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Your Comments: In Case of Attack/Philadelphia

October 26, 2015

My little ditty on nuclear war preparedness brought a few comments.

Rita said:

Even as a little kid, I knew air raid drills were silly.

Adonna added:

You made me laugh out loud. I remember having to do this in grade school but no in junior high or high school. And it is funny now but back then I believe most kids were scared to death. I remember dashing under our desks (as if that would protect one from anything), but I also remember all of us loving the fact that those sirens disrupted whatever class we were in and that made the dash for the floor fun.

Dick sent this note:

Our elementary school cleaned out a room in the basement and we practiced sitting down there waiting for the bomb. I swore to myself if there ever really was a bomb dropped I was running the mile home and sitting in my basement with my mom.

My recent posting about Philadelphia, Mississippi, during the darkest days of the Civil Right movement, brought a heated response from my old classmate and friend Louis, who took issue with my take on how some states are restricting voting rights. It’s long, but I’m including it because he makes some very good points, which I don’t entirely disagree with. I do, however,  think he’s mistaken about the intent of voter ID laws.

So requiring identification to vote is discriminating against minorities….come on, Ed….you can be liberal without being naive…there are a 100 more mundane issues that absolutely require identification than voting rights…but none that are more important……you are acting as if the black man or brown man or poor white man is still locked on someone’s farm without the ability or the right to move about freely.  There is not a citizen in this country who can not easily provide the identification required to vote….this is not the 1950’s.

Quit acting as if it is, and perpetuating the “poor me” excuse for today’s people for the atrocities of 50, 60, 75 and 100 years ago. You are providing the excuse some people look for to not improve their lot in today’s world.  It is very sad that so many people don’t take advantage of the opportunities provided by those folks who did sacrifice so much for a better America in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s but instead use the horrors of that time to make excuses for today.

My grandfather came from Lebanon. He spoke no English. He had no one to rely on but himself. He bought a fruit cart.  He sold fruit. He was insulted as a “camel jockey”  and a “raghead”.  But what he did was learn the language…work hard…respect the law…learned the culture.  several years later he brought his wife and two kids  and he added 5 more kids in America–and they all worked hard and they all became  good citizens. And several of them served in World War II including my dad who received a number of commendations along with the Purple Heart–they all created their own success–not making excuses that their dad was discriminated against.

It was no excuse that he was ridiculed, mistreated and taken advantage of. He taught them to work hard and to persevere and to never use an excuse to not succeed.  And he taught them to vote and to love this country. And believe me requiring an identification to vote would have been the least of his worries.  Having the right and the opportunity to vote meant the world to him for his boys. I never got to meet my grandfather but i have heard the stories of him from the time i could crawl.  And I thank God that he did not give my dad and my uncles an excuse to fail–an excuse to not succeed, an excuse to not be a good citizen, an excuse not to vote to help make your country better. This country has become a country of excuses. It is very sad to see how far we have fallen and we will continue to fall as long as people care so little about the country that something  so basic as identifying yourself to be a voting member of this country is considered too much trouble to ask for to have this privilege. May God bless America and i pray the people will wake up before it is too late.  People of your influence can make a difference.  I hope you will think about it.

And here is my response:

Well, as to being a liberal, I plead guilty as charged, but as to being naive, I respectfully think that label belongs to those who believe that voter ID laws and the other changes to voting laws in Republican-controlled states are not deliberate attempts to suppress voting. The evidence is more than clear.

Immediately after the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, many of the 15 states that previously were required to get Justice Department approval for any changes to voting laws rushed to pass new ones, invariably to the detriment of minorities, seniors and students, all of whom tend to favor Democrats in the voting booth.

1. The original rationale for new forms of voter ID was to prevent fraud. When it was proven conclusively that there is virtually no voter fraud anywhere in the country, the rationale became “regularizing the voting process.”

2. Regularizing the voting process, in a number of states, includes requiring officially-sanctioned alternate forms of ID if one doesn’t have a passport or driver’s license, two forms of ID that many minorities, seniors and working poor don’t possess. Previously, a simple affidavit that one lives in a district sufficed. A number of states then made it extremely difficult to get that ID, offering it at limited locations during limited hours, more often than not in locations far from where those most impacted live.

3. But voter suppression goes well beyond simply mandating new forms of ID. States have reduced the number of polling places and the hours those polling places are open, often closing polling places in minority neighborhoods and limiting voting hours to times when people with limited transportation have great difficulty getting there. In many minority neighborhoods, thanks to the closure of polling places, long lines have become the norm, a deliberate attempt to discourage voting.

4. A number of states reduced early voting and ended weekend voting and eliminated same-day registration, again deliberately affecting minorities and the working poor disproportionately.

5. Then, if one doesn’t have the proper ID, provisional ballots can be cast, but counted only if one produces a proper ID by a certain date, and—oops—we’re overwhelmed; we just can’t get it to you in time. Sorry, we’re understaffed. The legislature just didn’t give us the budget to make this happen.

6. Student IDs no longer accepted. Sorry, you can only vote in your home state. Oh, sorry, your home state says you don’t live there anymore if you’re an out-of-state student.

All these things have been extremely well-researched and well-documented, to the point that there is no question why these changes have been made. I can list, state by state, the changes made since the Court’s decision, but that would take more time and text than I’m guessing most readers would endure, but you can easily look it up for yourself if you’re interested. And while you’re at it, check out what California is doing to increase participation at the polls, which is what all states should be doing if they’re interested in a truly representative democracy.

And even if, after all the evidence is presented, one still doesn’t believe that putting up barriers to voting is wrong, I put forth that as a country we should be doing everything we can to encourage the greatest number of people to vote, not the reverse. In a system like ours, voters actually have extremely limited power—casting a ballot is one of the few things a citizen can do to influence his or her government.

Thanks for your comments. A new story will be forthcoming on Wednesday.