Recently, I ran across this passage while reading the UCLA Daily Bruin:
We are in trouble. Serious trouble.
Our nation, built on the foundation of justice, liberty and freedom for all, is now being threatened by a new enemy. An enemy that instills fear into the hearts of women; an enemy that yearns to take the power out of the hands of the people; an enemy that feeds on the unfortunate, preys on the oppressed and relishes on the helpless.
There might not be any cure for this monster. Why, you may ask? Simple, because we created it. The enemy is not a human — it's the Supreme Court.
— "Guest Columnist" and senior communications major David Gibson
Summer Bruin "Viewpoint" section
If you find yourself on the left side of the political divide, nothing about the above seems so surprising, especially coming from an undergraduate at a University of California school. However, it lacks one crucial contextual detail that might only be obvious to current or recent members of the UCLA community who know that the Bruin no longer calls its "Opinion" section "Viewpoint," nor its summer-term weekly issues the "Summer Bruin."
One must travel 30+ years into the past and search the Daily Bruin print archives to look at the .pdf of the reel of microfilm images that make up the summer 1991 volume of the print-only Summer Bruin, and then find the August 22, 1991 issue. No direct link to this (or any other contemporaneous) issue exists of "the paper," which was solely a physical item—actual newsprint. Nor can you find a link to this individual column. The above linked archive site hasn't always worked for me, but you can access the correct pdf here and scroll to p. 184 to find it under the headline "The Supreme Court's potential Prince of Darkness." (Or, just scroll down a bit. You're welcome.)
That headline offers another clue that Gibson's subject wasn't the current debate over the legitimacy (or lack) of the Supreme Court, the overturning of Rowe, nor anything relating to the-president-who-shall-not-be-named. (Though, "Prince of Darkness" confuses that last bit.) Rather, then-student Gibson was writing about the nomination of yup-still-in-his-job-and-bringing-darkness-to-the-bench-30-years-later Clarence Thomas!
Why was I scouring virtually unsearchable, three-plus-decades-old issues of a college newspaper, you ask? It's for another of my long list of will-I-ever-actually-do-this-interesting-idea projects. This one required that I revisit everything—though primarily the movie reviews—I wrote for the Daily Bruin.
Yes, trawling through more than two years worth of enormous, often slow-to-render .pdf files so I could read 20-year-old Me's opining was, and continues to be, an arguably masochistic and often tedious exercise. And yet, browsing the stories, opinions, and topics that dominated both the local and global conversation in from late 1990 through early 1993 proved revelatory and provided a staggering "Uh-huh Moment."
I can imagine a college student in 2020—or at multiple other moments over the past decade ... or more—writing those same paragraphs because our conversations haven't changed. Sure, progress has been made in some areas, and the scope of certain issues have broadened to become more inclusive, but as I revisited the early 1990s in Los Angeles, nearly every subject that dominated the political, social, and cultural conversations then continue today. The times, they may still be a a'changing, but our debates don't. They simply provide additional evidence for Martin Luther King Jr.'s (or was it Theodore Parker's creation?), famous quote, "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice," which President Obama regularly adapted for his 2009 election night speech: "It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day." Even when minimal progress is occasionally made, the conversations remain largely the same.
Considering the manner of three-of-the-four most recent justice's ascension to the Supreme Court, Thomas's nomination offers a solid starting point, though it is far from the only example. It's worth offering some context around Thomas's nomination, especially for those people who learned about 9/11 in a similar way as I understood Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, and Pearl Harbor.
Continue reading "Time Compresses: Everything new is old again ...." »