By Mark J. Kogan, Esquire
Times change. However, the need for equal rights and justice under the law is a constant idea that does not reduce nor diminish with a new government administration or political leader. The founders of our country believed that all men are created equal. This concept is stated clearly at the beginning of the Declaration
Independence as a self-evident idea. Nowhere and at no time is this more necessary to re-examine than here and now as we look forward to celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month this year.
The creation of National Hispanic Heritage Month dates back to the mid-1960s under President Johnson, who was known as a supporter of equal rights and civil-rights legislation. September 15 was typically chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin-American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. All five of these countries declared their independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, 18 and 21, respectively.
The need to celebrate one’s independence and to honor the culture of Latino- and Hispanic-Americans is important given today’s hostile culture of racism, bigotry and white nationalism that we see on the news. There is no place for hate in America, and we should be celebrating all of our differences instead of driving a wedge between our cultures, communities and religions.
It sickens me to see our government leaders promoting discriminatory policies or laws that are intended to rip law-abiding families apart. Whether it is the new Muslim travel ban, tougher immigration laws, mass deportations, the wasting of financial treasure to build a “wall” or the cutting of important government projects that allow education or social services to help impoverished communities, we cannot stand by and watch this happen. If you are silent and refuse to speak up in the face of this injustice, you are allowing it. If you stand back silently in the face of torch burning and open discrimination, you are complicit in its action.
We must take this time during National Hispanic Heritage Month to speak out, not only for the rights of Latinos and individuals of Hispanic origin, but also for the rights of all men. That is justice under the law. ◆
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