SANTA CRUZ, March 25, 2014 — Some of the most shameful and enduring images of American history show those who sided with segregationists in the south during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. They protested at the major events of the era, holding up their signs emblazoned with horrific racial epithets. Most were white, middle class folks whose ignorance and fear boiled over at the prospect of having to share the American dream with people who did not look or live like them. One wonders what became of all those people. Did they eventually come around or did they go to their graves still bitter with racism?
Today, neocons are setting themselves up to be this generation’s segregationists, forever stuck on the wrong side of history. These people, driven by bigotry and fear, are opposing any legislation that threatens inclusion of Americans who have traditionally been overlooked or swept aside. These new conservatives see enemies everywhere, whether it be women fighting to retain the right to their reproductive freedom or people of color struggling to vote in local elections. The neocons are also taking aim at the LGBT community, particularly with regards to marriage equality, and organized labor.
For all their histrionics and protestations, America will continue to trudge forward. Progress, compassion, and social justice are more powerful than hate or fear. One wonders why these conservatives continue to resist. All they will accomplish is a partial delay of the inevitable, as well as cementing their places, like the racists of the 1960s, on the wrong side of history.
We can all empathize to some degree. Change is difficult, and it is normal for humans to fear what they do not understand, however the neocons take it even further, deliriously pointing at a fabricated liberal agenda like some sort of plague, threatening to destroy America. They believe that progressives want to force them to marry people of the same sex, that women want to spend their time having abortions, and that unions will cost them money.
There is no liberal agenda. There are only people who feel they ought to receive the same rights and liberties as anybody else. Liberals do not care who you marry, as long as they can marry who they please. Nobody, progressive or not, likes the idea of aborting a pregnancy. That being said, the choice, the personal liberty, ought to belong to the individual, not the state. Women ought to have the right to comprehensive health care regardless of where they live. Conservatives are working to erode these rights, supposedly based on their subjective interpretation of the bible.
Americans ought to be able to believe what they like, and worship (or not) how they wish. A faith or belief which is coveted by one person may not be right for everyone. Conservatives, if they pulled their heads out of the sand, would see that nobody is trying to force them to change who they are or how they live. Progressives simply want the equal rights and social justice guaranteed to every American in the constitution. Why conservatives are working so hard to deny these basic rights to so many people is anybody’s guess.
Americans of all political and religious stripes ought to learn to respect each other’s views, as different as they may be, but there exists no good or right reason to deny liberty to certain groups simply because you may not agree with them. If conservatives expect to retain their right to see the world a certain way, they must grant these same freedoms to every other American, lest they end up in timeless photos, arrogant in their small-mindedness, for future generations to puzzle over.
Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.