CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "The Butler" movie is a blockbuster worldwide success, grossing over $100 million, not because it describes a White House servant but because it reminds everyone of the long, painful, heroic struggle by blacks to win legal equality in America.
The battle for human rights was a landmark chapter of U.S. history, a noble victory for democracy. It wiped out cruelties of Jim Crow segregation and made America's culture more humane.
Former Gazette copy editor Wil Haygood crafted The Washington Post report that became the basis for the film. When he returned to speak at the University of Charleston this week, he was applauded by an overflow crowd of enthusiastic fans.
Here's a crucial point to remember: Conservatives fought for decades to obstruct black equality, but progressive liberals finally achieved the far-reaching reform. This accomplishment fits a never-ending pattern that dates back to the Enlightenment and before.
Conservatives always resist human rights advances -- from voting and birth control for women, Social Security for seniors, Medicaid for the poor, equality for gays, etc. -- but liberals keep striving until the benefit is gained.
Currently in Washington, conservatives are waging an all-out battle to prevent 30 million "working poor" Americans from gaining medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The right-wingers even threaten to shut down the federal government to stymie the law.
As we've said many times, we hope America eventually achieves a complete, government-run, universal health insurance system covering everyone -- and removing severe insurance costs from employers. Nearly every modern democracy has such a "single-payer" plan. But conservative opposition has thwarted it in America.
Why are conservatives dead-set against health coverage for less-fortunate families? It's baffling. We can't explain their resistance, which seems irrational. In the end, we hope they lose, as they have in all previous humane advances.
President John F. Kennedy once described a liberal as "someone who cares about the welfare of the people." That sums it up well.
Through the centuries, liberal progressives have won many victories for the welfare of the people. America's civil rights struggle was a significant advance. We hope the tide of history keeps flowing toward ever-greater social progress.