Napoli has some very strange fantasies. Hide your
daughter if you see him coming. In South Dakota, rape victims
who aren’t pious or saving themselves for marriage are just
out of luck.
The right to abortion became the law of the land
with the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. In the
absence of that decision being overturned by the court, the
action of the South Dakota legislature gives the finger to the
United States constitution and anyone who believes in it. South
Dakota has fired on Fort Sumter. Congressman John
Conyers stated, “Victory in the South Dakota case will give
conservatives renewed momentum to challenge all the other freedoms
we hold dear.”
When the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court
decision outlawed segregation in public schools, southern states
decided to ignore the law. Some didn’t desegregate and dared
anyone to complain. Others closed their public schools and deprived
black children of their right to an education.
South Dakota’s legislators are like the segregationists
of old. They have intentionally broken the law. They are hoping
for court challenges and expect Bush appointees Alito and Roberts
to live up to right wing expectations and overturn the Roe decision.
The 21st century confederates are succeeding because
no one is willing to stand in their way. The Argus Leader, the
largest newspaper in South Dakota, announced it will not take
an editorial position on the new law. Spineless editorial page
editor Chuck Baldwin made this amazing
comment about his decision to gag himself. "Rather
than change anyone's mind, we would create another controversy."
Translation: the powerful have spoken and I’m not bucking the
The civil war of the 1860s came about when the
south was not content to maintain slavery but insisted on expanding
its reach into new territories and forced non-slave holding
states to be complicit in their crimes through the Fugitive
Slave Law. A South Dakota instigated rejection of Roe will be
felt in states that would never consider banning abortion.
The boldness of the right wing isn’t restricted
to any single issue. In South Dakota civil rights for
women have been eliminated. In Georgia voting rights have been
The Department of Justice gave Georgia approval
to institute a photo ID requirement for voters. The new law
will effectively keep thousands of black Georgians out of the
In the days immediately following the 2004 election
there were numerous jokes and cartoons about blue state secession.
All joking aside, what will New York do if Roe v. Wade is overturned?
It should be willing to uphold its own laws and stop complying
with the tyranny of the political majority.
In other words, we need a movement. That movement
must loudly proclaim a refusal to go along with right wing fantasies
of time travel to the 1950s. Movements require civil disobedience
and risk taking. Movements create their own leadership. Movements
tell the Hillary Clintons of the world, “We may hold our noses
and vote for you, but we won’t defer to you.”
Civil rights and civil liberties are in grave
danger. They will disappear if there is no willingness to fight
for them. Preserving them will mean having to fight against
some of our fellow citizens. We can fight with non-violent methods,
but there has to be a fight. The only alternative is to find
ourselves back in the days when everyone knew his or her place
and didn’t dare step out of it.