02-19-2017  10:37 pm      •     

Every year the Sons of Confederate Veterans use the North Carolina statehouse to celebrate their annual confederate flag day ceremony. It has become more common in recent years for some White Southerners to openly wax nostalgic for the days when their ancestors fought and died to preserve slavery.

It is easy to see a connection between present-day yearnings for a return to Dixieland and renewed efforts to threaten voting rights. It is less obvious to see similar connections with trends elsewhere in the country. South Dakota is a long way from South Carolina, but that state recently joined the battle to turn back the clock on civil rights.

That girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."


The Legislature in South Dakota voted to outlaw abortion except in cases where the mother's life was endangered. Even rape, incest and fetal abnormality will no longer be legally justified reasons for abortion. Republican State Sen. Bill Napoli described the only instance when he thought abortion would be justifiable.

"A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged," Napoli said. "The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."

Napoli has some very strange fantasies.  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's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. With Roe still in effect, the action of the South Dakota Legislature gives the finger to the United States Constitution and anyone who believes in it.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich, stated, "Victory in the South Dakota case will give conservatives renewed momentum to challenge all the other freedoms we hold dear."

When the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, 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 expect Bush appointees Alito and Roberts to live up to right wing expectations and overturn Roe.

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.

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. A South Dakota-instigated rejection of Roe will be felt in states that would never consider banning abortion.

Civil rights and civil liberties are in grave danger. They will disappear if there is no willingness to fight for them. 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.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly on www.blackcommentator.com.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. 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At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. 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