This has been a rough week for the USA. The shootings in South Carolina have left us all shocked. I was talking to a young African-American, whom I supervise, and told him that I never thought that I would again see a church killing like the one that happened in Birmingham, AL back in August of 1963. I was 11 going on 12 at that time. I told him that I never thought that his generation would have to experience the same thing that our generation did. But, we have, yet again, experienced raw racism in a church building.
I remember the shootings of Meredith, King, and Kennedy, and fear that we are on the verge of returning to the shock that I experienced as a junior high to high school teenager. If you cannot identify those three last names, then you are sorely lacking in history. Realistically, that is part of what is lacking nowadays. There is little historical sense of what came before us. It is not sufficient to quote only the Founding Fathers; we must also look to the history that has taken place since the Founding Fathers, because many laws and judicial interpretations have been issued since the time when men believed that blacks could be enslaved and women could be subjugated.
Yet there are those who would cheerfully return to a prior day, a prior century. Mr. Roof demonstrated that in South Carolina this week. His online manifesto pointed us back to the Founding Fathers when slavery was legal and the mistreatment of non-whites was governed by rules that only applied if the non-white died as a result of the discipline that was applied by the white person. It was also a time when women could not vote, could not own property (if married), and could not refuse the desired connubial bliss of their husband.
As a country, we need to examine ourselves. No, the issue is not fully racism There is a deeper issue. Many in the USA argue that we need to return to an interpretation of the Constitution that mirrors the opinions of the Founding Fathers. But, that would be terrible. The Founding Fathers compromised on the subjugation of an entire race. The Founding Fathers were willing to leave many in slavery as a compromise that should have never been struck.
I am thoroughly in disagreement with those who insist that we must return to the Founding Fathers as they wrote in the late 1700’s. They were not in any way perfect. Slavery was legal. Women could be suppressed. Non-land-owners could be forbidden from having a voice in the government. But, I am in favor of adhering to the principles that were laid down by the Founding Fathers. Among those principles is the possibility of amending their original opinions in order to correct or address issues that rise up during succeeding centuries. What they did get right was the principle that there needs to be a clear and easily understandable mechanism for amending our Constitution.
But, there are still those that wish to return to the Founding Fathers, even with all their faults. Among those are the thoroughly evil people who still consider non-whites to be creatures that should be governed by whites. What we saw this past week was what happens if those who wish to return to the old days decide to take action. The desire to frighten non-whites into obedience led to the South Carolina shootings. There was even a trace of fear that non-whites could “outperform” whites.
How do I know this? Because the shooter clearly stated, both on the scene and during the police interview, that he wished to kill non-whites because of the danger that they presented to whites.
So, oddly enough, my post is to state that we need to return to Constitutional principles. If something has been amended, you need to realize that this is the will of the people. You are always welcome to try to reverse the ruling, as happened with the Prohibition amendment. But, otherwise, you cannot be a guardian and ignore the Constitutional and legal history of this country.
If you want to change something, pull together a coalition of people who agree with you. Either elect federal representatives, or get 3/4 of the states to call a Constitutional Convention. Wage respectful national campaigns to get candidates elected who agree with you. But, if you fail, be a good loser. Make sure that your conduct reflects a reasonable sportsmanship.
And, whatever you do, do not speak as though the rest of the country agrees with you, if you lose. Do not claim that your are one of the last defenders of the Constitution. And, do not engage in violence. If necessary, I will don Civil War blue to make sure you are stopped. I am a defender of the Constitution, but not like you think. I am a defender of the Constitution in the same way that the “blue” north defended the Constitution in the 1800s. There is a “right” and “wrong”, and I propose to support the “right”. I took an oath when I was drafted many decades ago. I took an oath when I began to work for the VA. I intend to uphold that oath.