Another false dawn or a new dawn?

in Voices by

By DAVID TAUB

In 2017, Steven A. Cook, senior fellow at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, wrote an insightful book, False Dawn, about the failures of the so-called Arab Spring — a spontaneous Islamic counter-revolution against the tyranny of their countries’ vicious despotism.

Their metaphorical Spring quickly became a dark and frigid Winter; all promises died a swift and ignominious death, their hopes crushed under the hob-nailed heels of authoritarianism and militarism.

Our black kinsmen know something about false dawns too.

With the discovery of the New World, black slavery became international “big business.” Arabs were the sellers, white colonial masters were the buyers, and black Africans were the commodity of choice.

Starting in Virginia in 1619, British-American colonies owned other human-beings for 157 years before Thomas Jefferson’s profound words rang out across the world, announcing our blessed freedom from the mother country: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Sadly, the gravity of culturally inbred racism kept Jefferson’s feet glued firmly in the muck of racial inequality.

It would be almost another century after Jefferson’s hallowed words before black slaves would become freedmen, at least on paper. Thus, began their “False Dawn,” for Jefferson’s golden promises have not come to pass in the intervening 155 years.

It was a time of the three-fifths rule — blacks were considered only 60 percent human, but the southern states gained 30 percent more seats in Congress; the Dred Scott decision of the U.S. Supreme Court; and the institutionalized illegal “slavery” of Jim Crow days (1890s to 1950s).

LBJ then gave us the Voting Rights Act, continuing the “False Dawn” of unrealized aspirations, crushed again by the iron fist of institutional racism.

Minorities suffer a substantial disproportion of illness and deaths because of poor health care; low-wage jobs; no equal justice before the law; discrimination in obtaining financing for businesses/homes; and achieving the “American Dream.”

I understand anger, resentment, frustration and hopelessness. For blacks, 401 years of being either a no-class citizen or a second-class (or less) citizen have collided into a raging conflagration of resentment.

Let me be crystal clear: violence is not acceptable, and burning down our cities won’t help build the temple of equality. Violence only begets more violence — it does not bring peace. Such destructive craziness is self-defeating; it only helps POTUS drive his jagged sword of racial animus deeper into the bleeding heart of America.

Recently, POTUS unleashed a legion of police, dressed in battle-gear, to aggressively remove peaceful protesters from in front of a church, which they did by firing teargas and shooting semi-lethal rubber bullets at them.

What heinous crime, you ask, did these peaceful folks commit that justified POTUS’s grievous trashing of our Constitution? For a political photo-op! Are you kidding me?

Crushing our inalienable rights for a stupid narcissistic political photo-op? Unacceptable.

Just before this Presidential crime, POTUS announced he would unleash the U.S. military on protestors.

The Commander-in-Chief wants American soldiers to assault American citizens on American soil, citizens who do nothing more than exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble peaceably. This is NOT America.

This cannot be tolerated. It corrupts the very core of what our republic stands for.

When the most senior military men with sterling reputations, such as General Mattis (Defense Secretary), Admiral Mullen (Chair, Joint Chiefs), General Allen (CIC Global Coalition) and the last three living U.S. Presidents condemn POTUS in the strongest language, you know POTUS has crossed a “red line.”

America is sick, and not just from COVID-19.

Removing the most unfit President in our history this November (and all of his sycophantic cowardly toadies too) is not enough. Going back to the “way it was” is gravely insufficient, if indeed even possible or desirable.

We need a true new dawn in America, but what would it look like?

In my view, it would be an America where institutionalized inequities no longer remain.

It would be an America where all citizens have universal basic health care; not “socialized medicine” but wide coverage such as Obamacare offered.

It would be an America where the less fortunate have good schools, from preschool onward, in order to attend our best universities.

It would be an America where the playing field of economic opportunities is level.

It would be an America that undertakes a long overdue, comprehensive reform of its unjust criminal-“justice” system.

And, it would be an America where the profound words of Martin Luther King, Jr. ring true: A new dawn when we judge our brothers and sisters by the goodness of their character and not by the color of their skin.

The ugly stain of slavery’s original sin on our country’s soul is broad and deep. As a society that values freedom and equality, what do we really believe about “inalienable rights” and that all Americans are equal under the law?

A Chinese proverb advises us that “the longest journey begins with but a single step.” The journey to the new dawn will be long and its winding road will be difficult and treacherous.

But, if not begun now, when? I am assured that the vaccine to eliminate the disease of Trumpism will be available in millions of doses on November 3rd. Be sure to get immunized.

David M. Taub was Mayor of Beaufort from 1990 through 1999, and served as a Beaufort County Magistrate Judge from 2010 to 2015. He may be contacted at david.m.taub42@gmail.com.