Nothing great about this democracy

October 31, 2008

READING TODD Chretien's article on Barack Obama ("Why I'm not voting for Obama"), I was reminded of a recent piece I'd seen in the Boston Globe.

Although my comment is not related to the question of voting for Obama, something Todd wrote really hit home:

All this [horror of American slavery, lynch mobs, Jim Crow segregation] is often dismissed as ancient history. Yet it is worth remembering that when Barack Obama was born in 1961, millions of African Americans were still legally barred from voting in the South...Even when the history is acknowledged, it is often asserted that the wrongs have been righted, and Black people should stop "complaining."

The truth is that these wrongs have not been "righted" at all. Black people in America today continue to face an unbelievable amount of repression and bondage approaching that of the darkest hour of Southern slavery.

In a September issue of the Globe, Jack A. Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, wrote in an op-ed piece:

A 2007 Justice Policy Institute study found that in Florida, Blacks were 75 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs while driving than whites; in 1991, Blacks were 7 percent of St. Paul's population, but 62 percent of those arrested on drug charges; and in Onondaga Country, Syracuse, N.Y., Black people are currently 99 times more likely to go to prison for drugs than white people.

Then, he goes on to offer up some truly amazing information:

There are more Black men in U.S. prisons today than there were slaves in 1840, and they are being used for the same purpose; working for private corporations at 16 to 20 cents an hour. Half the states have private, for-profit prisons, whose lobbyists are demanding longer mandatory-minimum prison sentences. Indeed, American Blacks are incarcerated at nearly eight times the level of South African blacks during the height of apartheid.

The "greatest democracy on Earth," my ass!
Keith Rosenthal, Boston

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