Canada? Or four more years?
Seems a little warmer than normal in Canada this year, doesn’t it?
Or perhaps that is just the sound of a warm invitation wherein liberals of any stature perceive a culture of greater acceptance in the wake of the reelection of George W. Bush. In the past few days I have heard depression, frustration, anger and resentment vocalized from every quarter in every conceivable situation; as I screened a film last night the two guys behind me spent fifteen minutes debating the merits of staying in the United States, where as homosexuals they feel persecuted by the eleven states that ratified constitutional bans against gay marriage and by the commitment this nation has for a President who stops just short of publicly stating that any kind of sexual orientation not his own is a sin. One of the gentlemen behind me stated he has opted to investigate moving to Canada to escape "four more years." Some have already begun the pilgrimage, prompting the Canadian government to issue a press release reminding Americans of the restrictive requirements for nationalization.
This country was founded on the principles of a people who did not believe in tyranny; who felt that defiance was the correct response to subjugation. Our earliest heros are those who bartered everything for a cause they believed was just. When odds are aligned against us, ladies and gentlemen, we do not run crying to Canada. We stay and fight.
The propagation of governmental intolerance in the United States has, over the past four years, rotted the American identity. Increasingly hostile foreign relations, mass manipulation for personal goals, and yes - even the desperately childish public quarreling of the predominant political parties, for which Democrats are half to blame - has slowly eroded our spirit like salt corroding metal. You can see it in the polls, which perhaps serve no greater purpose than certifying the extreme division of the voting populace. We are a nation at war with each other; a civil unrest the likes we have not seen since the 1960s.
But had the insurgents of Stonewall turned tail and run down Eighth Avenue instead of channeling their anger against those who sought to oppress them, out nation might today remain in a yet greater quagmire of civil rights abuse. They did not run. They believed.
They believed that the word "America" is not defined by a President, but by a people. And they believed that intolerance is largely begat by ignorance, not hatred. And they believed that their voices should be heard, not cowed into silence. And they prevailed because they believed.
Civil rights, like familial pride, spans generations of people whose bonds are greater than the coastlines between which they live. The reelection of George W. Bush is a harbinger of defeat only if those of us who believe in civil rights permit the ignorant to define our American identity for us. Tuesday an election was won thanks to manipulation of that ignorance. He wins again if we run.
We are not the nationally disenfranchised, you and I. We are the new generation of civil truth. If the "war on terror" is a war of ideals (and it is), then its latest front was at the polls on Tuesday, and its latest casualty was the precept upon which our very nation was built: that all men and women are created equal, be they Muslim or Roman Catholic, heterosexual or homosexual, black or white. And if we have retreated and entrenched, it is to and within the borders of Massachusetts, where we drew daring lines of equality in May of this year.
As Bostonians, we enjoy a heritage of inciting change - it was, after all, a single snowball throw at British sentries at the our own customs house in 1770 that incited a riot and birthed a nation. Our weapons are not so crude as that snowball, nor so sophisticated as those utilized in the hyper-clinical war being pursued in Iraq. They are just people - you and I.
And we are Americans. We believe.