Our Voice: It’s Been a Week

Gun Rights
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If it seems at times that there is too much news coming at you, you are not alone. But some things have got to be faced.

In a week that began with massive destructive and deadly storms sweeping the country, that saw a former president not just indicted but arrested on 34 felony counts, you would think that that would be the major national news of the week. But as it turns out, there are issues vying for our attention. These include the growing crisis of gun violence and gun deaths, the sudden lurch in threats to women’s reproductive rights, and it now appears that the promise of democracy itself is under attack.

In Idaho, the legislature passed an abortion trafficking law that prevents anyone from helping a woman leave the state for an abortion. Really.

Within a few days, two federal judges have issued competing rulings regarding women’s reproductive health:

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  • A conservative federal judge in Texas appointed by former President Donald Trump stayed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2000 approval of the drug Mifepristone, one of two medical assisting abortion drugs. By overruling the scientific decision of a drug that has been used in Europe since the 1980s he set a seven-day waiting period to allow for objections to be filed.  He used far-right, pro-life advocates’ language in his ruling, making it clear where his views lie. The ruling has been called a devastating ruling that overturns the will of the majority of Americans and the rights of women for reproductive health.
  • But within an hour of that ruling, another federal judge in Washington state contradicted that ruling, issuing an order that said that the 17 states (which includes Colorado) and the District of Columbia that have protected women’s reproductive rights should and must continue to make the drug available to women.

“This is an attempt to strip away fundamental human rights to our own bodies,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D of Mass.). “This is the beginning not the end of their efforts to completely outlaw the right to abortion in the U.S.”

It appears that this latest round in the battle over women’s reproductive rights will be headed to the Supreme Court — again.

In Tennessee, where the heartbreaking mass killing of three adults and three nine-year-old’s at the Covenant School brought mass student and parent protests to the state capital demanding gun control action, an astounding display of racial prejudice played out.

When three state representatives joined in the peaceful protests on the House floor — two 27-year-old Black Representatives named Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, and a 60-year-old white woman named Gloria Johnson — the all-white, Republican super majority expelled the two Black men.  Asked why she was not expelled, the white woman responded, “it might have something to do with the color of my skin.”

The three did the same thing. They stood up representing their constituents who are asking for – demanding – reforms that will reduce gun violence. The three were merely supporting students who want a chance to grow up and not be killed in their classrooms. That white, male super majority might have thought they were just dealing with ‘uppity’ young blacks. But by doing what they did, I believe they revealed their racist souls and they gave these young men a platform to confront the white supremacist base not just in that state, but across the nation.

The actions of this super-majority was the opposite of Democracy. This is the opposite of the multi-racial, inclusive society that is the U.S. It is the opposite of what the younger generations see and experience, and embrace.

It is time to set down the mantle of racism and exclusionism, of hate and bigotry, of superiority and control over those deemed less, and accept the freedom and light and inclusion that comes with real Democracy — when we see people for who they really are. This was on full display in our county this week, at the Chaffee County Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Awards Dinner. Irene Alvarez understands this. Her fellow Boys & Girls Club members are learning it. So should we all.

This coming week — who knows what will happen. After all, the National Rifle Association will be holding its national conference in Indianapolis next week — their conference will discuss things like the dangers of “gun-free zones.”

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