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Featured Opinion

It’s never racism in the Alabama Legislature

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It’s never racism.

So, just stop it with that. You’re ruining racism for the people who really experience it – the kind where someone burns a cross in your yard, makes you drink from a different water fountain, won’t let you sit in the front of the bus, makes your kids attend a different school.

You know, real racism.

Not an email.

An email isn’t racist. Be serious. That was a joke – an innocent attempt at lightening the mood.

That’s all Rep. Lynn Greer’s email – the one about training monkeys — was about on Wednesday. A simple joke.

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Hell, he didn’t even write it. It’s an old, well-known study about learned behavior and the pack mentality. And that’s why Greer was sending it around.

Because if there’s one thing the Alabama Legislature is famous for, it’s Legislators passing around scientific studies in the hopes of making the most intelligent decisions when deeply considering the pieces of legislation that pass before them.

OK, that’s a lie. Most of Alabama lawmakers don’t pass around scientific studies even when they’re voting on science-related issues. And in many cases, they willingly and ignorantly take positions exactly opposite of that of the scientific community.

Still, that doesn’t mean Greer’s email about the training of monkeys was racist.

Sure, it was sent during a time when the Legislature was busy arguing over a redistricting issue that has bogged down both houses because lawmakers can’t agree on the split of predominantly white and predominantly black districts. There was a very heated exchange over the issue to start the morning on Wednesday.

But still, that doesn’t mean it was racism.

OK, it’s true enough that the “study” referenced in the email never happened, despite the Alabama GOP, with the help of its fixer, David Azbell, sending out a statement with a number of links showing that the “study” was referenced often in various publications.

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And yes, one of those links provided in the statement from Greer linked to a post, which was written to specifically point out that the study never happened.

Still, it’s not racism.

Because it’s never, ever racism.

It’s not racism when black voters are stacked and packed into districts to ensure that they won’t influence white, Republican control of Alabama’s State Government.

It’s not racism when lawmakers draw a white Republican into Jefferson County to ensure the party maintains control over the blacks.

It’s not racism when the GOP forces through a voter-ID law that will literally stop no fraud, ignore the most common fraud and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of black voters.

It’s not racism when the Governor and GOP leadership back a plan to close driver’s license offices, which issue the aforementioned IDs, in most majority-black counties.

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It’s not racism when the Alabama GOP leadership makes every effort for years to close the legally-operating casinos in majority-black counties – shutting down the only real job-producing businesses in those counties and crippling schools and government services.

It’s not racism when lawmakers set up a system to legally embezzle public school money and hand it to private schools, allowing the wealthy a tax break and leaving poor, minority students stuck in the underperforming and even more poorly-funded schools.

It’s not racism when Alabama’s lawmakers refuse to change embarrassing, decades-old language in the State Constitution that prevents wealthy land owners (read: plantation owners) from paying for the education of black children.

It’s not racism when a good chunk of this Session – in 2017 – was devoted to preserving Confederate monuments – the country’s original participation trophies.

It’s not racism when bills sponsored for years by black lawmakers to reform criminal sentencing and end judicial override fail time and again, but identical bills sponsored by white Republicans sail through on the first try.

It’s not racism when a House member proclaims – out loud and during a committee meeting – that minorities’ poor decisions are the reason they’re three times more likely to be arrested for a crime that whites commit at a much higher rate.

None of that is racism.

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Because in the Alabama Legislature, it’s never, ever racism.

Even when it clearly is.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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