Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Once again, I owe my readers an apology. Yesterday (as this posts, but today as I write it) is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, and, of course, I didn’t blog about it. At least not on time.
Of course, today being MLK day, I can’t help but think about where we are with justice in our nation. Things are much calmer today than they were two years ago. There are no civil rights marches, but that doesn’t mean things are good. I believe that the insurrection helped people with racist inclinations to realize that they are not alone and has given them a way to find each other and band together.
Resurrectionists are continuing to be arrested, tried and convicted from January 6, 2020, and increasingly the charges are becoming more severe. The investigation into Trump and his former administration is ongoing and revealing more about its part in the attempt to overthrow the government. More people are arming themselves, and the Biden administration seems to be deepening the divide rather than healing the nation, not that it’s his fault.
It’s human nature to believe what we hear frequently. Politicians, and corporations, use this technique. They repeat what they want you to believe over and over again hoping it’ll take hold. Take, for example, the “Big Lie”. Everybody knows it’s fake. That Biden legitimately won the election has been proven time and again, including from Trump’s own vote counters, and yet he continues to repeat the fabrication. Proof that my comment is true lies in the fact that fully a third of Americans still believe Trump’s lie, despite the fact that no evidence to support it had ever been presented and proof to the contrary is abundant from a variety of legitimate and authoritative sources.
Back in 1860, just before the Civil War, there was no internet, no chatting, heck, even the telephone hadn’t been invented yet. This means that any rhetoric was very localized. As Lincoln began talking about emancipation, the slave owners of course demonized their “property” to enrage the general populace into backing the revolt. This means that the civil war was “north versus south”, everybody fighting for what they believed to be right but, unfortunately, what was deemed as justice very much depended on the rhetoric of their region.
Today, the rhetoric is national. People still believe in what they hear, but with right-wing “news” stations broadcasting conspiracy theories coast to coast, the divide is no longer north and south, but rather, followers of right-wing news or legitimate news. Unfortunately, far too many right-wing “news” broadcasters are neo-Nazi’s, and their messages are getting through far too loudly. As Americans, we do have the right to free speech, but hate speech has been specifically excepted by the Supreme Court. Why, exactly, these broadcasters continue to exist without being charged with hate speech or inciting to riot charges is beyond me. But because these broadcasts are reaching the homes of our neighbors, that means that if the new civil war does break out, it’ll be in the streets everywhere.
In the Civil War, the freedom of people was at stake, a new concept and difficult to fathom for an economy based on the idea of owning people (although they were not seen as people). Today the fear is on the concept of being “woke”. People who support these right-wing fanatics tend to be “tired” of being “woke”, as if simply seeing people, all people, as people is a burden. They fight about the rights of people to feel out of place in their skin, or with their orientation and fight to keep them feeling like there is something wrong with them. This time, the argument is about the right to be homosexual, binary, cis-gendered, pan-sexual or any of the plethora of other identities that are recognized today. Ultimately, these identities don’t harm anybody, and being aware of your own feelings and identity is critical to finding happiness. For those who forget, the Declaration of Independence stated quite clearly that our Revolutionary War was for the right to life, liberty, AND THE PERSUIT OF HAPPINESS. So why should the right of one person to be racist impede upon the rights of so many countless others?
Civil Rights has evolved so much further than the rights of race, as it should be. I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been encouraged by all of the new civil right fronts and dismayed that the struggle is still all too real. It’s time to get beyond our petty judgments of each other and begin finally living in a society free of bigotry, hatred and fear. Unfortunately, there are too many who disagree with me. I hope MLK would have seen me as being on his side.