duminică, 23 ianuarie 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Yes, I know it’s only July 2nd, and no, I haven’t started drinking early! But I think we should start the party right now. Why? Because it was July 2nd when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was officially signed into legislation by Lyndon B. Johnson. And because of this fact I like to be two steps and two days ahead of the crowd!
While I certainly have bigger fish to fry than what day our country chooses to drink a beer and light some firecrackers, I never have been able to fully embrace the whole “independence” thing on July 4th. To me independence means freedom, and in the past when I have reminded folks that not everyone was free back in 1776, I would often get some form of the “details, details” response. How about this detail: after America fought the British over “taxation without representation”, a new system was installed where the vast majority of Americans still would pay taxes, but were not allowed to vote (even white males had to own land). Believe it or not, less than 1.3% of the entire US population voted in the 1789 Presidential Election. And in these “patriotically correct” times, it is really hard to squeeze these little factoids out before someone invariably asks: “So, why do you hate your country?”

The thing is, despite the fact that we have some major housecleaning to do starting from the very top, I don’t hate my country at all Mr. Hannity. I love my country, and when you love someone you want what’s best for them. I want my country to be the best that it can be, and it will only be best if we are honest about its past and current flaws. ...
Since July 4th, 1776 we’ve updated a whole lot of stuff. You know, the Bill of Rights, lots of new amendments, and that whole “three-fifths of a man” thing that slipped past our founders. After all that progress, is a mere 48 hour bump up on “independence day” a whole lot to ask? Besides, we could have all had a three day weekend this year! Okay, okay, how about a compromise: we start today and party straight through until July 4!

Now I realize that there are other viable “Independence Day” date candidates. Usually, the leading alternative is “Juneteenth
which commemorates America’s emancipation of slaves, is already a holiday in 14 states, and it is encouraging that it seems to be gaining steam in recent years. Now despite its most obvious appeal, Juneteenth also has its own set of shortcomings: It came before sharecropping, mass lynchings, segregation, women’s suffrage (a good case can be made for August 18), the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement. Even still, if there is no law against multiple “independence days”, then my vote is to have one big two week party starting on June 19th and ending on July 4th. Not only would that eliminate much of the in-fighting, but employers would have no trouble scheduling everybody’s annual vacation! But since I have a funny feeling that this radical plan just won’t slide through a congressional vote, then I’m coming right back to the July 2 - 4 concept. It just seems that honoring these two dates would best symbolize a fuller evolutionary legal circle of the liberty of our country AND its people. Also, I bet that many initial opponents will soften their stance once they realize they will get two extra days off from work!

This just in! I just clicked over to “Why Am I Not Surprised” to see about a recent article (“History Lesson”) where I read about the 1964 Act and the amazing 83-day filibuster that intended to block that legislation. In doing so, I inadvertently learned from a separate article that July 2nd was also Thurgood Marshall’s birthday! Since Brown V. Board of Education laid the constitutional foundation for the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is officially “a wrap”. Let’s get this party started already… we can always go non-stop until Wednesday! Please feel free to join me.

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." -- Elie Wiesel