A simple and pretty straightforward picture has been making the rounds of social media lately: it shows a strange abyss in human understanding of racism.
To be more precise: it lists activities where demanding that a person produce an identification document, complete with a photograph, has been viewed as non-racist, comparing it to a list of activities when a similar demand is racist beyond any available expression of outrage.
The author in the social media has preferred to remain anonymous, so, with apologies into the unknown, here it comes.
First, what is non-racist?
Demanding a photo ID when you:
- Purchase alcohol.
- Purchase cigarettes (and, hopefully, other tobacco products, too).
- Open a bank account.
- Apply for food stamps.
- Apply for welfare.
- Apply for Medicaid (judging by these entries, the list, obviously, comes from the Excited States, but the same rules hold true for the Maple Leaf country).
- Apply for Social Security.
- Apply for a job.
- Apply for unemployment.
- Rent a house.
- Buy a house.
- Apply for a mortgage.
- Drive a car.
- Rent a car.
- Buy a car.
- Get on an airplane.
- Get married.
- Purchase a gun.
- Adopt a pet.
- Rent a hotel room.
- Apply for a hunting licence.
- Apply for a fishing licence.
- Buy a cell phone.
- Visit a casino.
A pretty comprehensive list, isn’t it?
Will the list of activities that call racist the demand for photo identification be as comprehensive?
Indeed, it is:
A crazy number of them, none of them valid.
A valid driver’s licence lists the driver’s name and address. Granted, we all usually look like seasoned criminals in the photos attached to our driver’s licences. It takes only a bit of basic imagination to see whether the person using the licence is the same as the person recorded in the licence.
Most North Americans get around driving cars. If they have no driver’s licence, what’s the assumption?
Either they drive a stolen car, or they never got a licence (driving without one is illegal), or their licence has been suspended for any of the many legal reasons we lose our driving licences.
The question of proving who you are before you’re allowed to cast a ballot has become very serious in the aftermath of last year’s presidential elections in the U.S.
It took almost half a year before one state agreed it had tens of thousands of dead people on its voting rolls. It would remove them before next elections come around. Some call it victory of common sense. That those poor dead souls should have never been on those tolls to begin with has somehow escaped the attention of those who now praise Pennsylvania for her courage.
It took about the same time for other states to declare they would not be removing people who had moved. Here, officials left it so beautifully open an eighteen-wheeler would have no difficulty getting through: there’s a world of difference between people moving out of state and people moving from one apartment to another in the same building.
Forget the allegations of voting machines’ software manipulation. Getting an out-of-state person vote several times in different voting stations of that same voting jurisdiction is much easier and, we can presume, cheaper.
Just imagine the scene: hi, I’m Freddy (an apologetic nod towards all Freddies who happen to live just round the corner from here) So-and-so, I live just round the corner from here, and I’ve come to vote.
Can you show us an ID?
How dare you?
Ooops, sorry. Here’s your ballot, there’s your booth.
End of scene.
Democracy is defined as a set of obligations and rights. You can’t have rights before you’ve met your obligations.
We seem to have thrown the basic logic of democracy out of the window.
That’s going to cost us. In fact, it’s costing us now already.