One can debate ad nauseam whether refusing to stand for the national anthem or declining an invitation to the White House is an appropriate mode of protest, or whether failing to take such a stand signals complicity in injustice. What is undeniable is that the injustices prompting these actions are real and that progress against them is stagnating.
The Constitution guarantees that our schools do not impose religious beliefs on students. It ought not prevent them from learning about the great cultural productions of human history to the fullest extent possible.
History, it seems, just won’t end in the galaxy far, far away, to the glee of moviegoers everywhere. For better or for worse, it won’t in this galaxy either—so we’d better do our best to understand it.
Effective gun control will require new strategies around the country. But more fundamentally, America needs integrated economic, legal, and social solutions to the deep-seated racial disparities that are at the root of urban violence around the country.
History gives us reason for cautious optimism. Long-standing prejudice and ancient dogma remain central to understanding current problems; but the role of individual and collective decision-making cannot be ignored.
Ultimately, in every situation, protestors and the administration are engaged in a debate to see whose ideas have the moral force to carry the day. When administrators choose dismissive and violent tactics, they will lose that debate as they did 1969.
However one chooses to parse the history and the data, one thing is clear: Women are still underrepresented the world over. Electing a woman as president of the most powerful country on earth would, like the election of Barack Obama, be a powerful signal that abstract notions of equality can become reality.