Although the “I have a dream” and the “content of their character” bits tend to get top billing in these remembrances, the event was called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — and it’s worth noting that the word “jobs” comes before “freedom.” Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP, and the march’s organizers were calling for some very specific economic policies they thought would improve the material well-being of black folks in America.
Well, according to a report released by the Census Bureau on the eve of the march’s anniversary, the median income of blacks has nearly doubled, the poverty rate has fallen by 14 percent. Twenty-six percent of blacks had high school diplomas in 1964; 85 percent did in 2012. And over that span, the number of black folks who completed four years of college jumped from 4 percent to 21 percent.
But despite those dramatic gains, the economic picture over the last 50 years for blacks has been a mixed bag: incontrovertible, substantial progress — a lot of it due in part to policies the march helped enshrine — while some troubling disparities remain stubbornly in place.
Here’s some of what the original marchers called for, and here’s what happened since then.
President Barack Obama reiterated his support for gay marriage while speaking at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday during the G8 Summit.
Obama spoke to an estimated crowd of 6,000 invited guests about freedom, both in Europe and the Middle East, and the need for a reduction in nuclear stockpiles.
The president also drew applause when he reiterated his support for gay rights.
“When we respect the faiths practiced in our churches and synagogues, our mosques and our temples, we’re more secure. When we welcome the immigrant with his talents or her dreams, we are renewed. When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and treat their love and their rights equally under the law, we defend our own liberty as well.
The Irrationality of Giving Up This Much Liberty to Fight Terror - Conor Friedersdorf - the Atlantic
But we are told that is is, “For our own security”.
The U.S. should certainly try to prevent terrorist attacks, and there is a lot that government can and has done since 9/11 to improve security in ways that are totally unobjectionable. But it is not rational to give up massive amounts of privacy and liberty to stay marginally safer from a threat that, however scary, endangers the average American far less than his or her daily commute. In 2011*, 32,367 Americans died in traffic fatalities. Terrorism killed 17 U.S. civilians that year. How many Americans feared dying in their vehicles more than dying in a terrorist attack?
Should your boss be able to determine which prescription medications you take at home? Should your boss have a say in how many children you have?
Most Americans would answer a resounding “No!” to these questions. Yet if current political and legal trends continue, more and more Americans may find that their health care hinges not on what their doctors think is best for them but what their bosses believe about religion.
This curious state of affairs stems from a deliberate attempt to redefine religious freedom in America. You read that right – religious liberty. A freedom that has historically been interpreted as an individual right of self-determination is being twisted into a means of controlling others and meddling in their most personal affairs. For the sake of true freedom, this must be stopped.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that certain basic services and features must be offered in employee health-care plans. Birth control is among these. Houses of worship and similar ministries are exempt from the mandate, and religiously affiliated entities (hospitals, colleges and social service groups) have been accommodated in other ways.
This is not enough for some ultra-conservative religious leaders who oppose birth control. They are insisting that any business owner should be able to deny his or her employees access to birth control no matter what the nature of the business.
Mask falls off as Faux-Libertarian Paul assigns Christian Reconstructionist to develop curriculum.
Ron Paul has just announced that he is developing a curriculum for use by homeschooling parents. He says this will teach young people to believe in freedom, yet guess who is working as the Director of Curriculum Development for this project? Gary North, the most prominent Christian Reconstructionist in the world. Freedom?
Allow me to quote what North himself has said on the subject of education and freedom. When I first came across this quote several years ago, I thought it simply too good — or too bad — to be true. Whenever a quote seems too perfect, I tend to assume that it is until I track it down in an original source. And this one turned out to be accurate. He wrote this in 1982 in an article entitled “The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right” in Christianity and Civilization: The Failure of the American Baptist Culture. You can still read it online.
“So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
Don’t Tread On Me Candidate for VA Governor, current VA AG Ken Cuccinelli, who has fought vigorously against the right of Virginians to be covered by ObamaCare, has a new hit album out. According to Wonkette:
In 2003, disgusting perverts like you celebrated the landmark 6-3 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated laws against sodomy in Texas and across the nation. The Supreme Court ruling meant that you’ll only face God’s judgment for whatever foul things you and your consenting adult lovers do in the privacy of your basement sex dungeon.
But God’s wrath just isn’t enough for Virginia attorney general (and presumptive Republican nominee for governor) Ken Cuccinelli, who wants to enforce Virginia’s still-on-the-books law against sodomy.
Obviously, a person who hates freedom to the point of wanting to outlaw what consenting adults may do in the privacy of their own home (Private Property!!) can’t possibly become the Tea Party Freedom of America’s candidate for Governor of a Patriotic state like Virginia. I expect outraged Patriots of all Tea Party Don’t Tread On Me persuasions to immediately rise up in protest against this Tyranny.
So what are his complaints?
With all the demagoguery about new restrictions on firearms emanating from Washington, do I even need to comment? Note the first shots fired in the War of Independence came in defense of the New England colonists’ armory, which was about to be seized by the British. The British understood that a disarmed citizenry could not resist the tyranny of the most powerful empire in the world at that time. Many Americans have not yet figured out that nothing has changed in 237 years – that the citizenry, disarmed, still cannot resist the tyranny of the new most powerful empire in the world.
The 2nd A. is what is it, and will have to be dealt with according to the law, but I am having a hard time buying this argument that we are in danger of being invaded by the most powerful empire in the world, which is us, and which is staffed by you and me. And I find it curious that protection from an occupying army was only one of the unstated reasons this article was included in the Bill of Rights. The other reason was to make it easier to oppress people (i.e., rebellious slaves) who might get uppity notions of obtaining their own rights. If I ever get the desire to oppress myself then I will seriously consider getting myself a bigger gun, but until that day comes I am afraid that the only serious threat of danger comes from gun nuts in survivalist camps screaming about the need to overthrow the government with violence. So I need the 2nd amendment to protect me from gun rights advocates.
Barack Obama often refers to it as “freedom of worship.” But that’s a whole different animal. Yes, it’s true, you can worship virtually any way you want in America in the assembly of your choice. But just try taking your faith into the public square.
People will heckle you.
Religion in America today, especially in the Judeo-Christian, biblical form that inspired the concept of self-government, the rights of the individual and the rule of law, is on the run.
I am unfamiliar with this Torah-inspired concept of self-government. I do see a book of Kings, however, and lists of absolute rulers sanctioned by
The Ten Commandments are forbidden in any institution controlled by government.
Heaven forfend! How will anyone know that murder is evil? How will evangelical preachers learn that adultery is a sin?
Prayer is forbidden in public schools by the order of the U.S. Supreme Court.
How will people learn to not give false witness against SCOTUS? You can still pray pretty much as much as you want in school, as long as you are not disturbing class. Farah objects to the notion that the children of other parents are no longer required to learn and participate in his own peculiar religious rituals. Mandatory chapel attendance for all residents is also a no-no. That might be in the constitution.
The Bible, which was the foundation of early education in the 18th century, is forbidden from government schools.
And now he’s just making stuff up. Both of those points are made by document-hoarder and quote-
miner-manufacturer David Barton, and so can be safely assumed to be false. You can just take my word for it.
The churches, for their part, made a huge mistake in submitting themselves to the government for tax-exempt status, restricting their own participation in politics.
ORLY? It’s true in theory! But this restriction is actually hard to enforce. Have you ever heard of a church that gave up it’s tax-exempt status in order to engage in political action? It’s not really necessary, not even if the preacher is running for political office. Also: money.
Curiously, he does touch upon a real issue at the very end, before collapsing in confusion at the prospect of actually making sense:
How about the Fifth Amendment? That’s the one that offers due process. Today, centuries after our genius founders had the foresight to enshrine such protections in the Bill of Rights, the foreign tyrants in Washington claim the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain American citizens without due process.
Especially if the president is a member of the wrong party and might be a negro. Otherwise we were totes okay with it.
I’ve gone on too long for one column already.
And so have I.
Oh, and Wonkette treats this with better images and (probably) more snark. Curse you, Wonkette! I am going to have to try harder.
A fascinating article over at CNN about why we’re just not doing as well as our peers. Some snippets:
Despite spending more per person on health care than any other country, Americans are getting sicker and dying younger than our international peers — a problem persisting across all ages and both genders, according to a new report.
In 2011, the National Research Council found life expectancy in the United States was increasing at a slower rate than in other high-income democracies. Shortly after, the NRC and Institute Of Medicine convened a panel of experts to investigate why.
The panel was given 18 months to review recent health studies from 16 “peer countries”: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The panel released its report, titled “U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health,” on Wednesday.
“Our panel was unprepared for the gravity of the finding we uncovered,” chair Steven Woolf wrote in the report’s preface. “We hope that others will take notice.”
This is not a new problem, Woolf noted on a conference call about the report. “It’s been going on since 1980 and it’s getting progressively worse.”
Data from 2007 show Americans’ life expectancy is 3.7 years shorter for men and 5.2 years shorter for women than in the leading nations — Switzerland for men and Japan for women.
As of 2011, 27 countries had higher life expectancies at birth than the United States.
“The tragedy is not that the United States is losing a contest with other countries,” the report states, “but that Americans are dying and suffering from illness and injury at rates that are demonstrably unnecessary.”
America does rank well in some health measures, according to the panel. The United States has higher cancer survival rates, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lower smoking prevalence rates than many of its peer countries. Those Americans who make it to age 75 will survive longer than their peers in the comparison countries.
But that’s where the good news stops.
The report outlines nine health areas where the United States lags behind other rich nations, including infant mortality, homicides, teen pregnancy, drug-related deaths, obesity and disabilities.
Americans have the highest prevalence of AIDS in the group. Seniors are at a greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. And our children are less likely than children in peer countries to reach their fifth birthday.
But the panel says that’s not all that’s to blame. Studies show even white, insured, college-educated Americans are sicker than their peers in Europe.
The experts gave three other possible causes for the country’s growing health disadvantage:
Though Americans know what’s “good” for them, few act on it. Although we are less likely to smoke and drink heavily than our peers, we consume more calories, have higher rates of drug abuse, are less likely to use seat belts and are more likely to use guns in acts of violence, according to the report.
Most high-income countries report income and education disparities in their health care system. But the panel said Americans benefit much less from social programs that could negate the effects of poverty.
Our environment is also a big contributor to Americans’ poor health, the panel said. U.S. communities are built around automobiles, discouraging physical activity and increasing traffic accidents. Contraceptives are only available by prescription, instead of over the counter. Even stress could play a role — adding to our waistlines, substance abuse and criminal behavior.
We can thank religious activists for some of this. The crusade to limit access to contraceptives, women’s health services and other medical care on grounds of “religious freedom” has no doubt caused harm to Americans.
We can also thank politicians (mainly Republicans) who have been on an apparently endless mission to reduce, cripple or outright eliminate entitlement programs or charity programs or funding to organizations that provide help for those who otherwise could not get it.
The attitude of “American exceptionalism” may also be partly to blame. The notion that America is the best and greatest country in the world has also given rise to an attitude of “I’m an American, no one gets to tell me what to do or how to do it.”
In some cases, this has led individuals to defy rules, laws, safety mandates, etc. simply because they feel said rules are not necessary and shouldn’t apply to them or they’ve simply been conditioned to get a kick out of “sticking it to the man.”
My American wife has commented in the past about how seriously we take driving with seat belts in Canada. She said she was stunned at the negative reaction she received from my Canadian friends when she related a story about driving on a highway without a seat belt on.
American cities, especially in the South, are not as pedestrian/cyclist friendly as they should be. This trend seems to be slowly changing, but it will take awhile to see long term health benefits in the population as a result.
They had planned to file the same day as the Newtown Massacre, but decided to wait.
Lawsuits were filed Friday against two Johnson County cities and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., alleging they are violating citizens’ constitutional rights by banning the open carry of firearms.
The Libertarian Party of Kansas filed suits against Prairie Village, Leawood and the Unified Government, seeking injunctions to prevent them from enforcing their bans.
“The denial of inherent truth will not stand!” party officials said in a written statement Friday. “Our efforts will continue until all law-abiding citizens in Kansas have freedom from persecution to exercise their Second Amendment rights to bear arms by open carry.”
Only four local governments in Kansas ban the open carry of firearms in public, according to Libertarian Party officials.
The party said it did not sue the fourth city, Lenexa, because city officials recently notified them that they would “like to discuss a path toward compromise,” according to a written statement. Lenexa city officials were not available for comment Friday afternoon.
Libertarian Party officials had intended to file the suits a week earlier, on what turned out to be the day of the Connecticut school shooting. But party officials announced a delay due to “unforeseen circumstances.”
The suits filed Friday quote part of the Kansas Constitution that states, “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.”