This March For Our Lives and the global response to it is unique. The Sixties gen changed things and, a half century later, change is coming again. The ball is in congress’s court. Play it wrong and pay the consequences. This is nonpartisan. Calling out individual representatives will come. Meanwhile the NRA, in an act of clear desperation, has stooped to anti Semitism by naming George Soros as a financier of the March. There are plenty of other billionaires they could have named, or they could have named none. Instead they referenced a high profile Jew.
What to make of this? Why the fear? Because that’s what drives anti-Semitism. Unlike African Americans, Jews are, for the most part, white and perceived to be middle-class, so they can “hide” behind their whiteness.
When the famous photograph of Black Panthers, standing on the Seattle Statehouse steps in their uniforms of black berets and leather jackets, holding weapons, appeared in national newspapers the frightened NRA leaned heavily on their representatives to ban the carrying of long guns.
I wonder what would happen if the same scene were to be reenacted today with the long guns replaced with AR-15s.
This fear has little to do with the title of the March and all to do with the challenge the marchers represent to the stranglehold the NRA has on so many politicians. The March was as much, if not more, about civic participation and voting than about assault rifles in the possession of your average wacko John Doe. The March was about who is ruled and who is ruler. The doormat that has been the public has been yanked up.
As the NRA continues to squirm in the face of angry young people and their parents and families, their old tactics become less effective. Impotence awaits. There is nothing the NRA can do about this. No amount of Viagra or Cialis is going to fix their manhood.
The risks of course are more actual violence, more racist and anti-Semitic thumping in the hope such behavior will become the accepted norm, the new normal, which it is fast becoming. This is a creeping virus that is dividing America in powerful ways that pit race against race, culture against culture, and politicians against the people they purport to represent.
There is no more eternal example than Louis Farrakhan, a rabid anti Semite who is fraternized by Linda Sarsour, Co-head of the Woman’s March and Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to Obama, and many other prominent African Americans. It is one thing to work with groups even if you’re only aligned on single issues, but quite another to refrain from calling out figures with a history of anti-Semitism and/or racial supremacism.
Watching the images of the March I was struck by the mix of people shoulder-to-shoulder, bound by a common emotion. These were citizens not just on the March, but on the move. They do not have the time to wallow in the bile of biases. The engines of social media are propelling them towards their goal, to be heard and listened to. The March, and the crowds of young people in other countries who were drawn into the March, have sent a message to the generation that now holds power; they’re about to challenged. The March is like an iceberg. Its strength is beneath the surface. Behind each marcher is family that wants protection for their offspring.
Brit editorialists succinctly sum up the import of the March…”Belonging to a generation involves more that proximity of dates of birth. As Karl Mannheim, a German sociologist wrote in 1928, a meaningful generation is also forged by the common experience of a trauma that become central to its identity. Contemporaries become a generation, he argued, only when ‘they are potentially capable of being sucked into the vortex of social change.’”
Two generations have passed since the global upheavals of the 60s. This generation, the third since then, has a fire in its belly reminiscent of the one that lit that now ancient but still breathing generation.