In Norse mythology, Bifrost (biv’-roast) was the rainbow bridge between heaven and earth — an alternating vinculum that allowed the gods to intervene in the affairs of men; and conversely, that formed a route travelled by men at their death. The fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was not an idea exclusive to the Celts, but rather a constant pan-European motif. Since no one can “chase the rainbow”, the pot of gold is, or was, generally understood to be unattainable by adults. In the not-too-distant past, Christian children’s Sunday School lessons of Noah and his Ark concluded with God’s undertaking :”I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of a covenant between me and the earth … Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:13, 15)
THE RAINBOW FAMILY
“Walking on water wasn’t built in a day.” wrote beat novelist Jack Kerouac, after his first acid trip Among the first to expropriate and reinvent the image was the Rainbow Family, aka The Rainbow Family of Living Light. aka The Rainbow Nation, aka The Family. Since 1972, tens of thousands of utopian/anarchist Deadheads, New Agers and old hippies have gotten together to live rough at predetermined sites worldwide from early June until July 4, “Inter-Dependence Day, when thousands of blissed-out campers join hands in a giant circle to pray for world peace”. If you enjoy hugs from strangers, and remain traumatized over Woodstock, this cultural pate of American Indian and Eastern mysticism larded with “principals of non-violence and non-hierarchical egalitarianism” may be just what you’ve been looking for!
The Rainbow Family Council boast: “The way we make decisions is more important than the decisions we make”. Since that describes most hackneyed Canadian institutional thinking, so we must rely upon their own victim-portrait as “people, who regardless of their station in life, have come to feel that they are part of an unacknowledged American diaspora”.
Rainbow Family sentiment rapidly becomes so inarticulate as to prompt all but the hopelessly illiterate to question the value of universal education. (Hint: maybe it’s the dope). Their lifestyle “is about Peace, Rainbows, Community, Friends, Inspiration, Love, Health, Generosity, Happiness, Joy, Laughter, Spirit, Activism, and Drumming. (Drumming for World Peace is a 501 (c)(3) [charitable tax status] non-profit membership organization devoted to stopping violence through the power of percussion.)” The Rainbow Family glossary introduces us to important ideas like: Drainbow (someone who demands much but contributes little), Feather (focal object passed around a circle to identify the person who is speaking), Hug Patrol (group of people who wander around Gatherings hugging people), Meat (a living animal – not necessarily a cow, pig or chicken – now food), Rainbow Time (system of keeping time without watches.
Rainbow Time is whenever enough people think it is whatever time it is supposed to be). Typically, at the end of a Rainbow day, “the conch shell is blown. and council is held. Everyone finishes what they were doing and goes down to the meadow. in the canyon. each person. stands in the circle. and holds hands. and screams.” [sic] Sadly, despite their many sterling attributes, the Rainbow Family is consistantly at loggerheads with authority. It may be the marijuana, the LSD, or something so inconsequential as biological fallout of several thousand people squatting for months in the woods, celebrating theoretical ecology. As a rule, the Rainbow Family has several pending court cases at any given moment.
THE RAINBOW WARRIOR
On April 29, 1978, flying Greenpeace and United Nations flags, the ill-fated Rainbow Warrior steamed from the London docks. The flagship was named for a Cree Indian prophecy: “When the world is sick and dying, the people will rise up like Warriors of the Rainbow.” During the first few years, the ship was a fixture in cold North Atlantic seas and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, battling drift ice to monitor whaling and sealing activities. Inevitably the ship migrated to the more salubrious climes of the South Pacific where an increasingly confrontational watch was set on France’s nuclear testing program. As Green lobbying won international respectability and sympathy, radicalized on-site eco-protestors grew more daring and intrusive.
Disruptive tactics and escalating tensions came to be more than France could bear, and on July 10th, 1985, French Secret Service divers retaliated. They placed two limpet mines on the Rainbow Warrior’s hull while it was docked in Auckland New Zealand. One crew member was killed in the resulting blast. The French Government was eventually ordered to make restitution to Greenpeace in the amount of U.S. $8.159-million and, in 1987 the Rainbow Warrior was scuttled with full Maori honours in the waters of Matauri Bay, New Zealand.
The phenomenon that is Greenpeace is proof positive that no one should ever lose heart — what was once regarded as an unsavoury “fringe” movement can, in thirty years, become so mainstream as to suffer criticism that the organization itself is just another big corporate entity. The fundamental rift between the founders hinged on this very issue. Not so long ago, the media reserved a tone of special reverential awe when discussing Greenpeace’s activities; recently this has been shunted aside by a newly critical attitude, dwelling on the dazzling buffet of Greenpeace eco-merchandise on offer. And the media has begun to make room for accusations that the organization prefers to bully soft targets like British Columbia’s NDP government rather than tackling prickly Third World cultural issues; such as, burning vast tracts of the rain forest for profit in Southeast Asia, Central and South America and ecological mismanagement for profit in an even less accomodating China.
Last April, the Sierra Club asked its 550,000 members to determine whether the organization should begin lobbying against immigration. The “divisive” measure (called the “most extensively debated issue in the 106-year history of the environmental group”) prompted president Adam Werbach to threaten to resign if it passed. The initiative was defeated 60 per cent against to just 40 per cent in favour. Oddly enough, for such a hot issue, a mere 13.5 per cent of members actually cast ballots. Here again, environment has taken a back seat to the paralyzing fear of giving offence. During the ’70s, when Sierra Club membership exploded, there was no such confusion: it was the sheer weight of human numbers which accounted for the degradation and destruction of habitats. To cope with current levels of immigration, California should be building one elementary school every single day, in perpetuity.
Environmentalists may chain themselves to photogenic trees, but in the meanwhile, whole forests are razed to make way for housing tracts and franchise “alleys” to accomodate swelling immigrant numbers. Cities and suburbs metastasize into one giant metropolitain sprawl, wildlife is ailing where it has not yet vanished completely, air and water are pestilential chemical soups, urban blight spreads, and the laundry list of social ills and legislative darning betrays the promise that was the New World.
At current intake rates, U.S. and Canadian populations increase by 1 per cent per year through immigration alone. If you want to see what life is like without limits on population, you can visit China or India — or, you can simply wait. One shrimp-like supporter of relentless environmental degradation helpfully noted: “Let them become Americans, join the Sierra Club and help save the forests both on this continent and in the Amazon!” If you see a unicorn under that rainbow, pet it for us?
THE RAINBOW COALITION
*Where liberal whites struggle toward an integrated “colour blind” society, the Rainbow Coalition harbours no such illusions. Critical Race Theory accepts that there are indeed differences. Not biological differences to be sure; but recognizing (and helping others to recognize) the pervasiveness of systemic/institutional/social/cultural/environmental racism has been the fast track to minority “empowerment”. According to the Mission Statement, Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition is a “multi-racial, multi-issue” organization, seeking to form a “mighty coalition across ancient barriers of race, gender, and religion, so that, together, all the old minorities will form the new majority”. It might be argued that the Coalition has succeeded beyond its wildest ambitions. Certainly, a once-united majority has collapsed in the face of sustained and continuous assaults against “the oppressor”.
By far, the most effective weapon in Jackson’s*arsenal has been the boycott. Formidable oil giant Texaco bears the distinction of being forced to its knees, even while doubt persists as to the validity of the original charges leveled against a company which seemed desperately trying to grapple with the “challenges” of affirmative action and equity. Those prepared to look beyond guilt-charged cliches are left in little doubt as to what “harmonious” and “inclusive” might actually mean. Is the new experiment with Communism likely to succeed where the old experiment ended with a whimper? What Marxist strategists call The Long March through the Institutions has found the rainbow a useful tool to bulldoze the path ahead. A visitor to Cusco, Peru in the early 1990s noted that rainbow banners were widely used by Inca Indians as a symbol of defiance and opposition to whites. They were also signs of support for the Maoist terrorists known as the Sendero Luminoso or “Shining Path”.
The Sept/Oct 97 issue of Mother Jones argues that, like Goethe’s blind Faust, the New Left may mistake the sound of grave digger’s shovels for the commencement of important works. “For the past generation, the Left has been identified with the strategy of what Jesse Jackson calls the Rainbow Coalition. Where the Old Left assigned the vanguard role in history to factory workers, the New Left assigns it to people of color. The assumption has been that policies such as affirmative action and racial redistricting would unite blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans politically. Sympathetic whites would be permitted to join the coalition, [like Pollyannna playing “the Glad Game” with her prisms and crutches] but white concerns about reverse discrimination would be dismissed as racist. In time, many on the left assumed, ‘rainbow liberalism’ would triumph purely as a result of demographic trends, as California, Texas, New York, and eventually the whole country acquired nonwhite majorities. The strategy of rainbow liberalism has rested on [the assumption] … that the very policies that promote the rainbow strategy — affirmative action and high immigration — would not produce tensions among the multiracial rainbow’s constituent bands. If these assumptions are wrong, then rainbow liberalism is digging its own grave.
They are, and it is. … The high number of blacks who supported Proposition 187, California’s anti-immigration referendum, should have sent a signal to liberal strategists. The tensions between blacks and Hispanic and Asian immigrants are deep. According to a recent Roper Poll, non-Hispanic blacks favor deep cuts in immigration by a ratio of 11-to-1 (even Hispanic Americans favored such cuts by 7-to-1). … Affirmative action, like immigration, divides rather than unites the rainbow.”
THE RAINBOW FLAG
The most visible appropriation of the rainbow, and most familiar to us, is that of the homosexual lobby. Before looking very far into the closet, it’s important to note that it was Alfred Kinsey who kicked the door open with his Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948). His startling conclusion was that 13% of men were “predominantly homosexual”. To put it mildly, his research is now considered ‘seriously flawed’: about 25% of his “normal” male sample were prison inmates; of those, a high number were convicted sex offenders. His survey procedure permitted an adult who reported one instance of homosexual activity (willing or not) to be classified as homosexual. He refused to take volunteer bias into account.
He had been warned that “people would lie”. Most telling, although he was married, at the time he was conducting his research, Kinsey was wrestling with his own then-unacknowledged homosexuality. Still, let’s be kind. No doubt the poor man was desperate to legitimize his own predilictions with “overwhelming” and “compelling” evidence of pandemic near-universal homosexuality. The actual incidence of homosexuality within the community is now reckoned to be somewhere between 1 1/2 – 3%. Nevertheless, Kinsey’s own neuroses have largely shaped 50 years of social policy.
“The first Rainbow Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, who created the flag in response to a local activist’s call for the need of a community symbol. … Using the five-striped ‘Flag of the Race’ as his inspiration, Baker … dyed and sewed the material for the first flag himself – in the true spirit of Betsy Ross. … One can not help but feel a tremendous sense of pride at seeing this powerful symbol displayed so prominently.” (The Alyson Almanac: A Treasury of Information for the Gay and Lesbian Community)
“The Rainbow Visa Card® is a credit card that proudly supports the lesbian and gay community”And identification transcends anything Mr. Baker might have foreseen as he sewed (perhaps more in the spirit of Diana Ross). Nor have commercial considerations been overlooked: “Wednesday, Martina Navratilova celebrated the first anniversary of the Rainbow Card, a Visa credit card which supports the lesbian and gay community. … Travelers Bank is the issuer of the card which offers … cardholders the option of free cards for chosen family members and the option for domestic partners to apply jointly for increased credit lines.
Since targeting the community, Subaru has also measured a dramatic increase in brand awareness of its cars among gays and lesbians. The company claims sponsorship of the Rainbow Endowment has helped to increase purchase consideration and sales within this consumer group, while playing an integral role in its overall niche marketing mix.” (Do Tell, October 1996) “Every time you use the Rainbow Card for ordinary purchases, you help support the Rainbow Endowment, a non-profit 501(c)3 [charitable tax status] organization that funds causes relevant to the lesbian and gay community … as well as lesbian and gay arts, cultural and civil rights organizations.” (VISA promo material) Nowhere has the homosexual rainbow found a more accomodating welcome than among the folks at Disney. Identification with Disney is indispensable to the cosmetically enhanced “new” homosexuality, which emphasizes cuddly new rainbow family units rather than a fringe lifestyle devoted to predatory cruising and the cruel toll exacted on celebrants’ health. The demise of the Disney/ABC program Ellen might be taken as evidence that there really isn’t nearly as much popular support as we have been led to believe, but, again, returning to the closet in disgrace is not newsworthy. Nevertheless, The Official Web Site of Gay and Lesbian Day at Walt Disney World informs subscribers that, “Gay Day has grown so big so fast, that Disney has even been kind enough to build a fourth theme park just for us!”
The fact that the rainbow is really just a celestial mirage dependent upon a very specific set of transitory conditions, might make a compelling metaphor, except for the fact that the groups now assuming right of ownership lean so heavily on the very people they seek to eradicate. It’s as if rainbows everywhere became radicalised and called for universal evaporation of the despised raindrop. Rainbow physics are pregnant with symbolic meaning. The lower the sun in the sky, the more likely rainbows are to be brighter at their sides. Thus, as the light fails, the vaulting middle vanishes and only the extremes remain visible. The fact that “rainbow” groups are constitutionally “leftist”, only enhances the metaphor: for the sake of a little balance, the rest of us tend to be pushed to the other extreme. And finally, because the rainbow is reflected to the eye at an angle 42 degrees to the original ray of sunlight, no two people actually ever see the exact same rainbow. In this instance, each individual really is a separate and unique point in space. Somehow, this distinctness has not impressed itself on us in any meaningful way; on the contrary, the various rainbow groups have become serial metaphors for selfishness.
That being the case, perhaps we should relinquish our last tenuous hold on our traditional understanding of the rainbow, and acknowledge that today’s rainbow is so diminished as to be a convenient red flag, indicating rampant self absorption. The rainbow as a symbol of contagion? Of course, the pot of gold really does exist — at least it does as far as the privileged groups are concerned. The ephemeral beauty of the rainbow makes it the ideal image for a people and a way of life that actually are under threat. * Add it to that long list of our cultural heirlooms that have been hopelessly corroded, co-opted, or lost to us outright. It is a list that can only increase, unless or until, the North American Majority realize we have at least as much right to speak in defence of the things we believe and love, as does any group prompted by the narrowest self-interest.
- Rainbow physics http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/staff/blynds/rnbw.html
- Rainbow Family Glossary http://www.perkel.com/rainbow/glossary.htm
- Rainbow Coalition http://www.bin.org/assocorg/rainbow/rainbow.htm
- Greenpeace payment options http://www.greenpeace.org/forms/gpicontr.html
- Sierra Club http://www.sierraclub.org/
- Information for families on Disney http://www.laker.net/webpage/aamoral.htm
- Quiz for Heterosexual haters http://www.south-florida-instyle.com/pride/test.htm