Barbara Walters and a perspective on the history of civil liberties. Welcome 2023!

Barbara Walters and a perspective on the history of civil liberties. Welcome 2023!
Evan Agostini

Barbara Walters passed away on December 30, 2022 at the age of 93. To many, Waters was absolutely a household name, and there’s no denying that she’s made an impact on the world. Personally I was exposed to Walters when I’d watch episodes of 20/20 as a kid. Yeah, as a kid, like a little kid. There were probably topics that I should not have been exposed to such as the Shi Pei Pu “A Spy for Love” episode, which I watched when it originally aired. I was hardly out of elementary school and was taking in some interesting content. That was my exposure to investigative journalism. This is not a piece about Barbara Walters. It’s a piece about when she was born and civil liberties.

Barbara Walters was born on September 25, 1929. Women only had the right to vote for 9 years when Walters was born and prohibition was still in effect. Walters, until she passed, was older and technically still is, than the 1934 National Firearms Act. In 93 years, Walters as an individual and as a journalist got to see some crap go down in the world.

This story is not an original idea. I stole it. I stole it from a friend. Tony Simon from The Second is For Everyone Diversity Shoot is who I’ve taken these thoughts from. At Simon’s Diversity Shoots, he always starts each event with giving a talk about civil liberties and gun rights. To Simon, it’s never about political party, but rather about the actual liberties that we have, that have been taken from us, and in some cases as of recent are being returned to us.

Simon often tells a story about being part of the first generation of free Black people in the United States. If we look at the history of Black advancement, he’s right. The final court cases and laws removing restrictions on the Black citizens did not happen until after the 1968 Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act. 

That 1968 year was the same time the Gun Control Act was signed and pretty much was implemented to help keep guns from “those people”, if you want to talk irony. Look at the history of Black advancement in the realm of civil liberties, we can see that the 3rd Brown v. Board of Ed case, a case known as Brown III dealing with the potential for racial segregation in the school systems, was an active conflict until 1993. In 1989 the 10th Circuit sided with Brown but it was not until 1993 when the Supreme Court of the US denied certiorari of the case, allowing the favorable opinion stand for Brown. 

As a member of the first generation of truly free Blacks. It was his generation which was the first one to be born with the same exact civil rights by law as white people. Simon asserts that he’ll be damned if he’ll just give away his civil liberties and hand over the firearms he owned that some people find to be menacing. Nor would he have them taken away without standing up to #dosomething.  Simon tells the stories of being thrust into 2nd Amendment advocacy work. He captivates audiences while he explains the big picture of what are civil liberties. That’s some of the birth of the Diversity Shoot, Simon’s #dosomething moment.

Something that Simon drives home is that this notion of the government keeping civil liberties away from people, or the fact that there was a big fight to get to where we are today, is not ancient history. This history of marching on Washington for Black rights is not something of the Roman times to be thought of being recorded in dust covered scrolls. Not at all.

Back to Barbara. Simon points out some facts that kind of shocks my mind when he brings it up. Barbara Walters, Anne Frank, and Martin Luther King Jr. were all born in the same year, 1929. Barbara Walters was with us up until a couple of days ago. We all know what happened to Frank and King, at least we should.

As a mind control game, whenever we’re shown pictures of Martin Luther King Jr., they’re usually black and white. King was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39. Most of the pictures that we’re shown of King are in black and white. Simon suspects this is to hypnotize people into thinking that the very real struggles that were just suffered through were a long time ago in a galaxy far away. Kodachrome color film was released in 1935 and found widespread use by many by the 60’s. There are plenty of color pictures of King, just as there’s a ton of footage of the Vietnam War in color.

As we ring in the New Year, happy 2023 readers of Bearing Arms, remember our history. It was not that long ago that whole classes of Americans had to petition their government to have their civil liberties granted to them. That’s not much different from the battle that we’re seeing today and into the years to come. 

We need to remind our children of the fragility of our liberties, and that what many take for granted was fought for in the courts, legislature, and in the realm of public opinion. The bigotry that Frank suffered through during World War II and was eventually executed over, and bigotry that our Black brethren have suffered through, that which saw King assassinated, are not things of the distant past. These events are only a couple of generations back. When we teach history, specifically these histories, let’s remember that Frank, King, and Walters were all born the same year.

2022 was a hell of a year for gun rights. Justice Thomas gave us one of the best presents on his birthday this year. The final hold out states and governmental entities that are keeping the right to keep and bear arms form their respective citizens are reacting exactly the same way the racists reacted to Brown v. Board of Education. Brown was decided in 1954 and it took the legislature and our executive branch another 14 years until they acted on some of the remaining matters afflicting Black Americans through the Civil Rights Act.

The battle for civil liberties will always rage on. 2023 I feel is going to bring many victories and perhaps some letdowns. But let us remember that the battle in many ways has just begun. Rest in peace Barbara Walters. Happy New Years America!