The NAACP has for the first time ever voted to issue a travel advisory for a single state. Missouri has garnered the warning to minorities and people of ethnicities likely to be targeted by discrimination in the state. In what appears to be a return to Jim Crow laws of the past, Senate Bill 43 was passed in June by the Missouri legislature and it is at the heart of the problems. They decided that the new law will make open discrimination possible. In a situation of “bill supports said, and we disagree” the history of the past and the statistics of profiling and other practices in Missouri make it evident that there is cause for alarm. The story (recently updated from when it broke last night) is available here from CNN’s Nancy Coleman and is well worth reading: “NAACP issues its first statewide travel advisory, for Missouri.”
The concern in terms of civil rights is certainly a legitimate one. It is of grave concern that an organization such as the NAACP should bring to a vote any kind of travel warning or advisory for an entire state. Certainly in the past issues have come to the forefront of our attention; we have seen that problems involving civil rights and discrimination erupted in locations, many times involving violence and bloodshed. But for an entire state to be deemed as a possible danger to those who travel there is example of the dangers associated with a backwards movement in terms of civil rights on large scale. It begs the question: Will it get worse?
Any abridgement of past gains, reversals of equality, must be viewed as threats to not one area, but as a start to what will be more. History provides volumes of examples where what starts as a chip becomes a crack, and a crack opens wide under the pressure of those having success in reversing equality laws. While reasons or excuses, dependent upon your own point of view, for how the laws are or are not dangerous to certain minorities or ethnicities are going to be heard, the proof will be in the news reported on in the days to come. If this is a racist undermining of rights in Missouri, chances are they will not be satisfied with a first victory; they will force the crack open wider.
The NAACP action is important in this regard. Eyes are turning towards Missouri; they are going to be scrutinized more closely. Reporters and watchdog groups have been alerted to the possibility of old problems becoming new ones. Unlike the first days of Jim Crow, the country is electronically linked in so complete a manner that very little will happen in Missouri that does not find its way onto the media feeds in relatively short time. Writing and passing a draconian law is one thing, using it to affect the lives and rights of others often proves harder to accomplish.
CLC News will continue to monitor the situation in Missouri and in feeds from the NAACP and bring you updates.
Coming up later this week:
A continuing look at the possibility of 1st Amendment violations by U.S. Capital Police
Part 2 of Betsy’s Report Card