Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

ASKIA: D.C. Statehood Would Save America From Itself

U.S. statehood for the Douglass Commonwealth — Washington, D.C. — is the only thing that can save the United States of America from itself.

When I first came to support the idea of D.C. statehood, it was 40-plus years ago, the District population was 70 percent Black, and I viewed it as a Black Power, civil rights issue. A lot has changed since then, including the population which is now 49 percent Black.

Now, I realize that if this country is to peacefully transition into its future, it must grant statehood to Washington, D.C.

The reasons why D.C. statehood is the only thing that can peacefully preserve this country’s democracy, are precisely the reasons why the white supremacists, holding on to their “Lost Cause” of apartheid America oppose statehood for the District. They are misguided (to say the least) and their life choices spell death.

They make a number of weak arguments that D.C. does not have any agricultural or industrial land base, that the Constitution would have to be amended, what else? Those are all specious conjectures. The fact of the matter is, the Constitution defines new states as any territory so designated by a majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and signed by the president. They could declare a parking lot to be a state. If any remain, they could declare a telephone boot to be a state. It’s just that simple!

D.C. advocates have long argued that D.C. should be a state because “taxation without representation” is tyranny. That’s true, just as the colonists who declared the U.S. free from British rule did in 1776 — even though there was an unspoken reason, the preservation of slavery in the colonies, which England was sure to outlaw, long before the Civil War settled the issue the 1860s.

Back when Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House, D.C. Home Rule authorities put the expression “taxation without representation” as the motto on all auto license tags. Clinton and the Congressional leadership demanded that a special series of tags without the inscription be struck for their vehicles. That’s when statehood was just about Black Power.

But the fact remains, D.C. residents do pay more taxes than the residents in a half-dozen states. The population in D.C. is larger than that of Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska and North Dakota, and more D.C. residents fought and died in this country’s most recent wars than the residents of several states.

All of those states have two members representing them in the Senate, and one voting member of the House. D.C. has no senators and one, nonvoting Delegate in the House, just like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam — none of which pay federal income taxes as D.C. does. It’s taxation without representation.

But now that the country is being cleaved by the doctrine of Republican white supremacists into provinces made up of White Lords, ruling over everyone else, the only thing that can peacefully save the country’s Constitutional form of government is, statehood for D.C., with its two additional members in the Senate, enabling the political forces which would peacefully coexist with the majority of the world’s population, and adjust its reckless environmental policies before greed and wanton consumption — led by the gluttonous United States — into a steaming petri dish of tropical diseases and violent weather events, and war over dwindling natural resources.

D.C. statehood means the reclamation of the society’s politics from the brink of destruction. The GOP (Grand Old Party), which became the GQP (Grand QAnon Party) under Donald J. Trump, could continue to metastasize into a cancerous clot of deranged shooters and Ku Kluxers, they just would not be in control of the entire national apparatus, as they were under The Donald who was taking the country to hell on a rocket.

The political act of courage required to make D.C. a state would wrest the control of the government from the toxic Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Freedom Caucus, Liberty Caucus, Proud Boys and Tea Party, and then with the new votes in the Senate from D.C., could hold off the surge of rabid white nationalism and attempted voter suppression long enough until the demographic “browning” of the country renders the white supremacists who would destroy the United States and the rest of the world with it, renders those fellows in a minority they will not be able to cheat themselves out of and back into political dominance.

I once thought D.C. statehood was a Black Power cause — which it is — but now I realize that the literal future of the United States of America depends on enough people coming to their senses in 2021, or 2022, or 2023 to make D.C. the 51st state of the Union.

The other, dystopian scenario for this country’s future is full of smoke and blood and disaster.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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