Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

GUEST COLUMN: Both Sides of Amendment 4 Issue Have Merit

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

GUEST COLUMN: Both Sides of Amendment 4 Issue Have Merit

Article excerpt

Have you ever listened to a debate between two friends about a complicated issue? Because you find some truth in both arguments, you change back and forth as each makes his case. My not overly educated (at least in the formal sense) but very wise father described such argument this way: "There ain't no dime so thin it ain't got two sides." That pretty much summarizes my view of Amendment 4, on which we will vote Nov. 6.

On one side are many of my political, business and religious friends who correctly argue that we need to remove racist language from the thoroughly racist 1901 constitution. As Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr, author of Amendment 4, stated, "I find it offensive ... that it's still in my state's governing document." I agree.

But I do find it curious that Orr only finds the language offensive, not the racist policies which gave rise to the language. Furthermore, I find it amazing that he has endorsed Roy Moore as Supreme Court chief justice, the very Republican who mobilized a coalition that defeated the last attempt to remove the same racist language.

Why Orr's change of heart? Well, it has lots to do with deleting the offensive language, which has been made legally meaningless anyway because federal courts struck it down, while leaving intact racist policies that will cripple Alabama for decades.

Other friends -- in AEA, black political leaders, other religious friends -- argue that the key to understanding the differences in the sides of the dime is found in what was included in the amendment last time compared to this time.

The amendment that Roy Moore's forces killed (and for which I voted) proposed not only to remove the racist language that shames Alabama but also the racist policy that Alabama legislators almost unanimously added to our constitution two years after the Supreme Court's Brown decision in 1954.

Desperately trying to keep black students separate from whites and unequal, legislators voted and citizens passed an amendment that said the state did not guarantee any child the right to a public education. Now if you think we have a problem with bad language, try recruiting a Korean company like Hyundai or Kia by telling them their children who relocate here are not guaranteed a public education. …

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