Harry Anderson, a magician and comic (famous for his stint on the sitcom “Night Court”), used to have a routine where he’d promise to juggle George Washington’s ax. I’m quoting from memory here, but he’d say something like: “I have here George Washington’s original ax — the one he used to chop down the cherry tree.” He’d wait a beat, and then add: “Of course, a few years ago the blade broke and had to be replaced. And about a decade before that it got a new handle. But in spirit this is George’s ax.”
That bit keeps coming to mind as I listen to pundits, reporters, politicians and activists try to compare every cause under the sun to Jim Crow, slavery and the black experience in America generally.
For instance, in the debate over gay marriage, one commentator after another likens arguments against same-sex marriage to arguments against interracial marriage. They said blacks and whites couldn’t marry, and now they say men and men can’t marry!