The obsession, by today’s activists, to eliminate all connections to the unpleasant memories of the past is a fool’s errand. It is the result of a mindless, self-indulgent society that believes life without unpleasant memories is the way to a pure heart.
The current rage of removing all reminders of slavery during the civil war is the height of ignorance. Removing statues, removing names from public institutions, discontinuing the streaming of Gone With The Wind, all of this is social pandering at a level I’ve never seen before. The current mob of discontents may have legitimate views to express, but their response is nonsensical.
Slavery was, and is, wrong. There is no reasonable way to defend it. In the past, arguments of economic and social convenience were used to support it, but, as a society, we have legally dismantled those defenses. Anyone whose actions are designed to preserve that social relationship violates the law and should be prosecuted. However, anyone whose words continue to defend slavery, but whose actions do not match their words, has the right to express their views.
The memories of the past remind us of the sacrifices of people who suffered the injustice of slavery. During my lifetime, the Black community has made significant progress out of slavery. There are many Black men and women who have established solid community leadership positions; leadership that Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of inspiring. And many of them have offered their leadership as mentors to all Americans, young and old.
But, it seems to me, if everyone does not have a life of economic and social prosperity, the shackles of slavery are to blame. These shackles are no longer restricted to the Black community. Latinos, Hispanics, women, individuals of the gender of their choice, and anyone else who jumps on the bandwagon, is, supposedly, being persecuted by everyone who disagrees with them. They are all victims and every victim is entitled to retribution (or is that revenge).
There are legitimate concerns in every community, but who are the voices for these concerns? Politicians pandering for votes, celebrities marketing their brand for popularity, and media maven-wannabes looking for readership of their by-line currently dominate the news. But where are the voices in the communities of those suffering injustice? How are they organized to fight for their rights? What do they really need to fix the problems that continue to afflict them?
The time has come for the members of those communities to be heard. Until these people can clearly document the truth of their life situations, the problems will never be solved. If the current activities are to be “more than a moment”, these are the voices that need to be heard, and read. If this is truly an extension of the Black Movement that I witnessed in my youth (the ‘60s), it needs leadership in the trenches. Take the time to introduce these leaders; everyone else sit down and listen!
Recall a true leader’s dream.
I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. [“I Have a Dream…” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr at the March on Washington]
And, as always, in the words of Edward R. Murrow, “Good night and good luck.”