Common Ground

Before I head off for a late summer vacation, I’d like to point out two notable op-eds appearing in today’s NYT. One is by Nicholas Kristof, who, after mentioning opposition to the Islamic center in lower Manhattan, goes on to discuss “earlier waves of intolerance in American history,” not out of hatred or bigotry, but fear.

The second piece well worth reading is by renowned historian Taylor Branch, who reviews last week’s highly publicized Glen Beck rally in Washington D.C. In the run-up to the event, there was much criticism of Beck from liberal quarters, who resented that he was wrapping himself in the mantle of the civil rights movement. But Beck’s speech that day, as Branch interprets it, didn’t play out the way Beck’s critics imagined it would.

Rather, Branch points out some interesting parallels between the famed march on Washington in 1963 and Beck’s commemorative rally, including this historical context:

Fear is a hazard of great endeavors to bridge political differences. In 1963, racial apprehension before Dr. King’s rally drove the federal government to furlough its workers for the day. The Pentagon deployed 20,000 paratroopers. Hospitals stockpiled plasma. Washington banned sales of alcohol, and Major League Baseball canceled not one but two days of Senators baseball, just to be safe. When the march of benign inspiration embarrassed these measures, opponents still insisted that the civil rights bill would enslave white people.

Since that momentous day, Branch writes, “the search for common ground has not gotten any easier.” Noting that Beck’s speech last week might presage a new chapter in Beck’s life (perhaps a less politically incendiary one?) Branch observes:

Glenn Beck calls himself a damaged product of family tragedy, failed education and past addiction “” mercurial and unsure, like many of his hard-pressed audience. He may never follow through from his “new starting point” into constructive politics. Even so, he made peace for one day with the liberal half of the American heritage. That is a good thing. Our political health, in the spirit of Dr. King’s march, requires thoughtful and bold initiatives from all quarters.

See you sometime late next week.  I won’t be able to monitor this thread closely, if much at all for long periods. So I’m going to trust that civility will reign in my absence. Be careful about including more than one link in any comment or you might end up in a lengthy moderation. Happy end of summer.

4 Responses to “Common Ground”

  1. Tom Fuller says:

    Have a nice holiday.

  2. Pascvaks says:

    “Fear is a hazard of great endeavors to bridge political differences.”

    Indeed?  Is it not also true that ‘fear’ is not only a hazard of great endeavours, but a hazard of every aspect of life itself and has a million and one faces, smells, sounds, tastes, and feels.  Anything is capable of generating it.  Some significant events are capable, after a generation or three of turmoil and eventual resolution, of changing us and the world into a different reality as well.  The threat of ‘change’ and the fear of change are always with us, and have been for a long, long time.  It can drive us to any means to prevent it, and/or make it happen;-)

  3. Cola Vaughan says:

    Speaking of the NWT and in reference to this quote   “like many of his hard-pressed audience” 

    to get an idea the underlying reason so many are “hard-pressed'” read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/opinion/03reich.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=robert%20reich&st=cse

    “consumers no longer have the purchasing power to buy the goods and services they produce as workers; for some time now, their means haven’t kept up with what the growing economy could and should have been able to provide them. “

  4. Pascvaks says:

    Not to worry Cola!  The US ‘produces’ so little beyond mere hamburgers or pizzas these days that your point is OBE.  But if your speaking of imports, now that’s a different can of tuna.  When it comes to imports, we’re drowning in them and simply have to squelch the flow.  Perhaps when the Chinese and Indians increase their capacity another 50% they’ll be able to afford the stuff they’ve been giving to us on credit.  Oh well, there’s always hope.  Let’s also hope they don’t demand payment for all those worthless bonds and securities we’ve been “selling” them;-)

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