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Civil Rights Journal, Vol. 5 (Classic Reprint)

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Civil Rights Journal, Vol. 5 (Classic Reprint) by United States Commission on CIVI Rights
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Excerpt from Civil Rights Journal, Vol. 5 Abolitionism is a quaint word, a 19th century word, a word that conjures up woodcuts of frocked men with muttonchops and bluestockings in whale-bone corsets; we can imagine them now, over-earnest types milling about the podium, the speaker in a teapot pose, one hand stabbing the air, the other palming a bible. It all seems so effortful, so Sunday-schoolish. Even the Civil War, which ought to invoke a hushed respect (as many Americans died in one day of lighting at Antietam as died in 14 years in Vietnam), seems antiquated, a toy-soldier version of itself. Only it wasn't, of course. And the men and women depicted in those textbook illustrations were every hit as ambiguous, troubled, and complex as ourselves. In truth, they may have one up on us: they, at least, could claim a strenuous moral engagement in their time, whereas we often seem to float above any serious political work, preferring the sham of symbolic recognition over the substance of change. What passes for progressive political action today far too often benefits those who are already politically mobilized over those who are not. Case in point: It took a CIA report to bring some public attention to the massive number of women and children being brought into this country every year to work on terms of indentured servitude and slavery. A leaked copy of the report led ta story in the back pages of the New York Times which led to... absolutely nothing. No Congressional hearings, no demonstrations, no coalition of outraged constituency groups demanding that our government do more to end this scourge. To be an abolitionist today risks sounding like a flat-earther: a champion of the eccentricly anachronistic. Except that there are slaves today in America. This bears repeating: There are slaves today in America. According to the CIA report, 50,000 new slaves arrive on our shores each year. They work in our fields; they work in our clothing factories; they work in brothels and on street corners. But who now is saving, as Frederick Douglass said to his enslaved brethren, "What you suffer, we suffer; what you endure, we endure." In a recent episode of the Fox IV show The Simpsons, the townspeople mobilize to protest the lack of police protection after a bear attacks Homer in his front yard; when the mayor protests that this is clearly a freak accident, a woman in the crowd cries out: "Think of the children!" Later, the same crowd, angered about the high taxes they are paying for increased protection, again confronts the mayor. Again, the woman protests, "Think of the children!" It's hard to think of a political cause that slogan can't apply to. Still, not all applications are equally valid. And one group of children who aren't being much thought about are the million and a half sons and daughters of the country's inmates. In his article on the disproportionate incarceration of minorities, National Journal writer Carl Cannon points out the short-sightedness of this approach. The children who most need extra resources and attention aren't getting them. Twenty years from now, when these policies have produced another generation of inmates, there will no doubt be plenty of folks nodding sagely about how the acorn never falls far from the tree. A scholar at the Rand Institute (hardly a liberal redoubt) recently argued that drug treatment programs would reduce serious crimes (against both property and persons) the most per million dollars spent - on the order of fifteen times as much as have current mandatory incarceration policies. Neo-conservatives gained political traction in the 1970s and 1980s arguing that traditional liberal solutions failed those they were designed to help. With America's prison population projected to pass the two million mark in the next year or so, surely there are some neo-liberals out there to argue that our current law-and-order policies simply aren't prov
Release date NZ
September 27th, 2015
Country of Publication
United States
black & white illustrations
Forgotten Books
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