Eric Marshall, “Manager of Legal Mobilization” at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights is badgering Clear Channel Communications to take down this billboard in Cleveland, Ohio:
Does Marshall have a problem with the billboard’s accuracy? Hardly. The Plain Dealer quotes a demand letter from Marshall saying the signs,
“stigmatize the African-American community by implying that voter fraud is a more significant problem in African American neighborhoods than elsewhere,” and the billboards “attach an implicit threat of criminal prosecution to the civic act of voting.”
In my book Injustice, I document how once proud civil rights groups have become intellectual smokescreens for criminal wrongdoing in American elections. Not only do these groups deny that voter fraud exists, they now consider discussion of the laws that prohibit it to be a racially motivated attack. We have reached a point of nuttiness that mere discussion of the law results in demands to stop speaking of such things.
“Clear Channel has a choice,” Marshall said. “Contract or not, it is not right to be putting intimidating messages up in predominately minority neighborhoods.”
First, these groups frequently say “minority neighborhoods are targeted” without a shred of evidence. The Plain Dealer reports a region-wide campaign. Consider also for a moment what is “intimidating” about the billboards. It’s not like there are photos of New Black Panthers standing in front of a poll with billy clubs, or, Klansmen. So the mere description of Ohio statute, according to Marshall, must be intimidating.
Quick, hide the law books! Nobody breathe a word about voter fraud round here, someone might get scared!
This is what the Lawyer’s Committee has become in 2012 – a facilitator of racial paranoia. Our culture has degraded to the point where stating the truth, the empirical about voter fraud laws, is not met with praise, but rather with threats from lawyers. Incidentally, here is the Lawyer’s Committee’s 2008 condemnation of the New Black Panther Party appearance at the polls in Philadelphia. (Psyche! There really was no condemnation, but you already knew that.)
On cue, the paranoid opponents of free speech and the rule of law have organized a rally.
Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland and State Sen. Nina Turner will hold a rally at 11 a.m. Thursday in front of a billboard at the East 35th Street location to discuss their efforts to get the signs removed.
Ponder the racially demeaning assumptions behind the demand to remove the billboards. Once upon a time, no more than ten years ago, Marshall’s letter and Turner’s rally would be laughed at. Today, unfortunately, they represent a widening tolerance of lawlessness in American elections. Will the billboard’s sponsors and the local GOP Chairman Rob Frost have the courage to hold fast, or will they capitulate?