John Roberts, he of the supercilious drug-store cowboy smirk, has reassured Americans that this is a different country from the United States of 1965.
In those bad old days we had George Wallace and Ross Barnett and Bull Connor standing in front of universities and bridges and other public places to represent their side.
Now we have Mitch McConnell blinking in the glare and doing that lisping thing he does when he is being evasive and using the new mantra of the latter-day Wallaces: The country is different now. Count on hearing that a lot.
To quote another worthy, Clarence Thomas, now it’s done high-tech.
Now it’s done state-by-state by demanding more identification from the marginal and the mobile. Show us your papers, please. Watching the lines at the last election, gee, always in the poorer neighborhoods, was a throwback to the back of the bus. Now the Supreme Court has voiced its approval, with the chief justice saying “Our country has changed.”
In some ways, yes, it has. There were the two victories for gay rights on Wednesday. And when I turn on the television, I find prophetic voices like Melissa Harris-Perry and Joy Reid on MSNBC and two of the finest members of the House, Elijah Cummings of Maryland and John Lewis of Georgia.
Lewis said the Tuesday decision was a “dagger” in the heart of a movement. He has the right to speak of violence, after being beaten nearly to death on March 7, 1965, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The struggle has been like a flame, leaving John Lewis strong and pure, a living testimony to better selves. He looked stricken the other night. The police beat him in 1965. Now in this different country, it’s done by lawyers and election officials, state by state.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.