A discussion of the ‘Merits of Slavery’

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by A. Bruce Crawley

Hey! Put down that remote control!

While most of us have been preoccupied with televised election stories, the first few games of the new National Football League season and the curious feud between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, some people have been busily whittling away at Black voting rights, discussing the elimination of affirmative action, and even talking, wistfully, about how great slavery once was — for Black people.

abrucecrawley
A. BRUCE CRAWLEY

While you were wondering whether Tebow or Sanchez start for the Jets this week, the Supreme Court was preparing to decide whether the voting rights extension of 2006 should be overturned, to allow free implimentation of Photo ID laws. If you recall, that was the decision that included Section Five of the Act, which prohibited states with a history of race-based voter discrimination to change their election laws without prior federal approval.

The law pertained, specifically, to Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alaska, as well as to certain jurisdictions in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho and North Carolina.

This is all important, especially, because U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is on record as saying that 8 percent of voting-aged whites lack some forms of photo id, while 25 percent of voting-age Blacks are without such a form of personal identification.

An early version of a proposed South Carolina Photo ID law was rejected by the federal government because it was clearly considered to be racially discriminatory. That ruling compelled the state to modify its proposal to remove the specific discriminatory language, leading to a delay in its approval until 2013.

Why does any of this matter? Well, in South Carolina, non-Hispanic whites represent 64 percent of the statewide population, making Blacks, Hispanics and Asians a powerful “one-third-plus” of the potential electorate. If the state’s political leaders believe that race may be a significant factor in their voting patterns, as it seems they certainly do, this issue becomes even more critical. It will be vitally important on Nov. 6.

Yet, it should be disturbing to all people of good conscience, in this country, that there are now 10 states that either require Photo ID, at the polling place (Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia) or that “request” it (Idaho, South Dakota, Michigan, Louisiana, Florida and New Hampshire).

And while the state of Pennsylvania hasn’t officially made either of these lists, yet, a state judge recently ruled that the move to introduce a similar Photo ID requirement in the state should be overturned.

While there was great celebration among the anti-Photo ID advocates, the ruling may still be appealed at the level of the State Supreme Court. Let’s keep an eye on that one.

But that’s not all that’s been going on, of a racially troubling nature, while most of us have been preoccupied with campaigns, entertainment and sports.

Notably, there is the case at the University of Texas wherein a young white woman, Abigail Fisher, alleged that, in 2008, she was denied admission to the University because she was discriminated against.

She charged that the University’s admission policies included race-based criteria and implied that some person of color had been given the seat at the school that she felt entitled, somehow, to receive.

The problem with Fisher’s claim is that it assumes that there is always some race-based conspiracy waged by blacks and other people of color in this country, to deprive deserving whites of everything that should belong to them.

Nothing, it seems, could be further from the truth.

Indeed, if Vice President Joe Biden were a member of the Supreme Court, he would most assuredly describe Fisher’s claim as “malarkey.”

When reasonable people reviewed what is actually taking place at the University of Texas, they found strong reasons to question the credibility of Fisher’s allegations. For example, according to the Huffington Post, the 2008 freshman class was about 6,600 persons, of which 1,713 were African Americans or Hispanics. That equates to 25.9 percent of the class being black or Latino students. By comparison, total enrollment of the school that year was 50,006 of which 54.5 percent were white, 20.2 percent were black or Hispanics, and 15 percent were Asian.

Here is the interesting part: The most recently available census data informs us that blacks and Hispanics together represent 50.3 percent of the state’s population, while they represented, as has been pointed out, just 20.2 percent of the school’s student body. In the same census, whites represented 44.8 percent of the state’s population, but comprised 54.6 percent of the University’s student enrollment.

What in God’s name is Ms. Fisher concerned about? If anything, it appears that white students are not being disadvantaged in enrollments at the University of Texas. In fact, based on the population counts, they appear to be over-represented at the school.

Fisher’s case appears, on its face, to be weak. The real issue for people of color and for our entire country is that media and other observers seem to be taking her claims far too seriously. This case is being brought before the highest court of the land, as if it has merit, as if she has suffered a race-based wrong.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether “other Abigail Fishers,” in other venues, and in areas extending beyond higher education, also begin to make their cases for the elimination of affirmative action.

As I see it, if our country is now comprised 36% of people of color it should be a national security and competitive economic imperative that we don’t continue to limit access to self-improvement, educational and employment opportunities to just two-thirds of our population.

Compete with China with such an approach? Forget about it.

It’s way past time for the people in our nation to begin thinking as a unified, multi-racial collective, before it’s too late.

Finally, we move now to the most unsettling part of this whole racially divisive trend, the recent attempts by high-ranking officials to “re-brand” slavery, to dress it up, and to give it the appearance of having been some 18th/19th century version of the old Peace Corps.

To hear Arkansas state legislator Jon Hubbard explain it, “slavery was a blessing” for Black people, because, in being captured, chained to the decks of ships and shipped unceremoniously to North America, to be beaten, and condemned to a life of dawn-to-dusk manual labor, with no pay, the slaves managed to obtain a “better quality of life” than they previously enjoyed in Africa.

In fact, Hubbard claimed that he didn’t know “any other way, that Blacks in America could have gotten here.”

As hard as it may be to believe, Hubbard is not alone in expressing such views to media outlets these days. Quick to lend his support to “Brother Hubbard” was another Republican legislator from Arkansas, a neo-Confederate named Loy Mauch, who not only found no fault in Black slavery, but also referred to Abraham Lincoln as a “neurotic Northern war criminal.”

Even worse, as far back as 2009, Mauch is on the record as having used the Bible to justify his ongoing support for the wonderfulness of the institution of slavery. “If slavery was so God-awful,” he said, “why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution, and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”

Why, indeed, Mr. Mauch?

Flipping away from our flat screens, and finally paying attention to your “line of reasoning,” we have to ask ourselves “why” you are an elected official, at all, in this country, and “how” we have managed to sleep through so much of what you and others have been working so hard to achieve, up to this point.

(A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.)

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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