The same is true of Alabama politics. The loudest voices are those of the conservative sickness that represent an era and mindset that we have been trying to overcome for decades.
The rest of the country, and many in our own state, see Alabama as a backward and racist, in spite of the fact that as individuals we are pretty much like everybody else in the country. For instance, we look at evolution as a matter of science , and a necessary part of education and not a political tool. And we get along with our co-workers and neighbors who are of a different race.
But then Republicans and conservative groups open their mouths. You can pick almost any of them, but for the purpose of this blog, I will choose three examples. Just hearing any of these might be enough to make a progressive pack up and give up. But the things we are hearing are just a symptom of a disease that is being defeated.
Yesterday at the opening hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan Alabama Republican Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III took shots at the future justice and in doing so (once again) embarrassed all of us from Alabama.
"Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well-known activist judges. She clerked with Judge Mikva and Justice (Thurgood) Marshall, each well known activists. These justices really don't deny their activist ideas, they advocate it. And they openly criticize the idea that a judge is merely a neutral umpire."
Sessions and his Republican counterparts at the hearing referenced Thurgood Marshall (negatively) 35 times. Marshall's son, Thurgood Marshall, Jr, sat in the audience and listened.
Thurgood Marshall is best known as the Supreme Court's first African-American justice, but as a practicing attorney and solicitor general before that he argued before the high court on numerous occasions. The most famous was Brown v Board of Education, the landmark case that did away with separate but equal public education because it could not be equal. He won 29 out of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.
Here see Sessions and other Republicans criticizing this American judicial hero.
Senator Sessions: the year is 2010, not 1965. Segregation is over. Gone. Done away with. It's not coming back. Give it up.
Unfortunately, Senator Sessions gets to continue his assault today (in fact, as I write this, he is grilling the appointee on her views regarding Don't Ask, Don't Tell).
Rick Barber is in the Republican runoff with Martha Roby to challenge for the congressional seat held by DINO Bobby Bright of Montgomery. Barber has run ads which have been criticized for advocating gun violence and now is running an ad in which he and an Abraham Lincoln portrayer agree that health care reform is a form of slavery. I won't force you to watch his ad, but here's a screen shot.
Rick: as has been pointed out, President Lincoln imposed the first Federal income tax in 1861 for the purpose of raising money to fight the Civil War. That is not too unlike using tax money to promote the general health and welfare of the nation. And Rick, the south lost that war, and as a result, Barack Obama was able to run for president. I don't think Zombie Abe and you see eye to eye on this issue.
But you did a good job of embarrassing us in front of the rest of the nation.
Christians against Bradley Byrne
I heard a political ad on the radio, in which Republican front runner Bradley Byrne was criticised for promoting evolution, profiting from gambling, and supporting Sunday liquor sales. Then the voice said or indicated that Byrne was (paraphrased) distancing himself from the Bible.Whoever put this ad out: First, evolution is the accepted explanation for the diversity of life that we find on our planet. Second, show me in the Bible where it says thou shalt not sell liquor on Sunday. Third now explain why your beliefs about such things, based on your biblical worldview, should apply to all of us. Fourth, isn't your entire ad sort of gossipy, and doesn't that sort of distance you from the Bible?
So, these examples of Republican silliness show us that Alabama conservatives want to return us to the good old days. Remember, the Tea Party people carry signs advocating taking the country back, and all indications are that they want to take it back to the 1950's.
But we keep reminding ourselves. This is 2010. These guys are just symptoms of the illness that affected our state a half century ago. An illness characterized by inequality and ignorance.
In reality, we are past that. We are (for the most part) an educated populace that believes in science and equality and celebrates the historical figures that got us here, most notably in this case, Thurgood Marshall.
So as progressives we recognize that these vestiges have a limited life, and we will continue to educate and inform and push our state forward, not pull it back.