Jim Nieto: McClintock’s vote against Juneteenth | TheUnion.com
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Jim Nieto: McClintock’s vote against Juneteenth

Fellow citizens, I would like to share recent correspondence between U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock and myself regarding his recent “No” vote on S. 475, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. The congressman’s reply appears first, followed by my reply to his response. — Jim Nieto

“Dear Jim,

Thank you for contacting me regarding S.475, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. I appreciate hearing from you.



On June 16, 2021, Congress passed S.475, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which would officially designate June 19th as a federal holiday to commemorate the day in which Texas residents learned, two years after the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, that slavery had been abolished.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a natural outcome of the principles that were established in the Declaration of Independence, and we celebrate this independence every July 4th as Americans of all races. Rather than continuing this unified celebration of America’s historical independence, Juneteenth aims to reach into the dead past, revive our most malevolent conflicts, and reintroduce them into our age to further racially divide our society.




History offers us with an inexhaustible supply of grievances by one group against another and reviving them can tear any society apart, which is what is happening across our country right now. This national holiday designation is acting not as a tool of solidarity, rather a tool for division. For these reasons, I voted against S. 475, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

I appreciate you taking time to reach out. Even where we disagree, I am glad to have a chance to hear your views. Healthy discussion is fundamental to our democratic process. I am committed to keeping this dialogue alive by continuing to hold tele-town hall meetings, posting my voting record on my website with explanations of key votes, and keeping my door open to all constituents.

Sincerely,

Tom Mclintock“

This is my response to McClintock’s reply to my inquiry with regard to his No Vote on this issue:

Congressman McClintock,

I am in receipt of your response to my inquiry as to the logic behind your lack of support for S.475. I thank you for your response. However, I find your reasoning to be fallacious.

In your response you state that, “Rather than continuing this unified celebration of America’s historical independence, Juneteenth aims to reach into the dead past, revive our most malevolent conflicts, and reintroduce them into our age to further racially divide our society. “

Initially, I ask you to consider the term used as a foundation for your argument, the “dead past.”

What exactly constitutes the “dead past?” Are all historical events the “dead past”? Are the “dead past” events defined by historical ending of previously abhorrent conditions?

I argue that Junteenth is not some vestige of the “dead past.” To all those who have celebrated the event in the past and to all those who will now reflect and hopefully celebrate the historically significant and world changing event for generations to come, this was no “dead past” event. It is very much alive and thriving.

Juneteenth celebrations are exactly the types of events that have made our great country stronger. Juneteenth does not divide us. It binds us by demonstrating that despite our sometimes divided past we continue to strive to make our nation and our union stronger.

I regard this as a textbook example of the view of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he so eloquently surmised in his statement of hope that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Your letter states that, “This national holiday designation is acting not as a tool of solidarity, rather a tool for division.” How can the news of freedom for a group of subjugated people ever be divisive? The institution of slavery had legally been accepted in what was British Colonial North America for 246 years.

As a Judeo-Christian nation we remember and celebrate the story of Moses and his refrain, “Let my people go!” Despite our religious differences we find comfort, inspiration, and most of all hope in recalling this biblical story that one may depict as a “dead event.”

Similarly, one could argue that Columbus Day is a “dead event.” The celebration of this holiday has for years sparked controversy with regard to the atrocities that have followed in the wake of the Columbus “discovery.” Indigenous peoples of North and South America have a very different take on this particular holiday.

My ancestral lineage is a result of the conquests that followed the arrival of other nations and cultures that intersected in the wake of the Columban expedition. I argue that it is critical that we, as Americans, are able to contemplate our past, evaluate our experiences, and understand the “dead past” events that have led us to our current state of our democracy.

The commemoration and celebration of Juneteenth marks the extension of the promises of our Declaration of Independence to all those who our Constitution had previously defined as three-fifths of a person. We cannot and will not deny that fact.

Thank you once again for listening to your constituents. In most instances we may disagree, but we most definitely agree that, “Healthy discussion is fundamental to our democratic process.”

Jim Nieto lives in Auburn.


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