Rule of Law

DOJ Defends Employee Comment that Mississippi Is 'Disgusting and Shameful'

The United States Department of Justice has defended comments by an employee who called Mississippi “disgusting and shameful.”  This same employee reviews photo voter identification laws throughout the south for approval from her position in the DOJ Voting Section.

PJ Media first reported on comments made by Voting Section employee Stephanie Gyamfi toward the citizens of Mississippi:

On her Facebook page, Voting Section supervisory civil rights analyst Stephanie Celandine Gyamfi says about the people of Mississippi:

“Disgusting and shameful. Hey, that should replace the state motto: ‘Mississippi: Disgusting and Shameful’. . . forget the Magnolia State motto.”

On Tuesday, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann held a press conference in response to the PJ Media story and demanded that Gyamfi be removed from all reviews of state election laws under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  Three Mississippi congressmen (Nunlee, Harper, and Palazzo), sent a letter to the DOJ demanding the same.

Voting Section Chief Christopher Herren on Tuesday said that the comments by Gyamfi were “personal” in nature.  Yet then the resources of the Department of Justice were deployed to defend the comments.

“The department maintains Gyamfi is a respected employee.”

Justice Department officials told WLBT-TV in Mississippi that the comments were “taken out of context” and were defensible because they related to an ugly incident at the University of Southern Mississippi.  During that incident, some students taunted an opposing Hispanic basketball player.

Of course Gyamfi’s comments were not confined to her opinions about the handful of Southern Mississippi students.  No, the bigotry extended to all Mississippians.  All of Mississippi was sufficiently “disgusting and shameful” to warrant replacing the state motto with “Mississippi: Disgusting and Shameful.”

The plain meaning of the comment is clear: broad contempt for Mississippi, not disgust at a few students.

In the Voting Section, these bigoted views are commonplace and my book Injustice details other instances of contemptuous administration of justice.

I never thought the DOJ would take inconsistent and indefensible positions that promise to make the attitudes of DOJ Voting Section employees toward southerners an ongoing story.

Eric Holder’s Justice Department can’t have it both ways.  Either the comments are personal comments, or they aren’t.  If they are worthy of an active defense from DOJ, then the DOJ better be prepared to defend the full inventory of online racialism and bigotry toward states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, even if the comments were made merely by employees.

The reason this is relevant is that these same employees have enormous power over southern states, and perceptions about the citizens of those states color their official actions.  Ask South Carolina and Texas how they feel about the fairness of the DOJ review process for their voter identification laws.

I believed this would be a one or two day story.  I never imagined the United States Department of Justice would, on one hand, say the comments were merely “personal” and therefore beyond the reach of discipline and, on the other hand, very officially defend comments as understandable in context.

The ill-advised and inconsistent reaction by DOJ to Hosemann’s press conference is especially surprising given the fact the disdain expressed on Facebook did not stop at the Mississippi state line.  It extended also into Alabama and contained disparaging views toward the citizens of Alabama.  Nor did the outrageous online behavior limit itself to disparaging remarks about Alabama and Mississippi on Facebook.

Again, I presumed this was a one or two day story.  Apparently the Department of Justice, in an effort to defend the indefensibly bigoted views of some employees, is itching to have more on-line laundry aired about the employees who work overtime to block voter ID across the country.

For a refresher on the radicalism of some of these employees, be sure to read the Pulitzer-nominated PJ Media Every Single One series installment on the radical biographies of some Voting Section employees.

Also be sure to read Hans von Spakovsky, who reports on even more disturbing events at the DOJ Voting Section.