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.
Catching sight of a TV photo of conservative mischief-maker, Ralph Reed, (former anti-Indian tribes lobbying crony of the notorious Jack Abramoff) in the late news, recently, announcing that he was preparing once again to organize young Christians in a typical chapter of Ralph Reed chicanery, strongly reminded this pundit of the wisdom shared by Confucius, in his Analects, that: “Learning without thought is labor lost; while thought without learning is perilous.” In light of all the sudden public angst about this Nation’s seemingly unsuccessful efforts to establish a well-functioning system of public education, the last thing we need is any kind of input by the likes of the crafty Mr. Reed. Apparently, though, there is more than a little need of constructive concern, on the part of all of us, about how our young people are being educated and this brought to mind Marshall McLuhan, he of “The Medium Is The Message” fame.
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.
This old Doubting-Thomas of a palaver-some pundit has been much troubled of late. The cause? Having heard a rising chorus of voices, belonging to public personae who, one expects, should know better, urging their faithful friends and fellow citizens to relinquish the precious possession that all those members of the military we’ve been sending into harm’s-way (ostensibly to preserve) have been dodging danger for--- and simply hand the franchise that makes our freedom meaningful over, to some unprincipled penny-pincher of a political proxy.
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.
In 1920, some fourteen years before she spoke these words to members of the U.S. Congress, Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote them at the start of the second part of her prize winning poetic masterpiece, “A Few Figs From Thistles.” She had come to Washington, D.C , to urge Congressional support for legislation to give women equal rights with men in all facets of learning, earning and political determination, which they still lacked. It’s taken eighty years since, for that deprivation to be successfully addressed and signed into law by our current President, Barack Obama.
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.
There’s something awfully wrong with our nation. Too many Americans have a propensity for killing. Not only do we no longer heed the authorized execution of prisoners with concern for useless pain or suffering, as the law once prescribed but we’ve also made physicians accessories to the process. Add also, the strange and troubling return of frontier desperatism, in which ordinary citizens once had the right to carry hand-guns and dispense so-called lethal justice, whenever they felt necessary.