The American West was “won” by armies of foreign invaders wreaking genocide upon peoples who’d lived on this continent for millennia. These days it is no longer touted as a triumph of civilization over savagery, more as an invasion by militarily advanced morally primitive philistines. History cannot be rewritten, or can vast stolen lands be returned to descendants. But at least historians are re-writing textbooks so that today’s children know the true story.
Another grim story unfolded from 1929 to 1974 when thousands of Americans were sterilized against their will, some without their knowledge, in a now discredited “eugenics” program intended to eliminate people deemed inferior. And now the state of North Carolina is first to acknowledge it by awarding compensation to its living survivors, $50,000 each, and a belated apology.
A third crime, and one still being perpetrated, had its10th anniversary yesterday, January 10th, Gitmo, the prison on the eastern tip of Cuba which continues to be a festering sore on the face of our nation, President Obama had promised to eliminate it, and tried, but was stymied by Congress. Inevitably a day will come when Americans look back with sorrow, admitting that it violated the principles put forth by our Founding Fathers. But that day is not yet.
Opposing forces of past and present are everywhere locked in battle. If there is any meaning to the word, “progress,” it will always be. Being on “the right side of history” is every politican’s claim, but many have trouble knowing which is the right side.
Barack Obama knows, but faced forces that those outside the White House probably cannot imagine. The operative factor is trust. I trust President Obama to end Gitmo when he knows he can succeed, which makes it imperative that his re-election be accompanied by a new and revivified Congress.