Conservative “rift” is ultimately unimportant.
The six generally right-leaning members of the 8-person U.S. Commission on Civil Rights ought to smoke a peace pipe. The intellectually corrupt establishment media is having a field day playing up a split between deservedly famed civil rights academician Abigail Thernstrom, on the one hand, and the other five right-leaners on the other. The putative reason for the split is a dispute over the relevance of the commission’s investigation into the Justice Department’s infamous reduction of charges in the voter-intimidation case involving members of the New Black Panther Party. The truth is that the commissioners’ disagreement on the Panther case is relatively narrow in substance, even though the establishment media is going nuts in hyping it. The real disagreement began before the Panther case became a major commission focus; and the split is more personal than policy-related, more a breach of feelings than a breach of principle.
All of a sudden, though, media outlets that showed willful blindness approaching malfeasance in refusing to cover the Black Panther story — and which still haven’t come close to the heart of the case — are having fun with the “Thernstrom indicts conservative fantasy” story-line, as in this Ben Smith article at Politico which never once even mentions that the case already had been won by default before it was dropped.
The truth of the matter is that when you delve beneath the personal pique that has led Thernstrom at times to overstate her case — as when ludicrously telling NBC this week that “we do not have any, any, evidence of actual intimidation” — the differing judgments about the Panther case itself are not that significant. On June 22, 2009, Thernstrom co-wrote a letter to the Justice Department in which she said she “feel[s] strongly that the dismissal of this case weakens the agency’s moral obligation to prevent voting rights violations, including acts of voter intimidation or vote suppression. We cannot understand the rationale for this case’s dismissal….” On December of last year, three months after she had registered dissent from the Commission on Civil Rights’ decision to investigate the Panther case for its statutorily required annual report, she wrote at National Review that she agrees Attorney General Eric Holder is “the most destructive member of Barack Obama’s Cabinet” for a number of reasons that specifically included “the dismissal of charges against members of the New Black Panther Party who engaged in blatant voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place.”
Read that again. Abby Thernstrom herself, even after breaking with the other commissioners on the size of the required Panther investigation, still insisted that what occurred was “blatant voter intimidation.” (That’s a far cry from her telling NBC that there was no “evidence of actual intimidation.”)
In several public forums, Thernstrom has repeated her long-standing assertion that the Panther case was indeed worthy of a commission hearing and associated report, but just not the huge, required annual report that is the commission’s major annual contribution to civic life. Her oft-repeated reasons are two. First, she argued that another topic — namely the strong possibility that the Holder Justice Department would muck with decennial redistricting in order to engineer race-based outcomes — was more worthy of the commission’s major annual report. Second, she argued that as a practical matter, the Panther investigation would likely run into a brick wall because it would require asking the Justice Department to enforce subpoenas on itself, which DoJ would be unlikely to do.
So this is a disagreement not about whether the case is important — Thernstrom agrees that it is, and that (as she wrote in June 2009) she is “gravely concerned” about it — but whether it is more important than another matter and whether the commission could “get at the evidence that we need,” as she explained at the commission’s July 16, 2010 meeting.
Further memo to establishment media: Thernstrom still agrees that the Justice Department’s actions smell fishy and that its stonewalling has kept important information from the public while actually increasing suspicions that something improper occurred. Particularly of interest here are statements allegedly made by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes to the effect that the department would refuse to enforce politically inconvenient voting laws. Here’s what Thernstrom told me in an interview on Wednesday of this week (July 21):
“The Justice Department is handling this so stupidly, I can’t believe it. They should just send Julie Fernandes and have her answer questions. I would love for her to answer our questions.” And: “Look: I’m an evidence girl. Just give me evidence and not somebody who heard somebody who heard from somebody else.” And: “I would be delighted to hear from anybody involved. But what is the point of demanding it? This is DoJ’s call. But they [DoJ] are keeping this issue alive” by not answering questions, etc.
And: “I would also like to hear from Chris Coates. [ED. NOTE: Coates was the lead attorney who brought the case, but who then was transferred to South Carolina as tacit punishment for daring to try to enforce the laws.] And anybody else who was at the meeting who could say precisely what Julie Fernandes said. I want Julie Fernandes to say precisely what she said. Words matter. Language matters.” And: “If they [fellow commissioners] had made the Black Panther simply a matter of a normal briefing and report, rather than the big, statutorily mandated report, I would probably have supported that.”
This, therefore, is hardly a matter of a conservative thoroughly denigrating the substance of an investigation by other conservatives — although that is the story-line the JournoList-polluted establishment media is eager to play up in order to distract attention from what might be major Obama-Holder malfeasance.
Let me repeat, for any other honest investigative reporters out there: POSSIBLE WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT.
This case isn’t merely about two would-be thugs with delusions of tough-guy grandeur; it’s about what seems to be a conscious decision in the Obama-Holder Justice Department to refuse to protect the civil rights of white Americans from the transgressions of minority perpetrators.
Even Commissioner Michael Yaki, the liberal commissioner appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, agreed at the July 16 hearing that it would be a very serious thing indeed if DoJ actually tolerated or promoted such an agenda. “If someone made that statement within the Department of Justice,” he said, “that person should be fired. That person should be tossed out on their ear in two seconds flat.”
All of which lays to rest the idea that the commission’s investigation is unimportant or illegitimate. But that leads us back to the nasty spat between Thernstrom and the other right-leaning commissioners. It’s important to state my biases up front: I am a huge fan of Abby Thernstrom. She has been a giant in the battle on behalf of civil rights for all Americans, black and white. She bows to nobody in insisting that there are places and times when black Americans still face discrimination, and that the discrimination should be rooted out. But she has refused to back down from lefties who would abandon color-blindness in favor of active discrimination on behalf of black Americans (or at least supposedly on their behalf; Thernstrom has shown that sometimes racial “preferences” clearly harm the intended beneficiaries). She has been a courageous and rational voice for many years in a subject area where emotion all too often leaves reason in the dust.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?