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Opening Arguments

Living in the past

This is interesting -- "Why Martin Luther King was like Picasso":

When people talk about “modern art,” they don’t mean (despite what the words suggest) the art being made today; that’s contemporary art. The phrase “modern art” refers to a particular set of styles that flourished during a specific time period, roughly from the early 1900s to the 1960s. It’s a historical term, like impressionism.

Similarly, when you speak of the “civil-rights movement,” people think of the period from around the mid 1940s to the late 1960s, when segregation was dismantled and open racism stopped being respectable, even in the South. That was back when civil rights actually had to do with rights. They are much less likely to associate “civil rights” with today’s proponents of affirmative action and disparate impact (and opponents of school choice and ballot security). This is why same-sex-marriage advocates call their cause “the new civil rights” — they want to make their recently hatched movement sound timeless and unassailable.

The danger of reliving past struggles and celebrating past victories is that too little energy is left for today's battles, and that's true whatever the movement is. Say, wonder what the peace movement is up to these days?