Till 1967, seventeen states in the USA, banned interracial marriages!

That same year the law was found unconstitutional and thrown out. Immediately after that public approval of interracial marriage rose from around 5% in the 1950s to around 80% in the 2000s! Which means that because of a stupid law, people felt marrying from another community was wrong.

And because they felt it wasn’t good, they segregated blacks and whites, not just in schools, and buses but sadly also in churches! After all, they felt, their daughters could fall in love with an African-American while listening to a sermon!

A law that disallowed interracial marriage, made racial hatred deeper.

And as we see such laws passed closer home, all that will happen is deeper divisions. Today, in America, just over a half century after that draconian law was thrown out, a Vice President, whose father is black and mother, brown is a breath short of the White House!

Laws that cause divide, cause deep rifts. Rifts that take ages to heal, and sometimes never heal, as with the case of Mr Orange Hair, exploiting the racist sentiments he knew still existed in those who gave him support.

It is so easy to bring about racial and religious discrimination! And we in India, have even learned to coin new terms for it!

Such discrimination isn’t entirely new.

‘Hey Moses, your wife is black!’ his brother Aaron and sister Miriam must have shouted after they saw their brother had married Zipporah a Cushite woman, and they fought with her, till God intervened and what was Miriam’s punishment? These words are not Biblical, but I can imagine a furious God saying, “So you’re proud of being white is it Miriam? Okay I’ll even make you whiter!”

And she became white with leprosy!

I can’t think of a more fitting punishment!

Which makes me wonder what our punishment is going to be, as He watches with concern our own racial and religious discrimination?

Coming back to the USA, I wonder what would have happened if the law had not been thrown out in 1967? We don’t have to look far to find out. Just across the very narrow sea we saw a genocide in Sri Lanka as Tamils were killed. We see the same in Pakistan as Christians and Hindus have hardly any rights, and even in England till date, only a Protestant can become the Prime Minister, which caused much bloodshed in Ireland till a few decades ago, and also sees Britain which once ruled the seas, now all at sea!

Progress is a coloured path, as America discovered all over again. A path which rolls out a carpet of unity through diversity. Any other method, which might get votes as short term gains, will only see the crumbling of the carefully built red ramparts of the fort; our nation..!

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