I am trying not to be angry, but I am.
The Republicans have made a point of saying they want to appeal to all Americans, that they want to enlarge their base and show people that they “care” about those who are not Conservatives.
But today, as people gather in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate that awful Sunday in 1965 when black people were beaten as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they had to in order to reach Montgomery from Selma to demand the right to vote, Republican leadership is not there. Save one, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, there will be no Republicans in leadership there to commemorate, really, the working of democracy.
It is clear that there is not a lot of support for upholding the Voting Rights Act amongst Conservatives. The United States Supreme Court has done much to dismantle much of what the more than 25,000 people marched for on that day in 1965. It seems that Conservatives give much lip service to the concept of democracy, but in practice, they seem not to believe in it at all.
Their absence in Selma today says that they do not care …about a large number of American citizens …who happen to be people of color. It seems that they do not care that, as Americans fought the British for independence – and won – that they do not care that people of color had to fight the white power structure for dignity and a basic American right …and won …in spite of being brutally beaten.
It was the goal of Alabama state law enforcement to impede black people from crossing that bridge and from demanding their right to vote. It was only after President Lyndon Johnson, at the behest of Civil Rights leaders, ordered protection for the marchers from the federal government …that the people had enough protection to …be Americans and to demand an American right.
The interference of the federal government in cases of racial inequality and injustice was the basis for the battle cry of “states’ rights” back then, a cry which is resurrecting today. Folks resented the federal government “telling them what to do.” It was the right of states, they believed, to treat their “nigras” like they wanted to. When the federal government intervened, they fumed …and are still fuming.
That’s why we are seeing such an erosion of the Voting Rights Act today.
I think of all those people who were beaten that day as they marched peacefully to claim their right to vote …and I weep inside, because it seems like, feels like, much of what they suffered for has been forgotten.
I remember when President George Bush, in his inauguration address, called for “1000 points of light” to help address and fix some of this nation’s problems.
Those lights either do not exist or have been blown out by the winds of racial injustice which have continued to blow in this great land of ours.
It would be great to look up and see that some of our Republican leaders swallowed their emotions and showed up today in Selma. It would be good to see Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner …and others …but they will not show up. House Republicans showed up to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but have so little respect for African-Americans and people of color that they will not show up today.
I am angry about it; well, maybe “saddened” is the more apt adjective to use. It says volumes about this “land of the free and home of the brave.” It is not yet, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
A candid observation ….