Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why We Should All Be Worried About The VRA and Texas

The last 48 hours or so have been eventful ones in this country, indicative of the volatile times we live in, the issues that affect so many of us personally, of the oppressive nature of the established government machine.

Almost exactly 48 hours ago, the Supreme Court struck down the provisions of the Voting Rights Act that determined which states had to satisfy a higher level of scrutiny in their voting procedures. The VRA passed in 1965 with an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate in the thick of the civil rights movement. It was impossible to dispute the tensions in certain areas of the country at the time.

The narrow majority of the court did away with it, claiming that things are just different now. We have a black President, so racism is dead, right? Hardly. In the 48 hours since the law was struck down, 6 of the 9 states formerly included in the provisions have moved forward with voting restrictions. 

In 48 hours.

Race relations may no longer routinely involve lynchings and fire hoses being turned on crowds, but just because it lays just beneath the surface of that doesn't mean it's gone away. In fact, these days, it's not just the black population dealing with voting suppression and racism more broadly. Muslims (and anyone that looks like they might be) and Spanish speakers are two highly targeted populations now as well. Did you know that the NYPD actually has a Muslim surveillance program? I wish I was kidding.

The court labors under the illusion that it's all good. That those tasked with election commissions will only be fair and just and right. That racism won't affect voting laws, unless Congress decides it will, which we all know that Congress will never do.

The court declared progress that doesn't exist here, and struck down a law that passed with overwhelming support, one that still obviously needs to be in place because of the events surrounding the most recent election.

The following day, those same justices, the ones who justified their decision because it was an outdated law that no longer was relevant, argued precisely the opposite in their dissent for the DOMA case. There is no logical basis for this disconnect, for this inconsistency, other than to say simply that these justices believe racism is dead and that equal rights are not necessary. Thomas in particular baffles my mind. A man who wouldn't sit where he does without the civil rights movement's existence, a man who wouldn't be allowed to marry the woman he did without the court's intervention and redefinition of marriage in the past, voted to do away with the protections of still-oppressed minorities and refused to look in the mirror about his own marriage.

Between those two huge days on the Court, something else happened down in Texas. Something big.

During a special session of the state legislature, on the last day of the session, Sen. Wendy Davis staged a filibuster to prevent a vote on a very restrictive abortion bill that would have effectively closed most of the clinics in the state. The white, male, conservative majority of the Senate was beside themselves. They fought the filibuster with procedural rules and objections, the prohibited her from leaning, from using the bathroom, from pausing at all.

This woman is a hero.
The world needs more women like her.
She was admonished for having help to put on a back brace when forced to stand. She was yelled at, harassed, interrupted.

With 15 minutes left in the session, she was stopped and they attempted to force a vote. Chaos broke out in the chamber. The vote was put through minutes after midnight, the Republicans declared victory, then manually changed the timestamp on the vote so that it appeared to have been completed before the session had legally ended.

They forgot the session was being streamed online live and that 700,000 people were now watching in support of Sen. Davis. They didn't realize that screenshots were being captured of the true time. They thought they could bully her, break their own rules, and sneak in a bill that has been illegally passed.

CNN was talking about muffins.

None of the major news networks carried any of this. CSPAN wasn't even streaming it. The chamber cameras cut off at some point in the confusion and the world watched it unfold through hand held cell phone cameras being held by protesters like Christopher Dido, sent there on Twitter by Wil Wheaton.

The AP reported the bill had passed shortly after midnight, never bothering to check the sources and see what was actually happening. The major news networks followed their lead, reporting the bill had passed, then correcting themselves when the Lt. Gov. declared it had died, but never explaining why that all happened.

Those of us who were watching know what took place in Texas. We saw the gross miscarriage of justice.

Not only should those elected officials be ashamed of themselves, the media should as well. I shouldn't get my news from TV celebrities and protesters, and neither should you.

There is a petition to open an investigation about the timestamp alterations, which you can sign here. 

Gov. Rick Perry has already said he intends to call a second special session to re-vote on the bill.

These men, these misogynists, they can't just take their toys and go home when they lose. No...they seem hellbent on forcing this issue over and over and over again, they seem so sure that they should be able to tell women what they can do with their bodies.

When is enough, enough?

I've had enough. What about you?

2 comments:

  1. I have definitely had enough. When my family asks me why I don't want to move back to Texas, they know that their crazy politics and hypocritical politicians are keeping me away. I love my family, but I refuse, REFUSE, to put up with lawmakers like that, even for my family.

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  2. CNN was talking about muffins. That is so funny, except it's not funny at all. I've lost so much faith in our politicians. They need to bring some integrity back.

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