Thursday, December 06, 2007

'Faltering at the Crossroads'

-- by Dave

I have some further commentary on the demise of the federal hate-crimes bill up at my weekly slot at Firedoglake:
'In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.' -- Martin Luther King

Nancy Pelosi's pretty words about "an opportunity to end discrimination and the violence that goes with it" ring pretty hollow this week, with word emerging from Capitol Hill that House Democrats are in the process of crumbling on passage of the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

And while plenty of the blame for this massive failure will undoubtedly (and deservedly) rest on the increasingly common object of progressive despair -- namely, spineless congressional Democrats -- there in reality is more than enough culpability to go around. The failure, once again, to pass a federal hate-crimes law also reflects on the state of progressive politics generally, especially the balkanization of progressives into discrete interest groups who rarely cross lines to support one another.

Let's face it: This legislation was tagged as a "gay issue" -- mainly because the opposition to it arose almost wholly from the inclusion of sexual preference as a category of bias, fueled by the homophobes of the religious right. And gay-rights groups were certainly in the forefront of pushing the bill. However, other progressives, including those directly affected by hate crimes, neglected to join in the fight to any notable extent. Where were the civil-rights groups, the immigrant-rights groups, the labor unions?

Hope you find it worthy.

Incidentally, Pelosi issued a statement this afternoon:
"I am strongly committed to sending the hate crimes legislation, passed by the House earlier this year, to the President for his signature. Democrats have worked exhaustively with advocacy groups and polled Members repeatedly, but it is clear that attaching the language to the DoD authorization bill would not create a successful outcome in the House.

"House Democratic leaders will work with our Senate colleagues to make certain that a hate crimes bill passes the Senate and goes to the President's desk."

Well, we've certainly heard this before. I suspect we'll hear it again.

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