Yesterday in his speech at the National Constitutional Center, President Biden said, “We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” Biden said today… I’m not saying this to alarm you; I’m saying this because you should be alarmed.”
Republican dominated legislatures have passed 28 laws to restrict voting and have 400 more in the pipeline. “This is simple,” Biden said. “This is election subversion. It’s the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.”
Political historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote, “…as strongly as Biden worded his speech, the former speechwriter for Republican President George W. Bush, David Frum, in The Atlantic today went further.
“Those who uphold the American constitutional order need to understand what they are facing,” Frum wrote. “Trump incited his followers to try to thwart an election result, and to kill or threaten Trump’s own vice president if he would not or could not deliver on Trump’s crazy scheme to keep power.” Since the insurrection, he noted, Trump supporters have embraced the idea that the people who hold office under our government are illegitimate and that, therefore, overturning the election is a patriotic duty.
“It’s time,” Frum said, “to start using the F-word.” The word he meant is “fascism.”
An old friend of mine, Rick Grassi, wrote the following piece on Facebook and allowed me to use it here. It points out that the perversion of legislation is nothing new in our country’s history. These efforts by Republicans to weld themselves into power by disenfranchising Democratic voters is racism in practice since the real target is people of color, who largely vote Democratic.
Some non-hysterical, verifiable U.S. history:
In 1934 Pres. Roosevelt signed The National Housing Act, making home (and farm) mortgages more available & affordable to “all Americans.” A great piece of legislation, designed to help people get over The Great Depression.
But The FHA who were guaranteeing the mortgages, from the outset limited them entirely to “white” Americans. The FHA manual specifically stated, “it was risky to make mortgage loans in predominately black areas.” As a result, nearly all loans went to white people only. While poor white people fled for the suburbs, poor black people were forced to remain in the inner cities unable to afford upgrades to their existing homes.
In 1944 Congress passed another, what appeared to be, “race-neutral” piece of legislation called The GI Bill, guaranteeing home loans and tuition to all returning Vets. The VA itself guaranteed the loans but left the underwriting to Insurance companies.
Unfortunately this postwar housing boom completely excluded Black Americans. Because of the color of their skin, they were denied home loans. Most of whom had to remain in cities that received less and less investment from businesses and banks.
- In Mississippi in 1947, of 3,000+ VA guaranteed home loans in 13 cities, only 2 were given to black borrowers.
- In the greater NYC area, which includes Long Island and the northern New Jersey suburbs, of the 65,000+ mortgages insured by the GI bill, less than 100 went to black families.
- A development of 30,000 people, in Long Island, called Levittown, right next to where I went to high school in Seaford forbade purchases by any black family.
- Regarding assistance with college tuition, 67% of returning black vets were from the South but were entirely barred from universities there.
- Many northern universities as well discriminated against blacks seeking enrollment. University of Pennsylvania for example, enrolled 40 black students in 1946 out of a student body of 9,000+.
- The only alternatives for most black students were, Historically Black Colleges (HBCs) but they were small & under-resourced, so were forced to turn down over 70,000 potential black students. The result being, a small handful of the 1.2 million returning black GIs were able to obtain a higher education.
Keep in mind that our parents & grand parents were subject to the benefits (or not) of the GI Bill. And our grand & great grand-parents to the National Housing act.
We as Americans, living right now, are still effected by what these bills did and didn’t do.
So the next time you think systematic racism is ancient history, think again.