By Ted Schwartz
I have now lived in Colorado Springs for nearly 30 years, so…it is home. Although I’ve made every effort to be a good friend and neighbor, in some ways, I have been what, locally, is a minority during the last three decades. I am an Easterner, having grown up in Philadelphia. I am a progressive. I believe the question is always how do we go forward, not do we choose to go forward or backwards. While not involved in formal religion, I come from a Jewish family heritage. All of these criteria put me in the local minority rather than majority.
I must say that I feel more estranged from the local community than ever in the past year or so. Citizens Project has successfully promoted diversity in our community for many years and has helped win some big battles. I believe we are traveling down a more inclusive path now as a result. Unfortunately, I feel some are busy closing ranks and making new groups of “others” rather than moving forward together.
Despite many great strides, we still have work to do in our community in respecting and including LBGT, black, Hispanic, Muslim, and other groups. In the past few months, the new “other” has been portrayed under the moniker “liberal New York mayor Michael Bloomberg”. He is used by right wing elements (including the Colorado Springs Gazette) to tar local politicians. First, it was in the recall of John Morse. While the entire movement was absurd (Mr. Morse is a moderate whose gun stance conformed to his conscience and the majority of Coloradoans), there were a parade of statements that Morse took his “marching orders” from Bloomberg. Silly on its face and untrue in every respect, the point was to harm Morse by association with the “outsiders”. We wouldn’t want anyone representing us who has the cooties of being closely associated with a liberal (Bloomberg, of course, is not really a liberal), New York city slicker, Jewish guy, would we?
Since the campaign to recall Morse succeeded, we now have the beginnings of a similar campaign to discredit Michael Merrifield, who may seek his seat. He was “on Bloomberg’s payroll”, or so says one Gazette columnist. Actually, Merrifield represented a group of more than a thousand mayors (including Bloomberg) who are promoting sensible gun rules that are favored by most Americans. The distortion of reality is absurd to the point of becoming funny in a sad fashion, but… it is coupled with the ongoing attempt to separate Americans into two camps- the “real Americans” are white, Christian, freedom loving, traditional in all respects and everyone else are the “others” who are somehow pictured as trying to usurp everything good about America and replace it with something “un-American”.
We are a nation of immigrants who are on our way to becoming a nation of majority minorities in coming decades. I say let’s celebrate the road forward and celebrate the true history of our country, not the one made up by a fearful group of people who see their power and control fading. My marriage is not diminished by your marriage in any way. My Festivus pole is not diminished by your wishing me “Happy Holidays” rather than my preferred “Fabulous Festivus”. It all adds up and makes the fabric of our lives stronger and more beautiful. We need to use addition rather than subtraction as our basic idea. Our true history is one of addition and moving forward, and it has worked rather well for us. The future has many huge challenges for us. We must meet it with open arms and find new solutions, not retreat into a past that never was.