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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

APARTHEID NATION?

Something that was discussed in great detail on Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry’s program yesterday was Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech to the NAACP convention held here in Houston this week past. He brought up some interesting points, which made me think. A lot.

With the advent of voter ID laws here in this country, we’re heading backwards on voters’ rights, according to Mr. Holder. Mandating that EVERYBODY has to have a valid photo ID of some sort, issued by the state in which that person is voting, Mr. Holder said, was like unto the reintroduction of poll tax laws. Me, I think that the situation is a lot worse than people realize. I think that we’re trying to institute apartheid into this country.

Here’s the Webster’s dictionary definition of apartheid:

a•part•heid ( ah-pärt heit )
n.

1. An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.

2. A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.

3. The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

And, here we go again. Backwards into the old-time abominable practice of Jim Crow laws and segregation.


Mr. Holder said Tuesday he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters; he also told the NAACP in Houston that he will do everything he can to make sure the law doesn’t stand, adding that the Justice Department “will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.” Under the law passed in Texas, Holder said that “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them — and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes,” Mr. Holder added spontaneously, drawing applause as he moved away from the original text of his speech with a reference to a fee used in some Southern states after slavery’s abolition to disenfranchise black people.

Mr. Holder spoke a day after a trial started in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas’ GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls. Under Texas’ law, Holder noted, a concealed handgun license would serve as acceptable ID to vote, but a student ID would not. He went on to say that while only 8 percent of white people do not have government-issued photo IDs, about 25 percent of black people lack such identification.

“I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive,” the attorney general said, adding that the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate and that “we will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”

“I will not allow that to happen,” he added.

OK, but I’m wondering just how he plans to stop it. Yeah, yeah – I know, we’ve got a Constitutional amendment saying that things like literacy tests and poll taxes aren’t legal any more, but, sheesh, people, this is happening right before our eyes, and we’re not doing anything to stop it for the most part.

I grew up in Texas during a time when there was segregated EVERYTHING: restrooms, lunch counters, drinking fountains, busses – you name it, we had it. Well, folks, South Africa had it too, for a long time, and it was finally gotten rid of, thanks to people like Nelson Mandela. There is still a lot of racism there, but eventually, through generational change, it will finally die almost completely out.
We had (and truth be known, still do have) our own version of apartheid here in this country, beginning after the Civil War. Couldn’t call the freedmen slaves any more, so they were called sharecroppers or tenant farmers, and they were herded into neighborhoods kept far, FAR away from the white people. There were/are 2 kinds of segregation, and what we see now and what is still endemic in this country is something called hypersegregation.

Hypersegregation is a form of racial segregation that consists of both unforced and forced geographical separation of racial groups. Most often, this occurs in cities where the residents of the inner city are African Americans and the suburbs surrounding this inner core are often white European American residents. The idea of hypersegregation gained credibility in 1989 largely due to the work of Douglas Massey and Nancy A. Denton and their studies of "American Apartheid" when whites created the black ghetto during the first half of the 20th century in order to isolate growing urban black populations by segregation among inner-city African-Americans. It has also been called “white flight” because the white people that lived in the inner cities ran like hell to get AWAY from the black people that were moving into their enclaves. There was a phrase that defined that era – and it’s as disgusting today as it was then: “Well, I don’t really have anything against n()s but I sure don’t want to live next door to them.”

It’s a vicious, vile practice. Know what’s the saddest thing about it? Racism and segregation are alive and well right here, RIGHT NOW, in this country.

Take a look around you, gangers, and tell me that what’s going on in this nation right now isn’t sickening. We have, for the first time, a black man in the highest office in the land. We have a smart, shrewd, thoughtful, well-educated BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. Black people had the temerity to actually VOTE for this man, and the white ReThugs have been trying to get rid of this uppity n() ever since. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated too many times to count that the one and only thing that the Republican Party should be focused on is defeating Barack Obama. To that end, both the Senate and the House Republicans have stalled or defeated legislation all in the name of making sure that the President is a one-term President. What’s the best way to do that? Disenfranchise people that would vote for him.

We now have the resurgence of segregation by way of required voter IDs. Not only coming back into style, but actually being pushed by white people. Never mind that the Voting Rights Act says that this sort of crap is illegal, there are very inventive people finding very inventive ways to stop both old and new voter registration. The three worst states are Tennessee, Florida and Pennsylvania – and Texas isn’t far behind. Alabama has one, and Arizona, of course, has their “PAPERS, PLEASE” law in effect as well. Wisconsin has one, as does Mississippi. Add Indiana to the mix as well. Are you seeing a pattern here?

I didn’t expect anything better out of the Southern states than what’s been transpiring – but I honestly thought that the Northern states were a bit more intelligent.

This is being done, as the ReThugs will tell you, to stop voter fraud. Well, guess what? In the past 2 general elections, there have been less than 1000 case of voter fraud recorded in the entire country.THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. The Brennan Center for Justice has published two papers about this (http://www.truthaboutfraud.org/), and even the Republican Party has admitted that voter fraud isn’t as wide-spread – MAYBE – as they first thought.

We SO don’t need a return to the days of voter suppression. That’s just another form of institutionalized denial of rights. We no longer have organizations that are even willing to try and register voters. The League of Women Voters gave up on registering voters in Florida because some of them were arrested for it. We no longer have ACORN, thanks to the contemptible efforts of James O’Keefe and his corporate shills. So, what’s going to happen?

I don’t know. All I can do is put this up:

First They Came .... poem by Martin Niemöller

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

He wrote this while he was in Dachau.

Can’t happen here again? Think again, people. Think again.

THINK.

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