Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Problem with Dates

Another gem from "I've Got the Light of Freedom" by Charles Payne.

The following quote appears on page 217:

"Silas’ skeptical attitude towards the 1964 Civil Rights Act is worth noting.  He felt that there had been laws before, there had been court decisions before, and they had not necessarily meant anything.  Legislation serves our need to render history understandable by giving us convenient benchmarks, and we may therefore be tempted to exaggerate its significance.  The bill is taken to be a great watershed.  The bill in itself, though, may have been less important than the willingness of people like the McGhees to insist that it be enforced.  That insistence, I would argue, is the crucial break with the past, not the legislation itself.  There is nothing about the record of the postwar federal government, the Kennedy administration not excepted, to suggest that Washington was going to enforce any more Black rights than it had to enforce."

It reminds me of what I was trying to express with this post.  When we look back on history, we oftentimes utilize the dates to mark the end of something that was much too great to actually stop on a dime.  Mass hatred, genocide, abject poverty and ideas that inhabit and inform cultural norms cannot be done away with when a law is passed.  


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