By: Richard Rhuad Sr.
I was watching CBS’s Sunday Morning and as part of their tribute to Walter Cronkite, they showed coverage of the landing on the moon, on July 20, 1969, 40 years ago today. I remember that day, or night actually, sitting glued to the television and being just overwhelmed by the mission and the sense that, if this was possible, anything was possible. If you were not alive at that time, you cannot understand the promise of that kind of moment. Cronkite was, at that time, the man that just about everyone counted on to provide information. TV news, prior to CNN and 24 hour a day, beat and trivialize the news to death, was something that no one today can imagine.
Stories were researched and time allowed a sense of proportion to a story that today’s instant reporting and analysis just can’t compare to. News today is editorial, think FOX news, nothing reported without a sneer and opinion. Today we are, for the most part, told what to think and what to believe and we are the less for that. Less because it of the disconnect that most seem to feel as part of the whole.
I also watched a PBS special on the ICC, the International Criminal Court. At the end of World War II, the United States insisted that the world recognize that some crimes were so horrendous that they constituted “crimes against humanity” and that they required a justice that the world would assess on the guilty. There could be no hiding behind the phrase, ” we were only following orders”. I would have to think that after the horrors of WWII, the idea of ethnic cleansing and genocide could never happen again, but the flaw in our character is that there is no low to our indifference, cruelty and inhumanity.
More people have been slaughtered since World War II than in any period of time in human history. There apparently are/were no lessons learned when it comes to a species that only responds when face to face and inconvenienced. We buy clothing made by 8 year old children who are paid a penny a day, and complain about the cost. We never give a thought to that dish towel that costs pennies, and used to be made in South Carolina by Americans, and are now made in Asia .. we allowed millions of jobs to be lost to save a few dollars a years, we failed to support workers in this nation and still complain about the cost, and not in the suffering of the workers in the dark corners of the world. But I digress, and the United States, still has not recognized the ICC, and is not a signer of the or partner in this international institution. How is that possible ??
We also, very recently, began to worry about global warming, (forgetting that we have caused the most damage to the environment), but the Untied States is one of just a handful of nations that did not sign the Kyoto Protocol Climate agreement. We are also the only country that fails to dip it’s flag to the host nation at the Olympics When did respect become a threat to our strength and goodness? We have always been a nation that can “talk the talk”, but not “walk the walk”.
Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was the Senate conformation hearings for pending Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. I understand that it is part of the process, the political process to hold hearings, but the tone and condensation of the senators, asking about the prejudice of a “wise latina woman”, a woman who has more and varied judicial experience than any sitting member of the current Supreme Court was hard for me to watch. Justice here in America has always been suspect, remembering that the Supreme Court, in its history has upheld slavery and pole taxes and to keep blacks from voting, literacy requirements, only to re-interpret the “absolutes” of the Constitution.
White men of privilege have not made our nation any more fair or just in the 250 years of nationhood, by their being white. The lack of understanding of what it is like to be a minority, or oppressed, except in an intellectual exercise kind of way, has limited justice. Understanding the Constitution means understanding that it is a document for, and by, white landowners and any judgments beyond that are pulled, by the intellectuals of the court, by the pressure from the march of time and social justice.