To the editor:
There are plants that grow in thin air. They do not need to be planted or nourished in the soil.
Such is not the case with the ugly stalks emerging from Washington at this time. Despite the view of some commentators, they have deep roots planted in our nation’s history.
Our creation rested on a foundation of human slavery. Repression and exploitation were often the norm. Religious and ethnic and gender discrimination were seldom unknown. The universal right to vote was far from a reality until the 20th century, and remains suppressed in parts. Censorship of dissidents has rarely been absent.
The 20th century saw the Palmer raids and McCarthyism. Our labor history featured sweatshops and human degradation. It took us 150 years to outlaw lynching, and our armies brutally suppressed the Aguinaldo rebellion in the Philippines and the national assertions of the Vietnamese.
We have overthrown elected leaders and put dictators in their place. We are not innocents violated by the Trumpian ogres.
Yet, I remain a patriot. I am inspired by our founding documents, and their words providing for hope and change. And by the untold thousands who gave their lives to end the abomination of slavery. And by strikers who suffered brutality and impoverishment, so that working men and women can be represented by unions of their choice.
And by the suffragettes who stormed the places of power to demand the vote for all. And by my colleagues from Anniston, Alabama, in the 1960s, many of whom I knew well and loved, who were beaten and jailed and risked life and limb to make this country a more just place.
And by those who marched with me to end the inane and murderous war in Vietnam. And by the women who now stand up, risking reputations and careers, to end the harassment and abuse that is pervasive in our culture.
On the verge of a new year, we have a story of courage and enlightenment to point the way to a “more perfect union.” Now that we have seen the ugly faces of the oligarchs, the liars, the oppressors — the way should be clear.