Curtain Raiser

A Word Brings Us Together, Colltalers

Red flags are being raised about the future of American democracy, and a word with powerful resonance in society has retaken the center of the national conversation: moral. The resistance to the Trump regime’s cavalcade to absolute power has found a unifying core to fight for.
Alarms sounded with the Supreme Court’s latest of its many June decisions, rendering useless any notions of non-partisanship of justices. And to refocus on morality, rather than simply arguing, forges a new alliance to fight the administration’s push towards an authoritarian rule.
The U.S. is in turmoil, and over the weekend thousands protested the draconian, and heartbreaking, conditions imposed to immigrants and to those who come seeking shelter from oppression and injustice. Much of it, triggered by America’s own undue interference in their nations.
‘Families belong together’ is the overall theme against an artificially created, demagogically motivated, and now deeply disrupting, ‘crisis of immigration.’ So it happens that inflow of immigrants, with the Mexican border serving as an entry point, was at historical low numbers.
In fact, net immigration from Mexico had become negative, right before the 2016 election, after years of decline, and arrests by Border Patrol were at a 46-year low, according to the Pew Research Center and the independent National Immigration Forum. The data also showed that what was happening was actually the opposite, with a net outflow of illegal, undocumented workers from America moving back to Mexico.
But that many Trump supporters were sold a bag of rotten goods, and bought into a lie, hasn’t been breaking news for a while; it’s become the unfortunate normal. What’s astonishing is that such falsehood triggered enforcement of failed laws and xenophobic attitudes, that culminated in the utter cruelty of yanking children from their parents, and treating them as criminal prisoners, with little hope of one day reunite them all.
So that the American people seem to be awakening in these past two years to the power of taking the streets and protest should be welcomed and supported. Marching, however,

has limited impact in the era of digital distraction and can easily lose focus and fall into collective fatigue.
It’s in the realm of ideas, then, that much of long range views for change and redressing can be worked into a seasoned confluence of goals and action. For sure, in an election year, things do coalesce into what are the most efficient tools to be used so to keep the momentum going.
But that urgency has to have a core of permanence too, one to endure beyond the poll results, to still offer practical solutions to the future.
In June, the Supreme Court issued rules on a variety of themes that directly affect the lives of millions of Americans. But unlike what the Founding Fathers had in store for the organ, that of presiding above the nitty-gritty of day to day attrition, and assuring the integrity of the Constitution, what the present corp of justices is prescribing to the nation is a sour bill of decisions that do a great disservice to democracy.
It ruled in favor of a baker, who refused to bake a cake to a gay couple; it upheld Ohio’s discretionary program to purge voters; it took swipes at the disgraceful gerrymandering, without actually disavowing it; it ruled on online sales, but it has refused to actually defend the Internet.
Worst, it blocked a California law requiring pregnancy centers to provide info about abortion; it endorsed Trump’s racist ban on Muslin travelers; and it told government workers that they don’t have to pay fees to unions they choose not to join, in another blow to organized labor.
For a constitutional power that virtually opened the gates to money in politics, declaring corporations ‘people,’ these and other recent decisions don’t encourage voters, sex minorities, Internet users, underprivileged women, church and state separation, and pretty much every worker.
The court also lost any claim to represent a moral force in American society. That’s now in the people’s hands. As it’s been mentioned in moot discussions about ‘civility,’ which by now is a code to disarm the fight for social justice, Hitler acted within the law. A quasi hyperbole, the argument is also a reminder that law and order are there to protect people, not to pick winners, and go after the powerless and vulnerable.
‘There’s nothing radical about moral clarity in 2018,’ said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old who defeated a Democratic powerhouse in a primary. We need to ‘stand up, fight for a moral breakthrough,’ said the Rev. William Barber, a leader of the Poor People’s Campaign. And as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘I criticize America because I love her. I want her to stand as a moral example to the world.’
We resist this undignified walk towards defacing American values from their substance with the power of morality, of doing the right thing, of setting a higher standard of dignity and compassion. Not because the Constitution says we must, but because there’s no other way to exist.
We may be supported by the solidarity of other people around the world, also fighting for social justice and the right to inclusion. We may be encouraged by the example of the immigrants themselves, and their struggle to defend the integrity of their families. We may be even helped by Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a leftist with a mandate to usher a new era of morality south of the U.S. border.
But above all, we need to get on board and be counted, so that the less than 30% of the population don’t get to set how 200 million Americans really feel about women’s reproductive rights, the right to vote, of not being discriminated on race, religion, or political orientation, freedom of choice, and sovereignty of personal sex decisions. A leader with no moral compass is just a bully with a big gun, and we won’t be intimidated.
This July will be hot, not just the temperature, which may again beat the all time record in the northern hemisphere, but hot as molten lava with the political environment. Hotter than the fireworks on the Fourth, that scare the bejesus of our beloved pets. Piping hot with the fire of moral authority. Civility is essential in social relations but it’s being used as a numbing weapon. Liars must be called liars to their lying face.
The crass, rude, demeaning, violent vocabulary Trump brought to the White House won’t be shut down by being polite and asking for please. It’s no match, however to the incendiary will of doing what’s right, decent, whole. Let’s be absolute passionate about our convictions. Cheers WC

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