Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One step forward, one back

Remember last month I posted about Florida's remaining Jim Crow law in its Constitution:

Florida is the last state in the nation still to have a constitution marked with one remnant of the Jim Crow era: a rule allowing legislators to ban Asian immigrants from owning land. This November, voters have a chance to remove the so-called "alien land law" of 1926 from Florida's Constitution. That would complete a nationwide purging of the rules once in force in more than a dozen states."What it does is eliminate the unfortunate vestiges of racial discrimination," said Sen. Steve Geller, D-Cooper City, who persuaded legislators to put it on the fall ballot after years of lobbying his colleagues.

Well, it lost. Florida voters voted NO to a constitutional amendment to remove the alien land law from its constitution, 52% to 48%. That means 3,728,731 people voted to RETAIN a constitutional provision that allows Asians to be stripped of the right to own property by the Legislature.

Of course, the provision in Florida's constitution is completely inoperative. The U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause trumps state constitutions. So the Florida law is "merely" symbolic. But what a horrible symbol of racism, intolerance, and xenophobia.


Wendy said...

Why? I cannot believe it. There is NO reason to retain such a law except blatant racism. Idiocy in large numbers--scary.

malinda said...

I think voters saw the amendment as having something to do with immigration -- the phrase that identified Asians in the alien land laws was "aliens ineligible for citizenship," because this was the time of the so-called "Gentleman's Agreement" with Japan disallowing Japanese immigrants from becoming citizens and the Chinese Exclusion Acts, preventing Chinese from becoming citizens. I think voters saw something about ownership of property by "aliens ineligible for citizenship" and thought "illegal aliens shouldn't be able to own property!" And so it goes.

Chinazhoumom said...

As a person fm Florida - let me say the writing of that was WACK! I readit - and bad me for not preparing -and reading up on this stuff-but I read it - and read it agin - then did not vote one way or the other - I had NO idea what the point was on that and a few others - the people should have to writw these things CLEAR - it was like MUD!
and so it said before - so well...