No matter what the politics were behind it, no matter what backroom deals and compromises spawned it, no matter what debates, recriminations and posturings preceded it—there it is, done deal, fait accompli, in writing, and therefore crystallized for history: the very first, all-encompassing, uncompromising anti-bigotry, anti-hate resolution in our nation’s history.
This week, the House of Representatives reared back and hurled a strike against suspicion, doubt, hate, discrimination and all things dark and nonspiritual in the American psyche. By overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning “every form of bigotry and hatred against people based on religion, race or place of birth and origin,” this Congress has assured itself a place in history, rising above partisanship, above politics, above all things trivial and ephemeral, and by so rising, just barely reaching the tip of the broken shackle at Miss Liberty’s feet.
Well, it’s just a resolution, you say. Not a binding bill or law, but rather a “reaction.” A self-serving exercise in platitudes, devoid of any real punch or power. Just a nice sentiment with no enforcement, no penalty for noncompliance, no teeth. True enough, the resolution has no force of law, but then neither does the Declaration of Independence, the Beatitudes in the New Testament, the writings of Gandhi and Dr. King or any of the other great moral strides that our civilization judges itself by in its better moments. No, we don’t enforce these things, for they cannot be enforced. We merely live by them. Or we don’t.
So let us raise a glass to the flawed men and women of the 116th Congress for wittingly and unwittingly doing the right thing, the daring thing, and, as one hopes events and history prove out, the inevitable thing.