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High-Water Mark of Freedom and Rights?

May 20, 2022 pm31 11:08 pm

Imagine a place.

Imagine a place where prejudice based on religion was just a memory.

Imagine a place where discrimination based on race was in the process of going away.

Imagine such a place.

Imagine such a country.

Could it be the United States today?

But for some, that is what they saw, 50 years ago.

Read these words, spoken without irony, by Shirley Chisholm in 1970. She is announcing her support for the Equal Rights Amendment (for women) and first clarifying where we stand in relation to race prejudice:

Legal expression of prejudice on the grounds of religious or political belief has become a minor problem in our society. Prejudice on the basis of race is, at least, under systematic attack. There is reason for optimism that it will start to die with the present, older generation. It is time we act to assure full equality of opportunity to those citizens who, although in a majority, suffer the restrictions that are commonly imposed on minorities, to women.


How high we had risen, and how far we have fallen.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. tremblychap permalink
    May 21, 2022 am31 12:06 am 12:06 am

    Word. I feel like a naive fool to have ever thought – which I did – that we had won some battles for our brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters, put them in the past, and that they would never really have to be re-fought. What a fool I was!

    Since 2016 – amplified by the pandemic, and now witnessed in current affairs – I have never felt as much a part of living history, for better and worse (mostly worse), than I do now. Though I suppose I knew it intellectually, now I feel it viscerally; that history goes in circles; no battle is ever won; and even with our modern science and technology we’re reduced to the same remedies and superstitious beliefs we had in the Middle Ages. For every revolution there is a counter-revolution. Fascism pushes back. The propaganda machine grows.

    Gotta keep on keepin’ on.

    • May 21, 2022 am31 9:22 am 9:22 am

      I don’t see circles, I see forward momentum – a long wave of progress – and Chisholm was speaking near the peak of that wave… the high-water mark…

      And then a horrible period of reaction.

      Remember Reagan starting to dismantle the gains of the previous 30, 40, 50 years? His policies would be denounced by half the country today for being “liberal” or timid.

  2. Sasha permalink
    May 21, 2022 am31 12:32 am 12:32 am

    As I wrote to the Clintons after Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, “We’re a nation seeking mediocrity as it highest level of expression.” We ain’t done yet, the bottom is endless.

    • May 21, 2022 am31 9:15 am 9:15 am

      If the direction this country was headed was just mediocrity, I would sigh. But the threat facing us is far worse.

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