Your Stopped Clock Is Right(tm) alert for the day, and possibly the year: National Review's Charles CW Cooke tears into the GOP for not showing up at the 50th anniversary of Selma's Bloody Sunday.
This afternoon, in the hot center of the state of Alabama, a parade of Americans will pay homage to a historic march. Meeting on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on which hundreds of black Americans were beaten for the crime of standing up to their government, Barack Obama will remember a heroic feat of rebellion, and a brutal act of repression. The president, the White House has announced, will speak personally “about what it means to stand on the spot where police beat and gassed 600 unarmed protestors,” and he will explain what the moment means to him as an African American.
And the Republican party’s current leadership will be nowhere to be seen.
By declining to join, Ohio representative Marsha Fudge told Politico, the GOP has “lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care.” Fudge is, of course, entirely correct. But the absence is far, far worse than that. By electing to skip the proceedings — and to send a former president and a handful of congressional representatives in lieu — the Republican leadership suggests that it does not recognize what Selma represents within America’s long history of public dissent.
The United States regards itself as a nation of revolutionaries and of rebels — of those radicals, renegades, and rabble-rousers who stood tall in the face of tyranny and shouted for all the world to hear that they would not go gentle into that good night. On the right, American disobedience is typically represented by a few, ancient images. It is Washington crossing the Delaware; Patrick Henry proclaiming that he would regard as acceptable options only liberty and death; and Thomas Jefferson and his band of seditionists pledging each other “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” It is the brutal winter in Valley Forge, and the inspiration of Philadelphia. It is Trumbull’s imaginative painting, and the reluctant voices that cried out from within the early colonial factions and conceded that there was no choice for Americans but to join or to die. When it comes time each year to remember these moments, Republicans rally as one.
On July Fourth, we read the Declaration of Independence, and in doing so we reaffirm that all men are created equal and that we will permit no “long train of abuses and usurpations” to reduce us “under absolute Despotism.” In our political disputes we thrill to the promises of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Often, our answer to what ails America is “James Madison.” Naturally, this is all well and good — deeply moving, even. And yet if we simultaneously forget for whom the country’s foundational “promissory note” has burned the brightest — and for whom it remained for so long an elusive source of “great deliverance” — our celebrations will run the risk of being distressingly incomplete, perhaps even hollow.
Of course it all rings hollow. At the last minute, the GOP is sending House Majority Whip Kevin "Aptly Named" McCarthy to represent their "leadership", and in more than a dozen states, Republicans are actively trying to destroy the Voting Rights Act with legislation that makes it more difficult for all Americans to vote in red states, but particularly African Americans, including Alabama.
It's all well fine and good for Cooke to want the GOP to feel less guilty about its own horrible 60-plus year record of voter suppression and resistance, if not open hostility to civil rights and minorities in general, but the actions of Republicans reveal them as all liars and charlatans.
You have no further to look than South Carolina's black GOP Sen. Tim Scott for this proof:
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., an honorary co-chairman of the Selma trip and the only African-American Republican in the Senate, said voting rights and the commemoration of Selma should be “de-coupled.”
“The issue of voting rights legislation and the issue of Selma, we ought to have an experience that brings people together and not make it into a political conversation,” Scott said.
We have to "de-couple" civil rights from the struggle that necessitated it, because that's the only delusional way lawmakers like Scott can feel better about themselves when it comes to disenfranchising millions. Everything about Selma is political, Senator Scott. You're a poor student of history to pretend otherwise.
But that's what the GOP wants us to do: pretend Selma never happened, because it was never necessary.