Voter rights legislation is winding its way through Congress with the foregone conclusion that Senate Republicans will scuttle it. Equitable voting rights legislation for blacks in America has been a 400-year exercise in hypocrisy. One man, one vote has been turned on its head so often, Ringling Bros. should have offered a contract. Lives have been sacrificed, leaders have been destroyed and in the end, mainly white politicians bent on maintaining racial superiority, say, nothing to see here. Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee state Rep. Justin Lafferty used revisionist history and redefined the Three-Fifths Compromise, attempting to paint southern slaveholders as heroes of equal rights and democracy. The black lawmakers of the Tennessee Republican-controlled House were reduced to stunned silence by his obvious self-serving lack of historical knowledge. Mr. Lafferty infamously asserted the Compromise was for “the purpose of ending slavery” met by the thunderous applause of his white cohorts.
I am amused when phrases like things have changed so much or we have come so far are thrown around mostly by those who have little stake in the outcomes of black life. From enslaved Africans to generations of native-born blacks, beatings and lynchings were used to intimidate and humiliate—to the grave, a group who simply asked for equity, not superiority. I was shocked to learn about 20 years ago that lynching had never been formally outlawed in the United States. In February of 2020, a bill passed the House to outlaw lynching. The egregiousness of a debate on what is an obvious wrong to right is appalling. Even more appalling, were the four Republican legislators who voted against the bill; Ted Yoho (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Justin Amash (I-MI). None of these men, I suspect, would support murder unless—it seems, the murder is of a person of color or non-Christian. They covered themselves in the banner of government overreach and states’ rights reviving their tried and true post-Civil War politics of the ‘Lost Cause.’ Sorry, Messrs., Yoho, Gohmert, Massie, and Amash if you perceived my opinion as an accusation of your racism; let me assure you, gentlemen, you did not misconstrue my meaning, your vote was a racist one.
I am not advancing any controversial thoughts, just the obvious. The refusal to recognize fact over fiction is now being spread to public schools. Denialists want to condemn another generation of American children into believing that the genocide of indigenous people and the enslaving of another was a necessary evil that should be ignored because the means to an end was its justification. From the moment the first man was hanged from a tree to the inhuman beating of Rodney King and the murder of George Floyd, justifications have ranged from the public good, too much adrenaline flowing and the fear of a 17-year-old female and her 9-year-old female cousin helping to constitute a threatening mob. The truth only hurts if denied and allowed to be replaced by a lie.
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