Can we please stop using the phrase “Rule of Law?” The law has been used in this country for some of the most racist, vicious, and nefarious acts committed anywhere and it’s not, IMO, a useful phrase. Better that we use “Equal Justice Under the Law.” Here are a just a few examples of laws that have been passed or rulings that have been handed down that make the point:
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 – At the time it was passed, Chinese were only .002% of the population, but white people were worried about maintaining “racial purity.” Like today’s fears of immigrants, it was claimed they were taking jobs from white Americans.
People v. Hall – 1854. In this case, the California Supreme Court ruled that Chinese people had no rights to testify in court, adding them to the language of the laws at the time that stated “No black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man.”
The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was facilitated by numerous laws and Executive Orders, including EO 9066, signed by our “Democratic Socialist” President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. My own in-laws were forced to assemble at Santa Anita Racetrack, where they resided in captivity until they were transferred to the Granada War Relocation Center in Colorado (AKA “Amache”) where they were interned for over two years.
Slavery – The laws supporting slavery are too numerous to recount here, as each state had its own “Slave Codes,” which were designed to give slave owners absolute power over their slaves, including forbidding slaves to even defend themselves or their family. In many, they were forbidden from learning to read or to leave their plantation without written permission. All of these restrictions were perfectly “legal” at the time.
The history of the U.S. and Native Americans is rife with treaties and acts continuously taking away land or forcing entire communities to leave their ancestral lands and move to less desirable locations, as well as hundreds of treaties which were broken by the U.S. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced the removal of five tribes, culminating in a forced migration later known as the “Trail of Tears.”
There are numerous instances in history, especially notable ones being the laws passed in Nazi Germany making it unlawful to aid Jews and providing for their imprisonment and extermination.
All these were done under the color of law, e.g. the “Rule of Law.” We need to stop using this term. As I noted above, “Equality Under the Law” seems far more on point if we’re interested in freedom, justice, and equality of all peoples.
It is clear to me that racism in America will not go away if white people do not stand up and denounce it as the destructive force it is. In order to do so respectfully and honestly, white people need to listen to the voices of people of color. Only by listening to their authentic voices; to their stories and their life experiences, can we even begin to understand how racism affects their lives and why it needs to stop if we’re to progress as a race . . . a human race, that is. Here’s an interesting story that was shared with me on Facebook. Though I would share it here as well.
First Massive African American Protest in American History (July 28, 1917) were children in New York City participating in the Silent Protest Parade against the East St. Louis Riots. Between 8,000 and 10,000 African-Americans marched against lynching and anti-black violence in a protest. The march was precipitated by the East St. Louis Riot of May and July of that year, which was an outbreak of labor and race-related violence that caused up to 200 deaths and extensive property damage. The Parade was organized by famous civil rights activist and first African-American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard University) W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP. The protesters hoped to influence President Woodrow Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African-American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and to promote black cases; to the great horror of civil rights activists across the country, Wilson repudiated his promises, and federal discrimination actually increased during his presidency. It was the first parade of its kind in New York and the second public civil rights demonstration of African-Americans.
The paraders assembled at Fifty-ninth Street and Fifth Avenue and marched thirty-six blocks downtown to Madison Square Park. They were led by about 800 children, some no older than six, dressed entirely in white. Following the children were white-clad women, then rows of men dressed in black. The marchers walked wordlessly to the sound of muffled drumbeats. Despite their silence, their concerns were articulated on neatly stenciled banners and signs.
The banners and signs read: “MOTHER, DO LYNCHERS GO TO HEAVEN?; “GIVE ME A CHANCE TO LIVE”; “TREAT US SO THAT WE MAY LOVE OUR COUNTRY”; “MR. PRESIDENT, WHY NOT MAKE AMERICA SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY?; AND “YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD.”
I retired nearly 13 years ago, though I've continued to work during most of the time since then. I'm hoping to return to work on the RS-25 rocket engine program (formerly the SSME) which will power our return to the moon. Mostly I'm just cruising, making the most of what time I have remaining.
Although my time is nearly up, I still care deeply about the kind of world I'll be leaving to those who follow me and, to that end, I am devoted to seeing the forces of repression and authoritarianism are at least held at bay, if not crushed out of existence.
I write about things that interest me and, as an eclectic soul, my interests run the gamut from science to spirituality, governance to economics, art and engineering. I'm hopeful one day my children will read what I've left behind.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.