Just when you thought Congress couldn’t get along, they found something they could all agree on: 9-11 families.
Both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to overturn President Barack Obama’s veto of JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act), allowing the families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role they had in the 9-11 attacks.
Can you hear Pandora’s box opening?
Never mind the fact that this was the first veto-override in Obama’s presidency, it was also an epic slap in the face to a sitting president. Never mind that Obama warned that this could put our diplomats in severe danger abroad if the country instigated legal conflict with our already shaky ally, Saudi Arabia. Never mind it now proves that we knew Iraq was innocent all along, and bombed a sovereign nation for no reason at all.
And some 24 hours after Congress acted, they are already admitting the bill may need to be amended.
Hell, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Obama for “failure to communicate early about the potential consequences” of passing the bill – even though it was vetoed.
More interesting, the passing of JASTA sets a legal precedent for families of terror victims to sue governments in international court.
This comes on the heels of a United Nations study concluding that the United States owed reparations to black people for the “racial terrorism” of slavery and institutional racism.
According the report, conducted by The United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the link between the history of racial injustice and the current police killings is clear:
In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.
The report goes on to state that, “Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”
To be clear, the U.N. is specifically targeting our government, not white people in general, for restorative justice known as reparations. The United States government can be held legally responsible for the lack of real punitive justice for police who engage in extra-judiciary executions of blacks, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The “Impunity of State Violence” has been duly noted in the eyes of the world. The U.N. began its investigation in January, and the report was published on Aug. 16 of this year.
The media blackout of this monumental finding is typical.
Lack of accountability is the modus operandi of our institutions, which were acknowledged as the culprits of the lion’s share of racial terrorism sited in the report. The opponents of reparations love to point to the fact that slavery has been officially over for some 150 years. They claim that no families alive have a claim to injuries of the past.
The U.N. report clearly states that the injustices never stopped, only compiled onto one another over time. The report states, “Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today.”
Slavery was a crime against humanity that never got rectified. It was a profitable enterprise with taxable revenue, and the revenue has compounded until now. Just because no slave masters are still living doesn’t mean no one can be held responsible.
The government that collected those slavery taxes is alive and well. The unpaid wages that were owed to slaves effected generation after generation, beginning a cycle of poverty that has yet to be broken for a vast majority of black people. It’s so obvious; if wealth can be inherited, so can poverty. If money can compound and collect interest, debt can accumulate, too. When wealth is racialized in a society, you have color-coded haves and have nots, automatically.
At what point did America get square with black people for the wrongs of the past? We know it wasn’t right after slavery in 1865, because that’s when the Ku Klux Klan was formed. We know it wasn’t any time before 1900, because Jim Crow terrorism had long been in effect. We know that the last Jim Crow law was struck down in 1971 in Swann-vs Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education.
We know that around this time, mandatory minimums were increasing for drug possession, and a decade later in the 80s, crack cocaine would magically appear in black communities across America. Then in the 90s under Bill Clinton, 3-strikes legislation would appear and double the prison population during his eight years in office.
This would lead to the profitable private prison industry that thrives until this day. Extra judiciary killings of blacks reopen the wounds of the past on every Twitter, YouTube and Facebook feed in this digital era. The United Nations calls this terrorism, and the terror never stopped.
Now, American families can sue governments that sponsor terrorism with JASTA. One wonders if 9-11 families suffer the same kind of PTSD as the descendants of slaves.
What we do know is that Obama issued his warning for a reason: The blowback potential is huge. Let’s say Saudi Arabia feels betrayed and calls out America for letting the Bin Laden family and 140 Saudi nationals slip out of the country when the towers fell.
What if the 9-11 families decide that because of this, America is an accomplice to the terrorism of September 11th? Would this open the doors for Iraqi Americans to sue for the wrongful deaths of over 1 million Iraqis? Would Muslim Americans have a case for a class action lawsuit, citing pain and suffering damages for being systemically profiled due to Islamophobia?
If America wanted to defend itself, what moral ground would it have to stand on?
It was founded on a crime against humanity that it refuses to acknowledge or make amends for. The children of the enslaved still languish in her ghettos. America, the Irredeemable, may have signed her death warrant in JASTA.
The politicians who passed it, afraid to look bad before the November elections, may have opened a Pandora’s Box of future justice.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
Somehow, I hear a giant awakening.