An old, sordid politically partisan past

Published: July 25, 2012

Regarding “Two groups clash over race, tribal sovereignty” (Our Views, July 20): How can we accept that there's a sovereign right to racism? Tribal identity should be seen and solved without regard to party or racial identity. This claim of sovereignty as a basis for race discrimination has an old, sordid, politically partisan past. A prime example was the claim by racist whites that they had the sovereign right to define citizenship decisions based on race. Look where that led us.

Before we spread the branches of the Tree of Liberty, Democrats and Republicans in many states claimed their “sovereignty” on matters of racial discrimination. For generations, Indians fought and argued for their right to citizenship as Americans and Oklahomans, a right they insisted had no racial justification for denial. Many Cherokees — a significant minority, perhaps a near majority — don't accept this modern version of racism.

Indians, like all of us, have a right to define what it means to be a citizen. But if a legal definition becomes a matter of race, we've betrayed “the better angels within us.”

Jere Roberson, Edmond

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