Wrong side of history

For Your Consideration

Alan CheahApril 24, 2013 

Many things are taken for granted today not only by adolescents but also adults. That is definitely a significant failing in our society and education system. As Winston Churchill said, "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Today we enjoy many freedoms and advantages with no knowledge or appreciation of its evolution. Prior to Social Security, over half of America's elderly were starving. Prior to the establishment of Medicare in 1966, nearly half of the elderly over 65 had no health care. There was a time when women couldn't vote. Blacks couldn't vote. People typically worked 10 to 14 hours a day with no overtime pay, vacations or sick leave.

Today, by regulation, we have the 40-hour work week, two-week vacations, worker safety protections, and overtime pay.

We had racial segregation in our schools and public spaces. Violations of blacks drinking from white water fountains or being in 'whites only' areas making them subject to violent attacks and/or jail time. Black men caught talking to white women or even looking at them in what was perceived as inappropriate were severely beaten. The intolerance of gays resulted in similar treatment.

Women were kept under the glass ceiling of advancement despite their qualifications. Even at less professional levels, as recent as 2008, white women are paid 23% less than white men; black women 32% less; and Latinas 42% less. Job and educational opportunities for women and racial minorities took a back seat to white men.

We had a problem with acid rain threatening the life of humans, animals, and forests. Title IV of the Clean Air Act regulation fixed that problem.

Although many of these problems have been addressed in varying degrees, some still persist today. Its resolution did not come without literally blood, sweat and tears. It behooves us both young and old to learn about the Labor Movement, Progressive Movement and Women's Movement to get a better understanding of how we got what we have. For every advance gained, there have been violent and vehement opposition. Those who fought against such change were on the wrong side of history.

Today we have another set of problems where progressive solutions are again encountering aggressive opposition. History is repeating itself and the opposition today is of the same mindset as that of the past and will again be on the wrong side of history.

Some of the issues we face today are immigration reform, legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, gun regulation, repealing Obamacare for the 39th time, global warming, minimum wage, jobs, deficits and debt, and Social Security and Medicare sustainability, to name a few.

Just as in the past, adoption of today's progressive solutions to these issues will prevail over the regressive and reactionary tendencies of the obstructive minority. The world is moving forward. There are those who want immigration reform to be more punitive as though undocumented workers have not already paid a heavy price.

There are those opposed to marijuana legalization but don't oppose alcohol and cigarettes. Some reject gay marriage. At one time it was the same with interracial marriage. Funny how it becomes acceptable when your child is gay as in the case of Republican Senator Rob Portman.

There is a minority who deny anthropogenic global warming just as there was about acid rain. Republicans are undermining the hard fought 40-hour work week and overtime pay with a bill euphemistically called "the working families flexibility act." Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage.

Social Security and Medicare are under attack under the guise of preserving it.

The majority want universal background checks on gun purchasers, limits on high capacity clips and a ban on assault weapons, yet mostly the GOP under the thumb of the NRA are in opposition.

Based on the election and re-election of Obama, the Republican elite have realized they can no longer appeal exclusively to wealthy, corporate and white America. Perhaps that is why a kinder, gentler Republican makeover is under way to include the rest of America.

The GOP is big on principles and values. What does it say about one's principles and values, when your motive for inclusively is not genuine acceptance of others but a necessary evil to remain a viable party?

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