Racial Issues in 2013
There were those Republican planned attacks on the Obama administration that I think of having been Republican inspired in that the media must have been fed this garbage by Republican operatives who think it only their due to have major networks tell their stories without the need of facts to back them up. These stories included the non-existent Benghazi scandal, the non-existent IRS scandal, and the non-existent AP scandal. You havenít heard much about that last one lately, have you? The media would have been still on the issue of whether the Justice Department could subpoena records if there was something to the story. The media dropped the story as soon as the Justice Department briefed them on it.
That was followed by a lot of carping about how the Obama Administration has no direction. Why doesnít it deal with jobs rather than health care or immigration? Jobs are what people care about, Morning Joe says over and over again, neglecting that the President is in favor of jobs and the Republicans arenít. What is the job plan of the Republicans, Mr. Scarborough? More tax cuts for the rich? That is not a job program; that is a tax cut for the rich. Renaming it does not make it otherwise, and the Republicans donít even bother to make believe they have a jobs plan.
Then there was a brief silly season of personalities, something like filling up the pages of a newspaper with the police blotter because no other action out there is likely to gain much attention. There was the death of James Gandolfini, the disgrace of Paula Deen, and the travel itinerary of Edward Snowden, none of which amount to much except to the people who know them and, in the last case, to those whose job it is to put him in jail, there being no credible reason why an upstanding whistleblower would turn over his laptops to the Chinese government. As far as I am concerned, the only crimes that deserve the death penalty are mentioned in the Constitution: treason and piracy on the high seas. If you donít think there is piracy on the high seas, think about the hijacking of planes. And Snowden should stand trial for treason, not just violating the Espionage Act.
All of those fillers for the chroniclers of the news have been suddenly replaced, though it was not unexpected, by the arrival of the Supreme Court decisions this week about marriage equality and voting rights. The Supreme Court claimed that the South had changed enough since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to dispense with the map that required pre-clearance of changes in voting procedures in mostly Southern jurisdictions. That was in spite of the fact that the Congress in reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act less than ten years ago had provided fifteen thousand pages to support the need for continuing pre-clearance procedures.
How has the Supreme Court arrived at this conclusion? It did not commission an empirical study of its own; it did not rely on other studies of the very difficult question of whether there was a cultural atmosphere that still prevailed in Southern states but also elsewhere which exhibited a reluctance to have blacks vote. Maybe Southerners now do not hate blacks the way they once did. Maybe they just donít want all those Democratic voters. But why, then, do they feel comfortable depriving black voters of such rights while not working as hard to deprive white voters in Democratic districts from voting? It is very hard to prove prejudice that is not admitted to, but that does not mean that it does not exist or does not have overt consequences that can serve as indicators of underlying prejudice. What other reason could there be to insist that many voters get deprived of the ballot because of some suspicion, never documented, that there is large scale voter fraud?
But it is naive to think that the Supreme Court actually needs evidence to back up its assertions of fact. They assert their feeling that times have changed since the bad old days when the Voting Rights Act was passed and that is all there is to it. Never mind that the times for voting favored by Black people were times when the polls got closed, and that the various state governments did not establish mobile registration wagons so that it was easier for people to get the proper documentation so that they could vote, or that lines were much longer in black districts than in white districts last election. Never mind. The five Justices who overthrew the Voting Act provision just know in their bones what social facts are. That is what being a judge allows you to know. So whether there would be even greater black voter turnout if the vote weren't suppressed is a question that doesn't occur to them. They cite one statistic, which is that black turnout is higher than white turnout, as sufficient proof that things have changed. (Whether that one fact constitutes evidence sufficient to be considered "offering evidence", rather than being a rhetorical flourish, I will leave for lawyers to decide.)