Wednesday, July 4, 2012

JULY 4, 2012

"What have you given us?" an American is supposed to have asked Benjamin Franklin as the Constitutional Convention was ending.  "A republic," Franklln is supposed to have answered, "if you can keep it."

All nonsense, of course. The United States of that day wasn't a republic at all.  "All men," the Declaration of Independence said, "are created equal."  Never mentions women. They didn't become equals until the 20th century, when they got the vote.  Black men?  Certainly not equal.  Many were slaves.  The Civil War freed them, sort of, but in the South they couldn't vote until the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.  We make progress. The good news is that we make it. The bad news is that we make it so slowly.

We must keep working, I think, until the old Langston Hughes poem comes true:  "America/ The land that never was and yet must be./ The land where every man is free."



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