Many of the events of the past proved that putting a finger in the dike of history is a futile endeavor. For all of recorded history there have been people who have tried to prevent the advance of the progressive movements of human relationships, but there has never been a prevailing long-lasting tyranny which could completely annihilate human social progress. All over the globe, there have been the greatest human tragedies in the attempt to, shall we say, keep Christmas from coming, but it comes anyhow. The innate drive towards social justice is unstoppable and has the daunting habit of leaving its adversaries and its advocates' deaths in its blossoming; the benefits and the continued battle taken up by successors. This is a lesson lost on those on the fringe political right seeking to impede magnanimity amongst people.
These are scary days in America; when one looks at the next seven years and six months, anything can happen at any moment. The dark clouds of some monumental calamity hang heavy in the air, we can all feel it. This time will be filled with fanaticism, invective, demagoguery and, perhaps, more deaths, deaths at an even higher level.But the march to social justice for all has the uncanny ability to get up off the canvas, dust itself off, and keep on trucking. So when one takes the long view of history, one realizes that midway through this century the march towards social justice will still be alive and kicking when its present day opponents are pushing up daisies; more importantly, their cause will have been greatly weakened. I say greatly weakened, because, like the poor, the obstructionists will always be among us.
I was born on August 5, 1941. That day, ten thousand Jews were murdered in Pinsk, Poland, and there was yet a bleaker period to come: the horrors of the Holocaust. This was a calamity from which, one would think, there could be no restoration, but the Jews of the world have moved beyond that time to a more secured position and can now say assuredly “Never Again.” The world now scorns their persecutors and their persecutor’s evil. The development of social justice is too vital to be impeded by hatred, bloodshed or genocide.
I look back fifty years ago, during my own time, when things were bleaker than they are today. I’m talking a time when National Guard troops had to accompany black children to school, and people in America were risking (and losing) their lives to win the right to vote. This was also a time when, on a visit to his grandmother, a young black paratrooper in uniform had to wait in the "Colored Only" waiting room for a train . A time when George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, stood in the doorway of a school and declared “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He spoke for many, but George was wrong – dead wrong — and he lived to see how wrong he was. That was a pretty bleak time, but, as they say, the pendulum swings. The forces of history just rolled over George and his declaration. This was also a time of subjugation for gay people, immigrants and women. From these bleak times, gays have come out of the closet to near-acceptance in every aspect save marriage and the military. Latin immigrants are now the country’s largest minority and by mid-century, will be the bulk that turns non-white Americans into the majority. Women have broken through the glass ceiling time and again and a mixed-race man who identifies himself as black, has been elected president of the United States of America. All of this came out of the desolation of the 1950s. And where are the people who opposed this progress? Most of them are dead, while those still breathing bear witness to their failure – everything around them amplifies the defeat of their unworthy goals.
The forces of repression get smaller every generation. In the sixties, a school bus carrying black children to a school in a white neighborhood in Boston was overturned by housewives, blue collar workers and teenagers while the police looked on. Those were the days when an angry mob was easy to form. The pendulum swings. It would be nearly impossible to stage a sizable rally in support of school segregation today, only the hooded would show up. But as the mass forces of repression diminish, their media demagogues get louder and multiply. Their demands get more volatile as they sense a lost battle and the growing generosity of spirit of the American people. You now have Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter, Beck and Ingraham leading the charge, their fingers in the dike of history, sounding very much like King Henry II lamenting “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” and four of his knights interpreting his lament as wanting the assassination of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Their minions are not yet down to four, but two recent assassinations show how deadly they can become. Today’s obstructionists receive intellectual support from right-wing thank tanks and publications like the Weekly Standard and National Review. What these media demagogues are pleading translates to setting the stage. Someone among the millions of irrational lunatics who follow this crowd will decode the mission.
What of these irrational lunatics who feed on the hatred spewed out daily by media demagogues? A double hoax is being played on them. The media demagogues are paid by oligarchy heads like Rupert Murdoch to obscure the real problem which has always plagued this country: income disparity. Try to find a story about income disparity on Fox News. The real suckers hold tea parties and boycott General Motors cars on the instructions of their handlers; you hear about that on Fox News, while the financial autocrats amass fortunes. They withhold health care, job security, quality education, adequate housing, and a healthy planet from everyone, even their toads. This is a kind of self-mutilation that is puzzling and in the end, unfathomable. What is it that draws tens of millions to causes that jeopardize their own well-being? It has got to be something that has to do with defective genes. When someone says that he wants the president to fail, isn’t that the same as saying you want America to fail? Yet, there were some on the Left who voiced that view regarding President Bush’s war in Iraq. This is talk without thought.
The next generation of obstructionists will be even smaller than today’s. They will have another whole set of gripes. The issues that rile today’s obstructionist will be socially accepted by tomorrow’s obstructionist. The precedent of a black president will have been established and be lost as a source of agitation for many. The black middle class will become indistinguishable from the white middle class. Universal Health Care will be taken for granted. Same-sex marriage will be accepted in nearly ever state except, maybe, the southern ones. The controversy of Roe v Wade will be protected by a solid six to three majority on the Supreme Court. The rapid increase in the Latin population will have propelled enough of them into important political positions to defuse today’s anti-immigration sentiment. Gender issues will be remote. The acceptance of the fact of global warming will be universal, and a billion people around the world will be employed in some form of Green Technology. Tomorrow’s obstructionists will grow up with these issue as a normal part of life, but they will find other issues to be irrational about, because these people will never learn the lesson Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., taught in this parable: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it sways toward justice.”