Friday, June 16, 2023

As July 4, 2023, approaches, America must not turn back the clock on the struggle for progress in the face of entrenched divisiveness and political in-fighting

Rioters attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021

Perhaps nothing symbolizes the divisiveness and political in-fighting that plagues postmodern America like the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. In fact, considerable evidence suggests large chunks of the American electorate, especially on the political right, want to turn back the clock on progress our nation has made in the areas of civil and human rights. The bitterness of the American struggle seems to have become more pronounced since the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016.

Despite our nation's numerous shortcomings through the ages, longtime Alabama attorney, entrepreneur, and civil-rights advocate Donald Watkins says -- as July 4, 2023, approaches, there is no turning back for America. In an editorial opinion at his Web site, Watkins writes:

America was founded on the genocide of the indigenous people who lived here thousands of years before the Europeans settlers arrived in 1612.

Our nation was built upon the enslavement, rape, murder, lynching, brutalization, and dehumanization of people of African descent.

Violence, wars, the wholesale theft of Native-American and black-owned lands, and racism have been prevalent throughout this nation’s history.

Despite those ugly chapters in the American story, Watkins says, our country remains the greatest nation the world has ever known:

We have defended liberty and justice around the world and saved tens of millions of lives in the process.

As a nation, we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and healed the sick in many poor nations, while seeking nothing in return.

Despite our nation's many chapters of negative history and growing socioeconomic problems, America remains the only country (out of the 195 nations on the globe) where every person’s dream can be realized.

There are 8 billion people in the world. Nearly 334 million of this number are fortunate to say they are Americans.

Remarkably, nearly everyone on the planet looks up to America, whether they acknowledge this fact publicly or not. America is the leader of the free world.

Still, these are perilous times for The American Experiment writes Watkins:

Beginning with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, America plunged into an endless cycle of political in-fighting between Democrats and Republicans. The values of freedom and democracy that inspired the world’s population to admire and respect America have somehow become repugnant to many MAGA Republicans.

Freedom of speech has been constricted through book-banning and prohibitions on teaching a complete and accurate, non-sanitized version of American history in public schools.

Confederate flag waving is back in vogue.

In Alabama, even Tom Parker, the Chief Justice of the state’s supreme court, engages in the Confederate flag-waving tradition by handing out a fists full of flags at public events. 

Democratic elections across America have been undermined by new state voter-suppression laws.

Impermissible racial gerrymandering in legislative districts is thriving, as noted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Mulligan v. Allen on June 8, 2023.

The doctor-patient relationship for women has been invaded by the male-dominated state legislatures that passed laws limiting reproductive rights and threatening the health of women.

Law-enforcement agencies are under attack. The Left wants to defund state and local police agencies in the aftermath of the George Floyd and Breanna Taylor murders, while the Right wants to defund the Department of Justice and FBI in the aftermath of the criminal indictments of Donald Trump.

Our churches, malls, concert venues, night clubs, dance halls, theaters, schools, banks, hospitals, and streets are no longer safe gathering places because our gun purchase and carry laws are dangerously weak and ineffective.

We even experienced an Insurrection at our National Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021.

The Trump-led MAGA movement seems to elevate political party over national interests. Writes Watkins:

Many MAGA politicians have declared our moral compass to be irrelevant. The only things that appear to matter to them are: (a) the financial security of the richest one percent of Americans and (b) the evisceration of legal rights for women, Americans of color, the elderly, poor Americans, Muslims, LGBTQIA Americans, and migrants of color.

For a growing number of Americans, “In God We Trust” only has meaning when it is affixed to a dollar bill.

The glaring hypocrisy of the organized church is rendering this religious institutions useless as a force for positive change in America. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. predicted this sad state of being for the church when he warned in 1963 that:

"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but . . .  rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority."

While those outside of America continue to see us as a beacon of hope whose light shines around the world, many leaders in Washington are determined to make America feel, look, and act like the authoritarian nations from which tens of millions of migrants seek to escape.

As we approach the 4th of July holiday in three weeks, I am hopeful that America can regain its focus as a nation, unified around the core values that made this nation great, and maintain America's rightful position as the undisputed leader of the free world.

As an American who works in more than 40 countries, I personally know that we are all blessed to be American citizens. Despite the political differences that we have among us, we can work through them as we have always done since 1612.

God Bless the USA!

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