Research tells us that, in 1830, a white actor named, Thomas Dartmouth Rice, was propelled to stardom by his minstrel performances as the fictional “Jim Crow,”a comic caricature of a clumsy, dim-witted black slave. As a result of Rice’s fame, “Jim Crow” became a popular Southern expression for the Negro, and the Southern segregationist laws became known as “Jim Crow Laws.” Jim Crow laws were State and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern States, passed by White legislatures, after the Reconstructionist Period. Historically, those Black and White citizens that sought to defy such laws were met with violence and death.
Despite the enactment of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, (1868) guaranteeing equality to all Americans, and the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) outlawing the practice of segregation in the schools (“Separate is not Equal”), Jim Crow practices continued (and still continue) apace, despite subsequent legislation on the subject. Jim Crow, is still alive and in active commerce, particularly in the area of voter suppression. Since it appears that we are at the eve of mid-term voting, we choose to reflect specifically, on some of the manifestations of the unsightly Jim Crow stain on our Democratic franchise.
Gerrymandering (tactically moving the voter district lines, to affect the outcome), purging voter lists to eliminate voters, likely to vote for the “opposition,” and voter suppression, aimed at preventing certain groups from voting, are pernicious and undemocratic strategies, designed to influence the outcome of an election. Such shameful cynicism is only exceeded by the responsible officials’, or legislators’, self-justified and arrogant delusion, that they know best, in accordance with their skewed perception of our nation and its purpose; or worse, for some other insidious, personal motivation.
No less than 24 State Legislatures, as advised (mostly Republican), have introduced measures that place tight restrictions on voting, many of which, reportedly, are designed to disproportionately affect people of color, and Hispanic people, who are perceived as Democratic Party voters. Local officials, in these venues, will deny voting eligibility to such groups based upon de minimus reasons such as the absence of a hyphen in the voter’s identification (a meaningless detail, omitted by some unknown clerk ) or some other meritless and cynically alleged defect.
The Secretary of State in Georgia (white) who has by some miraculous avoidance of ethical principle, is simultaneously a candidate (Republican) for Governor, has, somehow been permitted to tactically and immorally, purge selected voters from the voter list, who he perceives will vote for his opponent, a black and a Democrat. Native Americans, who have an ethnically nuanced system of designating residence, are being denied their right to vote. In other cases, in sparsely populated areas, where certain Native Americans reside, a single voting station has been moved or eliminated entirely. The States of Kentucky and Georgia have, among certain other jurisdictions, have legally permitted the purging of voters’ names from the register, for identically tactical reasons.
What can be the possible self-justification, or comforting rationalization, if any, of those cynical officials and legislators, who will loudly and enthusiastically endorse America’s laudable, “one man, one vote” mantra, and privately choose to exercise their authority, otherwise?
One thought on “Post # 293 JIM CROW AND DEMOCRACY”
Once again, pliny, you are right on spot! Timely critique of one of the pillars of democracy–the right to vote!
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