I discussed with a friend today about the escalating war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. I told him while interested I take it, like most of what is coming out of Washington these days, as fodder for my amusement more than anything else. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the angst the citizens of a country like South Korea might be experiencing. However, if you were to believe some news stories having lived with Kim Jong Un’s constant threat, they don’t take much of what he says seriously at all. Of course, any threat of launching nuclear weapons, whether that threat comes from a mad man with a bad hair cut or a mad man with bad skin, is nothing to laugh at. But the reality is that this threat of a nuclear conflict between the US and North Korea seems to be nothing but white noise to fill out your 24-hour cable news feed than reality.
The reality is Trump won’t call for a strike, and neither will Kim Jong Un, crazy as they both appear to be. Because as Business Insider pointed out, both men will get acceptable outcomes without firing a shot. As Business Insider documented this week, North Korea wants regime security and national power for its propaganda machines to celebrate. North Korea has maintained a formidable concentration of artillery pointed at the 26 million or so residents of Seoul, South Korea, for decades, and it’s deterred the US and provided the security they seek.
The US’s real goal is to bolster South Korean defenses and act as a tripwire force to ensure the North never invades the South.
The North Korean conflict’s final resting point is a fully nuclear-capable Kim regime being deterred by superior US power. Just like Russia and China are deterred from attacking the US despite differences.
So while any threat of nuclear war should not be taken lightly, this dust-up between Trump and Kim Jong Un remains more amusing for me, like watching two overgrown boys trying to convince the other they have the bigger penis without actually having to pull it out and show it, than a real threat to America or South Korea.
I am concerned about something that I wish was only fodder for my amusement, and that is the very real dismantling of civil rights going on right now in a country with a proven history of suppressing civil liberties. As Democracy Now stated in their August 10th interview with Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in the Obama administration. In the last six months under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has reinstituted the use of private prisons, reignited the so-called war on drugs, and indicated it would no longer address systemic police abuses. The department has also obstructed the enforcement of federal voting rights laws and, just this week, sided with Ohio’s voter purge program. And it has defended President Trump’s Muslim travel ban and supported Trump’s attacks on sanctuary cities. Most recently, The New York Times reported the Justice Department is now laying the groundwork to undermine affirmative action policies.
Looking at this through the eyes of a man of color, this attempted systematic deconstruction of civil right protections, protections that were fought for and won in many cases through the loss of life, Is a painful reminder that while we have come a long way as a country, we have so much further to go.
Now let’s get on the same page before you read any further. While an unabashed liberal, I am not a liberal who believes that all of the issues that confront people of color in this country have been imposed upon them by the “man,” nor am I of the belief that the only way for us to overcome is by waiting for the “man” to save us through entitlements. Instead, I am more a disciple of Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), who said
“If the negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.”
But it would be naive of me or anyone to think that through the imposition of systems of racism and discrimination, centuries-long many of them, systems that the adoption of many civil right laws was meant to address, people of color did not play with and have not continued to have to play with a significantly inferior hand. A hand that has resulted in generation after generation falling behind both economically and educationally, the resulting subset of problems from emotional inferiority complex to broken marriages to families torn apart has left an indelible scar on the African-American heart experience in America. One so pronounced that centuries from now, it would not be surprising to see universities offer courses on how the African American not only survived but went on to thrive in America. But I digress, it would also be naive to believe that without the protections afforded us by the Department of Justice that the abuses seen on the local level as it relates to police brutality, hate crimes, voter suppression, and housing discrimination, to name just a few would not be more widespread. Yet here we are in the 21st century with a Department of Justice that appears to not only not want to continue to move forward in the areas of civil rights but is actively taking steps to turn the clock back.
So here we are, facing a crossroads that, to be honest, many of us felt we would never have to face or, for some of us, face again. This Administration’s focus on making America great again focuses on but a small slice of Americana, at the exclusion of many people based on color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. People who have always been here and were just as vital as making America great in the first place. As we stare at this crossroad, we can choose to take the road of outrage without a voice, and by that, I mean not voting with our ballots or with our wallets, or we can walk the road of meaningful outrage. We can let our politicians on the Federal, State, and local level know we will not be pushed aside again; we will not allow the hands of time to be turned back on us. We remember the blood spilled to ensure we are given what is rightfully ours, a fair and equitable way the same way no different than afforded others before us. Make them remember that we will be there at the next election, and our voices will count. Let their corporate donors remember we have a choice on where to spend our dollars.
Nuclear war may not be at hand, but the war on civil rights has already begun. We can not chuckle at that; it’s not being fought for our amusement; it is being fought for the soul of America, and it’s time we take notice and begin to fight back.