The Sordid Politics of Race-Baiting
6/9/2001 12:00:00 AM - David Limbaugh
Democrats are constantly putting Republicans on the defensive by hurling charges of prejudice and discrimination at them. Isn’t it time the GOP turned the tables by calling Democrats to task for their exploitation of minorities for political purposes?
Examples of Democratic racial politics are legion, such as their cries of racism when Senate Republicans opposed the nominations of Bill Lann Lee and Ronnie White. But let’s examine two more recent incidents involving two just-released government agency reports issued by the Human Rights Commission and the Justice Department respectively:
Human Rights Commission Report -- Democrats weren’t satisfied with the Justice Department’s and the State of Florida’s failure to find a pattern of discrimination against minorities in the 2000 Florida presidential election. So they just kept on pushing it. Finally, the politically charged, Democratically controlled U.S. Civil Rights Commission served up a report concluding that Florida unfairly penalized minority voters in that election.
Just consider some of the facts surrounding the Commission’s report. Did you know that of the amazing number of Florida election complaints (2,600+), only three involved charges of racial discrimination? That’s right, three. Even though there is virtually no evidence of specific disparate treatment of minorities after various bodies have spent seven months trying to find some, we have a study, largely driven by selective facts and distorted statistics, concluding that there was. That’s like having a trial without any complaint that a crime has been committed.
What do I mean by selective facts? The report made no mention of the fact noted by the Wall Street Journal that some 5,600 illegal votes (including those by murderers and rapists) were counted and Democrats made no effort to purge those -- like they did those of many military voters. Nor did the report acknowledge that the major networks all called Florida for Gore before many Florida voters in the Central Time Zone had voted -- resulting in an estimated 10,000 vote net loss to Bush in Florida alone.
What do I mean by distorted statistics? The report concluded that blacks were 10 times more likely than whites to have their ballots rejected. But it conveniently omitted the fact (also reported by the Wall Street Journal) that black voter turnout was so high that 40 percent of black voters in the election were first-time voters, which may account for some of the confusion.
The report also castigated Jeb Bush for rejecting a $100,000 budget request for voter education. Is this not vintage liberalism: blaming voter ignorance on the state? But more to the point, how does it prove discrimination against minorities? The notion is absurd.
The Commission’s biased conclusions are self-evident from a review of the report, but its partisan agenda was further demonstrated by its abominable abuse of process. The Commission provided Florida officials a mere 10 days to respond instead of the 30 days to which the law entitles them. Moreover, the Democratic-controlled Commission released a copy of the report to the media before sharing it with the two Republican-appointed Commission members and before the state had an opportunity to respond.
Justice Department Report -- Attorney General John Ashcroft testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week that there is no evidence of bias against minorities in federal death penalty sentences. Let’s look at the Democrats’ reaction to the report:
Democratic Congressman John Conyers disputes the report. He's mighty upset that Ashcroft didn't distribute copies of it to Democrats before he appeared to present his findings to the House Committee. This is not supposed to be a partisan matter. The Justice Department conducted the study and issued its report. Janet Reno’s Department made similar findings earlier.
The pattern here is clear. Unsupportable charges of racial discrimination were made in furtherance of a larger agenda in both cases. The Democrats on the Human Rights Commission were on a crusade to delegitimize the Bush presidency, and thus formed their conclusions before beginning their investigation. The facts were not permitted to interfere with those conclusions. Similarly, Mr. Conyers et al are exploiting the race issue to fuel their crusade against capital punishment.
It has to be said that these constant unsubstantiated charges of racial discrimination do incalculable damage to race relations in this country -- arguably as much damage as real examples of discrimination itself. For that the Democrats ought to be held to account.