Racial segregation’s legacy in southern states taints procedures that are as simple as showing a photo ID to vote.
Americans don’t use a state ID or their Social Security number as forms of identification the way we do. To an American citizen, the idea that you must show identification during any interaction with the government or a private entity is bizarre.
There is no voter ID or, much less, any biometric form of identification, which would not be considered an unspeakable invasion of privacy.
Voting laws vary by state. In some states have strict voter identification laws, where a vote is counted only if the voter produces a photo ID, most often a driver’s license. Other states accept identification without a photo, such as a bank statement. And yet, in other states, there is no identification requirement whatsoever.
From our point of view, it seems absurd that such a simple requirement as providing a photo ID would provoke such a negative reaction, but this must be seen from the perspective of an American citizen.
Currently, for example, there is a national boycott campaign against the state of Georgia, where a new photo identification system is already in place following a legislative change. Such changes seem merely bureaucratic, mainly with respect to mail-in voting and the composition of election commissions.
But in fact, people have interpreted these new laws as steps to restrict Black voters’ access to the polls, although you would need a magnifying glass with a well-politicized lens to render this interpretation.
As a result of the new law in Georgia, Major League Baseball has decided it will no longer hold its All-Star Game in the state.
Major state-based companies like Delta Air Lines Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. have criticized the new legislation, an indication that corporations are being forced to take political positions that will inevitably displease some of their customers, in this case, Republican voters.
In a verbal outburst, President Joe Biden compared the new legislation to “Jim Crow in the 21st century.” Originally, Jim Crow was a character created by a popular comedian who presented an exaggerated, satirical image of a Black slave.
After the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves in the South, the name Jim Crow came to symbolize express and implicit racial segregation, which prohibited social contact between Black and white populations in public settings.
When it comes to civil rights in the United States, there are guarantees set down by the federal government, which dismantled the mechanisms of segregation in public school and other areas, such as voting laws.
The Jim Crow era left a very heavy legacy and not only in iconic images that had a great impact of great symbolic impact, such as segregated drinking fountains and police officers setting their dogs on protesters, but a legacy that included repeated lynchings. The mere suspicion that a Black man had spoken to a white woman could trigger unspeakable acts of collective violence, which would go unpunished.
From a conservative point of view, it is absurd to compare Georgia’s new legislation with this dark age.
“Anyone making this charge in good faith either doesn’t understand the hideousness of the Jim Crow regime or the provisions of the Georgia law,” wrote Rich Lowry in the New York Post, one of the few daily newspapers that is neither progressive nor part of the right-wing conspiracy madness.
Lowry lists a number of basic provisions in the new law, including the requirement to provide a driver’s license number in the case of mail-in votes and a mail-in deadline of no later than 11 days before the election.
Underlying the whole discussion is the fact that many provisions in the new law aim to prevent the vulnerability to fraud alleged by former President Donald Trump, who lost in Georgia by just 11,000 votes.
What does baseball, the quintessential American middle class sport, so often used as a metaphor for the national psyche, have to do with this? Sports, as well as sports broadcasts, are becoming politicized in way that reflects the politicization of society in general.
Protests by Black athletes began with football players kneeling during the performance of the national anthem in protest against police brutality and racial inequality, followed by the actions of football team owners who felt pressured by the risk of being labeled “racist,” the worst kind of insult, and then protests by public figures who demanded allegiance to the cause.
Why did an airline company like Delta, Georgia’s biggest employer, get into this fight? Pressure, of course.
Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola spoke out against the new voter legislation after Black executives publicly asked large corporations to speak out. More than 100 companies responded.
In response, Trump proposed that his supporters boycott these companies — a huge sacrifice for Trump, who drinks 10 Coke Zeros every day.
The New York Times, which obviously opposes the new law with all its powerful moral capital, recalled an example of the kind of backlash that can happen when companies are forced to enter the political fray.
In 2018, Delta ended its partnership with the National Rifle Association of America, the largest pro-gun lobby in the United States, after students were killed at a Florida school. In retaliation, state lawmakers, in a state with a Republican majority, approved the end of a tax exemption for the airline, at a cost of $50 million to the company.
As for Georgia’s baseball fans, perhaps those who oppose the new legislation will accept the sacrifice of living without MLB games in their state, while those who are in favor of the new voting law will fight back, since they are not ready to make such a sacrifice.
In this highly polarized environment, you just can’t have a Coke or give up drinking it without it turning into a political act.