As a member of Generation X I grew up in a “post civil rights movement” America. The idea of government instituted racism is almost unbelievable and the only reason I say “almost unbelievable” instead of “unbelievable” is that there’s just too much photographic evidence. It honestly has always seemed to me like an Orwellian ghost story that parents tell their children to teach them about the evils of racism. I couldn’t, and still can’t, wrap my mind around the concept that adults, supposedly smart adults, in America, the land of the free, had made laws that one group of people were to be treated as a sub-species.
The Civil War ended in 1865 and the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, 99 years later. It took 99 years after our country promised “freedom for all ” for the government to actually make it a law. I’m sure there’s a joke in there about how we should all be happy that it doesn’t take politicians 100 years to pass laws any more but my heart’s just not into it, this subject depresses me. 20 years before I was born not all Americans could eat at the same table of a restaurant…by law.
It depresses me because I’ve always thought that the Civil War was literally our countries defining moment. It defined us as “The Good Guys”. It defined us as a nation of free men. Free men that were willing to die for the freedom of all men. It defined our roll in the world as a shining bastion of hope, a land where any man could come and be judged on the merits of his actions and not by his lineage. It is why we feel compelled to fight for the freedom of people in other nations, not because we want to conquer but because we are the good guys.* (* Disclaimer: I’m speaking about the thoughts and feeling of the citizens, not modern elected officials who may or may not have their own agenda and may or may not use this shared feeling of purpose to gain support said agenda) In short I think it proved that we would not give up on what our forefathers thought this country could be, even if it was hard.
“America’s Founders sought to define a national good that transcended local interests and prejudices. The national good included the common benefits of self-defense and prosperity that all Americans would realize by participating in a large, commercial nation able to hold its own in an often hostile world. But it was only with the constitutional rule of law that the higher purpose, or true national interest, of America could be realized. That purpose was to demonstrate to all mankind the feasibility of self-government and the suitability of justice as the proper and sustainable ground for relations among nations and peoples. The honor of striving for domestic and international justice would give moral purpose to the American character. The United States would support, defend, and advance the cause of freedom everywhere. It would be a refuge for the sober, industrious, and virtuous of the world, as well as for victims of persecution. By sympathy and appropriate action, Americans would show themselves to be true friends of humanity. *
Here we are now, 53 years after the Civil Rights Act, being tested again. With an egomaniac for a President, who has been frustratingly inept at providing any sort of leadership and groups of hate mongering elitists indoctrinating naive, angry youths with their antiquated ideas of violence, our backs are against the wall. It doesn’t look promising.
But we’re the good guys. While my generation has never had to face this particular evil in such a physical way, if these traitors think that they can intimidate us then they aren’t very well versed in American history. The good guys always win.
I think Samuel Jackson said it best while paraphrasing what I hear is fairly popular book.
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.”