Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Life Well Lived

I was a little late to work this morning (well later than my usual late anyway) because I just couldn't help but sit and watch a little of the Rosa Parks funeral procession. I'll admit it, I was a little veclemped.

Being only 30(ish), white, and Canadian, I've never really had to deal with any blatant organized segregation, but like most people of my generation, I have seen and heard a lot about what went on back then. It is with all that in mind that I am just awestruck at the differences between the fight for equality then as compared to now.

Back then, you had a simple working class individual who, finally fed up with extremely unfair bussing practices, amongst other things, decided to test her civil rights by forcing the city to take her to court. She was not the first, nor was she the last to do this but due to the timing of her actions, and with the help of such leaders as Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement was able to use her stand as a focal point to draw attention to the illegal race based policies of the day. Most of this was done through what could truly be called affirmative action, that is instead of trying to pull themselves up by pulling others down, the leaders of the day tried to show how everyone should be on the same level.

Sadly, the same can not be said for those seen as the 'leaders' of the civil rights movement today. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the rest of the self declared leaders (coincidentally mostly on the far left) who claim to be trying to help minorities have turned to an 'attack first' philosophy in which anyone who does not fall into lockstep with their agenda is fair game. The problem is partly to do with the power of the original movement and how it managed to change the majorities heart and minds until there was little clear cut institutional racism left to fight. Now instead of a battle over black and white issues (a double meaning if ever there was one), all that is left to fight over are the shades of gray and those do not have clear cut answers.

The general gist of the two sides, from how I see it, is that one group, mostly made up of conservatives, believe it is enough to give everyone a level playing field, and that the best way to combat racism is to essentially leave race out of legislation. The other group, mostly made up of more liberal members, believe that even if the playing field is leveled, past actions require additional aid be given to formally discriminated against groups. It's perfectly ok for each group to hold those opinions, and on a case by case basis the solution to a given problem may entail a solution that leans more towards one side or the other.

Sadly, it does not appear that most of the current, and especially the more outspoken leaders of today can see that there are in fact two sides. Instead, they choose to demonize anyone who happens to put forward the first viewpoint, usually claiming that that groups lack of support for their particular solutions is an indication of their inherent racism. That's why you constantly see Sharpton, Jackson and for that matter almost every liberal group constantly trumpeting the "Republicans are racist" claims with little or no support for their charges. To them, the lack of support for their often extreme agenda is proof in and of itself of the right wings racist tendencies. Just how many times have you heard how anti-black the Bush administration is. Why? Can anyone site an example of legislation they have tabled or passed that directly targets African-Americans for anything that could be defined as discriminatory, and remember, denying special rights and privileges to a group is not in fact a discriminatory action. In fact, and no one can deny this, President Bush has appointed more minorities to powers of position, including Secretary of State (twice) than any other President, including Bill Clinton. Part of the problem liberals have with this is that these Republican appointees were usually picked because of their abilities and not out of some 'balancing the tables' mentality. These were generally self made people who did not need to use their status as a minority to gain their positions. In addition, Bush has also spent almost twice as much as Clinton on poverty related programs, which is often seen as a strong minority issue but once again, as he did not follow the Sharpton program in making these decisions, he of course must still be racist.

It'd odd, but in some strange way all this makes me long for the days when selective civil disobedience like not surrendering your seat on a bus, organized protests such as the resulting bus 'strike' and generally positive messages about how all (wo)men are created equal were the weapons of choice. It's been a long long time since anyone even came close to uttering a statement as memorable as "I have a dream...".

Lucky for us all Rosa Parks did have a dream and because of her strong will to make her dream a reality, as well of the countless others who shared in her vision for what could be, we live in a world infinitely better than the one of just a few decades ago.

R.I.P. Mrs. Parks and thank you.


Blogger Paladiea said...

I wouldn't say that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are 'far left' at all.

At best, maybe centre right. I'm sure they don't support SSM or equality rights for individuals oither than blacks and through their actions I say that they have no respect at all for women's rights.

November 03, 2005 10:30 a.m.  
Blogger Paladiea said...

Plus. Far left means 'communist'

November 03, 2005 10:31 a.m.  
Blogger Bic said...

Through their actions I would say they have no respect at all for Black rights either, if they did they would be out trying to motivate
legitimate debate on race issues instead of doing their damndest to minimilize all those that have differing opinions. But all that doesn't change the fact that you may be the only person in North America who would put Jackson or Sharpton anywhere near the right end of the political spectrum. You could possibly argue their status as mainstream left vs. fringe left (although if I were in the mainstream left I would want to do my best to disassociate with them) but center right?!?

From their past behaviours, you can clearly see that they'll march for almost any cause as long as A)it somehow can be used to attack the Republican party, and B)it gets them a little air time.

Also, despite your claims to the contrary, while Jackson does not support SSM specifically, he openly supports equal rights for gays (a red herring if I ever saw one as they already have full rights, although it could be argued that the few screwed up areas which still outlaw certain sexual acts are unfairly targetting the homosexual lifestyle) while Sharpton in fact openly supports SSM.

November 03, 2005 1:56 p.m.  
Blogger Paladiea said...

I say centre right because the Republican party is far right. In addition I would say that in the States there IS no left wing, since the whole political spectrum has been skewed so far to the right. I quote the example of 'Liberal' being an insult.

I don't like JJ or AS any more than you do but they are not left wing. In Canada Stephen Harper supports "equal" rights for homosexuals and yet opposes SSM, you wouldn't call him far left now would you?

Anyhow I don't see either one of them advocating for anything in the traditional left wing sense such as a cleaner environment, or higher corporate taxes and responsibility, or more aid to the poor, unless the poor happen to be black.

Unless you can prove me wrong of course, then I'll happily label them 'far left'

November 03, 2005 4:10 p.m.  
Blogger Bic said...

Well, after a 5 second search on Google, I found several sites stating JJ's stance on several of the issues you stated as left wing.

He's made calls for better environmental controls, and condemned Bush's environmental record, has always condemnd any type of tax cuts to the rich and has in fact called for higher taxes for the top 1% while lowering taxes for the bottom earners, has called for the elimination of 'corporate welfare' and has requested companies start paying their fair share, and as expected has called for more money for social programs, even those not necessarily focused on the African American community.

Any more questions?

If you want to place them on the right side of the spectrum you may have to actually provide examples of their conservative leaning ideals instead of just off handedly dismissing their obvious left leaning ones.

November 04, 2005 12:41 a.m.  
Blogger Paladiea said...

Ok. You proved me wrong. Jesse Jackson is left wing. I can admite defeat ;). I guess I just took issue with your term 'far' left. Because he really isn't that far left.

November 04, 2005 1:40 p.m.  
Blogger Bic said...

I more use the term far left as a reference to their tactics. I like to think that people who are moderate left (and right for that matter) are willing to still view both sides of an issue before making a decision, and can admit that even if the solution proposed by the other side isn't what they would do, it still has merit.

When I say 'far left' I'm more referencing their outright hatred and hostility toward right wing ideals. They may still believe the same as a moderate left wingers but are not willing to even allow for the possibility that the right has anything to offer.

Then there is the extreme left who basically want a communist/socialist like nanny state to take care of everyone, with no exceptions. That level is usually reserved for well to do college students who don't understand that both systems can never truly work as long as people are part of the equation. Luckily, most of this group grow up after entering the real world and take up positions closer to the center (some even become conservatives).

November 04, 2005 3:21 p.m.  

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