Thursday, March 22, 2012

MSNBC, Karen Finney, blame, Gingrich, Santorum, Limbaugh, Romney, NRA, Voter ID Laws, race, Trayvon Martin (Black), Zimmerman (Hispanic)

KAREN FINNEY: It's time now to clear the air. When I was a little girl my father and I were pulled over one night on a highway in Virginia. We were headed back to New York after visiting family in Martinsville. I wasn't scared until I heard the police officer order my father out of the car like a criminal, and he said "Boy, you got some ID?" I'd never heard anyone talk to my dad like that. As he got out of the car, he told me not to worry but I have to say the way he said it only frightened me more. My father's offense wasn't speeding.

My father's offense was that he was a black man driving a nice car. To the officer, this seemed out of place, just as a young, black man in a hoodie wrongly seemed out of place to George Zimmerman the night he shot and killed Travvon Martin. Left unchecked or unchallenged our biases, bigotry and stereotypes take over our better judgment. People, in Trayvon Martin's case, a teenager walking home from the store, are dehumanized into some form of other, unworthy of respect and it's justified as a way to make people some kind of separate and unequal status.

So, when Newt Gingrich, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says that, quote, "really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. They have no habit of I do this and you give me cash, unless it's illegal," or Rick Santorum says, "I don't want to make black people's lives easier," or Rush Limbaugh calls a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama a magic negro, or Mitt Romney says nothing at all, the effect is dangerous, because they reinforce and validate old stereotypes that associate the poor and welfare as criminal behavior with African-Americans and people of color, calling us lazy, undeserving recipients of public assistance. In the case of Trayvon, those festering stereotypes had lethal consequences.

You know, early this month, I joined civil rights hero John Lewis in retracing the steps of the civil rights movement through Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, Alabama. It was very painful of the hate that they endured and had to absorb. But, it was also inspiring to be reminded of the courage that people from all backgrounds, black, white, gay, straight, men, women, conservative, liberal. They refused to let their silence endorse the evil around them. They stood up against the hate, against the racism, and against prejudice.

KAREN FINNEY: It is. Although I’ll tell you, the other thing that you can overlay on that map and this is kind of a new detail that we're learning more about is the group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative public policy group) played a huge role working with the NRA in drafting legislation that was then like Wayne LaPierre said, Florida was the starting point. Right. That was a very calculated strategy to start in Florida, spreading to those other states. Same committee happened to work on draft legislation on oh voter i.d. laws. You know so you can put a graphic on over those states and then many of them line up with a lot of the very dramatic extreme things we've been seeing passed in the states by Republican-controlled governors and legislatures.