My new neighbors were all black. Lower middle class. They worked hard. They had bought into the neighborhood 15 years before, in a rush, after the Open Housing Act enabled “integration” in Atlanta. It was, in fact, just a new form of segregation. But they were thankful for what they had, with a stubborn working-class pride in what they did and what they had done.
They raised me. (Mrs. House here lived to be 101. She was 99 and still going strong when I took this picture.)
About 20 years ago, with Afghanistan underway and Iraq coming, Republicans talked about how “we have to fight them over there, so we won’t have to fight them here” and about how “freedom isn’t free.”
Now we are fighting them here. The American Taliban and economic oligarchs represent the whole of today’s Republican Party.
They were right about one thing, however. Freedom isn’t free.
The Taliban won because they were more willing to kill, and even die, than their opponents. That’s what extremist Republicans are play-acting at. We’ve seen, however, what they’re really like in the aftermath of January 6. They turn into mewling babies, filled with excuses, demanding respect for their white privilege, feigning remorse.
Oligarchs want power, but not responsibility. You know Donald Trump isn’t a real oligarch because he ran for office. Real oligarchs control power, they don’t wield it directly. I can’t imagine Mayor Charles Koch or Senator Rupert Murdoch. That would be work to them. Better to be given the land, the water, and the air to exploit and destroy for profit, and put that profit in the pocket, then hand it to their undeserving offspring, like it’s an NFL team.
If America is to remain a free nation, we need to find the courage to confront these evils, as the Ukrainian people have. We don’t have to bear arms. We just need to register, make sure we stayed registered, vote, and make sure that vote is counted. That’s it. That’s really all we need do.
If we fail to do it this year, the cost of freedom to our children will rise. They may indeed need to get guns and wage war against oppressive government. They may have to see their great country destroyed by intolerance and greed, so they can build a new life among the ruins.
Those are the stakes in the 2022 election.
Ukraine and America are united today. We’re united in what we’re facing. Americans only need to shake off our feeling of privilege, the idea that some Americans are worthy while others are not and follow the ideals that we were all taught in school.
I continue to believe we can do that, and that we will. I won’t surrender the legacy of those who raised me.