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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Human Races 

Conservatives decry the loss of civility and morals that has occurred here in the U.S. in the last 50 years. They say that the 1950s represent the golden age of American culture, when everything was as it should be. All things considered, I'm almost tempted to agree with them, but I can't because I know better. I do agree though that the 1950s represent a high point in American culture in many respects. The problem with the conservatives' nostalgia is a nasty, persistent problem called racism. You see, racism has always been the ugly side of American culture, and it was no different in 1955.

Everything changed when black Americans demanded, and won, the right to be treated as equals under the law. Instead of seeing this as a victory for their beloved founding principles, conservatives saw it as a threat to their white protestant race. And they have acted accordingly since then. Unfortunately for them, the founding fathers insisted on basing their experiment on the loftiest principles. Fortunately for the rest of us, they created a framework that encourages the fulfillment of these principles.

Every American has to choose: work to fulfill these principles, or give them up all together. Judging by the evolution of conservatism over the last 50 years, it's obvious that conservatives aren't interested in principles of any kind. The only interest they have in principles is the desire to own them permanently - so they can be rendered powerless when their actual interests are at stake.

The more multiracial the U.S. becomes, the stingier its government and ruling elite become. In the 50s, conservatives were eager to spread the good cheer, as long as it was among white folks. When they saw that they, in good conscience, had to extend their generosity to non-whites as well, they closed their gates and abandoned their consciences. And they have done everything in their power to frustrate and sabotage every effort aimed at social justice, to the detriment of the country's health.

I believe that America really is the "melting pot," and honestly, it couldn't happen in a better place under better principles. Racism is still a reality here, but we've made a lot of progress despite conservative obstructionism. The thing about principles is that they can't be owned. Some things belong to all of us; some things, we all have a stake in.

America's dilemma is in the fulfillment of its founding principles. To fulfill them will turn this "melting pot" into a microcosm of the world that is worthy of global emulation. Failure to fulfill them will be just that - a failure.

It's time for America's ruling elite to offer the generosity of the 50s to every citizen. That's the missing ingredient. Everyone wants to see the American experiment live up to its promise. The world's people are only anti-American when America betrays its principles, as it's currently doing so unashamedly. When it lives up to its principles, the world blesses it with legitimacy, cooperation, and security.

Since America's role as world leader is inescapable, its leaders need to think carefully about the example they have to start setting. The Bush regime is a disaster - a veritable textbook filled with examples of how not to do things.

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