Saturday, September 07, 2013

Vote Veto

Michigan State University professor William Penn got into a bit of hot water when a student taped him ranting about Republicans in a literature course.

Here's an excerpt:

This country still is full of closet racists. What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina?—voter suppression. It’s about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic.

I don't want to discuss the appropriateness of the professor talking like this in class, or, for that matter, the legality and effect of voter ID laws and the like.  I'm just curious how he gets to his conclusion in that first sentence.

In the past, before the mid-60s certainly, there was open racial animus in the air, and many laws passed to back it up.  Thus major civil rights legislation in response.  I don't think there's anything comparable today to these outrageous laws and other strategies designed to prevent African-Americans from exercising their franchise.

But let's say the whole point of these new laws, such as voter ID, is to suppress black votes. Why does Penn believe that means its backers are racists?  As he himself explains, the "cause" for why he believes Republicans want suppression is that blacks vote Democrat.  So, even if Penn has read the minds of these people correctly, it's basically a partisan position.  If blacks voted Republican, then it would be Democrats who'd support these laws today (in higher numbers than they already do--voter ID laws are pretty popular in general, with even a majority of Democrats wanting them in some form).  I could certainly name examples where Democrats have supported suppression of certain types they believed would go Republican.

So both sides maneuver to try to get the best outcome in elections.  Sometimes they do it legally, sometimes they go too far.  That's for the courts to decide.  But Penn shouldn't assume people are racists just because they fight for things they believe will help their side.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:53 AM, September 07, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:27 AM, September 07, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is simple. Partisans disgree on issues of substance. Just because you don't support programs that are more popular in the black community than elsewhere doesn't mean you're a racst, even though arrogant leftists love to say so. The same goes for procedural rules, where you back things that tend to get your guys elected, and then act all high-handed if you don't get your way. Look at liberals who proudly oppose voting laws supported by 3/4 of the public, laws that have already been declared legal by the Supreme Court, laws that make it tougher to commit voter fraud. They do this not because they're so noble, but because they figure it'll get their side more votes.

Calling large groups of people racist because they disagree with your politics is disgusting. This professor should calm down and then look inward if he wants to see what small-mindedness really looks like.

12:05 PM, September 07, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

It goes beyond the argument over voter ID laws. The basic Republican/Conservative desire to limitthe size of government is portrayed by the left as a racist desire to hurt or demean minority communities. When a minority holds such beliefs, they are denounced as an Uncle Tom or worse (think Clarence Thomas or Thomas Sowell).

But I've never met a Republican or Conservative whose goal inpromoting smaller gaovernment is to hurt or demean anyone. Most I know our profoundly concerned about the plight of the poor, and they believe genuinely that that plight is worsened by overreaching, intrusive, market-distorting government. In other words, left and right should both get credit for wanting good things for the nation and its inhabitants - they simply disagree, sometimes diametrically, on how one achieves that common goal.

But to win elections, the rule is demonize your opponent. Thus conceptual disagreements become a battle between good and evil. I don't know if it was always this way in politics, but it certainly damages the level of discourse these days.

8:26 AM, September 09, 2013  

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