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When President Biden announced a series of measures to combat racial inequality in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, American politics continued to simmer race-related issues, fueling partisan divisions and potentially stalling some of the measures announced by the president.
Biden will make his remarks on the 100th anniversary of a 1921 Tulsa massacre in which a white mob killed at least 300 black people in the Greenwood neighborhood. This area was known at the time as “Black Wall Street” for its thriving, mostly minority-owned, businesses. There the president will announce a series of measures aimed at narrowing the “racial wealth gap”.
But sharp divisions remain on a litany of questions, both racial and non-racial – including whether the United States is itself a systemically racist country. In his Memorial Day address on Monday, Biden himself recognized the great divisions in the country and declared that the United States is in a “battle for the soul of America itself”.
“The soul of America is enlivened by the constant battle between our worst instincts we’ve seen lately and our better angels,” said Biden. “Between ‘me first’ and ‘we the people’. Between greed and generosity. Cruelty and kindness. Imprisonment and freedom.”
BIDEN SPEECH COMMORATING TULSA RACE MASSACRE to detail efforts to combat racial inequality
One of the enlivening topics of the race this year was the coordination of legislation at both state and federal levels. Republicans who are passing state election security laws just want to make sure the elections go more smoothly and with less risk of fraud. Those who support these laws, especially the most famous one in Georgia, often point to some fact-checking that says these laws expand the options overall.
However, Democrats say ID requirements and other elements of these laws aim to undermine blacks’ eligibility to vote. Atlantic writer Jemele Hill said Republicans “are annoyed that their power has been taken away by black voters” and “want a rigged game”. Biden called the Georgia Law and others “Jim Crow Laws”. And, in his Memorial Day remarks on Monday, he struck another blatant blow against electoral laws at the state level.
After warning that the US is in the middle of a “battle for the soul of America itself,” Biden said that “democracy thrives when democracy’s infrastructure is strong; when people have the right to be free, fair and comfortable to choose … “when the rule of law applies equally and fairly to every citizen, regardless of where he comes from or what he looks like. “
Conversely, a Democratic-backed electoral law in Congress that Republicans refer to as a “takeover” is almost certain to stall in the coming weeks. But Democrats say the bill is necessary to expand voting rights and protect minority voters. “Why are you so afraid of democracy?” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., asked Republicans in a hearing.
Some progress has been made on police reform in recent months. Just last week, top negotiators were optimistic about the prospect of a deal that the Senate could pass. Sen. Cory Booker, DN.J., said “Great strides are being made” and “everyone wants something really meaningful to be done”.
Senator Tim Scott, RS.C., the top Republican negotiator, added that “we can see the end of the tunnel.”
But Scott and Booker, both black, have to negotiate the looming possibility that Left House Democrats could deviate from a law if it goes too far in the direction of Republicans’ position in the Senate. Last month, a group composed mostly of progressive “squad” members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., said any police reform bill must “end” qualified immunity, a protection that government officials like Protects police officers from personal liability in some cases when they violate a person’s rights.
TULSA MASSACRE DOCUMENTARIES OFFER DEEP DIVE IN TRAGEDY
“Given that police violence as a weapon of structural racism continues to have devastating and deadly consequences for the lives of blacks and browns in our country, we urge you not only to maintain the provision on the elimination of qualified immunity during the negotiations in the Senate but to strengthen it, “read a letter from the left-wing legislature.
Many Republicans have drawn red lines on changes to qualified immunity, indicating that a bill that makes changes to it couldn’t get the required 10 votes in the Senate. The “Squad” members did not specifically threaten to vote against anything that did not deal with qualified immunity. But if they do, they could potentially sink the legislation in the House if enough Republicans don’t cross the aisle to vote for it.
These negotiations come against a backdrop of fundamental disagreement over whether the United States is structurally racist, as many Democrats claim.
“Listen to me clearly: America is not a racist country,” said Scott in his counter-argument to Biden’s address to a joint congressional session. “It is backwards to fight discrimination with different kinds of discrimination, and it is wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly end debates in the present … Race is not a political weapon to solve every problem like this as one side wants. “
Vice President Harris herself said she did not consider the United States to be fundamentally racist. Even so, many Democrats slammed Scott for his comments.
Biden’s Black Wealth Tuesday proposals contain several provisions that could even fall victim to a divided Congress. A variety of funds, grants, and tax credits will be included in the President’s American Jobs Plan, according to a White House fact sheet. But negotiations on this bill, supposedly an “infrastructure” plan, have been going on for weeks with the Senate Republicans. They want a bill that deals with hard infrastructure rather than the comprehensive definition of infrastructure supported by the White House.
All of this is happening as more racial issues emerge in the background. These include increased attacks on Jewish Americans as some Democrats condemn Israel for handling Hamas rocket attacks. This problem has divided the Democratic Party itself, with some claiming that those behind accused anti-Israel rhetoric are not doing enough to contain anti-Semitism.
“I will pronounce the quiet part out loud. It is time for ‘progressives’ to condemn anti-Semitism and violent attacks on Jewish people with the same intent and force shown in other areas of activism,” said Rep. Dean Phillips, D – Minn., Tweeted last month. “The silence was deafening.”
Meanwhile, MP Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Attracted allegations of anti-Semitism herself with comments comparing wearing masks to those used by Nazis forcing Jewish people to wear yellow stars during the Holocaust.
And many right-wing parents and activists shy away from “critical racial theory” and other racial lesson plans that support Democrats when they are taught in schools. This has led some Republican lawmakers to support efforts to limit such lessons.
There is also the specter of the widespread protests against police brutality and racism over the past year, which often led to riots and became one of several wedge problems in the 2020 presidential election.
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The riots themselves could not come back. But the debate over them seems almost certain, especially as the 2022 elections draw near. A human embodiment of that riot, Mark McCloskey, is running in the GOP primary to replace retired Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo. McCloskey became famous when he and his wife Patricia were carrying guns when they faced a wave of protesters walking through their neighborhood.
“God knocked on my door disguised as an angry mob. It really woke me up,” he said to “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “How I got involved [Donald Trump]I learned that people are fed up with breaking off culture – and the poison of critical racial theory and the big lie of systemic racism. “
Fox News’ Houston Keene and Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.