I'm a native Texan as the name of this blog implies. As a Southern girl, and we won't argue here whether or not Texas is truly a Southern state, the Civil War's influence was intense. It shaped and still shapes much thinking and much of our shared history. It was a shameful moment in that shared history yet one that is still not fully understood to this day.
Was it fought to free the slaves or was it about state's rights? Perhaps it was the Southern plantation owners last ditch effort control the future of US government. What role did religion play in breaking apart the Union?
I look at all these things and then look around me at the American landscape as it stands today and I weep.
I weep when I read about Oklahoma attempting to create legislation that says they don't have to abide by federal law on hate crimes.
I weep when I read about the Virginia governor trying to tell state agencies and colleges to strip protection for sexual orientation and gender identity from their anti-discrimination codes. Or when a Mississippi high school cancels its prom rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend.
I weep when I read about the Ugandan "kill the gays" bill or Fred Phelp's "church" or any of the other Christianist leaders talking about how downtrodden and discriminated against and endangered they are.
I weep when I hear one more tale of Governor Big Hair and his anti-federal government screed.
They all remind me of my history. They remind me of the decade leading up to the American Civil War. A decade filled with divisiveness, religious intolerance and schism, turmoil and hate speech. It seems more and more like the decade we are living in, one where the people have lost faith in their political system and one where religion is used to justify hatred and intolerance, is more and more like the 1850s.
We seem unable to compromise. A huge segment of our population seems filled with fear: fear of losing their way of life, fear of change, fear of loss of power. A large portion of our economic engine (read corporations) are desperately trying to maintain and formalize their hold on our government. Much like the Southern plantation owner tried to maintain their grip on their federal government in the 1850s.
All the while we are egged on in ever increasing fervor by talking heads whose only true responsibility is to their pocketbooks. The Becks and Limbaughs and Coulters and Malkins of this world don't really care about the people desperate for an answer. They only care about themselves and their money. Yet their "free speech" serves only to divide us.
Those who will not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.