Human and civil rights violations often occur in many parts of the United States, as illustrated by recent voting and marriage laws passed in state legislatures, judicial errors that occur through verdicts rendered in our court system, prejudice and corporate-level discrimination and harassment. in our schools. When they do occur, these violations have a serious negative impact on community race relations, can cause civil disobedience and conflict, and sometimes even threaten our ability to maintain law and order. What avenues are open to us to prevent them from occurring in the future?
An Assessment of Our Current Race Relations Based on Sixty Years of Observation
I’m not an expert on race relations, but I grew up with the civil rights movement in full swing and saw what happened over the last sixty years in both Florida and the nation as a whole. The best way I know of to solve civil rights problems like those described is to prevent them from happening in the first place by eliminating the underlying causes, but that is not always possible and when possible it does not happen overnight.
The American civil rights movement has brought us many advances in race relations through the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, the American Civil Liberties Union, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act. 1965 signed by the United States Congress. signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson and the well-documented efforts of many others.
But even though our country has elected its first black president, in fact our various racial groups, given a choice, still seem to prefer to mix with members of their own race most of the time. This self-imposed distancing of the races from one another when and where it occurs undermines mutual understanding and respect, provides the opportunity for misunderstandings to arise, and sometimes becomes the combination that ignites civil disobedience when a violation of rights is perceived. humans. The protests and demonstrations that take place as a result of voter suppression laws, marital inequality, and alleged judicial errors stemming from unpopular jury verdicts illustrate my point.
My focus will be primarily on the voter suppression laws in effect during the 2012 presidential election.
Human and Civil Rights Violations Illustrated by Voting Laws Passed in State Legislatures
When laws like the ones listed below are passed into law with the deliberate but sub-pink intention of reducing the percentage of minority voters who go to the polls and cast their votes because the party that passes such legislation receives much less support from those voters that the opposition party receives, is a deliberate deterioration of racial harmony and an obvious attempt on the part of the political party in power to maintain power at all costs even violating human and civil rights. The laws and practices mentioned are reminiscent of the laws enacted by the so-called “banana republics”. When these laws do not have the expected result and the party that passes them loses the elections, what next? A military junta? It is outrageous for a political party in the United States to lower itself to that level. If a political party cannot obtain a majority of votes legally and ethically, it has no right to win the elections. Consider these tactics for a moment, all of which have been used recently to try and win elections.
- Make registering to vote more difficult.
- Impose restrictive and burdensome identification requirements as a prerequisite for registering to vote and casting your ballot.
- Prohibit registration on the same day as the date of the general elections.
- Minimize the number of early voting days.
- Eliminate early voting on Sunday, a day many voters of color prefer to cast their ballot.
- Make voting as inconvenient as possible for those who don’t normally vote for you.
- Deliberately distribute fliers in Spanish that incorrectly indicate the date of the election and show that it was held on a later date than the date for which it was scheduled.
- Place far more voting machines in favored districts than you do in opposing party-dominated districts to ensure long lines and delays in voting in opposing-party-dominated districts and to ensure that there are only short lines in districts dominated by the party in power.
- Shorten the hours the polls are open.
When these discriminatory attempts to suppress minority rights exist, the next time a situation develops that those minorities consider discriminatory, such as a judicial error in a court trial, it will ignite and mobilize civil rights defenders, initiate litigation, it will provoke public protests and provoke petitions to government officials for the rectification of grievances. Is the need for such action being created to maintain and exercise the rights that we all clearly have in the best interest of racial harmony? Is it in the national interest to allow these practices to continue? Let the reader be the judge of the appropriateness of such an action.
It is extremely disappointing that even after decades of efforts – legal, judicial, public and private, personal and corporate to provide equal opportunity and establish a level playing field for all – we are still trying to break out of the quagmire created by the attitude of people who are frozen in time and who are not willing to see the need to change their attitude.
We must continue to educate our children to understand the fundamentals and great importance of the American civil rights movement, its causes, and the lives sacrificed that led to it. And we must instill in them the need to make a firm commitment to legal equality for all: black – white (or any other race or color), lesbian – gay – bisexual – transgender or straight, male – female, young – elderly and disabled without having take into account religious doctrine or political ideology.
Respect for our racial and cultural differences in all age groups seems key to overcoming the persistent remnants of bigotry and hatred that sometimes still disrupt racial harmony and social integration. Old and tough clothes. In this case, let’s hope they die sooner rather than later.
© 2013 Douglas M. Midgley, JD All rights reserved worldwide