Race 2012, Rewrite

I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves, by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves and of treason against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect.

The Fire Bell in the Night, Monticello April 20, 1820

Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes

Thomas Jefferson, in his letter was talking about the Missouri Compromise that allowed entry of a new state into the Union as a Slave State, something Jefferson was vehemently opposed to. In fact as early as 1787 the issue of Slavery was discussed by the nation’s founders as one that would ultimately destroy the new Republic. Though many of the founding fathers were slaveholders, there was a firm belief the nation could not for long support the buying and selling of human chattel and remain on the right side of history.

During the convention, on June 6 James Madison first raised the issue of Slavery, despite being a slave owner himself like many others he abhorred the practice of the slave trade and wanted to see it ended. His first comment during the convention were;

“that we have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.”

His feelings were echoed by others, in the end the compromised language of Section 9 is what was agreed to. The fear expressed by many of the signers of the Constitution is Twenty years was a long time for mischief to be gotten up to, they were right of course, slavery spread instead of ending and before those twenty years were up, though importation became illegal in 1808 by then America could well supply its own. What we ended up with was a compromise in Section 9 Article 1 of the Constitution:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

Our history of xenophobia; our fear of other has remained a cornerstone of legislative actions though we try to whitewash this.

Dredd Scott
Wikipedia

Slavery is a terrible stain, eventually leading to the Dredd Scott decision, ultimately giving heft to Reconstruction,
Jim Crow and legal Segregation; decades of Separate and Unequal. The framework of Dredd Scott set the standard for other equally
terrible actions by our government and jingoistic acts of our people.

Let us look for a minute at some of the other terrible stains and what they meant;

Ongoing – Decimation of the Native Tribes through broken treaties, acts of aggression, intentional infection, starvation and ongoing poverty.

1882 – Chinese immigration explodes spurred by the California Gold Rush and results in the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Exclusion Act restricts further immigration and prevents those individuals already in the US from becoming Citizens, ever. The Chinese immigrant was so hated this Act remained in place until 1943.

Mochida family awaiting evacuation all tagged to keep them together
Wikipedia

1942 – Japanese Internment of approximately 110,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent. Racial prejudice was the primary fuel of the Japanese Internment, not any real acts of treason, General DeWitt who was in charge of Internment repeatedly told newspapers “A Jap is a Jap”.

1876 – 1965 Jim Crow, is there anything that speaks the heart of this nations underlying racial conscious more than nearly one hundred years of laws designed to strip equality

White Trade Only, Lancaster, Ohio
Wikipedia

from an entire group of citizens? We think of Jim Crow as something that was a southern problem and indeed the south was open in their racial segregation, but nowhere in this nation were we truly free of Jim Crow thinking only the outward symbolism might not have been so blatant.

2001 – Islamic Backlash; the attack of 9/11 has created wave after wave of legislation at state levels banning Sharia Law from our justice system, which has never been a threat. While the attack by a group of Islamic Fundamentalist on 9/11 was both terrible and heartbreaking, like Pearl Harbor it was not conducted by US Citizens. We have chosen, even those elected officials who should be more restrained in their language, instead  to fan the flames of religious and racial hate. Rather than condemning religious and racial intolerance we fall in line behind the Christian minister, burning the Quran on the front lawn of his church and the Congresswoman calling for an investigation of an aide to the Secretary of State because she is a practicing Muslim.

I would like to think these are not pernicious attacks made out of ignorance, I know better. These like every other example are simply more of the same, more vitriol made by ignorant and fearful people trying to keep their piece of the rock safe from ‘other’.

My personal opinion is a nation that can justify the enslavement of a people based entirely on the color of their skin is able to justify any other evil. A nation that sits in church and listens to their minister rail against ‘other’, as this nation continues to do, is capable of any evil. We embrace hate though we don’t recognize it in ourselves. We wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-righteousness and flag pins, point our fingers at the other side and call names, ‘Progressive Scum’, ‘Socialist’ and ‘Feminist’ are my personal favorites.

We allow Ministers of the Word of Christ to fill our airwaves with Hate and Lies, we nod our heads and say ‘Amen Brother’, when they tell us Homosexuals, Muslims and sometimes women are not of the same quality of human being as ‘the rest of us’ and are sometimes even deserving of death. We vote to strip entire groups of our fellow citizens of their civil rights and we smile as we leave the voting booth, convinced we have done the right thing, we are on the side of God, Mom and Apple Pie.

We now have the book ends, over one hundred fifty years apart of Dredd Scott and Citizen United, one confirmed human beings as property with no rights the other confirmed corporations as people with greater rights than some of our own citizens.

Bookends of the Argument over 150 years apart.

Post Racial America? Please spare me the rhetoric, we aren’t even close. We haven’t embraced the truth of our past as we attempt to rewrite it in more pleasant terms.

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

Race 2012, Consequential Outcomes

“Smaller Government”

“Less Taxes”

“Government does not create jobs”

“Entitlements”

We hear the above a great deal, from the opposition on the Right. In truth, it is a mantra for their race toward the White House. What does any of the above mean, really?

While the Right is beating the drums of revolution, I sit back and consider what all this means to me as an American and a woman. As I watch the polls slide up and down, back and forth I truly do wonder. We talk a good game on the Left but whether gender, race or otherwise challenged we have failed to band together to form a single coalition against the status quo, instead being satisfied with our individual small wins rather than banding together to win the war.

There is not a single person in the nation today who does not receive benefits from the government. I wonder what are we willing to give up, what services or conveniences would we be willing to do away with for the benefit of less taxes. Today though I am going to ignore this one, except to say there aren’t many, some but not many.

As to whether government creates jobs, of course they do, you are delusional if you believe otherwise. Whether you work directly for a government agency or for a company that sells to the government, the government, federal, state and local is the single largest consumer of goods and services. I am not going to spend time on this one, but consider all the myriad ways in which government monies flow through communities.

There are plenty of ways to shrink the size of government. Let’s start with something simple, grant all members of society equality without equivocation. It is simple; if you are citizen of the United States of America, you are equal to every other citizen. We should not be voting on whether our neighbor is equal to us, whether they have rights equal to our own. This is not an issue that should ever be put forward on a ballot.

The following should be part of a civil and sane society without question or thought. Marriage, call it something else if this makes you happy but call it something else for everyone. Military service, combat duty and access to Officer Training School, let’s make the military reflect our nation at every level not just the enlisted corps. This includes equality of opportunity and pay starting with our schools. Fund them equally in every neighborhood no matter the tax base or average household income. Equality in our choices, healthcare and privacy up to and including access to contraceptives, health screening and yes dammit Abortion.

Remember these words?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

They spoke to the heart of Revolutionaries who would found a nation. It is once again time for us to embrace the spirit of these words.

Now we finally get to the Hot Button, Entitlements! The monster that will reach out and grab you when you set your feet down on the floor without turning on the light first. What are Entitlements? I have heard all different sorts of answers to this question from the Right and the Left.

Social Security and Medicare – entitlement or claim? I would say Social Security and Medicare are Claims, debts owed by the government to us. Are we entitled to collect? Yes, we paid they are in fact our money we are collecting and though we didn’t agree, we loaned it to the government interest free for a very long time.

Medicaid, Welfare, Unemployment – are these Entitlements? They are part of our social safety net. They are what we long ago agreed would be in place so our citizens would never again face abject poverty without food, shelter or support. Do our citizens, especially our children and our aged deserve our compassion? I would say they do, but then I believe strongly how a nation treats its weakest citizens is a reflection of that nation as a whole.

When the Right Wing talks about ‘reform’ of our Entitlements what are they really saying? What I hear all too often is this:

“They don’t want to work so they are sucking the teat of the public.”

When this is said what do they mean by ‘they’? It is those nefarious ‘others’, those people not like them. The bogeyman or woman that looks different. Those irresponsible ‘other’ people. It is those single parents, usually women who have children with different men (you know who I am talking about). Those un-Christian, immoral, violent ‘other’ people. Let’s just say it shall we, it is those Black and Brown people, those not like White People.

This is the picture of ‘other’ painted by politicians and their support system to divide the heart of this nation. Do they depict the reality? No, no they don’t. What they create is a vision for those that fear they will lose what little traction they have left to latch on to, something  or someone to point at and blame for their failure. This picture of wretchedness, is something ‘other’ those with nothing left but their ‘rightness’ can stand above and feel superior to.

Here is the problem with the above:

Welfare Demographics
Percent of recipients who are white 38.8 %
Percent of recipients who are black 39.8 %
Percent of recipients who are Hispanic 15.7 %
Percent of recipients who are Asian 2.4 %
Percent of recipients who are Other 3.3 %

http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

When you consider the unemployment numbers within each of these communities :

What does this leave us with? Inequality? I would say so especially when you consider this final number, the population distribution as of the 2010 Census.

What does it all really mean? It means we remain a nation without conscious and without compassion. We have moved further into the mindset of “I got mine, out of my way ya bums get your own.” Rather than holding the door open for those that follow behind us, rather than reaching our hand down to lift the next generation up, we have slammed the door shut and closed our fists. We are standing in the corner, taking a fighters stance ready to defend our small piece of the rock against all comers, against ‘other’.

We are demonizing our neighbors, our friends, our brothers and sisters. We are failing our children.

If we don’t turn our back on the bigotry, greed and avarice soon, we will fall as a nation it is the inevitable outcome of our ignorance. It is the inescapable consequence of our failure to come together for common cause.

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