Friday, March 1, 2013

Andrew Sullivan: Forever Is A Long, Long TIme

Andrew Sullivan has a post where he basically calls for the Supreme Court to overturn the Voting Rights Act because:
I have to say I am not one of those who thinks that this kind of federal oversight, essential once, must necessarily be essential for ever. And I cannot quite grasp the logic of liberals’ insistence that the bigotry of 1964 is no less a danger today. It’s obviously a much less bigoted society with respect to race than then – in part because of the very Act that liberals are rightly proud of...Societies change. It’s crazy to take no notice of this, and wherever possible the government, in my view, should be race neutral.
I suppose he's right in the narrowest sense possible, yes societies do change but what on earth does that have to do with the Voting Rights Act?  As a reminder, this law was passed because for 100 years certain places in this country responded to freed slaves and their descendants trying to vote with thing like this.  The point isn't that the South is bad, its that this legacy is very much real, and historically we are in fact much closer to these sort of events than the Freedom Riders were to the the passage of the 13th Amendment.  No one is arguing that the South "can't be trusted" or is somehow inherently evil, what they are arguing is that this history is very much real and any gains we have made exist in the face of the reality of the problem that hasn't vanished because Barack Obama won some elections.  As Faulkner says, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."  Having the Voting Right Around "forever" is something completely different than having it around for another 15 years.  Forever is a long, long time.

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