Americans like to think that they live in a perpetual present, as author Ilan Stavans, a Jewish-Mexican immigrant to the U.S. in the 1980s, writes in A Most Imperfect Union, lavishly illustrated by his compadre Lalo Alcaraz. But that is another illusory convention that, like many others, gets knocked down in the manner of a summary execution.
This past Saturday night, Robin and I went to Santa Barbara for a private screening of the soon-to-be released movie "Selma." An Oprah project. This movie is about you, and it is about me, and you absolutely must see it. "Selma" is about the very soul of America in 1965 and, in an eerie twist of timing, it is about the very soul of America right now, this minute. I believe it is one of those iconic movies that will become an instant classic; it will impact how you think and feel — and hopefully how you and I behave — about human dignity, human rights and your personal values and responsibilities for the rest of our lives. Despite the subject matter, it is not about politics, guilt, anger, violence or bitterness. It is about courage, inspiration and commitment.
The U.S. is caught in a vicious circle: rising income inequality breeds more inequality in educational opportunity, which generates greater inequality in educational attainment. That, in turn, translates into a waste of human talent, a less educated workforce, slower economic growth and even greater income inequality.