In 1947, all too often, black men were found hanging dead from Southern trees for as small an offense as looking twice at a white woman. In 2010, Clarence Thomas, that sour pervert on the Supreme Court, can take a white woman for a wife, even if she is a ridiculous tea-bagger ditz who by now he's possibly wishing he was rid of. (I picture Scalia pulling Thomas aside and hissing, "Fredo, if you can't control your wife, I'll have to put Sammy on it!")
But I'm getting ahead of myself. For those who missed last week's installment ("Perspective: Part One"), let me recap: Both that column and this week's were completed before Halloween, the first being a normal requirement of my deadline, and the second the consequence of me going to Moscow for the twin pleasures of A) visiting my daughter and B) being 200 miles from the nearest Bronco fan.
The result is that your author won't know how the election came out until sometime after these words were tucked safely away in BW's vault, days before appearing in this paper. They were written under the assumption that Nov. 2 was (will be) a crappy day for Democrats. So with hopes of cheering up my despondent comrades, I decided to review the current state of liberal health from a broader perspective--that being from 1947 to present, using my lifetime simply as a handy and familiar observation platform.
As to the opening paragraph of this installment, since I consider the most profound victories of liberalness over conservativeness in the established time frame to have come in the arena of civil rights, particularly as they apply to minorities, I look at Clarence Thomas' marriage as an accomplishment as notable in some respects as Barack Obama's presidency. As far as I know, it was never against the law for a black man to run for president, but in much of the country, it was definitely against the law for a black man to marry a white woman. Even if she is a ridiculous tea-bagger ditz.
• Pursuing this argument--that the advancement of civil rights is among the most noble results of liberality--let us speak of homosexuality, which has progressed since 1947 from "The Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name" to honorable military service, civil unions, openly gay friends, neighbors and family, and general acceptance by an ever-expanding majority of Americans. We are but a breath away from legalized gay marriage. As the suicides of bullied teens will testify, there are goals left unreached. But considering that the rate of vociferous homophobic voices who eventually get exposed as closet gays seems to be accelerating, I predict there soon won't be an organized anti-rights effort remaining that isn't comprised entirely of self-loathing clergymen who spend all their energy trying to de-program their own sexuality.
• Young ladies like my daughter, and even many not-so-young ladies, may not realize that 1947 was less than 30 years after women were guaranteed the vote in America. Think about that, you self-labeled patriots who can't stop slobbering over the infinite wisdom of the founding fathers: We've yet to celebrate the centennial of women's suffrage. (Make a note--2020.) But even with the 19 amendment it still took another half-century for noticeable movement to be made in hiring practices, higher education, military service, elected office ... all those boats that once floated white males exclusively over a sea of gender and racial discrimination. Sarah Palin's lack of accomplishment notwithstanding, women are pulling equal to men in almost every field. You've come a long way, baby ... no thanks to conservatives.
• The environment was hardly a concept when I came into the world. Had an offshore well spewed millions of gallons of crude into the ocean in 1947, it's unlikely many people would have either noticed or cared. It must have seemed there would always be enough ocean, enough wildlife, enough habitat, enough empty space to dump the trash, enough rivers to carry off the poisons, enough resources for an eternity of exploitation and despoliation. As with every other worthy cause, it took a handful of liberals to seed the awareness of how badly we were treating this fragile film of green and blue, and now, there are few human beings outside the corporate right who don't believe we're going to have to change the way we do business.
Once again, I've run myself short and can do no more than mention briefly other bright spots: the programs that will eventually mature into a universal health-care system; the diversity in higher education that simply didn't exist in 1947; the enforcement of safer foods, safer work places, safer products for children, safer emissions standards; the cultural shift away from the stifling mediocrity of fundamentalist religions.
Yet the dark side to every progressive accomplishment is that in some form or another, it is under assault. Whether it be public education, health-care reforms reaching back to Medicaid and Medicare, the bedrock of Social Security, environmental and consumer protections, civil rights ... you name it ... the mindless dogs of modern conservatism would rip it all away in a heart beat. The right kneels with slavish obedience before an ideology which demands that humanity bends to its orthodoxy, rather than accommodating real human needs in the real world, as any decent creed would do.
So we cannot afford to mope for long, Democrats. There's another election only two years away, and as bad as things look now, I can name at least one ridiculous tea-bagger ditz for whom the party has just started.