Public Television vs The Klan

· Hellmouth

Full disclosure: I have a liberal viewpoint. That means primarily that I believe in taxes, free speech, and that Abraham Lincoln was right. And sometimes I wish The North had let The South secede. Then we wouldn’t have today a national leadership lording their prejudices over us from the legacy of a constitutional compromise. That’s the compromise that allowed any decision about American slavery to be put aside as the Founding Fathers hammered out a constitution that gave equal rights to states but not to people.
My liberal viewpoint might look to some like the outcome of my personal geography. I live in California. I was raised in an urban area (near San Francisco Bay), and I have a degree from the University of California, Berkeley. But I was born in the South. My mother and all the Briggs’s and Edwards’s and Turners before me were born in the South. My fondest feelings and memories are attached to my mother’s southern family and the places they lived and died in–north Florida and South Carolina.
But there is one memory that stands apart from the others of my beloved motherland. It is of me as a small child standing before a drinking fountain–the old fashion kind with a chrome bowl and faucet on a stand-up pipe–in the public park in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. I am thirsty and want to drink but I don’t understand a sign posted next to the fountain. I can read it but I don’t know what it means. “For Whites Only” it says. Does that mean I cannot drink? I ask my mother and she explains to me, for the first and last time, the meaning of the word “white” in America.
In the front pages of American newspapers this morning we are being reminded of just how far from the “whites only” sign on public drinking fountains we have not come. Maybe some will call it a victory that a member of the notorious terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted of “manslaughter” in the killings of three young men who were pursuing a calling to make it possible for American Negros in the South to register to vote. Two of the murdered men were “white.”
Also in our newspapers, probably not on the front page, is mention of the fact that our leaders in Washington, D.C. are calling for a major cutback in public financing of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which provides crucial funding for public television programs like Sesame Street. These same leaders have a very specific reason for wanting to cut public television funding: it promotes liberal “agendas” or ideas. And public television is what the children of America watch. The little ones. The ones that can’t yet read signs like the one posted by that drinking fountain in Jacksonville, Florida.
Public television programs like Sesame Street make visual and audible to the children of America the liberal viewpoint that ALL humans–not just “white” ones–are people to be loved, respected, and treated equally. Public television is predicated on a guiding principle that prejudice–in any form–should not be a part of its programming. That’s what being educational means. It means that there is a place in every home for children to see, to hear, and to feel what it is to be a loved, valued, and equal human being.
There is no other corporation in American that is committed to defeating prejudice in the hearts and minds of our children. That is why we should support Public Television. And because there is still a Ku Klux Klan