Sunday, July 07, 2013

"Both sides" of the Voting Rights Act and racially-discriminatory voter suppression

"Within the affluent democracy, the affluent discussion prevails, and within the established framework, it is tolerant to a large extent. All points of view can be heard: the Communist and the Fascist, the Left and the Right, the white and the Negro, the crusaders for armament and for disarmament. Moreover, in endlessly dragging debates over the media, the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one, the misinformed may talk as long as the informed, and propaganda rides along with education, truth with falsehood." - Herbert Marcus, "Repressive Tolerance" in Robert Paul Wolff, Barrington Moore, Jr. and Herbert Marcuse, A Critique of Pure Tolerance (1965; 1969)

To Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., that may have sounded reprehensible, suggesting as it did problems in the real existing political system of the US in 1965 that he preferred not to recognize.

But here is a contemporary illustration of the same process, in which the pro-democracy and anti-democracy position, the straightforward one and the tendentious one, the anti-racism and pro-racism ones, are presented in polite balance, in a segment in which "the misinformed may talk as long as the informed, and propaganda rides along with education, truth with falsehood." It includes Nina Perales from the pro-voting-rights Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and James Burling from the hardline conservative Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), the latter taking the position that, golly, we don't have to worry much about racial discrimination in voting any more, because "this country's commitment to civil rights, this country's commitment to voting rights is undiminished."

What the Voting Rights Act Ruling Means for Voters PBS Newshour 07/05/2013, which the PBS Newshour website

Bill Berkowitz discusses PLF's advocacy of anti-affirmative action positions in Pacific Legal Foundation on the wrong side of history Bend Weekly 02/07/2007. "Fighting to re-segregate America," he writes, is not the PLF's only goal. But it has clearly been one of them. While Berkowitz' column doesn't name the immediate cases he's discussing, one of them appears to be the one that produced the decision, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) in which the Roberts Court stood Brown v. Board of Education on its head by blocking a voluntary school desegregation plan. PLF took the pro-segregation side, of course.

Also on PLF's history, see Source Watch's entry, Pacific Legal Foundation (accessed 07/07/2013).

And if you want to see an example of "the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one," check this one of David "Bobo" Brooks and the sad, allegedly liberal, Ruth Marcus discussing the same issue, in this case Bobo representing "the intelligent one", although giving a clean-shaven segregationist view along the lines of: oh, gee, they probably shouldn't have gutted the Voting Rights Act, but I can't see what advantage my nice Republican friends trying to discriminate, and if they did, it will backfire on them, so how could this wind up with anyone discriminating against them? Okay, "weasely" would be a better discription, but in contrast to Marcus, it represents "the intelligent one." Marcus meets Bobo's double-reverse segregationist statement with these the first words out of her mouth:

Oh, well, I so totally agree with David.

I think maybe I should just say, OK, agreed, let's move on, and we can find something to disagree about.
Yes, it is possible to here a high-brow discussion on PBS quality-TV and come out of it less informed than before you heard it! Tags: , , , , ,

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