Opinion | Let the People (of Florida) Vote – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

“Winning civil rights is never easy. The fight can stretch on for decades and include setbacks that feel like utter defeat. An enduring lesson of the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century is the need for persistence, because social progress doesn’t come without a fight.

I’d encourage you to keep this idea in mind as I tell you this morning about the fight for voting rights in Florida. Parts of the story are depressing. Yet I think optimism is still the right attitude.

Last year, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, a ballot initiative restoring voting rights to 1.4 million state residents previously convicted of a felony. It seemed like one of the biggest victories for voting rights in years, especially because almost 20 percent of black adults in the state had previously been prevented from voting. In May, however, the state legislature — controlled by Republicans — passed a bill that undermined the amendment, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill in June.”

Opinion | Trump and the Merchants of Detention – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Every betrayal seems to profit the president and his friends.

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

A sign left by a protester near the detention facility in Homestead, Fla., for immigrant children.CreditCarlo Allegri/Reuters

 

“Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who almost surely ordered the murder of The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi? Part of the answer, probably, is that Donald Trump basically approves of the idea of killing critical journalists. But the money the Saudi monarchy spends at Trump properties is relevant, too.

And the same goes for the atrocities the U.S. is committing against migrants from Central America. Oh, and save the fake outrage. Yes, they are atrocities, and yes, the detention centers meet the historical definition of concentration camps.

One reason for these atrocities is that the Trump administration sees cruelty both as a policy tool and as a political strategy: Vicious treatment of refugees might deter future asylum-seekers, and in any case it helps rev up the racist base. But there’s also money to be made, because a majority of detained migrants are being held in camps run by corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.”

DL: This is an ugly analysis. Unfortunately, it is probably true and accurate.

Opinion | How to Fight Gerrymandering Now – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Demonstrators protested against gerrymandering in front of the Supreme Court in March.CreditJoshua Roberts/Reuters

 

“John Roberts and the four other Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices last month gave their approval to extreme gerrymandering, which means that federal courts will no longer be able to reject political maps drawn for partisan reasons.

That’s a bad development for American democracy. Political parties will be able to entrench power by drawing legislative districts that allow them to win elections even when they receive fewer votes.

So what can opponents of gerrymandering do? I see several strategies:

1. Criticize the Roberts court for its partisanship. Both parties engage in shameful gerrymandering. But Republicans have done much more of it than Democrats. To be blunt, five Republican-appointed justices — including one who’s on the court only because Senate Republicans effectively stole a seat — delivered an enormous, anti-democratic gift to their own political party.”

Supreme Court Says Constitution Does Not Bar Partisan Gerrymandering – By Adam Liptak – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against the challengers opposed to partisan gerrymandering, the practice in which the party that controls the state legislature draws voting maps to help elect its candidates.

The vote in two cases was 5 to 4, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority. The court appeared to close the door on such claims.

The drafters of the Constitution, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority, understood that politics would play a role in drawing election districts when they gave the task to state legislatures. Judges, the chief justice said, are not entitled to second-guess lawmakers’ judgments.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” the chief justice wrote.”

Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes – The New York Times

“FORT WORTH — The 3-year-old boy who could upend a 40-year-old law aimed at protecting Native American children barreled into the suburban living room, merrily defying his parents’ prediction that he might be shy. He had a thatch of night-black hair and dark eyes that glowed with mischievous curiosity. As he pumped a stranger’s hand and scampered off to bounce on an indoor trampoline, his Superman cape floated behind him, as if trying to catch up.

Zachary, or A.L.M. as he is called in legal papers, has a Navajo birth mother, a Cherokee birth father and adoptive parents, Jennifer and Chad Brackeen, neither of whom is Native American. The Brackeens are challenging a federal law governing Native American children in state foster care: It requires that priority to adopt them be given to Native families, to reinforce the children’s tribal identity.

Last fall, a federal judge ruled in the Brackeens’ favor, declaring that the law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, was unconstitutional — in part, he said, because it was based on race.

The case is now before a federal appeals court. Whoever loses is almost certain to ask the Supreme Court to hear it.”

David Lindsay:

This is an incredible story, thank you Jan Hoffman. I had trouble processing it, but the comments were very articulate and persuasive, and helped me understand my own position. Here are three of many good comments, but these three particularly pushed me to see the point of view of the Indian family.

K
London
Times Pick

It’s misguided for the foster father to turn around and say the only reason is because “We don’t have the right colored skin” and just shows that he is missing the entire point. this is not about the colour of your skin, it’s about the fact that you are taking this child away from the rich culture and history of his family and bringing him into a completely different one. It’s ignorant and naive to reduce this right down to skin tone and ignore everything else

13 Replies507 Recommended
Randy Kritkausky
Middlebury VT USA
Times Pick

My grandfather was sent to the Carlisle Indian school “for his own benefit”. He could never talk about that experience, even as an adult. As a child I sat on his knee and he talked about being in the trenches during WWI and the horrors of mustard gas. But the shame and horrors of Carlisle he could not discuss. Those of European settler descent do not understand that Native Americans have profound ancestral connections and memories which are broken only with a great sense of loss. I just spent two years writing a book about this in my own life, the return of such connectivity several generations “off the rez”. Well-intentioned non-Native Americans cannot uproot Native American children and then replant them in suburban greenhouses without shattering a spiritual connection. If this seems too mystical, just think Treaty Rights. They are not “merely” legal, they are moral obligations. Canada is moving toward truth and reconciliation, providing economic support to its First Nations people so that families and communities can be preserved. And we south of the Canadian border? Are we about to undermine Native American rights in order to advance the larger agenda of white people who would eviscerate any mild concession to righting historical wrongs? Randy from Vermont An enrolled member of the Citizens Potawatomi Nation

12 Replies382 Recommended
sabamaki
New York

When I was five years old I chose to leave my Navajo parents to live with a white family. I was never adopted by this family. Eventually my mom wanted me back and it turned into a bitter lawsuit. My white parents were able to obtain legal guardianship because at 12, I did not want to go back. I refused to speak with my family until I turned 18 and graduated from high school. During breaks from college, I spent more and more time with my large Navajo family. As I became more integrated into my family’s life, I came to realize what I lost in relationships, culture, language and especially spirituality. Today I live in New York, but I am learning to speak Navajo. My grandmother passed away and she only spoke Navajo. I would sit with her, but other than smiles I could not communicate. I am so sad I could not speak Navajo to any of my grandparents. Now I try to speak Navajo with my mom but I’m still a long way from fluent. Growing up without my mom left a huge hole in my heart even though my white parents loved and cared for me. I see the struggles my brothers underwent, the poverty, the neglect and I know I’d be a different person if I had grown up there. Today, I love visiting my mom on my grandmother’s land in the middle of nowhere. A month ago she got hot water in her shower and a toilet that actually flushes. She rises before dawn to tend to the sheep and other animals. This is the life I was born to and knowing everything I do, I would choose my Navajo family this time.

5 Replies192 Recommended

Opinion | Stacey Abrams: Why I Am Determined to End Voter Suppression – The New York Times

By Stacey Abrams
Ms. Abrams is the founder of the voting rights group Fair Fight Action.

May 15, 2019, 83

“ATLANTA — In the mid-1960s, when my father was a teenager, he was arrested. His crime? Registering black voters in Mississippi. He and my mother had joined the civil rights movement well before they were even old enough to vote themselves.

They braved this dangerous work, which all too often created martyrs of marchers. In doing so, my parents ingrained in their six children a deep and permanent reverence for the franchise. We were taught that the right to vote undergirds all other rights, that free and fair elections are necessary for social progress.

That is why I am determined to end voter suppression and empower all people to participate in our democracy.

True voter access means that every person has the right to register, cast a ballot and have that ballot counted — without undue hardship. Unfortunately, the forces my parents battled 50 years ago continue to stifle democracy.”

Opinion | India’s Most Oppressed Get Their Revenge – By Meena Kandasamy – The New York Times

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule came with an attack on Dalits and the minorities. Now Dalit leaders are fighting back to defeat the Hindu nationalists.

By Meena Kandasamy

Ms. Kandasamy is a poet and a novelist.

 Dalits, India’s most marginalized people, at a protest in New Delhi last August.CreditSajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“Corruption scandals surrounding the Congress Party-led government, promises of inclusive growth and job creation, and calibrated anti-Muslim dog whistles helped Narendra Modi rise to power and become the prime minister of India in 2014.

And there was another factor: The Dalits, India’s most oppressed community, whom the Hindu caste system relegates to the lowest rung, doubled their votes for his Bharatiya Janata Party to 12 percent in 2014 from 6 percent in 2009.

To make up for centuries of violence, discrimination and lack of opportunity, India’s Constitution lays out that political parties can field only Dalit candidates for 84 out of 543 parliamentary seats in general elections. Five years earlier, Mr. Modi’s B.J.P. won 40 of the 84 seats reserved for the Dalits, sending the single largest contingent of Dalit lawmakers to the Parliament.

But neither increased Dalit votes nor the greater number of Dalit lawmakers within the B.J.P.’s ranks helped transform the party’s aggressive, casteist ideology. Mr. Modi’s rule has highlighted the antagonism between his party’s pandering to the dominant upper castes and the radicalism of Dalits fighting for the elimination of caste.”

Source: Opinion | India’s Most Oppressed Get Their Revenge – The New York Times

She Stopped to Help Migrants on a Texas Highway. Moments Later- She Was Arrested. – By Manny Fernandez – The New York Times

“MCALLEN, Tex. — Teresa L. Todd pulled over one recent night on a dark West Texas highway to help three young Central American migrants who had flagged her down. Ms. Todd — an elected official, government lawyer and single mother in a desert border region near Big Bend National Park — said she went into “total mom mode” when she saw the three siblings, one of whom appeared to be very ill.

Struggling to communicate using her broken Spanish, Ms. Todd told the three young people to get out of the cold and into her car. She was phoning and texting friends for help when a sheriff’s deputy drove up, followed soon by the Border Patrol. “They asked me to step behind my car, and the supervisor came and started Mirandizing me,” said Ms. Todd, referring to being read her Miranda rights. “And then he says that I could be found guilty of transporting illegal aliens, and I’m, like, ‘What are you talking about?”

Ms. Todd spent 45 minutes in a holding cell that night. Federal agents obtained a search warrant to examine her phone, and she became the focus of an investigation that could lead to federal criminal charges.

As the Trump administration moves on multiple fronts to shut down illegal border crossings, it has also stepped up punitive measures targeting private citizens who provide compassionate help to migrants — “good Samaritan” aid that is often intended to save lives along a border that runs through hundreds of miles of remote terrain that can be brutally unforgiving.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Manny Fernandez for a disturbing piece. I had trouble organizinging my thoughts on this story, but did articulate, it is somehow unAmerican to stop someone from helping another in distress.

Here are the top comments, which do a magnificent job of cleaning up my thoughts. I particularly like the last one in this list by Amy.

ImagineMoments
Times Pick

So if I ever encounter someone having a medical emergency I can’t dare help them, unless I first check their papers?

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Chickpea commented May 11

Chickpea
California
Times Pick

Anytime saving lives is “against the law,” that law is immoral. Ms Todd saw young people in trouble and possibly at risk of death. She acted as any caring responsible person should regardless of the legal status of the young people. This is shameful.

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Paul McGlasson commented May 10

Paul McGlasson
Athens, GA
Times Pick

Making simple acts of human decency and kindness a crime: so far will Trumpism go to define the immigrant as the OTHER and cast them out of society. If this continues from the side of the government, then I see no other option than to employ the methods of Martin Luther King Jr. That is, willingly, peacefully, but without fail, disobey any laws enacted against such simple acts of human decency and kindness, and pay the price. Such laws are, as King argued so gracefully, no laws at all. In New York harbor stands a Lady with a poem, including these words: Mother of Exiles. That is who we are. That is who we will always be. Trump cannot and will not change that. It is such acts of simple kindness recorded in this article that will defeat him.

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Stefan commented May 10

Stefan
Times Pick

Unfortunately, this did not shock me. Having just spent the last three months walking from Brownsville to El Paso, I met many people who face this type of Sophie’s choice every day. From residents in small cities like Los Ebanos and Roma to members of faith-based organizations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, people are regularly forced to make a conscious choice between helping migrants in need or adhering to the letter of the law. The fact that previous readers have referred to Todd’s compassionate actions as a lack of “common sense” and compare migrants to “bank robbers” is indicative of a larger problem not with immigration but with a lack of empathy and understanding. As someone who has been in her position, I applaud Todd’s actions and hope this article sets the stage for a larger conversation about the issue.

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Luis commented May 10

Luis
Erie, PA
Times Pick

@ImagineMoments In my home country, in the EU, refusing to aid a person who is suffering a medical emergency is actually a crime. I always assumed it was the same here in the US. Live and learn…

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Amy commented May 10

Amy
Times Pick

@bored critic, your views seem to hinge on the fact that these folks had crossed the border illegally, and therefore broke a law. It might be good to remember that they had been separated from the larger group they were with, and were essentially lost. It’s reasonable to assume that they just didn’t happen to come across a border crossing station, and were understandably more concerned with getting their sister the medical attention she so badly needed. It also seems like you hold a very black and white view on morality. I think being human is to realize that while laws in our societies can seem black and white, humanity does not fall into those extreme camps. While illegally entering a country because you are on the run from violence in your home is against the law, it is fallacious to equivocate between that and robbing a bank. Maybe try to put yourself in their shoes. If I felt unsafe in my home, the people around me being murdered, I would hope beyond hope that the global community would be sympathetic to my suffering and want to help me. Remember that no one wants to be a refugee.

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Opinion | We Have 2 Dead Young Heroes. It’s Time to Stand Up to Guns. – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

May 8, 2019,   978
Image: Students got off buses after being evacuated from STEM School Highlands Ranch, the site of a deadly shooting on Tuesday.
Credit  Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

“Politicians fearful of the National Rifle Association have allowed the gun lobby to run amok so that America now has more guns than people, but there is still true heroism out there in the face of gun violence: students who rush shooters at the risk of their own lives.

Let’s celebrate, and mourn, a student named Kendrick Castillo, 18, just days away from graduating in Highlands Ranch, Colo., who on Tuesday helped save his classmates in English literature class from a gunman.

“Kendrick lunged at him, and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape,” Nui Giasolli, a student in the classroom, told the “Today” show. Kendrick was killed, and eight other students were injured.

At least three boys in the class — one of them Brendan Bialy, who hopes to become a Marine — tackled and disarmed the gunman. “They were very heroic,” Nui said. Bravo as well to the police officers who arrived within two minutes of the shooting and seized the two attackers.”

-Opinion | Let Prisoners Vote – By Aubrey MenarndtThe New York Times

By Aubrey Menarndt

Ms. Menarndt is an international elections monitor.

Preparing in April for voting by prisoners in North Macedonia’s presidential election.CreditMichael Forster Rothbart

 

“As the Democratic candidates debate whether current and former prisoners should be allowed to vote, it’s worth recalling that many other countries make it easy for incarcerated people to do it.

I’ve represented the United States throughout the world as an international elections monitor, visiting polling stations, talking to elections officials and helping international teams assess whether elections are free and fair.

The United States is an outlier. Its suppression of voting rights for more than 6.1 million people with current or former felony convictions violates human rights and weakens our democracy.

I wish our lawmakers who wrongly approve of this could see what I’ve seen — especially the Florida Republicans who just passed a billundercutting a constitutional amendment restoring the franchise for people with former felony convictions.