An Homage to The Man
You don’t have to be a wise Latina to recognize that the expansion of civil rights to people of all descriptions has been a good thing for everyone. What’s funny about those racists who rave about the death of white America is that they are right. Not that Jews and Blacks are destroying the white man, but that the age in which America could be understood as a nation of white Protestants is ending around us. That is a good thing. By opening up our society to the contributions of all people, regardless or race or religion or sexuality, we are developing the flexibility to adapt and thrive in a changing world.
Those people who want America to be a white nation, or a Christian nation, or a straight nation would, if they succeeded, create a brittle, cowering country. Fortunately, this is one battle whose outcome is no longer in doubt. The losers haven’t surrendered, but the rest of the nation is mostly moving on.
In the wake of these victories we have a country which stands on a broader, more stable base than ever before. There has never been an era in our nation when our meritocratic economic ideals have been more purely expressed. Removing barriers based on identity has given us a move vibrant economy, a more genuinely representative republic, and a more honorable civilization than we have ever enjoyed in the past.
It is worth pointing out one often overlooked the factor that brought us here. When the republic was formed, slavery was an almost universal institution across the globe. It was a vast source of power and profit, as it had been throughout much of the history of human civilization. When the founders chose to base their revolution on the notion of human liberty, they threatened that “peculiar institution.” Though the revolution failed to rid the new republic of slavery, the fact that it was a controversy at all was an almost unprecedented human achievement.
The values expressed by the founding fathers created a weltering contradiction too deep to ignore. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Southern slave owners were right to be suspicious of the power of these words. The new republic’s unambiguous embrace of these truths created a fault line beneath the plantation system that would one day bring it down. The power of those words was so great that they still resonate around the world.
There can be no finer image of The Man than the powdered-wig wearing, slave owning, wealthy and privileged founding fathers. But their gift to us was a nation built on a set of principles that, as they matured, would expand unprecedented freedom to all people, regardless of identity. It is difficult to imagine the liberating fire of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, or Harvey Milk, absent the fuel and oxygen provided by the founding fathers.
Many painful legacies of America’s racial journey still linger with us today, but they are healing. The Republican Party has not distinguished itself much in this struggle, but there is time to make amends. Before discussing how, here’s to The Man and all his contributions. May he rest in peace.