We have seen the seeds of racial chaos ensue the other day in Virginia as members of the Alt-Right came together to protest the City of Charlottesville to protest the City Council deciding to remove a Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. This makes me think about the controversy that arose in the City when New Orleans decided to remove several confederate monuments. A still divisive and controversial issue where there is a wide divide between Blacks and Whites in the Crescent City.
Today people from an array of backgrounds around the nation are speaking up against White Supremacy, Racism, Nazism and the KKK. This horrendous incident has the conversation of race on the front burner as to how to deal with questions of how to deal with racial intolerance in America.
But what we must note is that this is nothing new for our country; there has always been a backlash against forward progress for minorities in America. Let’s not forget that the most well-known White terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan was founded after the Civil War by former confederates seeking to thwart the gains of newly freed slaves and to end Reconstruction, where Blacks were allowed to vote, hold office and participate in many areas of civic life unfettered.
Let’s not forget that in our own backyard that Plessy v. Ferguson once it reached the Supreme Court in 1896 was a major decision that made “separate but equal” the law of the land. And today we’re at a stage where our nation is facing similar circumstances where the seeds of intolerance have been planted threatening the future of our nation. What happened in Charlottesville is akin to the Battle of Ft. Sumter in 1861 that was the beginning of the Civil War.
Today, we have what I argue is the Un-Civil War, one that is characterized by polarization, demonization, destroying and the delegitimizing of opposing viewpoints. And this war is much more dangerous than the violence that we saw in the streets of Virginia. Because in this war there is no clear military victory, for the weapons that are destroying civility in many instances are in the palms of our hands. That misinformation, disinformation and being selective in our diet our information threatens the hearts and souls of our nation one founded on the principle that all are created equal.
While this has not always been the case, we have amended our way into becoming a more perfect union. And in this time where we need the healing voice of calm we cannot expect our divider-in-chief Donald Trump to give anything close to a Gettysburg Address to bring calm and perspective to our nation. So, it is up to us to realize that this cancer of racism, bigotry and the worse of intolerance by a cadre of misinformed, misguided, misanthropic individuals are the exception not the norm. That the American people in spite of our differences are a decent people.
It is in our great history as a nation that we have amended our way into becoming a great nation and that many have fought and died to make this a more perfect union. This happens to be one of those times where those who are about continuing moving this country must resume the fight. And that those who are fossils who want to hang onto the horrible past of yesteryear does not have a place in a more inclusive America. Also, that together we can as Abraham Lincoln, in his first Inaugural Address, remember what he said on the Eve of the Civil War “That we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
It is then we will continue to make our great nation even greater. And in the age where our head of state cannot be relied on to provide the moral leadership and compass to this promise land; it is the words of another great president; John F. Kennedy who in his first Inaugural Address 100 years after Abraham Lincoln in 1961 and in the throes of the Civil Rights Movement said to his audience, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The future of America and what we are to become is up to us; for decency and respect for our fellow citizens is our collective responsibility. It is in this practice that we can end the Un-Civil War and we can as people who came in different ships now sail in the same boat into the sea of freedom, progress, equality and civility.
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