see the thousands of twinkling lights of the “Northern front”—the vast void of suburban sprawl, devouring the Texas plains and destroying the heart of the city.

Drawn by the promise of a “neo-cult of domesticity”, thousands of young, white families reject the lure of the city and flee to places like Plano, Frisco, Southlake, McKinney and Wylie. Like a leach, these families suck their host dry, depending on their host (Dallas proper) for their entertainment, their culture and their money, while giving nothing in return. While not a new phenomenon, the suburbs represent the darkest corner of American culture—filled with lusts, lies, lunacy and, most of all, hypocrisy!

Indeed, ask any suburbanite the impetus for their outward migration and inevitably they will reel off a litany of charges—a better life, better schools, and a higher standard of living. In fact, the roots of the suburbs lie in something far more sinister.

At the end of the nineteenth century, our great nation existed as a collection of a few large urban areas and thousands of small “island communities” scattered across the country. The dawn of revolutions in the fields of economics, communications, transportation and industrialization expedited the transition of the United States from a rural, agrarian society to an urban, post-industrial society, paving the way for the great American schism of the 20th Century.

Historians will tell you that the conflict between the shared/corporate values of the rural society and the individual liberties espoused by the urban society, exist today as the most basic tenants of the Republican and Democrat Party platforms respectively. What started as a direct reaction to African Americans’ Great Migration to the cities in the United States following World War II, soon evolved into what we know as modern day “Suburbia.”

In 1947, William Levitt began the construction of homes in a former potato field on Long Island, thirty miles from Manhattan. By 1951, he had completed Levittown, which held seventeen thousand homes, curved streets, parks and playgrounds. This sparked the mass exodus and during the 1950’s, the twelve largest U.S. cities lost two million white, while gaining 1.8 million non-whites. In short, the minorities were left to live in rotting cities.

As with most things, it took this movement time to reach the South and Texas. With the federal courts eradication of de facto segregation in the 1970’s, white Southerners and Texans fled their urban homes and established outposts around the urban center. When these people spoke of “better schools,” they actually meant monolithic schools, catering to the needs and desires of one particular culture—the Caucasian. Indeed, many school districts in the northern Dallas suburbs refuse to observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to this day.

In part two of this series, we will examine the role of evangelical Christianity in the life of the suburbs and the growing influence of the “megachurch” on suburbia and American culture as a whole.

For now, just know that those beautiful bedroom communities just north of Dallas, were born out hate and not hope!


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