I love history, so I watch politics closely. I'm a native Texan in my fifties, so I remember the Civil Rights movement, although I was too young to join in and my parents, staunch supporters of Governor George Wallace, would have murdered me if they had known I did not agree with their white supremacy (it was bad enough when I insisted George McGovern would be a better President than the aforementioned Governor Wallace).
As a student of the Civil War (1862 is the time frame for my novel-in-progress), watching South Carolina and other states try to revise voter rights and listening to Governor Rick Perry and others advocate states' rights makes me sometimes wonder if I have not traveled back in time to either the 1950s or worse yet, the 1850s.
Maya Angelou, the noted poet, playwright, and civil rights activist, once said, "History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."
Karl Marx, the German philosopher, was once quoted regarding history: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."
George Bernard Shaw, winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature, had this sage comment on history: "If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience."
Something tells me we are walking a tightrope between "doing what is right and doing what is easy" (that's Albus Dumbledore talking to Harry Potter after Voldemort's return).
There's no problem in my mind with states' rights, as long as the state does not marginalize its citizens on the basis of race, age, sexual orientation or religion (I am talking legal citizens here, whether born in the USA or naturalized--I'll save my thoughts on immigration for a future post). HOWEVER--If the premise for removing government from the federal level and returning it to the states is a ploy to revoke our individual rights as human beings, I fear a regression in our country back to the days of "separate but 'equal'"(?), "Irish (or whoever) need not apply", back-alley abortions, health care only for the rich--okay, I need to stop now--if you have read this far, you see my point (even if you don't agree).
So, on the legal holiday celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I suggest we all take a long hard look at where we as a nation have come from and which direction we wish to move towards. For me, personally, I choose to move forward, not backwards.
(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., in 1963. Credit: National Archives and Records Administration)