, Newburyport, MA


August 28, 2013

A time to dream, a time to awake


Trying to bridge a generation gap, the already-venerable and forever-young Pete Seeger sang from Ecclesiastes: “To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season … “

But the gap widened when the generation that marched to “The Times They Are A’Changin’” spawned one that partied to the tune of “Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.”

For a time warp yet again, recent tributes to King’s South African counterpart, Nelson Mandela, leave an impression that America was always united in the cause to end apartheid.

Much the way a January holiday has purged the national memory of when King was the most hated man in America — in Boston and Chicago as much as Birmingham and Selma.

History? Giving “free” enterprise priority over human rights, President Reagan vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986 before the Senate overrode him 78-21.

In the House, young Wyoming Rep. Dick Cheney condemned the Mandela-led African National Congress as “terrorists.” For the sake of his vice presidential run 14 years later, Cheney could only rationalize: “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization.”

Problem with the word “then” is that it betrays the word “now.”

Cheney’s neo-con Republicans won presidential elections in 2000 and 2004, and continue to obstruct popular mandates of 2008 and 2012.

Combined with Supreme Court decisions favoring corporate over civic interests, and, this summer, striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, the result is an American Apartheid based on wealth — to which race is no mere coincidence.

Takes me back 50 years to the day when this Little Leaguer wondered why a man who looked like Hank Aaron talking about a dream was such a big deal — and four years later when a man who looked like Willie Mays made it all too clear.

Usually we hold a book, but Baldwin’s fists rose from “The Fire Next Time,” grabbing my collars and shaking me to near whiplash:

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