Vol. 46, Issue 3 ‣ editorial
That All Are Created Equal
An unarmed African-American youth gunned down by a white policeman. White police officers lobbing tear gas at black civil rights protesters. Black rioters burning stores.
That was “then,” right? Say, circa 1930 or 1958 or 1964. America is past all of that, right? Heck, we have a black President.
There’s no doubt that America has made giant strides in remedying some of the baggage left from days of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Voting rights, school desegregation, and the end to legal discrimination opened millions of doors for people of color.
But racial bigotry, misogyny, homophobia and religious intolerance never disappeared. Like viral plagues, they lurk for opportunities to reignite. Nowhere was that more evident than in Ferguson, Missouri, where on August 9, 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. died after a white patrolman repeatedly shot the unarmed young man.
Déjà vu? Perhaps, but that implies reappearance. In truth, ingrained hatred never disappeared from America’s DNA.
Discrimination is real. It exists. Things have changed in recent decades, but it doesn’t take a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to see that there is so much to do.
The days that followed Brown’s death illustrated the rage of people who had endured systemic discrimination and felt powerless to do anything about it.
But the real story of what the outburst meant to the battle against multiracial profiling and bigotry began to be told only after the networks packed up their cameras and the media mainstream moved on.
Through on-site interviews with members of the Ferguson-St. Louis community as well as local and national clergy, staff writer Ray Richmond examines in this issue how events at Ferguson demonstrated the importance of religious leadership within a community.
It was people of many religions who, both during and after clashes between protesters and police, became the heroes in Ferguson. They included the many faith leaders who brought calm to the scene. Their courage was demonstrated time and again and was at its best, as described by a rabbi who had been on the scene: “when things got out of hand and we stood between the protesters and the battle-ready police … and between the not-so-peaceful protesters and the shops that were threatened by looting.”
Our cover story notes that what happened at Ferguson “is really a microcosm of the need for racial change in cities and towns throughout the nation.” After all, this is America, where the Founding Fathers declared 238 years ago that “all men are created equal,” but where that vision has yet to be realized.
Over the decades, Freedom has been an outspoken advocate of individual rights and equal opportunity and, indeed, full equality and total freedom for all mankind. We continue that tradition with a profile on a lifelong champion of human rights, Marian Wright Edelman, personally entrusted with combating poverty and injustice 46 years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—and who has selflessly done just that ever since, with many victories.
In this same issue, a father shares the heartfelt story of his son, Dustin, who was diagnosed with an “autism spectrum disorder” and prescribed psychotropic drugs to treat it. But when the “side effects” proved far more devastating than the purported condition, Dustin stood his ground and flatly refused to take them. A decade later, his father relates how the child ultimately proved wiser than his mom and dad—and how grateful both parents are in hindsight.
And we present news from the world of Scientology, specifically from Israel, where the Scientology Center of Tel Aviv stands as an interfaith oasis. As John Sugg describes it, since its establishment the Center “has been at the heart of efforts to build a bridge to peaceful discussion and calming tensions” throughout the region, working with leaders of all faiths.
Plus, there’s the story of the elite search-and-rescue team Los Topos (The Moles), who arose from the rubble of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City and since have acquired worldwide renown for going where few, if any, will venture to rescue trapped survivors or recover victims of temblors and other disasters.
It all adds up to the kind of perspective on issues impacting our lives that is uniquely Freedom.
As always, we welcome your comments and questions.
— The Editors