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January 26th, 2013

For How Long Is Jim Crow Dead?

In a hopeful and uplifting video explaining the voter rights brouhaha that swept our nation during the last couple of elections, President William Barber of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP, observes, “Poor people can’t compete with the rich lobbyist, so they have to have access to the ballot in order to shape the balance of power.”


Amen to that.

Certainly that’s not unknown to most, if not all, of those who sit in our state legislatures, even outside of Dixie, and attempt to turn back the pages to the days of Jim Crow.

This time black people, per se, are not the target. The proponents of voter ID laws are quick to make that point, explaining the purpose of these laws isn’t to deny anyone their constitutionally guaranteed right to free access to the ballot box, but to put an end to ballot stuffing. They are quick to wring their hands and say it’s merely an accident that can’t be helped if anyone is “inconvenienced” by these restrictive regulations. If black people are most affected, that’s an accident too.

I guess they’re right. It would be an accident. A century and a half after the Civil War and forty-four years after Rev. Martin Luther King’s life was taken outside a Memphis motel room, an overwhelming majority of America’s materially impoverished are black–accidentally so, evidently.

Here’s the skinny, or part of it, in case you haven’t figured it out: for obvious reasons most poor folks, be they black, white or from Mars, are not necessarily supportive of the status quo. They would like to see some changes made that would assure them of beans in their pots, roofs over their heads and maybe a little of that upward mobility they’ve heard about. A good job, doing something worthwhile, might be nice.

The folks on the right, those who want to pass restrictive voter ID laws “not to keep the poor from voting but to put an end to voter fraud,” are just fine with the status quo. They like things the way they are. They have their beans, roofs and upward mobility, and they’ll be damned if they’ll be forced to share them with anyone.

The target of these laws is not just the poor. They are meant to discourage and hopefully keep from voting any citizen whose vision for our future is not based solely on materialism and property rights, because not only does the right not want to share their bread with a poor mother trying to feed her children or their roads with a subsidized bus carrying workers to underpaying jobs, they don’t want a dime of “their” money (read taxpayers’ money) going to the arts or other cultural enrichment programs.

I fear we will have to fight those who selfishly oppose humanity forever. These people will always be around. Because they are not natural sharers, it’s in their nature to amass power for themselves, so they will always be a danger. My biggest fear is that we will one day surrender or that they will be able to harness technology against us to the point where we will be forever enslaved.

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