Every so often, you meet one of those old people who existed before manners. They use terms like “colored” and “negro,” to which all good people wince at and then try to explain to them that, no, these are no longer appropriate labels. Senator Jim Honeyford is one of those old people; during a committee hearing late last week, the senator from Yakima, Washington, stated that he believes “colored” people are “more likely to commit crimes” because they are poor.
Honeyford made the remarks during a hearing in which Democratic legislatures and a Washington Defender Association representative tried to explain the need for “racial impact statements” when evaluating potential laws.
According to Raw Story, racial impact statements are:
[P]rojections of the ways in which a piece of legislation may disproportionately affect one racial sub-group over another. For instance, stiffer sentences for crack cocaine users and sellers versus those for powder cocaine disproportionately affect blacks, punishing people of color more harshly than white offenders who have committed nearly identical crimes.
But. . . that’s the point of those laws! Having a projection pointing out that it hurts subgroups is superfluous. Here, let’s review history with Lee Atwater:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
As Lee Atwater clearly explains in his 1981 interview, the bills are abstractions. That they hurt minorities like Black and African-American is a feature, not a bug.
The Republicans know this, because they were dragging their feet.
Senator Barbra Bailey said that she didn’t understand, and asked “why our laws that we already have don’t already have the oversight of this particular situation that you’re talking about. So are you indicating that we would then change our laws, that if you are someone of color and you commit a crime, that your sentence would be different than someone who is not of color?”
Honeyford spoke up, saying that “It’s generally accepted that the poor are more likely to commit crimes. And generally, I think, accepted that people of color are more likely poor than not. So how does that factor into your equation?”
Perhaps that’s because there are more poor people and thus, there are more people in the pool to commit the crime? It also matters what crime you’re talking about, because I don’t see a poor person exploiting labor in developing nations with pittance and horrible working conditions. Of course, that’s not really a crime, though. Funny how that works; it’s almost like the laws benefit people with money or something.
Democratic Senator Bob Hasegawa spoke up, saying that it was “probably true” that there was more people of color locked up in the legal system. However, he countered that “these types of analyses will help us get to the root of what is actually causing that kind of disparate treatment.”
Honeyford “wanted to correct what” he’d said, noting that “I said the poor are more likely to commit crimes, and, uh, colored most likely to be poor. I didn’t say anything else other than that. And I believe that’s an accepted fact, and if you check any of your sociology books or anything else you’ll find that’s an accepted fact of our society.”
It’s important to note that our legal system — because there’s no way this joke is a “justice” system — is two-tiered. Conservatives will deny this up and down, but the truth is rather simple: the rich can afford proper representation, while the poor are often stuck with overworked public defenders who, victimized by GOP-sponsored budget cuts in the name of “smaller government,” are unable to handle all of their cases. This results in poor people getting screwed out of their Constitutional guarantee of a fair trial, while the rich get to walk because they’ve got the money for the big guns.
Again, this is how it’s supposed to be. As Lee Atwater pointed out, this hurts Africans and Blacks. That it hurts Whites too is immaterial, for two reasons: Most Whites bring it on themselves by voting for these policies to begin with, and the rich Whites don’t care, and never have cared, about the poor Whites they manipulate.
[h/t and cover image credit RS]