Posted by: Donna
I am speaking, of course, of Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb patiently white man-splaining race relations to us.
Racism is ugly and has been a searing experience in American history. It undoubtedly still exists.
Unjustified accusations of racism are perhaps less ugly, but intolerably ugly nonetheless. And a decent case can be made that the false claim of racism is at least as prevalent in today’s politics as is racism itself.
Take the reckless accusations in Arizona about supposed attempts to suppress the Latino vote.
Let’s not sugarcoat this charge. Voter suppression isn’t an accusation that well-intentioned people are taking actions or making proposals that might have the unintended consequence of reducing the number of Latinos who vote. It’s a charge that reducing the number of Latinos voting is the intended purpose. It’s a charge of racism.
Well, if anyone is the foremost expert on what racism is and isn’t, it would be noted sociological expert Bob Robb. By Robb’s reasoning, if racial discrimination is simply an “unintended consequence” of a voting law, then it cannot be considered racist because the people passing the law aren’t overtly stating that such a consequence is their intention. Which means that all the Jim Crow voting laws passed after the ratification of 15th Amendment in 1870, which expressly forbids denial of the vote due to race, until the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of the mid-20th century could not have been racist either.
Such disenfranchising laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of “good character,” and disqualification for “crimes of moral turpitude.” These laws were “color-blind” on their face, but were designed to exclude black citizens disproportionately by allowing white election officials to apply the procedures selectively. Other laws and practices, such as the “white primary,”, attempted to evade the 15th Amendment by allowing “private” political parties to conduct elections and establish qualifications for their members.
As a result of these efforts, in the former Confederate states nearly all black citizens were disenfranchised and removed from by 1910. The process of restoring the rights taken stolen by these tactics would take many decades.
Back to his column, here’s noted legal scholar and voter felony watchdog Bob Robb defending Republican Arizona lawmakers in their attempt to stop activist groups from collecting and delivering ballots:
In the last election, the county recorders became concerned about people dropping off large numbers of early ballots at polling places and reports that people were canvassing neighborhoods collecting early ballots, in some cases posing as county election officials.
Honest elections are fragile things. Politics attracts cheats. This practice is pregnant with potential abuse.
State law currently says that if you need help filling out an early ballot, you and the person who assists you sign the ballot attesting as to the assistance. SB 1003 would simply require the same thing when you ask someone to return your early ballot for you.
That also is supposedly racially-motivated voter suppression.
Yes, politics indeed attracts cheats. But of course Robb isn’t talking about Republican consultant Nathan Sproul. Robb is instead repeating specious accusations about Latino voting activists: “people were canvassing neighborhoods collecting early ballots, in some cases posing as county election officials”. But that allegation makes no sense in light of the voter fraud allegations Rep. Kimberly Yee (R) made to the Republic last month – “I know voter fraud is real” – because she saw boxes full of delivered ballots. In other words, groups picking up ballots need to be banned from doing that because shady characters are misrepresenting themselves and making off with people’s ballots, which they then do what with? Or is it that the votes themselves, having been delivered to the county recorder, are fraudulent as Rep. Yee alleges? People defending the bill might want to get their story straight on why it’s necessary because from here it’s looking pregnant with racially motivated voter suppression, to borrow some phrasing from Robb.
But let’s assume the motivations behind the controversial voting bills going through the Arizona Legislature right now are benign and colorblind. So what? When people make the reasonable prediction that these efforts could disenfranchise certain groups of voters, it is profoundly disrespectful and disgraceful to dismiss their concerns and accuse them, as Robb does, of “reckless accusations” of racism.
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