The free press and the right of the people to dissent without fear of criminal prosecution is a constitutive part of our continuing attempt to perfect our union. I look forward to reading the comments section on blogs and the editorials in my local newspaper. The passion that some of our fellow citizens write with is palpable. We share space with some interesting people.
Over the last few years I've noticed a recurring theme among several of the comments and editorials of different publications: the quest to, "take back our country". This America that my fellow citizens long for seems like a fascinating place. When I close my eyes I picture Mayberry. The only problem with that is Aunt Bee and Opie were fictional characters. From 1960-68 (the years the Andy Griffith Show ran). Medgar Evers, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated (in that order), the Vietnam war had started under false pretenses (we admitted the Gulf of Tonkin incident didn't happen) and the National Guard had to be sent to the south numerous times to enforce the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, Kansas decision (ending segregation in public schools). In 1961 there were over 60 churches burnt to the ground by American terrorists.
I'm leary of a trip much further back than that. We live in a country that has overcome great obstacles, but we were never a perfect union. If we push that fairytale out of our mind, and look at how far we've come I think we can appreciate the journey even more.
Mayberry seems like a great place to live, but the reality is: just as The Andy Griffith Show was taping their first episodes students were risking their lives in organized sit-ins less than 100 miles away. Often times the further we get from something the better it looks, but historical context and empirical data have a way of removing the thick clouds we can find ourselves viewing the past through. I long for the day that the promises of citizenship apply to everyone, until then I'll think long thoughts and write letters.