What do critics say they are afraid of?
While conceding that immense progress has been made with the huge turnout of black voters in the South and the re-election of a black president, they say they fear that without the pre-clearance provision this would never have happened. And now that the provision no longer applies to the South, the evil old ways will return.
On several counts this is disheartening.
For what the critics of the court decision are saying is that, no matter the progress made over half a century, they do not trust the South to deal fairly and decently with its black citizens, without a club over its head. They do not believe the South has changed in its heart from the days of segregation.
They think the South is lying in wait for a new opportunity to disfranchise its black voters. And they think black Southerners are unable to defend their own interests -- without Northern liberal help.
In this belief there are elements of paranoia, condescension and bigotry.
Many liberals not only do not trust the South, some detest it. And many seem to think it deserves to be treated differently than the more progressive precincts of the nation.
Consider Wednesday's offering by Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson. The South, he writes, is the home of "so-called right-to-work laws" and hostility to the union shop, undergirded by "the virulent racism of the white Southern establishment," a place where a "right-wing antipathy toward workers' rights" is pandemic.
The South is the "the heartland of cheap-labor America. ... When it wants to slum, business still goes to the South." Then there are those "reactionary white Republican state governments."
Were a conservative to use the term "black" as a slur the way Meyerson spits out the word "white," he would be finished at the Post. Meyerson's summation:
"If the federal government wants to build a fence that keeps the United States safe from the danger of lower wages and poverty and their attendant ills -- and the all-round fruitcakery of the right-wing white South -- it should build that fence from Norfolk to Dallas. There is nothing wrong with a fence as long as you put it in the right place."
Harold looks forward to the day that a surging Latino population forces "epochal political change" on a detestable white South.
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