On February 18th, 1860, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a feminist founder of the first Woman’s Suffrage Congress, in the United States, said this in a speech to members of the New York State Legislature: “The prejudice against color, of which we hear so much, is no stronger than that against sex. It is produced by the same cause,…..The Negro’s skin and the woman’s sex are both prima facie evidence that they were intended to be in subjection to the white Saxon man.”
From the time of the American colonies’ declaration of independence from the Monarch-led Empire of Great Britain (on July 4, 1776), to the establishment of a democratic republic, with its first President, a Congress, Senate, unfinished draft of an as yet incomplete and un-adopted Constitution, nearly two decades would elapse. Still, their absolute belief in the certitude of their enterprise induced them to announce it to a then uninitiated assortment of nations.
We have come to that point in our nationhood, where our cohesion is at serious risk. To paraphrase John Dunne, no one of us is an island, entire to itself; everyone is a part of the main, because we are all involved in humankind. He was right, because in Latin, ‘homo’ translates as a male or female person or fellow creature. Yet, despite all of our inclusive rhetoric, there are still those among us, who would reverse the democratic process in this fragile democracy to the most despicable meaning of “State’s Rights,” in which those of color are excluded and denied inclusion, except as sub-human members of the work-herd, as the ‘State’s-Right’ politicos once considered them.
As the present global mind-set continues to dominate the American psyche, from the acme of political policy to many ordinary areas of doing business, this commentator calls “Time-Out!”, for a look at where we are, how we got here, what it’s cost us and what our future portends. As the self-appointed market managers of the so-called democratic (small-d) idiom, we seem to have become habituated to catch-phrases that create a wide latitude of definition and too much room for inexactitude: like “National Destiny” and “Spheres of Interest;” both of which help to harbor inhospitable hanky-panky for the uncontrolled capture of money and power.
Those prejudiced political power brokers, now trying to hang a liturgical lock on this nation’s spiritual inception, as a Christian entity, had best beware of history’s recurrent habit of self-correction…much like proof that appears to be surfacing, now. For starters, let’s not forget the Native American tribes who were here, when the Holy-Roller "conversionists" first set out to "civilize" the “savages” who helped them survive the rigors of this untamed land, they’d come to conquer. The Amerinds’ own religion taught them to respect and preserve what nature had provided but their fortune-hunting Christian conquerors were determined to despoil. One hesitates to contradict historic errors that have (for some) become part wish-prejudiced and nationally accepted misstatements…but when facts surface, despite repetition to the contrary, truthful contradiction must intercede, like it or not.
I’ve visited this issue earlier; even quoted Teddy Roosevelt’s warning, that “…the one absolute certainty of bringing this nation to ruin, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.” I might have left the matter there, if the “This is a Christian nation!...” claque hadn’t decided to intensify their contention several decibels louder than before. What seems to have gotten them steamed up now, is a complaint from a Jewish person and an Atheist, both of whom took issue over having to sit through public prayer sessions before their Town Council’s meetings (the council being an all-Christian one) and pushed their complaint all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court, citing other instances of pre-meeting prayer by higher government units, allowed as how something similar, at the local level, wouldn’t be that bad to sit through and said so in writing, which emboldened the ‘pro-Christian-Nation choir’ to add heft to their chant.
In the realm of recorded religious history, regardless of geographic location or form of belief, disagreements that evolve into armed violence mostly have been the result of familial differences, fuelled by ill defined loyalty and interference by meddlesome outsiders. These invariably have led to blood feuds, unresolved to this day. Those who interpose themselves as mediators, well meaning or not, are doomed to certain and expensive failure.
In the past week, an important event in theatrical history celebrated an even more crucial event in our nation’s political history, when Gerald Rafshoon and Lawrence Wright (confidante and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright) presented “Camp David,” a dramatization of the thirteen volatile days of intense debate that produced the first negotiated agreement on a peace initiative between Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin; the most historically vital achievement of the Carter Presidency.
Those who would pillory our current President with biased blame for every current ill, to which their own calculated intransigence has contributed, are at odds with political history. Before they finagle with falsehood and fabricate pure political fiction, to capture unworthy vindication by voters, they should consult the 1978 edition of a tiny text, this commentator still finds invaluable. It’s titled “American History At A Glance.” This is a brief quote from Chapter 14, titled: “The Harding Administration.”
In the strange reversal of circumstances that have taken place since the Sochyi Olympics seemed to have breathed new vitality into a lifeless Soviet cadaver, this commentator intuits and fears the possible return to times we all could and should have done without.