A sordid business indeed

Earlier today, we took a look at some of the fallout from the current Supreme Court case examining certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act. At that time, I mentioned that there was more than a little hypocrisy on display this month from those insisting that it is somehow part of an evil plot to destroy the world for the court to even examine the question. There was one example in particular, however, which really caught my attention last night. In what I’m sure he felt was a delightfully witty attack on the Justices, MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted the following:


Next thing you know, Chief Justice Roberts will be asking why there’s no white history month during oral args

This bit of cleverness was a promotional tweet flogging his latest blog entry, A Sordid Business.

At this week’s Supreme Court oral arguments over the fate of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, conservative hero Antonin Scalia said something instantly infamous when he referred to the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act as the “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

Of course, obliviousness to offensive racial rhetoric is nothing particularly new from the conservative justices on the Roberts court in oral arguments. But it’s not just the way the majority in the Roberts court talks about race, it is the way they have gone about declaring unconstitutional practices we use to pursue racial equality in a society that is to this day shockingly unequal.

This would barely be worth a mention if it were simply some sort of unhinged outlier in terms of the chattering class, but this line of alleged reasoning is actually fairly common on the web this week. Both the flawed premise and inherent logical failure of that blog post, along with the trivial question in the tweet mentioned above deserve a brief look, if only to debunk the argument.

First, the blog post opens up with a broadside which declares that broaching the very idea of the perpetuation of racial entitlement – indeed the very notion of such entitlement at all – is “offensive racial rhetoric.” But over the course of the fifteen long paragraphs which follow, absolutely no supporting evidence or argument is offered to defend that assertion. Like so many other arguments in this contentious, highly charged debate, it is expected that the reader will simply agree that anyone asking such questions is a racist and should be considered “offensive” to right thinking, good progressive Americans.

The only “evidence” offered in support of continuing the provisions of the act in question are a lengthy list of perceived “bad laws” passed in the South by the horrible southerners we discussed in the previous column. It’s a great argument if you’re going into this prepared to believe that the picture being painted by Hayes and his cohorts is not only true, but the only possible scenario. Unfortunately, with one small poke at this pile out outrage, it falls into a heap. The very fact that one can so quickly and readily lay their hands on a list of such “bad laws” demonstrates the failure of this argument. These issues are all decided, debated and settled in full public view.

There were many other such laws put forward in states not falling under the restrictions of the VRA in places such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These included the oh-so-terrible voter ID laws which Hayes rails against in his blog post. Some were overturned, some were upheld and some were delayed. All were given a hearing when challenged up and down the line. And here is the great mystery which Chris Hayes and those screaming from the same balconies can’t seem to wrap their heads around. When legislative bodies in the South pass laws which these same opponents disapprove of, they will go through the same process of challenge and review, traveling – where necessary – far beyond the borders of the state through the federal appeals process. In order for us to accept Hayes’ claim that this is an insufficient safeguard, we must believe that the appeals courts will somehow automatically treat cases coming from the South differently than those from the rest of the nation.

This argument has no basis in reality. What is left, once this fiction is torn down, is a case of progressives seeking to continue a national trend of maintaining a general bias and prejudice against southerners, hoping to punish them for the sins of their great, great grandparents and scoring political points in the process. As I said in the previous column, the great irony here is that this army of race warriors claiming to be waging a battle against prejudice are, in fact, sustaining the real bigotry in this debate. And that’s the real sordid business on display.

In closing, this brings us to the original question which Hayes derided on Twitter. Why is there no White History Month? You can read reams of verbal warfare on the web on this subject, but for progressives who are actually interested in an answer as to why people might even ask this, it’s pretty simple. The problem isn’t that there is no White History Month. The problem is that we live in the 21st century with decades of progress in equality behind us, but we still somehow feel the need to separate people into racially defined camps. If you want to have a “history month” for a group of people, we’re not saying there needs to be a White History Month. We’re saying that all you need is a Human History Month. This entire battle over the last century has been to ensure that we are all recognized as equal human beings, hasn’t it? But apparently not if you happen to be part of the progressive contingent determined to grimly cling to the nightmares of the past to use as cudgels against those who disagree with them in the present. Racism is still a problem today, but it’s not coming from where you think.