Why won’t things just quiet down? Why so much ruckus? What on earth is everyone marching for, protesting for, sitting in for? Why the bitterness? Why the division?
“When will it ever end?”
The answer is, “America is ever-changing. Discord, friction, and slow, protracted progress, with all the forwards and backwards and forwards again, is the American way.” We were born in revolution and, in a way, there’s been continuous revolution ever since, as we continue toward perfecting our union.
Some folks point to the Constitution and say, “That’s the way it was and always should be.” But those were different times with glaring shortcomings of the future. It took 27 Amendments just to get us to where we are today, with many of them requiring immense struggle, protest, violence and even open war to achieve. In America, the “Land of the Free,” it took 100 years of nationhood and a full-on civil war to (and only temporarily) achieve freedom and basic rights for American Black people. Indeed, America was late on the international scene of nations abolishing slavery.
Some 150 years post-independence and, after years of protests, marches, demonstrations – and sometimes violence — America finally decided women were smart enough, and human enough, to gain the vote. What a hard-fought win for women – yet other rights even then remained elusive.
Two hundred years deep, we passed the 24th Amendment, eliminating poll taxes and other impediments discouraging minority voting. This, and other civil rights laws, created seismic shifts in America that yet reverberate as vested sides and entrenched bigotry struggles with full implementation of laws intended to create equal rights and equal opportunity in America, regardless of race, gender – and now, sexual orientation.
And through it all, we land-grabbed from our Native Americans, exterminated millions, pushed the remaining into desperate reservations, and, under “Manifest Destiny” – marched all the way to the Pacific, borrowing some rather fine land we now call, “California” and “Santa Clarita.”
We are a brash nation, an aggressive nation, full of strong opinion, emboldened by a wonderful and deep freedom of speech to persuade and manipulate others to follow our lead or others’. Now, powered by a previously unimaginable communication power of social medial, our fractured nation can and does assemble armies of protesters, agitators, bots and manipulators to push their varying agendas.
But why can’t it just stop?
America continues forward, but with very aggrieved people. The privileged (that’s you and me in the SCV) may or may not understand or empathize, but Native Americans have rightful and righteous anger over both past and present treatment. Pipelines built over water resources, intrusion by industry over their lands, continuing degradation on reservation lands other Americans never would have willingly settled.
And, whether we accept it or not, overt, militant, oppressive policing continues in many locales, with particularly heavy hands on Black and brown folk. In our time, powered by social media, protest groups have come together and collectively said, “Enough is enough!” Society has a head of steam on this and now, hundreds of years later, aggressive, often militant American policing must be replaced with peace-keeping and social well-being. This is an American rights issue requiring a full-on rethink (not a defund) of how we lessen crime proactively, before it happens, and reduce the need for our growing quasi-military police state — in the Land of the Free. We need a reboot back to liberty and justice for all.
And you may or may not agree with the LBGTQ movement – just these letters make many uneasy, often those holding the most extreme evangelistic views. “God says…,” they say. But people are like this. American citizens are LBGTQ. Still, cultural battle lines are drawn, too often for politicized purposes, and we’re made to fight and hate each other rather than unite and grow together.
And health care! Why does an advanced nation argue so much over such a baseline concept of having its citizens reasonably medically cared for? Yet some cannot stand the thought of others “getting something for nothing,” even when it ends up hurting themselves…
We have so many differences between us! If you like turmoil and unrest, you’ve got a boatload now!
Long running in America, but incredibly exploded under Trump, America has created disunity out of many – exactly opposite of our (believed) founding intent. Originally, Black people, women, Natives were excluded from the Grand Vision. We’ve worked to correct, then taken the blowback and pushback. We dust ourselves off, and move forward again, and suffer blowback again.
Trump himself is the blowback of the radical achievement of our first multi-race, Black president. Trump’s 40% of the country (increasingly recognized as the “White Party”) is pushing hard to Make America back like it was… with white people holding control, holding most privilege, and the rest derided as “different,” so as to keep down and keep out of political power.
But the motto of America remains, “E pluribus unum.”
“Out of many, one.” Our struggle will continue. Voices from all sides will be loudly and even violently heard, as they long have been.
We hope that America sees our current time as historic, and as we have in times past, take a great leap forward toward unity and increased liberty and justice – for all of us, all as equal Americans.
So, protest! Insist on positive, productive change. And vote! Vote for those who are committed to our motto, and to our enshrined aspiration of liberty and justice – for ALL.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.