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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chuck Grassley’s racist reason for voting against the VAWA


Republicans have offered a number of reasons why they oppose the Violence Against Women Act. Some think it’s unconstitutional. Others argue that it’s just a meaningless bill with a patriotic title.

On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) added a new one: Native Americans supposedly aren’t capable of holding fair trials.

Last week, Grassley was one of just 22 senators—all Republican men—who voted against reauthorizing VAWA. During a town hall meeting in Indianola on Wednesday, a woman asked him to explain his vote. Grassley responded that the legislation is unconstitutional, a belief shared by at least five of his colleagues.

Since the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to a trial among a jury of peers, Grassley reasoned that white men would be deprived of their rights if those who were accused of violence against Native American women had to appear in a tribal court. “On an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right?” Grassley said. “So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”

Since “peer” is a synonym of “equal,” Grassley isn’t just suggesting that Native Americans would be racist toward white, he’s suggesting that Native Americans aren’t the equals of whites. Besides, even if he’s just having a problem understanding plain English, his reasoning is flawed — he assumes that non-whites can’t just whites fairly, but that the opposite isn’t true.

“A person who is tried in Vermont is likely to have an all-white jury because over 95 percent of Vermont is white,” TP’s Scott Keyes points out. “Similarly, a person who commits a crime in the Navajo Nation will face a jury of Native Americans because the population of the local community is made up of Navajo people. There is no reason to believe that Navajo jurors are any less impartial than white Vermonters, and Grassley is wrong to suggest otherwise.”

Dead wrong, if you ask me. Offensively wrong.

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