Happy Anniversary, ladies! Today is the 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Yes, it’s only been 90 years — within the lifetime of our mothers and grandmothers — that women became fully enfranchised citizens. And if you think that the rights of women are secure and unchangeable now in this nation, you are not paying attention.
Turning back the clock is a common theme in certain quarters today. Among the rants, screeds, diatribes and generally ignorant cacophony that passes for political discourse in too many corners of the Internet, talk radio and cable TV these days, a careful listener can hear a worrisome thread in all of the hate talk: too many ‘rights’ have been given to people who we don’t like, and it’s time to roll back the clock to the ‘good old days’ of some mythological America where ‘rights’ belonged to the ‘right’ people. Read: white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, male. The haters would have you believe that the United States was a far better place when one demographic ruled the roost and everyone else knew their place.
It’s not just the rightwingnuts in their bunkers broadcasting their belief that we were much better when women stayed in the kitchen, Blacks in the fields, and Latinos south of the border. Some eminently rational thinkers warn that we may have gone too far. Just yesterday, I heard a a professor from the University of Maryland on WTOP. He was commenting on the news that China has passed Japan as the world’s second largest economy. In the midst of the interview, in response to the host’s sadly superficial question about whether America’s ‘time has passed, like the Roman Empire,’ the business professor said that “what ails America” is that “we have become obsessed with social justice, …race and gender” and that our concern about equal opportunity is diminishing the nation’s ability to be competitive.
So, girls — we are the problem, still! Our quest for simple justice has made the United States less competitive. Huh?? This dyspeptic view of human rights flies in the face of any real understanding of modern history and demographics. In fact, the promotion of women’s rights and civil rights has revitalized the workforce and made it possible for this nation to grow into the largest and most diverse community and economy in history.
While no one may be suggesting that women should lose the right to vote after all these years, the inclination to foment conflict by pitting people against each other is pernicious. This nation needs to be big enough and smart enough to continue its forward progress on women’s rights and civil rights. We need to insist that justice is non-negotiable, and that the Bill of Rights is not optional. Let’s stop the rhetoric about how certain kinds of people are the problem, and instead, focus on how to make every person economically secure and productive.
What do you think? Share your comments by clicking on ‘comment’ below…
Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrez
Check out today’s “On success” blog: That Jet Blue Flight Attendant — Hero or Boor?