Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Remember this - always!

I wrote about this more than a year ago. In fact, I first wrote about it more than 29 years ago. But events of late have pushed this back to the forefront of my political thoughts, pushing hard enough to get through a wall of struggles with burnout and depression to get me to write this, even if it's the only thing I manage to get out this summer.

Because I want the following quote burned into the consciousness of every single leftist, every single progressive, every single liberal, every single person on the entire left half of the American political spectrum and even those to the right of that line who are not yet beyond the reach of reality. And it is this: and yes it is deliberately in a great big bold font to emphasize its importance:
“‘Back to 1900’ is a serviceable summation of the conservatives’ goal."
- George Will, syndicated column, January 2, 1995
Yes. That's what he wrote. "Back to 1900." And every single thing conservatives say and do, every single thing they promote, every single proposal they make, every single emotional button they go to push, should be seen through that lens. They want to reproduce the social and economic relations that existed 125 years ago. They want to, in their own words, go "Back to 1900." And that is exactly what they have been trying, are trying, and will continue to try to do. Go back.

Back, that is, to a time before legal labor unions or effective anti-monopoly laws, a time of widespread child labor and twelve- or fifteen-hour work days and six- or even seven-day work weeks. Before regulations requiring safe working conditions, a time when being killed at work was a major cause of death.

Back to a time before environmental protection laws or consumer protection laws, a time when patent "medicines" were common and government "regulation" was more about promoting corporate interests than regulating them because caveat emptor was the rule of the day.

Back to before Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment or disability insurance, before any kid of public insurance, including for health, was even under discussion and decades before it was taken seriously..

“Back to 1900.” Back to when poor people were considered genetic defectives who deserved their condition and the way to deal with poverty was to shove it out of sight.

Back to a time when education was largely a perk of privilege, only half of children went to school, only 6.4 percent graduated high school, and the majority of adults had no more than eight years of schooling.

Back before civil or voting rights laws, back when women couldn’t vote, wives were chattel, blacks were either “good n*****s” who got called “boy” or “uppity n*****s” who got lynched, racism (against Irish, Italians, Chinese, and others as well as blacks) was institutionalized, sexism the norm, and gays and lesbians were sick or perverted while as far as “polite society” was concerned, bi, trans, or other flavors of the queer community simply didn’t exist.

Back to a time when valuing Protestant Christians over other religions and other people's rights was unremarkably ordinary and some, including atheists, were subject not only to social discrimination but also legal barriers to participation in society.

Back, in short, to a time when the elite and powerful were in their mansions and the rest of us were expected to know our places, live lives of servitude without complaint, and then die without making a fuss.

“Back to 1900” is indeed “a serviceable summation” of the right wing’s goal, which is to undo a century of progress toward economic and social justice in order to benefit their selfish, warped, morally warped lives.

Maya Angelou wisely said "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

We should have been paying attention when the fanatics were openly declaring what they wanted, who they were and are, and we either ignored it or dismissed it as hyperbole.

We shouldn’t have. Because they showed us, they told us directly - and we didn’t listen.

We can at least listen now. And then do more.

And we, each of us, can start by burning that quote into our minds.

Footnotes: For those who may not know, George Will is what passes for an intellectual among the right. And if anyone doubts the quote, I still have the column that I clipped out of my local paper. And it is a quote, not a paraphrase.


CC said...

Just stumbled upon your blog when I was looking for a photo of Ron Johnson for MY blog ( insightful and, actually, very interesting to read. Keep fighting the good fight.

Lotus said...

Thank you! I haven't been near as active as I used to be, but the encouragement always helps.

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