COLUMBIA — The U.S. Supreme Court completed its annual session and, as is the norm, handed down a number of decisions that are controversial.
The ruling that Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring nine states and parts of seven others to petition the Department of Justice for permission to change voting laws is no longer constitutionally sanctioned is one of them.
The uproarious cacophony from the political left — Democratic Party members of Congress, editorialists, syndicated columnists and those who can be counted on to protest at the drop of a radical hat — along with the reaction of that self-proclaimed "corps d'elite" over a 20-year-old admitted racial slur, proved one point exceeding well: So long as it is economically, socially and politically profitable, racism will remain with us.
The Voting Rights Act was signed into law as a necessity in 1965 as several of the states of the Confederacy employed poll taxes, literacy tests and other blatantly discriminatory measures to suppress minority voting.
Nevertheless the notion that time has stood still and those conditions still exist by civil rights activists and those who stand to gain by racial polarization is somewhat absurd.
The hysterical rants from the left include those by the New York Times: "The conservative majority on the Roberts Court issued another damaging and dishonest ruling"; the Kansas City Star: "The court's outrageous decision will give aid and comfort to conservative state lawmakers who want to make voting more difficult for blacks, Hispanics, the elderly and the poor"; and various other demagogic publications and individuals who see voter photo ID laws as the antithesis of "one person, one vote."
The idea that this decision opened the gate for "red" states to pass legislation requiring a photo ID to vote is patently false. The U. S. Supreme Court already decided in favor of Georgia (2005) and Indiana (2008) that requiring photo identification to cast a ballot does not violate the Constitutional rights of the voter.
So far, state courts and the Justice Department have been the only judicial roadblocks, judging from Supreme Court rulings, it is but a matter of time before the ID objection dies a well-earned death.
An example of just how silly the claim that requiring photo identification for voters is a tool for disenfranchisement of minorities, the elderly, et al., was my experience in acquiring a replacement library card last month.
Inasmuch as I was required to produce a photo ID to complete the transaction, does that not prove that our libraries are practicing Jim Crow tactics by suppressing the opportunity for the "disenfranchised" to read?
Now, let us take a look at the what, when, how and why the Supreme Court overturned Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act and returned it to Congress to reconsider it on the basis of 2013 instead of 1965.
There are no poll taxes or literacy tests in those Southern states today. In fact, five of those nine states now show a higher turnout of black voters than whites.
Conversely, the state with the largest disparity in white-versus-black voting participation is Massachusetts, hardly a bastion of the old South and Confederate battle flags flying from pickup trucks.
For too many years, Congress and the president had rotely perpetuated this outdated act. If not for Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, it might have gone on ad infinitum.
As for the 20-year-old racial slur, uttered and admitted to by one Paula Deen, a 66- year-old celebrity chef, the circumstances are of little import. Nevertheless, the admission in a taped deposition that she had used the "N" word caused her to be fired by the Food Network and cut loose by many of her sponsors.
I am not in the business of condoning discrimination or racial epithets; however, in retrospect, if everyone who has ever used a racial slur were to be fired, how many of us would be eligible for employment? I believe the Biblical passage, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone," is appropriate here.
Although celebrity chef Deen has not done herself any favors by repetitive tearful apologies — they tend to become old and self-serving very quickly — she scarcely deserves the scorn of hypocrites. Even the Rev. Al Sharpton, hardly a poster guy for racial objectivity, has come forward in support of Deen, saying that it is unfair to hold something voiced 20 years ago against her today.
Finally, there will always be racists and racism to deal with.
They will exist at both ends of the spectrum — ignorance and intolerance are permanent and know no difference in race, color nor creed.
However, the fact that we have a black president, a black attorney general, that we have had black secretaries of State, a black chairman joint chiefs of staff and black Supreme Court justices is concrete evidence that the past is breathing its last.
But, those who use racism to promote a political agenda, gouge out economic benefits or inflame social conscience will, sadly, keep it on life support.
J. Karl Miller is a retired colonel in the U.S. Marines Corps.