Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Culture vs. the Constitution

Photo of Rep. John Lewis and other Democratic Party leaders by Dave Martin
On Sunday March 3, 2013, 73 year old John Lewis escorted Democratic Party leaders in a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  The Democrats were commemorating “Bloody Sunday,” the March 7, 1965 event where Alabama State Troopers attacked marchers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Representative John Lewis (D-Ga) was the Chairman of SNCC from 1963 to 1966 and he led that march in 1965.

The Democratic Party used the day to bring attention to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  This year, the Supreme Court will rule on Section 5 of that act, and the potential ruling is fraught with emotion.

We get an indication of the depth of feeling with the coverage of the “Bloody Sunday” commemoration.  Juxtaposed against the video of today’s marchers are the beatings that took place 45 years ago, along with pictures of fire-bombed buses and tear gas streaming across the streets.

And there is another “juxtaposition” that is being presented to us.  It is the characterization of a scornful Justice Scalia referring to the Voting Rights Act as an unnecessary racial entitlement.

Together, these three situations create an emotional connection with Americans, but skillfully placed, they can form a powerful narrative. What is that narrative?

Republicans want to hurt people with dark skin tone.

That’s not what is being said, and yet that is what is being taught.  We see caring and concerned Democrats juxtaposed against scornful Republicans in the context of racial violence.  Does that impact political decisions?  You be the judge:

--Must voter ID be rejected?  Why yes!  The American people have to defend themselves against Republicans who want to hurt people with dark skin tone.

--Must Colorado have a Black Caucus?  Of course!  Colorado Democrats must ensure protection from Republicans who want to hurt people with dark skin tone.

Later this year, Supreme Court Justices Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg will vote to retain Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  They know that Republicans want to hurt people with dark skin tone, and they see it as their duty to continue the necessary protections.

Obviously we will not see that justification in the legal opinions presented by the Supreme Court, but it is those exact feelings in play. Our culture promotes anti-Republican sentiment without a second thought.

Americans are confident that absurd and false characterizations have no place in our country, right?  After all, we have freedom of speech, and that takes care of the problem.

It’s in places like the Middle East where you see such difficulties.  Over there, it’s not unusual for people of the Jewish faith to be characterized as unclean and having genetic inferiority.  That’s wrong and absurd, but…

Egyptians believe this.

Palestinians believe this.

Lebanese, Syrians, and Iranians believe this.

Strangely, over here, millions of Americans believe Republicans want to hurt people with dark skin tone.

That is wrong and that is absurd, but…

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