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Tuesday, February 7, 2012


In remembrance of Charles Dickens and his works, MSNBC's Martin Bashir compares today to back then:


It’s time to now clear the air and today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, perhaps the finest novelist to ever grace the English language. Dickens was born in the city of Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, but it was Victorian London that inspired so many of his novels. Dickens found 19th century London to be both repugnant and compelling.

He describes the smog, the filth, the grime. The workhouse. The pitiful slums, that he said reeked of crime and death.

But now of course, 200 years later, all of that is gone.

Dickens would no doubt be glad to see that the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral – which he described as “great, black and bulging,” is now pristine and clean, in a city that has become one of the financial capitals of the world.

And yet, on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral is an encampment that’s been there for five months. In fact, a court order has just been served on them and they could be removed by the end of this week.

They are part of the global, “Occupy” movement. And they’ve been drawing attention to something that hasn’t much changed in 200 years – the same disparity in wealth between the rich and the rest, that Dickens so brilliantly described in so many of his novels.

I have a suspicion that Dickens would probably be surprised to discover that while so many cities around the world now look so beautiful, the people are still disfigured. Cities that contain vast numbers who rely on charities for their daily food, who live in permanent fear of losing their jobs and who’ve lost their homes, often through no fault of their own.

But Dickens would not be surprised by the political leaders that we now have. From Ebenezer Scrooge to Wackford Squeers, Dickens created the most pompous, condescending characters who loved nothing more than protecting their own status, while humiliating the poor.

And that brings us to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney – one, who would send poor children to clean toilets so that they could be civilized; the other who says he’s not overly concerned about the very poor in our society. Both Republicans but Dickensian in their outlook. Sadly, many not enough have changed in 200 years.

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