No Other America Can Survive

There has long been an appetite in the American character to use political power not to expand participation but to exclude others from access to the idea of the American dream; to restrict the level of political freedom by assessing various costs or outright disabilities on identified groups — the simplest and most efficient delimiters being immutable characteristics: race, gender, or immigrant origins.

The unceasing urge to make America into a kind of exclusive club while advertising ourselves as a free market of ideas and commerce is root of all evil in this nation — it is the reason a civil war was waged; the reason we had to undergo a new birth of Liberty — twice.

But following each of those awakenings of Liberty — reconstruction and the Southern movement for civil rights, as well as the ancillary movements for women’s rights, we have been confronted by fears and prejudices that may still chain America to its past.

That past rears its head hydra-like with new faces and new words, but when translated they speak the same message: “America is just for me.”

No rationale or history ever supports these claims. Those who speak them were never here to make the claim of “first in time, thus first in right.”

Those who make them have never contributed more to the Nation, or sacrificed more dearly for its defense or its honor.

Their only claim is that they persistently appeal to the rule of “onliness.” The rule that some other American doesn’t belong, or should not vote, or can be brutalized without redress or resort to law.

But this has never been America. Our strength is at the times of truly pursuing liberty. Times such as ending slavery, opposing fascism, liberating victims of hatred, and proclaiming equality.

No other America can survive, for this was ever our reason to exist.

-Albert Turner Goins