Sunday, November 1, 2015
A Proposed New Constitution Article 11, Ending Institutional Support for Hatred
Article 11- Ending Institutional Support for Hatred
“1. No government body, law, or regulation will sanction or reward racism or ethnic hatred, religious bigotry, sexism, or other hatreds based on linguicism (hatred or discrimination based on language) or national or regional origin, whether intended or claimed to be unintended.”
The start of doctors' Hippocratic Oath is “First, do no harm.” For most of American history, government deliberately did actively harm nonwhites, and the US system was openly white supremacist. Besides the obvious African slavery and genocide against American Indians, the earliest immigration laws in the US restricted citizenship to whites only. A racist immigration quota system was kept in place until the late 1960s. Interracial marriage was banned and an elaborate system of segregation put in place. Asians, starting with Chinese, faced a series of Exclusion Acts. Native Hawaiians saw their language banned as late as 1986, American Indians were punished for speaking Native languages, and indigenous ceremonies were banned. Social Security in the beginning did not cover farm workers or other professions with a high number of Blacks, Latinos, and Natives. There were special taxes aimed at Black businesses in the south, and against Chinese and Mexicans in California (the Foreign Miner's Tax.) Sometimes discrimination was simply petty, such as a ban on Manchu hairstyles. Even most elementary schoolchildren know that nearly all minorities faced bans or limitations on voting.
Some of that discrimination continues today, with old fashioned gerrymandering and voter ID laws squarely aimed at discouraging minorities. Voting stations in inner cities are often old and underserved, leading to long lines, or far away in rural areas with mostly Blacks, Latinos, or Natives. At the same time, largely white suburban polling stations are lavish and easy to access quickly.
Other government sanctioned prejudices are far more recent than most Americans realize. The US Department of Agriculture systematically discriminated against Blacks and Natives, denied them credit and disaster relief, had almost no minority employees, and delayed civil rights claims as late as 2004. The number of Black and Native owned farms dropped dramatically, forcing many into low paying labor. The state of Georgia currently sells a special license plate that directly funds a white supremacist group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans. There are numerous de facto whites-only college practices, such as legacy scholarships and admissions, that continue today.
Government must no longer and never again be an institution for inequality or be used by the bigoted to enforce their prejudices. This must be safeguarded not only because of a long odious past, but because of an equally ugly present, and a potentially ugly future. A number of current presidential candidates call for a wall on the border with Mexico, and some states have passed laws against the mythical threat of Sharia law. A tide of intolerance could return, as it did after September 11 when 80,000 males from 24 Muslim nations were forced to register with the government. (Supposedly done to prevent terrorism, not a single suspect was caught from this profiling.) This article will act as a safeguard.
“2. Nor shall any government fail to provide redress for longstanding discrimination based on the previous.”
Those who would try to use the previous clause to undermine government or public efforts to end hatred and the harm it brings must be blocked. One could easily see the ignorant, willfully blind, or maliciously racist or sexist trying to use this article to claim Affirmative Action or Title IX (aimed at preventing discrimination against women in education) must end. Such an argument is not just false, it is bigoted. Anti Title IX or Affirmative Action arguments assume that all better jobs or benefits naturally “belong” to white males and that women and minorities have inferior abilities.
This clause goes beyond the previous one. The government is committed to not only never causing or worsening bigotry, but to actively ending such bigotries.
“3. Any person or institution taking part in or promoting discrimination based on the previous will result in that person or institution's permanent inability to receive government jobs or benefits, including licenses, grants, subsidies, retirement including pensions and Social Security, tax deductions or credits, eligibility for public assistance, student or business loans or credit.”
Much like proposed Article 10, a bigot's First Amendment rights are not being infringed upon by this proposal. All that is changing is that such prejudices will no longer be supported by the state and public money. A Klansman should not be a cop. A neo Nazi should not be allowed to be a soldier. A Nation of Islam member should not be teaching history at a public high school. For obvious reasons it is dangerous and destructive to allow them to do so. Those dedicated to the destruction of a large part of the people of this nation should not benefit from its institutions, or be allowed to use those institutions to harm others.
By extension, the state and the public have the right to deny benefits to members of the public based on their harmful actions. The obvious precedent is drug laws. Federal law does not allow those with drug convictions to receive federal student loans. One way this proposal could be immediately used is to end public money going to groups trying to “cure” gays of being homosexual.
Simply having a private bigoted opinion will not result in being cut off. But being a member of a hate group, media or other corporation promoting and making money off hatred, or actively promoting discrimination and hatred either as an individual, or part of a hate group or corporation promoting hatreds, should lead to sanctions from society and government against you.
The biggest benefit to society will not be from preventing a militia terrorist from getting military training, or even from keeping racists off police forces. The biggest gain will be from blocking corporations from profiting at public expense when they spread stereotypes. Hollywood and news media will be punished by this article far more than the far right, for they do far more harm and spread far more hate. Politicians also will face sanctions, for they will lose public funding for a pattern of preaching bigotry.
Contrary to some claims, changing behavior can and often does successfully change even the deepest of bigoted opinions. Ending many forms of legal segregation showed that. Whites who previously feared or hated minorities discovered the world does not end when one shares the same lunch counter. The percentage of Americans holding bigoted opinions has dropped sharply. Where nearly nine-tenths of the public opposed interracial dating and marriage in the 1960s, today less than a fifth do. Racism can go the way of feudalism, as a system and mindset we have to explain to students used to exist.