Lies fly while the truth crawls about amendment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

Commentary by Hank Sanders

“Senator Sanders, please say something about Amendment #2,” a fellow church member whispered as I started to the podium to review the Sunday School Lesson.

It was the fifth time within five days that someone had raised Amendment 2.

One such time involved a talk show on WEUP Radio Station in Huntsville.

A lie travels fast while the truth crawls.

In June of 2003, the Alabama Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment to remove racist language from the Alabama Constitution by a vote of 91 to 0 in the House and 29 to 0 in the Senate.

This proposal is Amendment 2 on the November General Election ballot.

For 17 months after its passage by the Alabama Legislature, not one question was raised about Amendment 2.

Now three weeks before the election, questions have become a wildfire sweeping through Alabama’s election landscape.

A lie travels swiftly while the truth crawls slowly.

This situation appears to have been started by a very few leaders saying Amendment 2 could result in new taxes on our citizens.

It is a lie, but it has taken wings.

This lie is traveling fast while the truth is crawling slowly.

Amendment 2 does not change the law in any way.

Everything it does has already been done by federal and state courts.

It simply takes these racist passages out of the most fundamental of documents for Alabama’s citizens.

That’s the truth, but it is traveling slowly as the lie seems to sail.

One of the passages of Amendment 2 would remove the requirement of two educational systems, one for “coloreds” and another for whites.

Another passage is language about poll taxes designed to prevent blacks from voting.

Amendment 2 has absolutely nothing to do with taxes, but the lie is traveling like greased lightning while the truth is crawling like a six-month-old baby.

After the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the Alabama Legislature proposed and Alabama voters approved a constitutional amendment to amend Section 256 of the 1901 Alabama Constitution.

Section 256 had established education as a right.

Amendment 111 was race based, specifically designed to prevent desegregation of public schools.

In 1992, a court struck down Amendment 111.

It is not the law today, but it is still in the Alabama Constitution.

Amendment 2 would just remove it.

The removal of Amendment 111 is the excuse, but it has absolutely nothing to do with taxes.

It doesn’t change anything, but the truth too often crawls while the lie moves almost as fast as a fleeting thought.

When I was on WEUP Radio in Huntsville, the talk show host told me that Governor Bob Riley supported Amendment 2.

He asked my position with the apparent expectation that I would disagree with Governor Riley.

I agreed one hundred percent because Amendment 2 is needed, but the truth crawls while the lie flies.

Earlier today a friend said, “No one is speaking out about the lies being told.

Someone needs to do something!”

I scrapped the Sketches I had already written and began this one.

Next week would have been too late to address Amendment 2, for a lie travels fast while the truth crawls.

Alabama is really strong on “no new taxes.”

It has been our sacred mantra for more than 100 years.

If Amendment 2 facilitated raising taxes in any way, it would not have passed the Alabama House of Representatives by a 91-0 vote or the Alabama Senate by a 29-0 vote.

Seventeen months would not have passed before someone raised the specter of new taxes.

The lie seemed to have been sprung just several weeks before the election because a lie travels so fast while the truth crawls so slowly.

Race is still a powerful factor in our society, but it is not respectable to openly oppose a constitutional amendment on the basis of race.

Therefore a straw man, like raising taxes, must be created.

Several years ago, a proposed amendment to remove language from the constitution barring marriage between blacks and whites spurred all kinds of misinterpretations.

It did not change the law because the courts had long struck down such provisions, but it just removed language from the 1901 Alabama Constitution.

None of those opposing the amendment would admit that race was the issue.

They created straw men.

Alabama voters just narrowly passed this amendment here in the twenty first century.

The truth crawls while the lie leaps.

After race, the second most powerful issue is our fear of new taxes.

A last minute lie suggesting that Amendment 2 will somehow raise taxes is now spreading like wildfire while the truth is still crawling.

This time, I just hope that the truth will again slow walk the lie down.

EPILOGUE -I used to think that it was just a lie that so outpaced the truth, but it is more.

It is the bad that so out paces the good.

The lie is just the vehicle for the bad.

Tell a lie lifting, and it travels slowly.

Tell a lie that debases, and it travels fast.

In the end, however, the truth usually prevails.

This time, I just hope it prevails in time.