If you are reading this and you have never heard of J. Christian Adams (never trust a lawyer who uses his initials to start his name) that's a good thing. It means that you are probably not a wingnut. If you have, well, you probably won't be a fan of this post.
Anyway, seems that J. Christian is a former justice department voting rights lawyer, and he left the department because of what can only be described as ideological differences. Apparently he didn't like the fact that Eric Holder and company did not go after those New Black Panthers for intimidating law- abiding white folks and preventing them from voting. And now he has become a celebrity among wingnuts and this case has become a cause celebre among them as well. (Hmmm, I wonder where they were when W and company were making TDOJ their own little republican party headquarters? and why not the same outcry over this from my wingnut friends?)
First, let me say this for the record: I do believe that enforcement of civil rights voting laws should be race- neutral. In other words; if I am a white guy minding my business and going to vote, and a group of black guys jump all over me and try to prevent me from voting because I happen to be white, they should be prosecuted. Flip the script and put an Asian or Latino guy in that position, same thing. Race neutral. No problem with that.
But the author of the piece that inspired my post is way off base on this one. The New Black Panthers did not intimidate anyone on that faithful day here in Killadelphia. (Trust me when I tell you this; white folks voting in the Fairmont section of Philly are not going to be intimidated by some dude with a baton in a military suit.) What happened that election day was what happens on damn near every election day here: There were (race-neutral) shenanigans at the polls. If you want to see real voter intimidation watch a bunch of union employees work a polling station as they try to...ahem ahem, persuade folks to vote for their candidate of choice. It will make what these individuals did at this particular polling place tame in comparison. There was no nationwide organized effort to scare white folks away from the polls, this was an isolated incident which had zero effect on the outcome of the elections. And, by the way, the Justice Department did take the appropriate steps to curtail the actions of the NBP. So move along folks, there is nothing to see here. Unless, of course, you are a wingnut:
"For more than a year, Attorney General Eric Holder has failed to adequately explain why his Justice Department dropped a slam-dunk voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.
His department's answers to inquiries have been incomplete and unsatisfactory. Career attorneys involved in the case have not been available for questioning, even when subpoenaed.
Now, one lawyer is speaking up - and making damning allegations against the Justice Department.
J. Christian Adams, who was a Justice Department voting-rights lawyer until he resigned last month, is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Tuesday. At issue are the events of Election Day 2008 in Philadelphia.
Here's how a Justice Department complaint filed in January 2009 described those events:
Samir Shabazz, head of the Philadelphia chapter of the New Black Panther Party, and party member Jerry Jackson were "deployed" in front of a Fairmount Avenue polling place in "military style uniforms."
Shabazz brandished a nightstick. He "pointed the weapon at individuals, menacingly tapped it [in] his other hand, or menacingly tapped it elsewhere." Both Shabazz and Jackson leveled "racial threats and racial insults at both black and white individuals," and they "made menacing and intimidating gestures, statements, and movements directed at individuals who were present to aid voters."
The two men, the party, and its national chairman were named in the complaint. Since none responded, the case was all but won." Read more:
Well, not quite. The case was not all but won. And, there was an injunction against Mr. Shabazz which the DOJ will enforce until 2012. But that's not good enough for the wingnuts:
"U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.), a Philly native, has repeatedly called for an explanation. The Civil Rights Commission has held hearings on the case. In May, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez told the commission that the case had been re-reviewed, and the evidence deemed insufficient to proceed.
"That claim is false," Adams, the former Justice lawyer, wrote in the Washington Times last month. "If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls."
Adams wrote that the dismissal of the case "was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law." As for the re-review, "the lawyers who ordered the dismissal ... did not even read the internal Justice Department memorandums supporting the case and investigation."
If they only spent this much energy trying to help people.
"I understand that some view the Panther incident as an unimportant blip on a historic election day. I get not wanting to make too much of an insignificant gang of thugs. But the message the Justice Department sends about hate groups and equal enforcement is important."
Happy Birthday A-merry-ca! Even if you are full of hypocrites and liars.