Friday, August 23, 2013

50th Anniversary of March on Washington planned for the Mall tomorrow....don't look for any historic achievments

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, originally led by Dr. Martin Luther King, and in 2013, on the anniversary, a march, both in celebration of the original, and in search of both joys and enhanced dignity for all, will take place on the Mall in the capital.
This morning, singer Tony Bennett announced that he will attend lending his name and long career reputation to the cause.
The American people are suffering in the middle and at the bottom of the economic ladder. The rich and powerful have never been more endowed with both, and the cost has been devastating.
  • Wars that were not paid for,
  • a prescription bill for seniors passed under George W. Bush that was put on the credit card without adequate funds being allocated by Congress,
  • a job-shift overseas and a virulent conservatism that blocks any attempt to bring government to the assistance of those desperately in need, with public services, including education, police and fire all suffering cutbacks under the umbrella argument of "belt-tightening" but really a concerted attempt to cripple government at state, local and national levels
  • sequestration that has removed some 470,000 young children from the Head Start program,
  • a scurrilous hate-campaign against the first black president, also under cover of the "small government" banner
  • a drug enforcement campaign that has filled U.S. privately administered prisons with black and Latino young men at a rate that far exceed the averages for whites
  • an unemployment rate for black and Latino young men that far exceeds that of whites
  • a large cadre of returning men and women from those wars who desperately need financial and health and emotional supports and will for the rest of their lives
  • what amounts to racial profiling in too many police interventions
  • state laws that impede voter access particularly to minority voters
  • an inordinate amount of public spending on university education, which by definition favours the fortunate ones at the top, while elementary and secondary education continues to suffer severe budget cuts
  • a block to the Senate-passed immigration bill that would ultimately grant citizenship to those 11 million undocumented "aliens" which Republicans in the House call "amnesty" for illegal behaviour
These are just some of the more obvious inequalities and injustices that continue to plague most American cities, towns and villages. And the National Action Network, for which Rev. Al Sharpton is one of the more high-profile voices, is spear-heading the 50th anniversary march.
Even the President is scheduled to speak, and one hopes that the reception he received in Syracuse, where two women were escorted from his address for shouting such barbs as "Free Bradley Manning" (the U.S. soldier sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking thousands of secret government documents to Wikileaks)...yet there is little doubt that protesters of the march and of the president will infect the march of 2013, in ways that they did not fifty years ago.
While the American political scene is never dormant, this demonstration of support for policies and practices, including budgets and bills in Congree that would provide a "hand-up" (not the proverbial and denigrated "hand-out").
There is an attitude, a culture of mean-spirited callousness that has swept over the American political system, evidence in the significant spike in hate groups since Obama became president, and also evident in the wanton disregard for those without health care, without employment, without education and without hope for a better future. The symbol of that mean-spirited attitude is the Tea Party, a so-called Christian fundamentalist group of members of the House of Representatives from the Republican Party who are holding even their own Majority Leader John Boehner hostage to moderate reforms.
Whether this march will galvanize public opinion and support for the modest reforms that President Obama has frequently proposed, only to see them die in Congress, or not even be given respectful consideration, or not is an open question. If I were a betting man, I would not bet that the march will break the log-jam that currently paralyses the U.S. Congress, and that while much media attention will be devoted to the event, its historic achievement will fall far short of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nothing so uber in scope or even in intent seems possible in the Washington of 2013.Nothing of such sweeping and positive benefit seems even conceivable in a government whose truth is rampant racism and whose public posture is for budget cuts and crippling government.

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