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Mon Nov 7, 2016, 10:09 PM

Harry Belafonte: What Do We Have to Lose? Everything

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/07/opinion/campaign-stops/harry-belafonte-what-do-we-have-to-lose-everything.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

A beautiful editorial to end on, I think.



What old men know is that everything can change. Langston Hughes wrote these lines when I was 8 years old, in the very different America of 1935.

It was an America where the life of a black person didn’t count for much. Where women were still second-class citizens, where Jews and other ethnic whites were looked on with suspicion, and immigrants were kept out almost completely unless they came from certain approved countries in Northern Europe. Where gay people dared not speak the name of their love, and where “passing” — as white, as a WASP, as heterosexual, as something, anything else that fit in with what America was supposed to be — was a commonplace, with all of the self-abasement and the shame that entailed.

It was an America still ruled, at its base, by violence. Where lynchings, and especially the threat of lynchings, were used to keep minorities away from the ballot box and in their place. Where companies amassed arsenals of weapons for goons to use against their own employees and recruited the police and National Guardsmen to help them if these private corporate armies proved insufficient. Where destitute veterans of World War I were driven from the streets of Washington with tear gas and bayonets, after they went to our nation’s capital to ask for the money they were owed.

Much of that was how America had always been. We changed it, many of us, through some of the proudest struggles of our history. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but we did it, together. We won voting rights for all. We ended Jim Crow, and we pushed open the Golden Door again to welcome immigrants. We achieved full rights for women, and fought to let people of all genders and sexual orientations stand in the light. And if we have not yet created the America that Langston Hughes swore will be — “The land that never has been yet” — if there is still much to be done, at least we have advanced our standards of humanity, hope and decency to places where many people never thought we could reach.

What old men know, too, is that all that is gained can be lost. Lost just as the liberation that the Civil War and Emancipation brought was squandered after Reconstruction, by a white America grown morally weary, or bent on revenge. Lost as the gains of our labor unions have been for decades now, pushed back until so many of us stand alone in the workplace, before unfettered corporate power. Lost as the vote is being lost by legislative chicanery. Lost as so many powerful interests would have us lose the benefits of the social welfare state, privatize Social Security, and annihilate Obamacare altogether.

<snip>

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Reply Harry Belafonte: What Do We Have to Lose? Everything (Original post)
Starry Messenger Nov 2016 OP
BlueMTexpat Nov 2016 #1

Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Tue Nov 8, 2016, 03:53 AM

1. I STILL LOVE

Harry Belafonte! So glad that he is still with us!

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