Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 15, 2009

          On this day in 1963, the New York Times reminds us, a bomb went off in a Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama, and killed four young black girls, one of the most violent events of the civil rights era.      It's an era that's behind us, kind of.  Overt racism, segregated schools, denial of the vote to blacks--those evils are behind us.  So we've ended racism in America? Of course not.  Columnists are speculating this week about whether racism was part of the explanation for Congressman Joe Wilson's (R.-S.C.) yelling, "You lie!" at President Obama when he spoke to Congress last week.  I don't know;  I've never met the Congressman.  South Carolina is no stranger to racism, of course.  Its long-serving senator, Strom Thurmond, ran for president on a segregationist ticket back in 1948.  The state has changed much since then, of course, but it's surely still true that no state in our union is free of racism.  It's a struggle that generations after us will continue to wage.      So we're better than we were, but not there yet.  As for Mr. Wilson's yell--well, Congressman, it was rude.  Presidents do lie of course, like the rest of us from time to time.  We're just not supposed to interrupt them by yelling about it while they're talking.               
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