A debut nonfiction work offers a hippie manifesto for the future of the United States.
A White Rainbow, a veteran of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and ’70s, was left disillusioned with the lack of recognizable change in societal consciousness. This led to a period of isolation. But experiences with the Rainbow Family—an egalitarian organization that holds periodic, noncommercial gatherings in nature—gave him a glimpse of social possibilities. The author’s mission in this book is to bring these values of healing, equality, nonviolence, and reconciliation to the society at large rather than just to a temporary, subcultural space. A White Rainbow’s message is presented prophetically. “The general resolution,” he asserts at one point, “is simply no more war, no hurting each other, and no withholding help from those in need.” Specific steps the author advocates include points about campaign finance reform (for example, the elimination of “biased private or corporate funding of election campaigns and congressional lobbies”) and the implementation of a “semi automated real time fact checking” technological system, which will help “identify potential ulterior motives and lies.” He also addresses aspects of the genocide of Native Americans, specifically the Dakota War of 1862 and the subsequent executions of 38 Dakota warriors. The author’s argument is made not with evidence or details but with imploring statements such as “Believe me. You will also see for yourself” and with the habit of boldfacing key phrases in every paragraph for emphasis. The volume is at its strongest when examining the Dakota War. Because this material is grounded in specific historical details and trauma—and a particular opportunity for healing—the author writes with more focus. A White Rainbow—who identifies himself as white and is apparently Christian—uses Native American language and concepts throughout, delves into the imagery of Jewish mysticism, and occasionally employs Rastafarian terminology. This all has the uncomfortable feel of cultural appropriation, although a lengthy note buried in the annotated research bibliography directly unpacks some of the issues surrounding that practice. “Native American,” A White Rainbow writes, “is not like a fashion” to be imitated. This is an important and relevant point but, like the fragmented and vague book itself, is not quite developed enough to be useful.
An earnest, well-intentioned, and scattered vision for America.