Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marginalizing Dr. King's Dream

While the GOP and Fox have been trumpeting how bad President Barrack Obama’s approval ratings are, as the midterm elections approach, they either bury or ignore the fact that President Ronald Reagan’s were worse. In understatement Gallup says, the “public's view of the economy remained sour.” It sounds familiar. “The 1982 midterm elections were not good ones for Reagan and for the GOP.” Republicans lost about 25 seats in the House. Neither the GOP nor Fox are confused by facts because the make up their own. So of course they will deny the following indictment that they openly hostile to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and seek to repeal it.

Fox News owner recently gave the Republican Governors Association a million bucks. Two of Fox’ celebrities star in an outdoor Washington event at the Lincoln Memorial. The date is the 47th anniversary of the most famous plea for racial equality in this country since President Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to the more than 200,000 people who participated in the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." Swathed in the US flag and bunting, the Fox celebrity emcees host an attempt to marginalize the struggle for civil rights for which Dr. King was gunned down and killed.

Sarah “Reload” Palin gets paid to speak at events. She and Glenn “Just Behind Rush” Beck are the event spokespeople – hired guns representing the bullies inside the GOP. Her
Reload” rhetoric is already exposed. She posted a rifle scope-sight cross-hairs graphics on a map to target Democrats up for re-election on her Facebook page. She sent the tweet “Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Likewise she defended radio host Laura “N-word” Schlessinger and told her, "Don't retreat . . . reload!"

Martin Luther King III said of his father, in the Washington Post, “But his dream rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry or discrimination, whether directed at race, faith, nationality, sexual orientation or political beliefs.”

Marginalizing Dr. King and the civil rights movement must have a reason, since the GOP is not run by stupid people -- mean-spirited but not stupid. Successful bullies, such as the Ku Klux Klan, are always mean-spirited and rarely stupid, as the Klan is an example. The KKK became infamous for killing people while fellow Klansmen burned Christian crosses, dressed in costumes and recited Biblical scripture all in front of their own children. The Ku Klux Klan championed the 2nd Amendment and hated the 14th Amendment, as does the GOP.

What is the reason? Glenn Beck gave it away when he said, “This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. It is an abomination." There it is. The civil rights movement is an abomination. When Beck says “reclaim the civil rights movement”, he means “repeal the Civil Rights Act.”

There is one hurdle in the way, however. It is the 14th Amendment -- the basis of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not to mention the subsequent Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Fair Housing Act of 1968. That is why the GOP is busy trying to rewrite or repeal the 14th Amendment. It’s in their way.

Enter the Republican’s immigration bandwagon, a Fox regular attraction. With a midterm election looming, the out-of-power GOP has aimed its bigotry-mongering directly at Mexican immigrants, somehow segregating them from immigrants of other countries such as Russia or Pakistan. The GOP argument to repeal the 14th Amendment is based on the “citizenship” clause. They seek to segregate a group of people for punitive purposes by singling out Mexican babies as enemies of the country, who deserve to be punished for the crime of being born in the United States.

The GOP immigration bandwagon harkens back to a time when discrimination and segregation were legal. Stirred up by the unsubstantiated plight-claim of Arizona, whose immigration issues are peculiar to all four of Mexico’s border states, such prominent Republicans as
Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), Senator Jon Kyl (AZ), and Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) are on board. While far from being tea party types, they share the same contempt for facts.

For example, there have been over ten thousand attempts to amend the United States Constitution, but only 27 attempts have succeeded and one of them repeals another one – Prohibition. The Birthright Citizenship Abolition Amendment proposed on April 13, 2005, failed. So did the Federal Marriage Amendment, proposed on May 21, 2003.

H.R. 1868 -- Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009, “To amend section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth” languishes in committee. The bill’s text is found in 69 other proposed bills of the 111th Congress, also stuck in committees.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A year later LBJ signed the Immigration and Nationality Act. At that time the issue of Cuban immigration riled Republicans. Cubans sought refuge and got it. Mexicans are not mentioned. Mexico has never been a communist country.

None the less, Senator Graham argues that the 14th Amendment no longer serves the purpose it was designed to address and that Congress should reexamine granting citizenship to any child born in the United States. “I'm looking at the laws that exist and see if it makes sense today,” Graham has said. “Birthright citizenship doesn't make so much sense when you understand the world as it is.”

Senate Minority Whip Kyl also supports hearings on repealing the 14th Amendment. "The Fourteenth Amendment [has been] interpreted to provide that if you are born in the United States, you are a citizen no matter what," Kyl has said. What the 14th Amendment says is “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” How else would one interpret?

Senator McConnell says Congress should reconsider the 14th Amendment citizenship guarantee and joined the immigration bandwagon. “Regardless of how you feel about the various aspects of immigration reform,” McConnell said, “I don't think anybody thinks that's something they're comfortable with."

Evidently these Senators have forgotten their high school civics. Before an amendment can take effect, it must be proposed to the states by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by two-thirds of the states. Then the amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states or by three-fourths of conventions. For the record, no convention for proposing amendments has been called by the states and the convention method of ratification been employed only once.
Even as a long shot, which would require super majorities for the GOP in both houses of congress and a Republican administration, there is so much more to gain by repealing the 14th Amendment. It would set the stage for reversal of a treasure trove of Supreme Court decisions. Ones that the GOP has long targeted include: Plyler v. Doe , protecting all children born in the US, Brown v. Board of Education , ending “separate but equal” , and the prize of prizes, Roe v. Wade , extending the right of privacy to abortion.

In Plyler, a “citizenship” case, the Court’s ruling says the statute it found unconstitutional imposed “a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status. These children can neither affect their parents' conduct nor their own undocumented status.” Furthermore, “Use of the phrase ‘within its jurisdiction’ confirms the understanding that the Fourteenth Amendment's protection extends to anyone, citizen or stranger, who is subject to the laws of a State, and reaches into every corner of a State's territory.”
In Brown, the landmark “equal protection” case, the court concluded ". . . the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."
In Roe, the contentious “due process” case, the court held “State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, . . . violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy.”

Reversing Roe has been the ultimate objective of anti-abortionists and the GOP since 1973. All previous attempts to reverse the decision have failed because of that pesky 14th Amendment.
Now there is one more case destined to go before the Supreme Court. It is a civil rights case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger overturning the California ban on same-sex marriage.

The U.S. District Court ruling in Perry said that the voter initiated measure to amend the California State constitution was "unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses [of the 14th Amendment] because it “disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification."

The immigration bandwagon may get many more passengers on board on its way to the midterm elections. After all, a bandwagon is a bandwagon. It sounds best when it is standing still. The GOP/Fox/Beck rally is a major stop. I hope they do.

Still, what the GOP immigration bandwagon has put forth, that the 14th Amendment needs to be reviewed in context of today’s laws and society, is worth consideration. Using that logic, we should equally review their sacred Second Amendment. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State”, to quote Senator Graham, “doesn't make so much sense when you understand the world as it is.”

The Second Amendment allowed a reload to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Fourteenth Amendment protects his dream. It protects us.

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Article first published as "Marginalizing Dr. King's Dream" on Blogcritics.org.

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