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It’s quite a lineup: Antonin Scalia and Focus on the Family. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his Islamic State. Dylann Root and the Council of Conservative Citizens.

There we have some of the more prominent individuals and groups that have blared at us and dared us in the past week, actors involved in the latest onslaught of headline-making, earth-shaking news.

The details of all the bile and bloodshed emanating from this disparate cast of characters has been, by now, well plumbed by the media.

Yet while the current events may at first seem largely unconnected–the barbarity of the mass terror in Tunisia to the more intimate terror in Charleston, South Carolina; or the vitriol that followed the US Supreme Court decisions in King v. Burwell or Obergefell v. Hodges–there has been, at least to me, a common thread that binds all of the above named.

And that thread that binds them is how they see the march of history, the evolution of global society. For if most of us look out through the social telescope from the present and into the future from the narrow end, with the world inexorably becoming more secular, more open minded and more tolerant, there remain those who insist on looking trough that same telescope from the wrong end.

As a result, theirs is the willfully illusory view that creates false past eras, imagined ideal times when all was right with society. Looking through the telescope that way, the future, with all its inherent change, becomes one of social disintegration. For them, all the imagined rightness in the social order of the imagined past is being now being dismantled before their very eyes. To them, the rest of us are naive facilitators of the coming social Apocalypse, and they are constantly warning us dupes of the doomsday that’s coming

That view has, of course, been manifestly disproved by history itself. Slavery or Jim Crow again, anyone? Dictatorships, religious or military? Shall we go back to the 8th Century, or even the 19th?

History, of course, is not one smooth, straight arc of progress, be it social, political, economic or otherwise. There are wrong turns and lengthy detours, incomplete solutions and faulty optimisms.

But those who stubbornly and violently oppose, whether through words or deeds, the progress of humanity towards a more open and just life for all of us cannot be allowed to prevail.

As I’ve written before, we are perpetually in the battle of “what ifs” that will determine the “what is” of the future. Let’s hope it will be one that ensures the rights of all, and the debasement of none.

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