An American Eulogy
On September 18, 2020 Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. She was 87. She has left behind a stunning legacy of legal opinions that changed the political and social face of America. She gifted us with a historical foundation and direction for “equal rights”. She guided us to the concept of social “inclusiveness.”
Ruth Bader Ginsberg spoke where others feared to speak. Her dissents were as powerful as her decisions. She was not born “privileged”. She was born, simply, American. A childhood in 1933 Brooklyn, New York was diverse and hard. Families struggled through the Great Depression. Homeless tents, known as “Hooverville’s” ranged the streets. Work was hard to find, food was scarce and women had very few rights. The Great Depression was shadowed by WWII. The men, from all the racial neighbourhoods of New York, left to fight and die. They died as Americans. The women were left to carry on alone. They reached out across the communities, as Americans, to survive. Together.
This is the history that created Ruth Bader Ginsberg. These were her roots. This was the ground where her life grew and her beliefs bloomed. Watching women, of all races struggle to raise their families. Watching men, of all ethnicities struggle to find work to feed their families. Having nights of hunger. The second daughter of working class parents, her mother worked in a garment factory and died of cancer the day after she graduated high school.
Our past is imprinted on our future. “RBG”” is mourned not for her struggles. She was never a victim. She will be missed sorely, for her monumental hope in the positive progress of society. Her belief that a woman, or anyone, could make a positive social for everyone. Her land-mark decisions did not “qualify” diversity or social justice. They defined the idea of equality. Her dissents and decisions projected respect for all people, inclusively.
Protests are roiling through our cities, as right wing clashes with left and communities divide along black and white lines. We must grieve the loss of a voice that led us, through historical legal challenges into successful and national social change. We have lost a voice as equally poignant and inclusive as Martin Luther Kings’.
We are deprived, as a nation, a voice that was not afraid to stand alone in defence of justice.
In this moment, across our differences, stop and and give thanks. Respect. Give her that. We know what she did for all of us, regardless of our ethnic, sexual or economic background. For the inclusive belief she showed in us. Respect.
Our wounded nation is floundering., Chaotic, divided and internally destructive. We have lost faith in our leaders, our communities, our selves. We have forgotten our own history. Every minute it is re-written in attention grabbing social media snaps. Political maliciousness. Match sticks lighting hate, not hope. Respect has left the field.
I mourn Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
A great human, who believed and stood for ALL of us.
• United States v. Virginia, 1996. (Gender Education Exclusivity)
• Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 2007. (Gender Pay Discrimination)
• Shelby County v Holder., 2013 (Minority Voting Rights)
• Sessions v Dimaya., 2018 (Immigrant Rights)
• Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015. (Marriage Rights for Same Sex Couples)
• Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, 2016.
• Olmstead v. L.C., 1999.