The passing of an order by @BloggersRUs

The passing of an order

by Tom Sullivan

The odds Judge Brett Kavanaugh would win a vote to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court were always in Sen. Mitch McConnell's favor. Suggesting the bitter confirmation struggle was the "triumph of Trumpism" on Capitol Hellmouth exaggerates and over-concentrates the influence of the 45th president. Democracy, or what is left of it, still comes down to counting heads. Republicans had more and always did from the beginning of the process.

Sen. John Kennedy, the Louisiana Republican, placed the confirmation fight in a broader context, explaining, “It has to do with the pace of change more than anything else. There are some Americans who would like to see our country change quickly.”

Other Americans would prefer it not change at all and fear it has already changed too much too quickly. For both, the Kavanaugh fight was a proxy battle.

On the way to a dinner where another Louisiana politician spoke last night, I passed a woman on the street who has become familiar in the last few months. Perhaps five feet tall and 60-ish, she wears simple print dresses and walks everywhere alone. She lives somewhere in the neighborhood but speaks no English. I don't yet know her name or if she has any family here. I'm told she is from Latvia.

Her ethnicity makes her all but invisible to those who look askance at other non-English-speaking immigrants. Nobody accuses her of being a criminal or a leech. Nobody demands she go back where she came from.

In another era in a larger American city, the Latvian woman would be unremarkable. The fact she speaks no English would be as well. A century or more ago people like her arrived in American east coast ports by the thousands, speaking no English, perhaps with few skills, some not even literate. Depending on their country of origin, they may have faced discrimination and vilification.

Those who fear the country is changing too quickly need not fear that changing. That tradition they uphold. But the tradition of America as a nation of immigrants is in under heavy assault.

Former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke of that last night, saying, "There is a dagger pointed at the heart of America's ideals."

Building walls to keep out the unwanted and to let in only those who look and talk a certain way has never worked. New Orleans is built on just the opposite. The blending of peoples and cultures — e pluribus unum — enriches the city and defines it in the way it has enriched and defined America.

The trend in this country towards retrenchment and closing our borders is one destined to make the very idea of America obsolete, Landrieu cautioned. Everywhere in the country has clubs predicated on erecting walls to keep out certain people, and everywhere those institutions are dying.

This congress, Landrieu said, "is hiding behind the water cooler in the country club locker room."

Landrieu had more to say about embracing the future not the past in his 2017 speech announcing the removal of Confederate monuments from New Orleans:

All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity. We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it! And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush’s words, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say ‘wait’/not so fast, but like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “wait has almost always meant never.” We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now.

No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain. While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Defenders of another lost cause won a temporary victory on Saturday. Conservative commentator William J. Bennett compares the cultural rifts in America to those preceded the Civil War. But it is more likely the Kavanaugh appointment is a rearguard action by an order already in retreat than a fresh offensive in a second Civil War.

In a 2005 article freshly circulating on Facebook, Howard Zinn writes:

It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.
For all the faux-Braveheart breast-beating on the right about freedom remember, freedom without justice is anarchy. Justice, equal justice, took a stiff blow this week. Recovering will not be easy or quick, but with persistence and determination it will come. As in 1865, an old order was passing. One hundred years of Jim Crow proved it would not go quietly or without resistance. Half a century later still we are removing monuments to it. The traditional order in which men rule and other Americans hold inferior positions will pass as well. Those rigging every mechanism of democracy to maintain that order know it and fear it. [h/t BHM]

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