Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ex Post Wilson

I'd been waiting a bit to post on Genarlow Wilson's release from a GA prison yesterday to see if there were any fallout, but even the bad DA who perpetrated all this has agreed that the state supreme court is the final word in it all. Sometimes we understand when it's finally best to just shut up. For those of you unfamiliar with the unjust story, here's the background and result.

The most important part now is what happens after this. Will the parties who managed to reverse this nonsense back off, let it all fade away, as happens too often, or will they use it to keep the energy alive for a full-fledged exam of the civil rights implications of how we do "justice" in this country? Pockets of activism exist but so far have not coordinated. Will Wilson be a rallying figure in it all? And what will the other group starting to see similar effects, the Hispanic and Latino communities, do? Their growth in the prison population is generally the fastest of all ethnic groups right now. Doubtful they'll ever reach African-American proportions but who knows, especially with all the intellect going into the immigration debate right now. The white community in the US is dropping pretty steeply in its majority, already a minority in some states, and one of the best ways to keep control historically is to basically criminalize being a different group. We've reinstituted some of Jim Crow with our imprisonment and felonization of blacks as evidence of that (disenfranchisement, inability to compete for jobs and professions, etc.--see Pam Clifton's more thorough catch at Think Outside the Cage). Will they be the only ones?

There are so many questions that Wilson's case raised under the surface that need to be addressed. The temptation will be to clap hands and go rest. That would be a mistake for the legacy of this nation.

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