Turning Back the Clock

Throughout history, progress has been like a pendulum, swinging forward and backward in response to the natural law that every action prompts an opposite reaction. It seems to me that we are going through one of those periods when the pendulum swings backward.

Progress is under attack on so many fronts. In America, where I happen to live now, I see all around me the signs of retrogression.

Advances that Americans once took for granted are being beaten back.

The social safety net is under assault as never before. Poverty is exploding and help for the poor is shrinking. Even Social Security and Medicare are in danger.

Civil rights are being eroded. Unions are being wiped out. Women’s rights are being trampled. Everywhere, tolerance and brotherhood are being shouted down by the harsh voices of racism, sexism and economic fascism.

Under Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton, the pendulum of progress swung forward. Under Reagan and Bush I and II, it swung backward.

The election of America’s first black President was a historical victory for progress, but, as Jamaican National Hero Marcus Garvey warned Americans so many years ago, the pendulum is swinging savagely backward now.

Every possible impediment, every possible lie, has been deployed to defeat the President’s agenda -especially his health care reform law. The pendulum swung briefly forward when the law was passed, and is swinging fiercely backward again.

Do you remember that February is Black History Month? It was a big deal once. The media would celebrate the occasion with success stories and historical tributes. Not so much today. In today’s news, I read about a Klan protest marking the month.

Writing in the Daily Kos this morning, author Jermel W. Shim recalls Garvey’s prescient observation:

The mindset of the GOP and the right-wing media as Garvey alluded to is that President Obama should not have been elected president.  They want to ensure that another black man is never again elected president of the United States of America. This explains the GOPs unceasing effort to bring down the president.  As Garvey asserts, “the possibility of the black man making laws to govern the white man, drove them almost to madness.”  This madness is evident in the GOP shutting down the government, trying to repeal Obamacare, and refusing to extend the unemployment benefits.

It’s discouraging of course – even frightening. But the pendulum swings both ways, and the right wing’s excesses cannot fail to trigger a response in the opposite direction. Perhaps that response will be evident as early as the November midterm elections.

Click to read Shim’s article.

Click for the Klan protest.

Click for a historical look at Garvey.