U.S. urged to protect rights of ethnic minorities

U.S. urged to protect rights of ethnic minorities
Source: Xinhua
Editor: huaxia
2022-04-14 21:50:48
BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhua) — The U.S. government should earnestly protect the equal and lawful rights of African Americans and other ethnic minorities, and turn rhetoric about human rights and equality into reality, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Thursday.
Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on the 2022 State of Black America report.
The National Urban League published its 2022 State of Black America report on April 12. One of the findings is that Black Americans’ right to political participation has been greatly restricted. In the past year alone, 20 states redrew congressional maps, which strip voting power away from communities with African American voters and other racial minorities. At the same time, many states adopted legislation that makes it harder for Black and other ethnic minority voters to cast their ballots.
Zhao said the report shows that African Americans get only 73.9 percent of the American pie of equality white people enjoy. Black people have slipped further behind white people in wealth, health, education, social justice and civic engagement.
“This again exposes the persistent systemic racial discrimination in the United States, which has seeped into all aspects of social life,” said Zhao.
The utopia depicted by words is shattered by reality, said the spokesperson, adding that the United States claims to champion openness and inclusiveness. It declares that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights all men are endowed with, and that the American dream is out there for all who set out to chase it.
Fifty-nine years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech that “America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’.” More than half a century on, the situation remains the same. African Americans are still making a long and uphill battle in striving for equal rights with White people, Zhao stressed.
The sufferings of African Americans are not unique to them, but experienced by other ethnic minority groups as well, said the spokesperson.
“Overshadowed by systemic racial discrimination featuring discriminatory treatment and violence in law enforcement, ethnic minorities in the United States live under unease, inequality and fear. Instead of fulfilling their American dream, many of them end up having their dream shattered and even meeting their death,” Zhao stressed.
The U.S. government should take a hard look at the country’s own human rights issues, earnestly protect the equal and lawful rights of African Americans and other ethnic minorities, and square rhetoric about human rights and equality with reality for the tangible benefits of each and every American people, the spokesperson said
Democrats Increasingly Say American Democracy Is Sliding Toward Minority Rule
June 9, 20215:00 AM ET
The American political tradition enshrines majority rule, with rights for the minority. But some wonder whether the United States is sliding toward minority rule.
More and more Democrats are saying the system is out of whack.
Twice in the last 20 years, their presidential candidate got more votes but lost the election. And now that the 2022 redistricting cycle is beginning, Republicans in many states will be able to get fewer votes but end up with a majority of seats.
In the Senate, many Democrats say a system designed to protect the rights of smaller states has turned into partisan minority rule. According to the Constitution, every state — no matter if it has 1 million people, or 30 million — gets two senators.
But Sen. Brian Schatz, from the small state of Hawaii, says that disparity is growing.
“The way this is starting to work is that elected representatives who collectively have gathered 10 million, maybe 12 million, maybe by the year 2030 30 million fewer votes are going to stack the judiciary and entrench minority rule,” Schatz, a Democrat, said during last year’s debate about confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. “And so something has to give.”
The Senate Is Split 50-50, But Democrats Represent 41.5 Million More People
Population represented by the 50 Democratic and 50 Republican senators in the 117th (2021-2022) Congress.
Notes: In states with split Senate delegations, half of the state’s population was allocated to each party. Sens. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Angus King, a Maine independent, are coded as Democrats because they caucus with the Democratic Party.
Source: Ian Millhiser/Vox, based on 2019 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates
Credit: Ruth Talbot/NPR
Right now, the Senate is split evenly in half, but the 50 Democratic senators represent 41.5 million more people than the 50 Republican senators.
By 2040, if population trends continue, 70% of Americans will be represented by just 30 senators, and 30% of Americans by 70 senators.
That has lots of implications, such as for the Senate filibuster, where a party that represents a shrinking minority of voters can block almost all major legislation.
But it also has implications for the Supreme Court, says Jesse Wegman, author of Let the People Pick the President.
“You have this sort of turbocharged minority rule,” he said. “You have a counter-majoritarian institution chosen by people who were picked by a minority of the citizens. That’s not a sustainable model for representative democracy.”
Conservative Republican Brad Smith, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, disagrees. He says the system has worked pretty well because when the Framers designed the Senate, they understood that a small state such as Rhode Island would never have as much clout as a big state such as New York.
“These are the kinds of reasons why at the Constitutional Convention there was the Great Compromise of having one chamber by population and one chamber elected by states,” he said. “You know, under that system we’ve become like a really rich, powerful, wealthy, free country.”
And Smith says it’s really hard to change because the Senate is enshrined in the Constitution.
But Wegman says this is not what the Framers had in mind. For one thing, when they wrote the Constitution, they thought only white men with property could vote. And they certainly couldn’t have imagined how the population would grow and sort itself out.
“At the time of the founding, the biggest state was 13 times the size of the smallest state. Today, the biggest state is 70 times the size of the smallest state,” he said. “So a few hundred thousand people in Wyoming have as much power as tens of millions of people in California or New York. And I think that violation of majority rule is going to continue to haunt us through the Senate, which is not really alterable in any meaningful way other than by just adding more states.”
Democrats don’t currently have the votes to grant statehood to Puerto Rico or Washington, D.C. or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The role of gerrymandering
Then there’s the House of Representatives and statehouses around the country, where representation is supposed to be based on population.
But Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University says partisan gerrymandering hasn’t just created safe seats for Democrats and Republicans. In many cases, he says, it allows one party to draw district lines that secure its grip on the state legislature — such as in Wisconsin.
“The map there was drawn by Republicans so that under any reasonable election scenario, they win a majority of the seats,” Li said. “So even if they win, say, 47[%] or 48% of the vote statewide, they are likely to get about 60% of the seats. And that’s something that’s deeply undemocratic.”
And the same thing has happened when Republican legislatures draw congressional district lines. “In North Carolina, for example, the map that was drawn gave Republicans 10 out of the state’s 13 congressional districts,” Li said.
And that’s in a state where Democrats get way more than three out of every 13 votes.
Republicans say Democrats do partisan gerrymandering, too. And they say if Democrats were able to win control of more statehouses — something they failed miserably at in 2010 and 2020 — they would be doing the exact same thing.
There are reforms to partisan gerrymandering. Some states have adopted nonpartisan redistricting commissions. Others give the opposition party more input.
Another idea: Congress could add more seats to the House. The 435-seat limit was set way back in 1929 when the U.S. population was much smaller. Now, almost every congressional district represents about 760,000 people. A fairer system, reformers say, would be to make more districts, creating more representation.
But Republican Smith thinks all the reforms that Democrats would like to make to the rules governing representation could have unintended consequences because, he says, politics can change quickly as well.
“It’s well within my memory that West Virginia was a lock state for Democrats in presidential elections and Senate elections,” he said. “There might be a reason for making these changes. But the reason for making these changes is not the short-term political advantage of the Democratic or Republican Party.”
In the past, however, the short-term political advantage was generally the main reason changes in the rules have been made. And right now many people in both main parties, for different reasons, think the system isn’t fair to them.

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