By Sikivu Hutchinson
In a sign that humanist rationality can prevail in the American mainstream, voters scored key moral victories for civil and human rights in Mississippi, Ohio and Arizona. The defeat of Proposition 26, the so-called personhood initiative, is a major blow to the pro-death forces seeking to turn back the clock on women’s rights. The most religious state in the country, Mississippi already has parental consent laws, mandatory waiting periods for women seeking abortions and severely limited reproductive health options. But if the Christian fascists can’t succeed in bible thumping ole Miss where can they? Not to be deterred, the Colorado-based Personhood USA campaign is gathering signatures for ballot initiatives in nine other states.
The Christian fascists might also want to get it straight on whether all new “persons” would be eligible for collective bargaining rights. In Ohio, voters’ opposition to an anti-union bill was a loud rebuke to the wave of anti-union sentiment from the Tea Party and its GOP amen corner. If it had passed, the Ohio law would have “banned public employee strikes, scrapped binding arbitration, and denied public workers the ability to negotiate pensions and health care benefits.” In
their rush to demonize big government, “fat cat” public employee unions and their swollen pension funds, the reactionary right conveniently ignores the
fact that historic safeguards like collective bargaining essentially built the modern white middle class. But the white nationalist rhetoric that has spawned fascist personhood initiatives and anti-union hysteria is all of a piece.
That’s why yesterday’s successful recall of anti-illegal immigrant demagogue and Arizona Republican State Senator Russell Pearce was also a vindication of national social justice movements linking living wage jobs, equitable access to education and anti-racism. Pearce was the architect of SB 1070, the first salvo in anti-illegal immigrant public policy that criminalizes undocumented immigrants and their families. A more draconian SB 1070 offshoot in Alabama has already caused undocumented parents to withdraw their children from school in fear that they will be targeted by school officials. Taken as a whole, these victories could foreshadow a shift from the reactionary conservative assault on civil rights that President Obama has aided and abetted through his inaction. And if the Occupy Wall Street/99% groundswell is ever going to coalesce into a real movement, there must be a frontal attack on anti-human rights public policy masquerading as a “return to morality.”