This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is a widespread failure of leadership issue. Most of these officials don’t seem to care anymore. They routinely offer the families of the victims “prayers” and attend some of the funerals of victims. Then, life just moves on, and we become less secure, less safe, and less important to most of them.
Just three weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically freed voter discrimination from the effective prison of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As caricatured in a Star Tribune cartoon, many governmental officials, particularly in Southern states, were jubilant over this devastating 5-4 court decision. Those who are prone to discriminate against blacks in America’s voting process were handed a sweeping victory in the furtherance of their cause.
Forty-eight years of Federal protection for black voters from engrained voter discrimination in Southern states and other covered jurisdictions went out the window with this one decision. We are back where we were before 1965 – alone and unprotected.
The message in all of this – from the unleashing of voter discrimination to Trayvon’s tragic death – is captured in a phrase memorialized in a 1857 U.S. Supreme Court case. In Dred Scott v. Sandford, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, speaking for the Court’s 7-2 majority, wrote that the framers of the Constitution viewed all blacks as:
“beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Trayvon Martin’s execution and jury verdict further evidences our sad and painful returned to Dred Scott status. In essence, we have no rights that white people are bound to respect. Even if we have equal rights on paper (much like Dred Scott claimed in 1857 under the “all men are created equal” phrase of the Declaration of Independence), very few officials in positions of authority today have the courage, determination, or political will to enforce them.