Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Picking on those persecuted segregationist white folks in the South

As I mentioned in my previous post, Mississippi has one of the new segregationist voter-suppression laws in place. (Voting Rights Act ruling clears path for Mississippi voter ID use in 2014 AP 06/25/2013.

The Republican voter-suppression efforts are nationwide and have been notably present in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. But most of the states that were covered in whole or part by the now-nullified preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) were states of the former Confederacy, the two big exceptions being Alaska and Arizona.

Ed Kilgore isn't sympathetic to the argument we're hearing from today's segregationists in the preclearance states that it was terribly unfair to be singling them out for special federal review of their voting laws ("Getting Over" Jim Crow Political Animal 07/02/2013) since 1965:

Is 49 years ago ancient history? Well, I haven't headed off to the nursing home just yet, and I can certainly remember Jim Crow quite vividly. And I have a feeling that the millions of southern African-Americans still alive today who can remember experiencing Jim Crow from the less advantageous side of the racial barrier don’t consider it ancient history either.

What makes this “oh, get over it” attitude especially maddening is that the extraordinary effort that culminated in the enactment of the Civil Rights Act (and then the Voting Rights Act the next year) was necessitated by the refusal of the South to accept defeat in a war a century earlier and its successful resistance to the Civil Rights Amendments enacted to ensure the region didn't just revert to its antebellum racial practices. The entire history of race relations in the South has been a story of racists taking the long view and outlasting the wandering attention span of those demanding change—who out of fatigue or competing priorities or their own prejudices "got over it" and left the South to its own devices. [my emphasis]
When it comes to trends in white supremacy, Pat Buchanan is a reliable bellwether (A Reconstructed South Under Fire The American Conservative 06/28/2013). And he sees last week's ruling by the Roberts Court Segregation Five in Shelby County that guts the VRA:

What Congress can no longer do is impose conditions on Southern states from which Northern states are exempt. Washington can no longer treat the states unequally — for that, too, is a violation of the Constitution.

The Roberts court just took a giant stride to restoring the Union.
This was the main segregationist talking point against the VRA when it the first version was enacted in 1965. They argued it was unfair and unconstitutional to apply it only to Southern states that had demonstrated blatant and egregious racial discrimination against African-American voters. The Segregation Five of the Roberts Court validated that position last week. Pat Buchanan recognizes this and is thrilled to see it.

Bill Denny, Republican State House of Representatives Elections Committee Chairman in Mississippi, is singing from the same hymnal (Miss. leaders react to Voting Rights Act decision Jackson Clarion-Ledger 06/25/2013):

If Mississippi and a few other states have to get federal clearance for election changes, all states should have to do so, said state House Elections Committee Chairman Bill Denny, R-Jackson.

"I've always felt that it was unconstitutional," Denny said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I would've agreed in 1965 that something had to be done, but it should've been done to all 50 states. I just always felt that was wrong, that was a violation of the 10th Amendment to begin with, of states' rights." [my emphasis]
At his official website, Rep. Denny brags that he is "affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council" (ALEC), the Koch Brothers-supported group that promotes reactionary legislation at the state level. Denny turns 84 next month, so he's would have been 35 when the VRA was first passed, old enough to be well acquainted with the pre-VRA segregation system. And, just like as every other sentient adult in Mississippi, he knows what "states rights" meant then and now as a political slogan.

This is another version of this viewpoint from a Mike Walker, in a letter to the editor from Brandon MS (Voting Rights Jackson Clarion-Ledger 06/25/2013):

As long as blacks can vote as many times as they want to for their chosen candidate, everything is right with the world. As long as dead voters rise every four years to cast their vote for the Democrat Party, voting in our state is equal & fair. At least that is what the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus believes.

The Voting Rights Act was, at best, unconstitutional, because it was written to specifically target 9 states, not the entire country. It needed to be wiped from the slate 50 years ago.
That same time-(dis)honored segregationist position is taken by Marty Duren in Religious Liberty as Idolatry? Christian Post 06/28/2013:

Just how restrictive was section 4 of the Voting Rights Act? Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston said, "If you move a polling place from the Baptist church to the Methodist church, you've got to go through the Justice Department." Since other states have no such requirements the court saw this an unfair to the states, counties and townships that did.

Most, if not all, of the states involved have elected minority officials and representatives, including the national level. Responses to the court's decision ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Since Duren is part of the segregation chorus here - pretty much the rest of his piece is about the horrors of same-sec marriage - I'm assuming he takes responses like those of Pat Buchanan and Ole Bill Denny to be the "sublime ones."

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