Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why we still need affirmative action

Daily Kos did the work on something I was wondering about in the car yesterday, namely, who are the 20 Senators who refused to sign the anti-lynching resolution?

Is it any surprise that these Senators are 95 percent Republicans? Given this disproportion, I can't understand why anyone in the Republican Party whines when people see them as the party of and for unreconstructed racists.

Nor should anyone regard lynching as some distant, disembodied past. Go read Without Sanctuary, or go listen to Billie Holiday's great rendition of "Strange Fruit":
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Honestly, I cannot imagine any defensible reason not to vote for this resolution. The most charitable possible interpretation is a stupendous, willful ignorance of the history of black-white race relations in this country.

Until this country elects a Senate in which all one hundred members condemn without hesitation the many decades when the federal government took no action to stop lynching, this country will still not have faced its own racism. And until that terrible history is understood, its awful consequences embraced, those consequences will continue to live on, and yes, will need to be remedied by federal legislation and civil rights law.

Update: The press secretary for one of the senators who did not sponsor the bill, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), noted today that the Senator does support the resolution, adding, "While the South has every right to take pride in the tremendous advancement in race relations that has occurred in recent decades, true reconciliation and progress cannot be achieved without an honest recognition of the wrongs that have occurred." Amen.

On the other hand, in the "dog ate my homework" department, the other Alabama Senator, Richard Shelby, said that "he did not remember anyone asking him to co-sponsor the bill."


Jack Mercer said...

You need to read the whole resolution.



"If you don't come to the table with all the cards, you shouldn't come at all" - Anon

purpleprose said...

Hm, Jack, methinks you may be a troll, but I'll bite anyway. You're right that I haven't seen the text of the bill as it was passed (since that's not yet available on line), but the bill as originally submitted contains nothing that would be objectionable to anyone other than an apologist for this country's brutal racial history.

Phil said...

I was somewhat surprised to see that Bill Frist was one of the early sponsors. He's been positioning himself so vigorously with the evangelical wing of the party, and it's worth noting that at this point such positioning does not require one to embrace the most racist views. I suppose, on some level, that's progress.