America in Black and White. : ThyBlackMan

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


America in Black and White.

December 10, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) With the death of George Herbert Walker Bush we were treated to the finest pomp and ceremony of American statecraft.  And in his eulogies and remembrances, many inferences were drawn between the stark contrasts of the 41st and 45th Presidents of the United States; two sons of privilege who traveled divergent paths to the Oval Office.

As a teenager, George H.W. Bush began a life of service to his country by fighting enemies of the United States.  As a septuagenarian, Donald J. Trump capped a career of hyperbole and deception by conspiring with our enemies for personal and professional gain.  One man the father of five children with his wife of 73 years, the other, five children with three wives.  One a man of quiet faith, the other a man with no discernable religious beliefs.  Polar opposites painted in black and white.

And yet, there were some areas of convergence in their political views that should not be overlooked.  While Trump is well-known for his long antagonisms with people of color, Bush 41 came out against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 saying, “this protects 14% of the people, I’m concerned about the other 86%.”  The infamous ‘Willie Horton’ ad in his 1988 presidential campaign was only recently rivaled for its blatant play on racial paranoia by the Trump sponsored ad in the mid-term elections featuring criminal illegal immigrants pouring across the border.  And Bush’s appointment of Clarence Thomas as heir to the “black seat” on the U.S. Supreme Court, a man who shared virtually none of the beliefs in the Civil Rights Movement with Thurgood Marshall, is akin to his saying ‘we all look alike.’

Columnists and commentators have even begun to debate whether America was “better” under the old caste system of White Anglo Saxon dominance.  My question is better for whom?

It was these same WASPs who declared me three-fifths of a human being and consigned me to a lifetime of involuntary servitude; whose courts said I had no rights they were bound to respect; who held that ‘separate but equal’ was the law of the land; and who well into the 20th century legally forbade marriage between me and one of their own.

No, America today, for all its faults and imperfections, is more free, more equal than at any time in its history.  The genteel bigotry of the WASP upper class is no better than the raw racism of the white working class.  We need not romanticize America’s past in order to acknowledge its contribution to the advancement of human rights.  It is indeed by acknowledging these shortcomings that we can credit the current generation of Americans for how far we have come, while lamenting how far we have to go.  We love America no less for this.

And now we are at the crossroads of American history.  With the decision to trod the path we have traveled before that leads to exclusion and exploitation, or to continue to forge ahead with this great experiment in human freedom and democracy.  To accept that we may stumble and, at times, even reverse course.  But to nevertheless resolve that the destination lies ‘ahead’, not in ‘again’.

George Herbert Walker Bush was not a perfect man but he was a good man.  A man who demonstrably put the welfare of the country above his own in war and peace.  Would that we all answer this higher calling.  That “better” means not only better for me.

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell


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