Residents of Washington, D.C. pay federal and local taxes like all other Americans. Indeed, we pay more taxes, per individual, than every state, except one. We are no different when it comes to bearing the burdens of citizenship, yet we are different when it comes to enjoying the benefits of citizenship. Still, like shameful times in this nation's history, Congress controls are lives, having exclusive authority over our laws and how we spend our own money. In fact, the very judges who sit in our local courts and judge us on purely local matters --- like the kind for which the 75 were arrested --- are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That kind of federal involvement in local judicial matters does not happen any place else in this country.
What then has kept Washington, D.C. from becoming a state? It is not our population. We are larger than one state and close to the size of nine states. It is not finances. When asked to examine the District's financing scheme under statehood, former Federal Reserve Board member, Dr. Andrew Brimmer stated, "The question is not can the District afford to be a state. The question is can the District afford not to be a state." It is not the Constitution. The very document that gives us rights would not take them away. A simple act of a majority of the Congress is all that is required. It is not our standing in the community of nations. The United States is the only government in the world that denies the residents of its Capitol the same rights as all others, the only nation in the world!
Senator Kennedy resolved that it was the "Four toos" that stand as a barrier to equal treatment for us. We are "too urban, too democratic, too liberal and too Black." We are the darker brothers. But, we too, are America. And, I believe that Congress will ultimately rise above special interests, politics, narrow views and racism, and do that which is right for the people of Washington, D.C.
Until then, with respect to those who have been arrested, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his letter from a Birmingham Jail, "the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." And, we should also recall the words of Senator Barry Goldwater who stated, "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice."
Some may regard it as extreme to risk jail for D.C. Statehood. The founding fathers had a different view. In closing, the most important aspect of our "Revitalized Quest and Campaign for DC Statehood" is for our next generation of leadership to step up!! ...I ask that you "Rep" Your 'Hood ... Stand-up ...for DC Statehood, NOW!!!
Keith Silver has been elected to four terms as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, serving the people in the Ward Six. He attended D.C. Public Schools, and was trained and earned Paralegal certification from the Antioch School of Law, now the University of the District of Columbia School of Law.