It’s dark out there right now.
In Texas, it is judicial fact that women and people of color have less rights than they do almost anywhere else in the country. Regarding women, I am obviously talking about the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing the flagrantly unconstitutional 6-week abortion ban to not only go into effect, but remain in effect. This has been exacerbated by the Fifth Circuit, which just certified a question regarding the law to the Texas Supreme Court, which will only cause more months of delay. See Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, No. 21-50792, (5th Cir. Jan. 17, 2022). Regarding people of color, I am talking about a lesser publicized case from the Fifth Circuit that the Supreme Court refused to hear, holding that in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi racistly interfering in a contract is not actionable. See Perry v. VHS San Antonio Partners, 990 F.3d 918 (5th Cir. 2021). To be clear, this case holds that a contractor may tell a subcontractor to fire all of the black people because they are black and there may be no federal cause of action against that racist contractor. See Id. Even in Florida, that would not be the case. See Moore v. Grady Memorial Hospital Corp., 834 F.3d 1168, 1172 (11th Cir. 2016).
And it doesn’t look like it is going to get better anytime soon. The Supreme Court is poised to require all of us taxpayers to fund private religious education, no matter what your religious beliefs are or are not. See “Supreme Court weighs mandating public funds for religious schools in Maine,” Nina Totenberg, NPR, available at
https://www.npr.org/2021/12/08/1061996765/supreme-court-weighs-mandating-public-funds-for-religious-schools-in-maine. Gerrymandered political maps are about to cement minority rule for the next ten years. See “Texas Republicans send Gov. Abbott Congressional map that protects GOP power, reduces influence of voters of color,” Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune, available at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/10/18/texas-congressional-maps-redistricting/ . And bribery of public officials is about to become explicitly legal. See “It was a great day in the Supreme Court for anyone who wants to bribe a lawmaker, Ian Millhiser, Vox, available at https://www.vox.com/2022/1/19/22891236/supreme-court-ted-cruz-bribery-fec-loan-repayment-brett-kavanaugh-amy-coney-barrett .
So how does a raging civil rights advocate, like I like to think of myself as, keep the faith? Well, it’s not easy. But I am constantly reminded of the fact that Atlantis sank and Camelot failed.
“Well that doesn’t sound hopeful,” you say laughing uneasily, a wild, desperate look creeping into your eyes. I hear you, but let me explain . . .
Atlantis, according to Plato, was a utopian civilization that existed over 9,000 years ago. The Atlanteans lived in concentric islands separated by moats. These islands contained gold, silver, other precious metals, and exotic wildlife. The soil was rich, the architecture amazing, and the technology unparalleled. But it sank. And no one knows where it is now.
Camelot, according to the bards, was a utopian society that existed in medieval Britain. It’s king, Arthur Pendragon, created a round table for his knights so that none would sit at its head or be above another. I love Arthurian myth. I have probably read and watched at least a dozen variations on the tales. My favorite version so far is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I just saw The Green Knight starring Dev Patel, which was fantastic, and can’t wait to read the final book of the excellent Camelot Rising series, The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White. But Camelot also failed. And no one knows where it is now.
“I don’t feel . . . better,” you say, “about today, about now,” carefully choosing your words to not wound me. Luckily, I’m not done!
So, look, these stories are complicated. There are many things going on in them. There are many ways to read them. There are many messages and morals and lessons you can take from them. But here’s my view from 30,000 feet of the overall message of these stories: you must work and fight for what is right and the world you want to live in.
Atlantis sank because the Atlanteans got greedy, petty, and waged an unprovoked war upon their neighbors. After they lost that war, violent earthquakes and floods sank them into the sea as punishment from the gods.
Camelot fell because of infighting and personal squabbles between King Arthur’s knights as well as Arthur’s fear and inability to take responsibility for his actions. These things led Mordred to be able to defeat and kill Arthur at the battle of Camlann.
The takeaway is that you can’t get complacent, you can’t get consumed and discouraged by setbacks. You must always strive for what is right and just and good. You must work to build and maintain the world you want to live in, to make it a better place. By remembering that Atlantis sank and Camelot failed, you can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
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