Put aside labels and let’s work together
I found the political cartoon in the Our Perspective section of the July 10 Fort Mill Times to be highly judgmental toward conservatives. The cartoon seemed to imply that conservatives would see the success of civil movements such as the abolition of slavery, the stopping of genocide, the end to child labor, the fight against racism and the equality of the sexes as potential for the moral decline of this country.
Based on my interpretation, then I believe not only is this disparaging toward conservatives, but also shows a lack of knowledge of United States history.
In each of the civil movements mentioned above, there were leaders and supporters who would be considered conservatives. For example, Harriet Beecher Stowe, a famous abolitionist, grew up in a religious family and was married to a Presbyterian minister. Susan B. Anthony, notable leader in the women’s right to vote movement, was also a Quaker, a morally conservative Christian religion. Another example is Martin Luther King, Jr., a key leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s who was a minister in the Baptist Church, a morally conservative Christian denomination.
In the cartoon, gay marriage was included with the previously listed movements. The equality of homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage has tremendous legal issues in America today. Currently, we have 31 states that have passed amendments to their constitutions banning legal recognition of same-sex unions. There are 10 states, including California, due to the recent Supreme Court ruling, allowing same-sex marriage. This is a legal issue that divides our nation.
There are two major factors that differentiate the gay marriage movement from the previous rights movements. The first is that the previous movements were about the rights of individuals. The equality of gay marriage with heterosexual marriage is about an institution. An institution that is not mentioned in our country’s founding documents. The second major factor is one of natural order. Whether you believe in creation, evolution, or have no belief, only through heterosexual union can another human life be reproduced. This creates legal considerations that do not exist in same-sex unions.
In the cartoon, the question was asked “According to conservatives, which one proves this country has experienced moral decline?” As someone who would be labeled “conservative,” I see the rights movements for individuals as moral victories.
As for moral decline in our country, it is a very difficult thing to pinpoint when the decline began. However, students were not shooting other students in their high schools until 1996. Just this year, one of the free music downloads on ITunes was a song about a man raping a woman. The suicide rate has continued to increase over the past decade. A recent study showed the suicide rate increased almost 30 percent for those between the ages of 35 to 64 from 1999 to 2010. According to facts likes these, I would say our country is experiencing a moral decline.
I truly believe it would be in the best interests of the cartoonist to put aside the labels and the judgments. Maybe instead, if we worked together we could make this country even better.