So: I went in for a thorough cardio checkup, a long overnight at Duke Med. As the capstone of the process they stuck me in this MRI machine for a long hour of lying stock still on my back, eyes closed and hands slowly going numb under the barrage of whanging and zapping aimed at discovering what if anything functional was left in my upper torso.
In cardio terms, the MRI was a success: they said my heart was pretty much okay for a guy my age: go home, take the pills, and keep in touch.
But an hour later, when I clicked the news on the iPad, I got an eerie sinking feeling: maybe there had been more to that big machine than just a very noisy electronic stethoscope. What if it was also a reverse time machine, doubtless part of the CIA’s vast secret UFO research: when they rolled me in, it was 2021. When I came back out into the light, in much of America it was 1964, or maybe 1953.
Not that I was younger, or anything good was back from those days (big Hershey bars for a nickel, Cokes for a dime, and Elvis on the juke box). Instead, 56 years of civil rights history was gone. While I was in that light beige reverse birth canal, the Voting Rights Act disappeared.
They said the switch was courtesy of the Supreme Court, but now I’m wondering if it wasn’t some of the UFO Lizard People, disguised in black robes.
But, some scoff, you liberals and your conspiracy theories! The Voting Rights Act didn’t go anywhere. Just a bit of tinkering & updating.
And sure, I soon found there are pieces of it left. Such as the simple yet stirring preamble, which named it
“AN ACT To enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes.”
What “other purposes”?
For one, to remember the struggle and sacrifices of many in the South and elsewhere whose labors over a long shadowed century made it possible.
To do that, in July 2006 Congress picked three women as avatars of this century, when they reauthorized it as The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, And Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006:
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) was designed to restore the birthright of every American – the right to choose our leaders. It has been vital to guaranteeing the right to vote for generations of Americans and has helped millions of our citizens enjoy the full promise of freedom.
Indeed it has been. But the past tense is about all that’s left: the lizards had cut its heart out in 2013, and now they’d finished off its teeth. The consolation prize “good news” of the day was that instead Congress might decide to remove and replace an obscure bust of Roger Taney, the onetime Supreme Court Chief Justice.
Taney chiseled his name into history by fathering the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857. He meant for that case to secure the future of legal slavery: instead it ensured the coming of an uber-bloody civil war.
Taney lived to see the devastation he had unleashed taking down the order he had acted to cement: the day he died, in October 1864, his home state of Maryland formally abolished slavery.
Less than a month later, his nemesis, Abraham Lincoln, was re-elected president. And in the past decade, Taney monuments have been removed from several public places. If the U. S. Senate ever concurs, his visage in the Capitol is due to be replaced by that of Justice Thurgood Marshall.
But despite its rightness, this prospect did not cheer me up yesterday. Switching statues will neither remove nor repair the legal rubble which is just about all that remains of the Voting Rights Act and its once-mighty achievements.
Where from here? There is much muttering in far-right corners about starting a second civil war, with the aim of carving out either an all-white or permanently white-ruled ethnostate from the ruins of the republic. But after yesterday, it looks increasingly like neither the war nor territorial dismemberment will be needed.
Between the lizard majority on the supreme bench, and the rush to solidify red political rule this bloc has now fully green-lighted, the elements of nationwide white ethnostate rule seem just about entirely in place. If the trigger is not pulled on this in November 2022, there will be November 2024 soon after.
Maybe I got out of that MRI time machine at Duke too early. Next time I’ll tell them to set the timer for somewhat earlier. Say 1861.
And if they can do that, how about sending Fannie Lou, Rosa and Coretta on ahead. With titans like them to follow, I think we’d have a better chance. At least it would be something I could really put this old heart into.
Enjoy your long weekend.