July 5, 2013
The Civil War matters because the nation is more deeply divided than at any time since 1860. The Voting Rights Act is in peril because it is insufficiently deferential to States Rights. How the nation regards and treats nonwhites is at the core of the division. The fact that this Civil War is cold means that the lives sacrificed to it are ignored rather than commemorated as they were at Gettysburg. Disparities in health care, education, jobs, life expectancy, criminal justice are dismissed as individuals failing, genetic inferiority or cultural inevitability with little serious analysis of the role of intentional public policy. We need a third Reconstruction (the second was roughly 1954 to 1970) that addresses structural discrimination. We should attend to the recommendations of the UN Commission on the Elimination of Race Discrimination. We need a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. We urge the Egyptian regime to listen to protestors, but nary a word to Rick Perry ranting that state house demonstrations in Texas amount to terrorism. Had Lincoln survived the Civil War we might have had benign Reconstruction and genuine reconciliation. The lessons of Gettysburg are profound and timely.