Home National Politics Three States, One Territory and Some Reflections Upon Justice

Three States, One Territory and Some Reflections Upon Justice


Note: I have planned to continue my series of articles on the situation in Arizona.  However, I interrupt this series for some important diversions and reflections.


In her condemnation of profit over the good of this nation, last night, Rachel Maddow  asked whether Louisiana is part of our country or not?

America has a choice to make about the State of Louisiana. Is Louisiana part of our country or isn’t it? Because if Louisiana is part of America, then the American people and the American government have to begin to defend Louisiana against American greed, and multinational greed. Because yes, legally it’s the job of BP, the oil company, to clean up this disaster that looms over this wetlands behind me right now.

And she reminded us of this:

… but the risk here, again, the risk here as always isn’t private. It’s public, it’s national, it’s American. It’s borne by Louisiana again, literally borne by the land here and by the people here.  

Indeed. Since at least 2005 Louisiana has been treated as though it is not even a part of these United States.  Even now the cleanup from Hurricane Katrina is incomplete.  But nearly all public housing was demolished and/or sold to developers. We are already years late in treating Louisiana as fully part of us.  What are we waiting for?  It is not just the help of private donors and charity workers that Louisiana needs, though it needs those.  It needs us to reject disaster capitalism and all its opportunists.  And it needs FEMA and other relevant US agencies to render needed assistance.  BTW, the spill is likely to move up the East Coast too.  LA’s problem is our problem in every way.


What the Southern Poverty Law Center called a right-wing hate group, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR–not to be confused with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) struck a chord with Democratic “moderates,” who forged the fearful chorus with those letting their xenophobia get the best of them. We now know that a significant portion of the undocumented residents, legal residents and brown-skinned citizens of Arizona are no longer welcome in that state.  The movement of a state against brown people disturbs beyond measure.  Is yet another portion of this nation to be relegated to second class person-hood?  Is it American to force persons to “show their papers” base upon skin color?  No one of any color should have to “show their papers” without probable cause.”

I would like to suggest that, among other things which I will outline later, anyone doubting the contribution by documented and undocumented workers from Mexico, be required to watch the movie, “A Day Without a Mexican.”  In the movie, on a fictitious single day, every Mexican worker in California disappears.  The impact was astronomical and negative.  So would be the impact in Arizona.  And yet, Arizonans opportunistically scapegoat those of Mexican and Latin American because of a Borderlands murder authorities now say was perpetrated by an American.

Washington DC

In what a headline of a McClatchy news item called a “stunning reversal,” the House of Representatives threw Congressional voting rights for Washington DC under the bus.  After all this time, residents of the District still do not have one vote representing them in Congress.  (The “Tea Party” folks don’t know the meaning of lack of representation. And indeed many of them oppose such representation for the District because of DC’s gun laws.)  DC’s nonvoting representative serves as a constant reminder that justice is still lacking for some Americans.  

Puerto Rico

In a “controversial” vote in the US House of Representatives, Puerto Rico gained permission to have a first vote on statehood.  

I don’t oppose statehood for Puerto Rico.  I do oppose shutting the door to real representation in the District, while allowing yet another state Congressional representation.  That is a while off for Puerto Rico.  It seems to me that, should Puerto Rico become a state, let both it and the Distict of Columbia have voting representation in Congress. This is not a zero sum “game.”

However, given the above, I remain amazed that the  territory would have such faith in us as to want to join us.  What I propose is that we seek to become that country worthy of such trust.  To do that we must stop the national passivity and acquiescence of moderates and liberals.  

As a nation presuming itself to be predicated on justice, we are going backwards.  Glenn Beck has even persuaded millions of people that social justice is evil!  No doubt many of them still perceive themselves as virtuous.  

For all our national virtues, too many have sat on the sidelines in the face of scape-goating of other human beings; reverse populism (corporate malfeasance against the people of these United States); the killing off of the Bill of Rights; the assault on any semblance of social justice; and, now, the undermining of the entire New Deal. Right now, in too many states, we are not keeping faith with other members of the public.  We have let populism be redefined by the media in terms of radical Republican ideology.  We’ve been (almost) silent as wars continue consuming our nation’s treasure and more wars are in the offing.  Too few of us say anything at all while this nation is irrevocably changed for the worse. Whether you agree with Puerto Rico’s effort at statehood or not, let the hard work on our national character begin.


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