Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Bridge Too Far (To Visit)

Your Stopped Clock Is Right(tm) alert for the day, and possibly the year:  National Review's Charles CW Cooke tears into the GOP for not showing up at the 50th anniversary of Selma's Bloody Sunday.
This afternoon, in the hot center of the state of Alabama, a parade of Americans will pay homage to a historic march. Meeting on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on which hundreds of black Americans were beaten for the crime of standing up to their government, Barack Obama will remember a heroic feat of rebellion, and a brutal act of repression. The president, the White House has announced, will speak personally “about what it means to stand on the spot where police beat and gassed 600 unarmed protestors,” and he will explain what the moment means to him as an African American. 

And the Republican party’s current leadership will be nowhere to be seen.

By declining to join, Ohio representative Marsha Fudge told Politico, the GOP has “lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care.” Fudge is, of course, entirely correct. But the absence is far, far worse than that. By electing to skip the proceedings — and to send a former president and a handful of congressional representatives in lieu — the Republican leadership suggests that it does not recognize what Selma represents within America’s long history of public dissent.

The United States regards itself as a nation of revolutionaries and of rebels — of those radicals, renegades, and rabble-rousers who stood tall in the face of tyranny and shouted for all the world to hear that they would not go gentle into that good night. On the right, American disobedience is typically represented by a few, ancient images. It is Washington crossing the Delaware; Patrick Henry proclaiming that he would regard as acceptable options only liberty and death; and Thomas Jefferson and his band of seditionists pledging each other “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” It is the brutal winter in Valley Forge, and the inspiration of Philadelphia. It is Trumbull’s imaginative painting, and the reluctant voices that cried out from within the early colonial factions and conceded that there was no choice for Americans but to join or to die. When it comes time each year to remember these moments, Republicans rally as one.

On July Fourth, we read the Declaration of Independence, and in doing so we reaffirm that all men are created equal and that we will permit no “long train of abuses and usurpations” to reduce us “under absolute Despotism.” In our political disputes we thrill to the promises of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Often, our answer to what ails America is “James Madison.” Naturally, this is all well and good — deeply moving, even. And yet if we simultaneously forget for whom the country’s foundational “promissory note” has burned the brightest — and for whom it remained for so long an elusive source of “great deliverance”our celebrations will run the risk of being distressingly incomplete, perhaps even hollow.

Of course it all rings hollow.  At the last minute, the GOP is sending House Majority Whip Kevin "Aptly Named" McCarthy to represent their "leadership", and in more than a dozen states, Republicans are actively trying to destroy the Voting Rights Act with legislation that makes it more difficult for all Americans to vote in red states, but particularly African Americans, including Alabama.

It's all well fine and good for Cooke to want the GOP to feel less guilty about its own horrible 60-plus year record of voter suppression and resistance, if not open hostility to civil rights and minorities in general, but the actions of Republicans reveal them as all liars and charlatans.

You have no further to look than South Carolina's black GOP Sen. Tim Scott for this proof:

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., an honorary co-chairman of the Selma trip and the only African-American Republican in the Senate, said voting rights and the commemoration of Selma should be “de-coupled.”

The issue of voting rights legislation and the issue of Selma, we ought to have an experience that brings people together and not make it into a political conversation,” Scott said.

We have to "de-couple" civil rights from the struggle that necessitated it, because that's the only delusional way lawmakers like Scott can feel better about themselves when it comes to disenfranchising millions. Everything about Selma is political, Senator Scott.  You're a poor student of history to pretend otherwise.

But that's what the GOP wants us to do: pretend Selma never happened, because it was never necessary.

Read more here:

Racing Against History

On the 50th anniversary of Selma's Bloody Sunday, there remain sharp differences in how race is perceived in America depending on if you're white or not.

As Barack Obama prepares to mark the march's anniversary in Selma, Alabama, 39% of Americans say relations between blacks and whites have worsened since he took office, including 45% of whites and 26% of blacks. Just 15% of Americans say race relations have improved under Obama, while 45% say they have stayed about the same.

When it comes to voting rights and criminal justice, about half of Americans think more work is needed. The poll finds 51% believe the Voting Rights Act, signed into law the summer after the march, remains necessary to make sure that blacks are allowed to vote, while 47% say it's no longer needed. Fifty percent say the nation's criminal justice system favors whites over blacks, while 42% think it treats both equally.

On employment, most see progress, with 72% saying blacks in their community have as good a chance as whites at getting jobs for which they are qualified, 28% say they do not.

But across all these measures, the overall results mask sharp divides between blacks and whites on perceptions of racial disparity in the U.S. While 76% of blacks say the Voting Rights Act is necessary in present day to ensure that blacks are able to vote, just 48% of whites agree. Likewise, 54% of African Americans say blacks do not have as good a chance as whites to get jobs for which they are qualified, just 19% of whites agree.

And blacks and whites are broadly divided in their assessment of the nation's criminal justice system. Three-quarters of African Americans (76%) say the system favors whites, compared with 42% of whites who hold that same opinion. The poll was completed before the Department of Justice released a report finding widespread racial discrimination by the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white police officer sparked months of protests.

Oh and two-thirds of Republicans say race relations are worse under President Obama.   It's very easy to blame him, rather than ask yourself why that is.  I'm sure the Ferguson report will be dismissed the same way.  "Well, it's just one city with one bad police department.  That kind of thing doesn't happen where we live, and it's a waste of time and money looking for evidence otherwise."

The 42% of people who believe that blacks and whites are treated the same in the criminal justice system aren't delusional, frankly.  But then again, that's nothing new either.
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