Today, of course, is not only the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday, it is also Inauguration Day for the country’s first African-American president, now serving his second term.
Here’s how Google, our national unifier, is celebrating today:
Oh, and in some places in the South, today is also the day to celebrate a traitor:
Nothing, I suppose, shows how divided we are as Americans better than the sign above and the cult of Robert E. Lee it represents.
Almost three years ago I wrote:
I have always wondered why it is that so many people considered Robert E. Lee a hero, this disloyal Union officer who betrayed his country, who owned slaves and led men into battle to preserve the right of white men to buy and sell black families like cattle.
It is true that only a handful of states are involved in the travesty of mixing up a tribute to an African-American civil rights activist, who was shot and killed in the tumultuous 1960s, with a celebration of a man who turned against his own country and began shooting and killing Americans in the 1860s.
But as John Judis reminded us recently,
to a surprising extent, the Civil War divisions endure, and even supersede in this case the partisan divisions between Republicans and Democrats.
Judis was talking about the recent fiscal cliff vote and how it broke down:
All in all, 85 Republicans voted for the Senate resolution and 151 voted against it. The opposition was centered in the Old South. Southern Republicans opposed the measure by 83 to 10. The delegations from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina were unanimously opposed.
The deadly strain of rebellion that caused Southerners to turn against their country those many years ago is not the same as what we find manifested in that fiscal cliff vote or in the picture above, that’s for sure. But it is certainly related to it.
And it is still doing harm to the country.