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26 May 2011, 2:00 pm No Comments

History: The Fabian Strategy

Submission by James S., first-time TNG contributor. Crossposted with permission from InDeclaration.com.

James S. was born and raised near the city of St. Louis.  A native of the state of Illinois for most of his life, he now calls the city of St. Louis his home.  He’s always had a knack for politics and the issues of the day.  Sometimes he will approach a topic from an historical point of view, while others he will come at from a moral/ethical viewpoint.  As an LGBT-community activist, he is not afraid to write what he feels needs to be said to the people.  It’s one of those times he feels his editorial can mean so much more… as he can write about the struggles he faces personally.

Statue of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, for whom the Fabian Strategy is named

In these times upon which we live in, we continue the day-to-day struggle for our most basic rights. We fight against stereotypes, discrimination, and being second-class citizens within our own borders. With each day, we hear of setbacks but we also hear of progress. Sometimes that progress can seem very slow, moving at a snail’s pace at times, and the naysayers come out to complain that it’s not enough and that we shouldn’t be accepting the little things in exchange for the bigger goals. However, it has always been my view that we need those smaller victories on our way to fully achieving equality for our LGBT community.

During the American Revolution, it did not take long for General Washington to realize that his forces could not stand up to a full frontal and decisive battle against the superior British army. So his goal was to stay one step ahead of the British, just out of arm’s reach for as long as possible and engage in small side skirmishes, rear-guard action, and disrupting the British supply lines; something called the Fabian strategy.

The name actually derives from Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, the dictator of the Roman Republic that had to defeat the Carthaginian general Hannibal during the Second Punic War. Hannibal had a larger Army and Fabius knew that he couldn’t defeat him head-on, so he shadowed him and wore down Hannibal’s forces. General George Washington used the same tactic to keep his army together during the American Revolution to fight another day and to wear down the British forces until they gave up and went home, which they eventually did. General Washington knew that he must exploit and take advantage of every victory, no matter how small and make the most of it. The future of his army and the cause in which they were fighting for depended on those small, yet seemingly insignificant, victories.

Today, we fight a new set of battles. These are not fought with muskets and cannons but instead within the courts and the legislatures by protesting and writing and by growing public support. Though these battles are not fought the same, they are for the same cause: for freedom, for equality, for our basic rights as citizens.  And since our cause is the same, we know this to be a just cause.

Whether we are moving across various municipalities, or from state to state, or across the entire country, all of the battles are equally important because they affect someone. And every victory, no matter how small or insignificant, should be cherished. They are all part of the greater story that we are writing together. It is always better to make some progress rather than make none at all.

One of the reasons why the American colonies split from Great Britain was because the citizens were tired of being discriminated against, of being treated as though they were second-class citizens within the British Empire. And yet, here we find ourselves yet again fighting for these exact same reasons, and it is something that has plagued our country several times throughout history. It is something we have difficulty learning despite the fact that it’s what created our nation.

We must take pride in our community and all those who fight alongside us. We must continue to work for reform and take every small victory we can get on our way to the decisive victory that will give us full equality as Americans. The Fabian strategy, that worked so well for Fabius and for General Washington, can be our greatest asset. We can wear down our opposition and make them give up and go home. Every small victory that we gain should send them the message that we will continue to fight with greater fervor and determination until we achieve victory, and that we won’t stop until we do.

By watching poll numbers over the past several years, one thing is clear: time is on our side. We must keep up the fight for tomorrow might bring us the great victory we search for.  Yes, we all want everything now, but now will soon be upon us. We must not become demoralized, we must not become impatient, and we must not give up on the just cause. Our generation, and all the generations that are yet to come, rests on what we achieve today and what we achieve tomorrow. Together, we will achieve equality for our brothers and sisters, and we will make sure history gets it right.

 


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