We live in a country divided. I believe that we are more politically polarized than at any time since the Civil War. We fail to seek common ground or a sense of civility - we have lost our way. President Obama’s progressive agenda has illuminated archaic reactionary values that have been sublimated since the uprising of the South.
I can still recall Governor George Wallace standing at the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood from enrolling at the school. Wallace hid behind the issue of states rights as a justification for denying an individual his civil rights. This was a pivotal moment in this country's history for determining whether human rights would finally trump political ideology. It was also a decisive moment in determining what role the federal government would play in enforcing civil rights and the integration of our country's institutions.
Almost fifty years later, Kentucky Senate candidate, Rand Paul, has reminded all of us that there are still plenty of Americans who hearken back and are comfortable with the days characterized by human rights violations. These citizens believe that their personal freedom and liberties must be upheld regardless of the implications for those who would choose to frequent businesses of their choice. As a voice of the tea party movement, Dr. Rand Paul is a metaphor for what we have known for a long time - that there are those who want "their America back," to a time when things seemed simple to them, and the fears of a pluralistic society was only a faint echo.
For these white American ideologues, it is the fear of the loss of power and control that haunts. Many view Mr. Obama as a black president whose progressive agenda is a threat to their personal and political survival. Thus, a world-view that is exclusive, rather than inclusive is embraced. The Texas School Board has rewritten history for their students by minimizing the impact of the civil rights movement. An altered reality has been created that dismisses significant aspects of our cultural heritage in which people took the hard road to find a place of freedom and equality. The Texas School Board, with its revisionist history, has chosen to sublimate the truth.
Many white Americans are on a course to thwart and cleanse every vestige of progress made those who have or are currently struggling for human rights dignity - it reminds me of the fight for freedom in South Africa. On the heels of Arizona's SB 1070 Bill, which oversteps the constitutional rights of all citizens, Governor Brewer signed HB 2281 that will purify the state from any school district programs that continue ethnic study courses presenting cultural diversity to its students. This paranoid bill claims to go after programs that “promote the overthrow of the American government."
Under the guise of human rights, Sarah Palin has vehemently protested against closing the loophole that permits those on the terrorist watch list to have access to assault weapons. In the same breath, she maintains that the Obama administration is soft on terrorism.
The ideological right wants it both ways. They want big government when it serves their needs (i.e. pro-life) and small government to justify their human rights violations and constitutional rigidity. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli has challenged Virginia university policies that bar discrimination against gay and lesbians. The move has outraged students and faculty members.
The voice of the ideology of the South has risen again. If we thought it had succumbed to more rational thinking and debate, we were mistaken. The same mind-set, filled with anger, fear under the guise of personal freedom and protection of states rights is alive and well. Just as it was during the Civil War, we have a country divided within.