WASHINGTON, August 8, 2013 — It has become common in this country to attempt to stifle the voices of African-American and Hispanic conservatives. Minority conservative voices come in for extra harsh abuse, as Justice Clarence Thomas did from the left-wing commentariat after he joined the Supreme Court’s majority in striking down a provision of the Voting Rights Act.
“A symbolic Jew has invited Hitler to commit genocide against his own people,” said radical professor and MSNBC commentator Michael Eric Dyson. A white Democratic state senator from Minnesota called Thomas “Uncle Thomas,” a play on “Uncle Tom.”
If you listen to Dyson, or even leaders from the Democratic Party, Jesse Jackson or the NAACP, this ruling gave southern states permission to return to the poll tax or literacy tests to discourage minority voters. Many people will accept that interpretation because the reporting on the VRA decision has been predominantly in opposition to it.
When it debated the first Voting Rights Act in 1965, Congress concluded that racism and attempts to deny African-Americans the vote were so widespread that Federal intervention was an absolute necessity to ensure that African-Americans in certain southern states were not further disenfranchised.
In their recent decision, the justices paid homage to this landmark piece of legislation, which they concluded had performed its job admirably — that job being the eradication of widespread suppression of the minority vote. The court’s ruling does not eviscerate the Voting Rights Act, nor does it deny judicial access to anyone who feels that his or her voting rights have been infringed upon.
The justices simply looked at the specific states and counties that were under the umbrella of the original Act in 1965 and concluded that the culture and the atmosphere had changed to such a marked degree that there was no longer reason to assume that Georgia should be treated differently from Connecticut by the law. All the ruling said was that if election laws in one state are going to be treated under a different presumption than those from another, Congress will have to come up with a new formula to justify it, not continue with a formula that assumes that blacks in Atlanta have less political access and power than blacks in Boston.
For this, Thomas was compared to Adolf Hitler and Uncle Tom. If there should be outrage here, it should be directed at those who would expect a black Supreme Court justice to toe a racial line and vote his race rather than his conscience.
The hatred and racial pigeon-holing are not restricted to African-American conservatives. Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, disagreeing with Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s conservative policies on immigration, said “I don’t believe he should be defined as Hispanic.” Richardson’s outlandish statement was not due to anything lacking in Cruz’s family tree, but to his politics.
From the perspective of Richardson and other liberals, a true Hispanic and a true black (and probably a true woman, if you press them on it) are defined by their politics, not the color of their skin or their heritage. If you are not liberal on the issue of illegal immigration, liberals will casually call you a racist, but it takes things to a new level when a liberal Hispanic tries to expel another Hispanic from his race because he does not like his conservative politics.
Hate speech is off-limits to academics and the media elite when it is directed at Muslims, gays, and other minorities. However, if they hold the wrong political beliefs, conservatives are no longer minorities and no longer protected.
College campuses welcome former radicals like Bill Ayers, Kathy Boudin and Angela Davis, but they protest the invitation of a conservative Congressman like Peter King to speak, even on the campus of conservative St. John’s University, as recently happened this past graduation season.
Freedom of speech is what made America great. It is time for those in the media to stop seeking to destroy the speech of minorities who happen to take a right of center political view on the issues of the day.
Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive 2004-2011, and as a NYS Assemblyman.
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