"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Anti-Civil Rights Civil Rights Agenda

During the Reagan phase of the Far Right Revolution, followers called for shutting down whole departments of the federal government. During these more advance stages of the new fascism, federal departments are used as tools to undercut the previous work of those same departments. We see this phenomenon at ED, the EPA, FDA, the Justice Department, or any other department whose oversight can now be construed as a threat to the right-wing theocracy, the unrestrained greed of crony capitalism, or the newly-secreted contractual arrangements of the military-industrial complex.

Here are a few examples from the New York Times of changes in the Civil Rights Division of Justice since Bush:

. . . .The changes are evident in a variety of actions:

¶Intervening in federal court cases on behalf of religion-based groups like the Salvation Army that assert they have the right to discriminate in hiring in favor of people who share their beliefs even though they are running charitable programs with federal money.

Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

¶Vigorously enforcing a law enacted by Congress in 2000 that allows churches and other places of worship to be free of some local zoning restrictions. The division has brought more than two dozen lawsuits on behalf of churches, synagogues and mosques.

¶Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.

¶Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration. . . .

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