The idea that American slavery was a threat to American democracy, and thus democracy the world-over, was not an exaggeration in 1854. The future of political liberalism was far from clear, and many in the "liberal party throughout the world" looked to the United States, flawed though it was, as one of the only bastions of democratic politics.
Seventy-five years ago in Fascist Italy, a group of gay men were labelled "degenerate", expelled from their homes and interned on an island. They were held under a prison regime - but some found life in the country's first openly gay community a liberating experience.
The overheated class-war rhetoric of the Vietnam era helped create an impression of a chasm between the movement and the working class that constrained possible alliances and solidarity. Emphasizing the actual class diversity of the movement and the varied political actions and attitudes of workers—black, brown, and white—should create an analytical bridge between what might otherwise appear to be the contradictory expressions of hard-hat workers raging against antiwar protesters on Wall Street in 1970 and hard-hat workers actively supporting the Occupy Wall Street protesters in the current period. They are not now, and have not been, as far apart as we might think.
Let us also ask the obvious question. Why do these young white male people whom we routinely characterize as crazy—as exceptions to the rules of civilized comportment and moral choice—always rehearse and recite the same script? If each killer is so deviant, so inexplicable, so exceptional, why does the apocalyptic ending never vary?
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