Point of View Columns

The Digital Klan

If this was truly a country where there was liberty and justice for all, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida, would be attired in a jumpsuit while hoping against hope that he could avoid another forced visit to the bridal suite at some penitentiary. Instead, Governor Scott has initiated the ethnic cleansing of the voting rolls in his state, having already removed close to 200,000 men and women, the large majority of whom just happen to be black and Latino. The Ku Klux Klan would be proud of how Rick Scott has adapted their terror tactics to the digital age.

Fifty years ago it was a death defying act for black men and women to even register to vote, much less dare to vote. There is a long list of barely remembered heroes and heroines who risked their homes, jobs and lives simply to exercise the constitutional right to register and vote. There is a similarly long list of villains and scoundrels who conspired to deny this right to black Americans in the name of preserving a hellish concept of the Southern Way of Life. In pursuit of this conspiracy these misfits engaged in arson, murder and general mayhem.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restated the existing constitutional rights of all American to vote regardless of race, creed or religion. Interestingly, the passage of the Voting Rights Act is the point in time when white Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party and became Republicans. And resting on the seamy foundation of racist resentment, the Republican Party has dominated politics in the South ever since.

Now Rick Scott, acting in concert with the Republican governors and legislators in a dozen states has acted to cleanse the voting rolls of ineligible voters in order to protect against “voter fraud”. The fact is that during the past ten years complaints regarding voter fraud anywhere in this country have been minimal. Indeed, the biggest case of voter fraud in recent history was the Republican theft of the 2000 presidential election. But that is a story for another time.

The results of all of this cleansing has been the removal of hundreds of thousands of minority voters many of whom the Teapublicans are presuming would have voted for President Obama later this year. So, rather than steal the election in November, they are seeking to steal the election six months earlier. A damnable preemptive strike if there ever has been one in the sordid history of race politics in this country.

The United States Justice Department has been following this travesty but to date it has taken no definitive legal action in Florida or anywhere else. And one can safely predict the Teapublican wailing about the “politicizing” of the Department of Justice if Attorney General Holder moves from rhetoric to action in the courts.

Meanwhile, there are men and women who have already been advised that they are ineligible to vote. Some of them will seek redress and may be reinstated. We can be certain the Governor Scott and his henchmen are expecting that most of the disenfranchised will just stay home thereby eroding support for Barack Obama and empowering the tepid wave of support that is now backing Mitt Romney.

In 1952 Harry T. Moore, the leader of a Florida NAACP branch near Orlando, Florida was killed by a bomb placed under his home. It is pretty clear that the bomb was the work of the local sheriff and that Mr. Moore died because of his advocacy of voting rights for the black citizens of Florida. Clearly the voting rights movement persevered and prevailed. Just as clearly, the battle has not ended.

Rick Scott was one of the founders of the Columbia Hospital Corporation. This healthcare company eventually pleaded guilty to fourteen federal fraud felonies and paid the United States government $600 million in fines. Incredibly, in a country where a petty burglar can go to prison for 5-10 years, Rick Scott walked away Scott-free, so to speak.

The moral standing of this man is suspect at best. His motives in promoting the ethnic cleansing of Florida’s voting rolls are transparently racist and partisan. The real shame is that this story is floating below headlines about Mitt Romney’s dog and Secret Service hookers in Colombia.

We can only hope that we pay attention before it is too late to pay attention. Then there will be hell to pay.

Remember November 6th!

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