FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Whitewashing the Voter Fraud Issue

by GREG MOSES

Racism is best known among white folks for the overt ways that bigotry chooses to abuse. This is what allows white liberals to excuse themselves from charges that they are racist, because (God bless ’em) they don’t set out to hurt anybody. But Ralph Ellison titled his classic novel Invisible Man, because racism is a grim problem also of what white folks do not see. And this problem persists insufferably, right down to this morning’s news.

On this day after the election-fraud hearings led by John Conyers and his Democratic colleagues at the Judiciary Committee, I am beginning to feel the effects of racism’s one-two punch. On the overt side, we have the written testimony of Judith A. Browne, acting co-director of the Advancement Project in Washington, D.C.

For Browne, whose testimony to the Conyers committee is posted online, “voters of color” have been targets of Republican-led disenfranchisement in the elections of 2000 and 2004.

“In 2004,” writes Brown, “it became clear that there were efforts underway to dust off Reconstruction Era statutes in order to disenfranchise voters, particularly minority voters.”

“There were clear warnings that challenges would be used to disenfranchise voters,” says Browne. “Prior to Election Day in Nevada and Ohio, 17,000 and 35,000 challenges were filed, respectively, disproportionately in urban areas. (Over 17,000 of the Ohio challenges were filed in Cuyahoga County.) In addition, poll observers registered in unprecedented numbers in Florida and Ohio, with the intent to engage in massive challenges inside polling places.”

Browne is referring to laws that allow pollwatchers to act as self-deputized vigilantes at voting precincts, thrusting their bodies between ballot boxes and voters, demanding proofs of identification and registration.

If you have never seen this process at work, then you might not feel the nausea. But I have seen them, the close shaven, starched-pants Republicans who show up on election day to a black community center and lean over old women with their dirty questions. Makes you want to spank them on their freshly cut heads. Didn’t their mothers teach them no manners?

“The targets,” Browne reports, “were new voters in urban areas.” Or to put it more plainly, new Black voters, the “Vote or Die” crowd that P-Diddy was trying to mobilize.

Add to this the “felon purge” technique, in which Republican Party officials, knowing that they are working with “felon” lists “tainted by racial discrimination”, set out to challenge thousands of voters by the batch.

“This,” says Brown, “is voter suppression in 2004.” And this is what we may call racism of the overt bigotry kind. Racism type one. On this form of racism, Browne’s statement continues for several more pages at the Conyers hearing website.

Which brings us to racism type two, the invisibility maneuver. For this type of racism, it’s best to begin with liberal columnists. Scan their morning-after reports for words like “minority”, “black”, “civil rights.” Or try this Google test. First do a news search for Conyers hearings. Very good, lots of fresh hits. Now try a news search for Judith Browne Advancement Project under “News.” See there. Your search did not match any documents (at 9:25 am CST).

Overt racism by right-wing Republicans is the core dynamic at work here, but it is aided and abetted by invisibility racism found in left commentators and media reports, who fail to center the civil rights struggle. An issue that is clearly about racism and civil rights has been whitewashed into “voter fraud” generica. Type one racism answered with type two. Browne’s careful citation of race-based discrimination followed by Browne’s invisibility in the press. The one-two punch continues.

There may not be much that can happen to change the results of the presidential election, so the whitewashing of “election fraud” may not have an immediate consequence for those who are focused on the Bush machine today. But here in Texas, Republicans are taking three newly elected Democrats into a costly process of hearings before a Republican-controlled chamber. “Election fraud” is the allegation that Republicans are bringing against the Democrats.

In Texas, therefore, the generic cry of “election fraud” will very likely make invisible the crucial civil rights component that ties together the fates of three would-be state legislators with racist powers in Ohio and Florida.

In particular, take the case of Hubert Vo, a Vietnamese immigrant who beat a Republican powerhouse by about 30 votes. If the Vo election is overturned by a Republican-led Legislature on whitewashed charges of “election fraud”, then the losers will be a coalition of urban voters who worked hard on this grassroots coup. And the winners will be white suburban voters, again.

Yet, if the pattern of injustice in “voter fraud” is a pattern that seeks to favor white suburban voters over struggling urban voters, wherever they are, then making this pattern visible, for once, could tip this 30 vote scale in Vo’s favor, and reverse for the first time in more than 30 years a steady trend toward Republican domination of Texas politics.

The white left is meaningless without a civil rights coalition. The sooner the white left embraces this, in deed and word, the sooner we’ll be able to see a real future in front of us. The sooner, also, that a national movement of progressives can make a real difference in the South.

GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. His chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush appears in Dime’s Worth of Difference, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at: gmosesx@prodigy.net

 

 

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

February 21, 2018
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail