To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream”speech yesterday, President Obama delivered an oratorical masterpiece on Civil Rights. However, if Americans, beginning with the Founding Fathers down to the present, paid heed and lived by Thomas Jefferson’s famous line from the Declaration of Independence, this nation or its people would have never needed a Civil Rights movement to begin with. President Obama clearly understood the need to remind Americans of Jefferson’s words at the beginning of his speech, and reflecting on the past four-and-a-half years in particular, it is evident that Republicans and their supporters need to be reminded that “all men are created equal” because their entire raison d’être is preventing all Americans from enjoying their unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Most Americans are unaware there is a Civil Rights Division (CDR) of the Department of Health and Human Services to “promote and ensure that people have equal access to and opportunity to participate in programs without facing unlawful discrimination by enforcing Federal laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, gender, and religion.” That a nation founded on the principle that all people are created equal requires laws and regulations to ensure equal opportunity is telling that there has always been a segment of the population laboring under the assumption that Americans are not equal.
Many Americans think of civil rights as applying only to African Americans and other minorities, and it is true people of color have never had the unalienable rights Jefferson cited, but there is an active movement to restrict the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from the majority of the population regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and economic station. In fact, looking back on Republican policies over the past two-and-a-half years, there is no demographic in America that has not been on the receiving end of the GOP’s assault on the people’s civil rights. The only demographic that has not been adversely affected by Republican policies are the richest one percent of income earners and it informs that Republican ideology is founded on discriminating against all Americans in some form or another.
Part and parcel of Republican means of discriminating against 98% of the population is convincing Americans that other Americans are robbing them of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether it is stealing religious liberty, jobs, money, or personal security, Republicans have pitted the population against each other for political expediency when it is the GOP that is robbing the population of their unalienable rights with their discriminatory agenda. What is ironic indeed is the raging success Republicans have convincing ignorant Americans to support policies that discriminate against them; unless they are filthy rich.
Republicans and their religious right cohort have had great success robbing women of their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness by convincing conservative Christians their unalienable rights to religious liberty are abridged if they are disallowed from imposing their religious dogma on women. All women, including conservative Christians are discriminated against in the workplace because Republicans oppose equal pay for equal work, and to exasperate the situation, the GOP’s forced-birth agenda prevents women from their right to liberty by keeping them stuck at home rearing children to satisfy the religious right’s liberty.
The largest demographic losing their unalienable rights are working Americans who have lost jobs, decent wages, and a secure old age due to Republicans’ resistance to any job creation policies and their inclination to kill jobs under the guise of debt and deficit reduction. Republicans have also attacked Americans’ right to life with their persistent assault on affordable health care and programs like Medicare and Medicaid they claim robs other Americans of their tax dollars. Americans should recall that during the healthcare reform debate Republicans convinced their supporters that good health is not a right, but a privilege reserved for those who are fortunate enough to afford it. There is no end to the Republican attempts to rob all Americans of their unalienable rights, especially those that fly under the radar, but there is no denying they are openly violating the civil rights of people of color borne of racism the Civil Rights movement fought to overcome.
Republicans have resisted affording African Americans, and all people of color, their Civil Rights and it spurred the Civil Rights movement Dr. King championed. Since the election of Barack Obama as President, Republicans have ramped up their assault on African Americans through various means ranging from portraying Black people as dependent on government handouts to garner support for cutting SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regardless poor white Americans make up the majority of government assistance recipients. The conservative Supreme Court handed Republicans an easy means of restricting African Americans’ right to vote, and as former President Clinton said yesterday, Republicans have made it easier to buy guns than vote and the practice is rampant in former Confederate states that are notorious for violating African Americans’ Civil Rights. It is appalling that 50 years after Dr. Kings’ famous speech, African Americans are still fighting for their rights and that Republicans have garnered support from their blatantly racist supporters.
Although the President’s speech was prescient at a time when the Civil Rights’ movement should be a period Americans commemorate as a success, and be ashamed it was ever a necessity, but the greatest line of a great address was Thomas Jefferson’s “unalienable rights” reference. Civil Rights are unalienable rights, but Republicans have been on a crusade to violate all Americans rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and it is stunning they garner support from Americans whose own unalienable rights are being assaulted with a vengeance. America needs a new civil rights movement to fight the devastating assault on most Americans, but that would require most Americans to acknowledge that regardless race, religion, gender, or social station, Republicans are on a crusade to restrict all Americans from enjoying what Thomas Jefferson called unalienable rights and Dr. King called Civil Rights.