Opinion: I Want My Country Forward

Going backward benefits few; America has rid itself of a world of bustles, petticoats, and counting jellybeans in a jar. Ill-informed parents are invading school libraries, intimidating school boards, and physically carting off books to take back their country. America has devolved into a country where the slogan, ‘I want my country back’ is code for hiding the truth so it can be repeated. For most of my life, the truth was said to set one free. Some of the books under attack are prize-winning works, Beloved and Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, written by Toni Morrison and Art Spiegelman. None of this activity should surprise any of us. Conservatives have been on a mission to disparage teachers since the Reagan administration.  

In Ronald Reagan’s first State of the Union Address in 1982, he made a promise: “The budget plan I submit to you on Feb. 8 will realize major savings by dismantling the Department of Education,” said Reagan. What was once viewed as an unquestionably noble profession is now routinely mired in liberalism and anti-American activity discussions. The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, is constantly under attack by the GOP and conservative think tanks. Ted Cruz accused Weingarten of “wanting” to close schools—because of Covid-19, apparently missing the nuanced difference between wanting to close schools and recognizing the necessity for health reasons.

The Supreme Court is 232 years old and has had 115 Justices; 108 white men. Five black women are currently on the shortlist of candidates to replace Justice Stephen Breyer. The usual suspects have started the opposition movement, using words like identity politics and “qualifications.” I wish the discussion were not fake news about the qualifications and readiness of the speculated candidates, but why it took this long. Part of moving forward is an acknowledgment of past aggressions and examining why they existed, despite the discomfort it causes.

Talking about identity politics

Politicians, courts, and law enforcement should reflect the community it serves. It was no accident that from March of 1789 until October of 1967, when Justice Thurgood Marshall took his seat, no man of color sat on the Court. In its history, two black men have served on the Supreme Court, and one black man has been President. It was 1981, 14 years after Marshall before the first woman [Sandra Day O’Connor] took her place on the Court. It would be idiotic to believe that no black man or woman exists to meet the justice criteria. Unfortunately, in conservative ranks, the discussions have quickly turned to the skin color and gender of the candidates, as if it could only be a disadvantage.

Some have already been labeled left-leaning socialists, and identity politics only seems to be a problem for non-white males. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson found his usual high cliff to leap from mockingly suggesting President Biden nominate the sister of murdered African-American George Floyd. “She is not a judge or a lawyer or whatever, but in this case, who cares? ‘Clearly, that’s not the point anymore — this law stuff,”’ he said. The disrespect to the Floyd family and the prospective nominees is as blatantly disgusting as racist.

Continue to Vote for Change.   

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