Congress has passed legislation that will cut the extreme sentencing for crack to be more in line with that for cocaine. Previously, someone found to be in possession of crack would be sentenced as though they had been found with 100 times as much cocaine. The new legislation, waiting to be signed by the president, reduces that ratio to 18:1. The 25-year-old crack sentencing guidelines have been responsible for the imprisonment of thousands of African Americans while white drug users often went free, and is a leading reason many people believe the war on drugs to be a war on black families. According to the Washington Post, 80% of people arrested for crack possession are black. This is a huge step in the right direction, but will not have the desired effect unless the ratio of arrests and searches for black and brown versus white individuals is brought more in line as well.
In other "thank freaking God" news, a court in Arizona has blocked the most controversial part of the SB1070 immigration legislation. The case is now headed to a San Fransisco appeals court. Supporters of the law rallied in Phoenix, while immigrant rights group Trail of Dreams peacefully spoke out for the other side. Civil rights, people. Civil freaking rights.
And now in terrible news, the Anti Defamation League has joined the bigots protesting the "Ground Zero mosque," while confusingly saying they're still against anti-Muslim bigotry. I put "Ground Zero Mosque" in quotes because the planned Muslim community center would be two blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center. I am willing to grant the ADL that the funders of the community center should be thoroughly vetted to insure that no money from radical groups is making its way into or out of the project. But the ADL, amazingly, in their statement say that even if the center is found to be completely legitimately funded and to be promoting a positive, peaceful message, it should not be allowed to built because "this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right." Give. Me. A. Break. How on earth is a center that promotes peaceful Islamic community, and educates others about the religion outside of the extremist mold all too often portrayed, not consistent with the goal of memorializing 9/11? Along with the victims of the terrorist attacks that day, many of whom were in fact Muslim, Islam itself suffered a devastating blow in the attacks on the twin towers, which left Americans and others with a deeply skewed view of the religion, and paved the way for conflicts raging across the globe over Muslim representation. That deserves a memorial as much as anything else. At least us Jews still have J-Street to talk sense.