Well-known conservative dismisses faux outrage over New Black Panthers

Because so many conservative commentators specialize in trying to make white citizens feel threatened by a black president, the agitation over alleged voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers isn’t going away any time soon. Fox News, with a ratings hit, is having way too much fun with it.
But any conservatives who actually think for themselves ought to take a look at a piece conservative scholar Abigail Thernstrom wrote for the National Review’s Web site, in which she dismissed the case as “small potatoes.”

Thernstrom, appointed by George W. Bush as vice-chairman of the Civil Rights Commission, is a highly-respected conservative scholar with a long record of criticizing affirmation action and other policies on race that she dismisses as “politically correct.” But she refuses to go along with the trumped-up outrage over the New Black Panthers.
She wrote:

The two Panthers have been described as “armed” — which suggests guns. One of them was carrying a billy club, and it is alleged that his repeated slapping of the club against his palm constituted brandishing it in a menacing way. They have also been described as wearing “jackboots,” but the boots were no different from a pair my husband owns.

She also condemned conservatives’ obsession with the case in an interview with Politico:

“This doesn’t have to do with the Black Panthers; this has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration,” said Thernstrom, who said members of the commission voiced their political aims “in the initial discussions” of the Panther case last year.

“My fellow conservatives on the commission had this wild notion they could bring Eric Holder down and really damage the president,” Thernstrom said in an interview with POLITICO.

On National Review’s blog, The Corner, she wrote:

Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation — the charge — are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, makes a perfectly plausible argument: Different lawyers read this barely litigated statutory provision differently. It happens all the time, especially when administrations change in the middle of litigation. Democrats and Republicans seldom agree on how best to enforce civil-rights statutes; this is not the first instance of a war between Left and Right within the Civil Rights Division. . .

A disaffected former Justice Department attorney has written: “We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere.” “Indications”? Again, evidence has yet to be offered.

Get a grip, folks. The New Black Panther Party is a lunatic fringe group that is clearly into racial theater of minor importance. It may dream of a large-scale effort to suppress voting — like the Socialist Workers Party dreams of a national campaign to demonstrate its position as the vanguard of the proletariat. But the Panthers have not realized their dream even on a small scale. This case is a one-off.

There are plenty of grounds on which to sharply criticize the attorney general — his handling of terrorism questions, just for starters — but this particular overblown attack threatens to undermine the credibility of his conservative critics.

246 comments Add your comment

Omega

July 19th, 2010
12:59 pm

Jim in Ga

July 19th, 2010
1:00 pm

My issue with the whole thing is that it had a pretty strong case for voter intimidation but the case was dropped. Black, white, red, brown, color doesn’t matter, the fact that these guys were on camera threatening people and got away with it is what disturbs me.

StJ

July 19th, 2010
1:01 pm

The NBP case was headed for the background – until some government attorneys resigned in protest of the AG’s alleged order not to prosecute minorities for crimes committed against white people (including this incident).

The question now is whether or not the allegations are true. If so, then this hardly constitutes an “overblown attack”.

herman cain

July 19th, 2010
1:05 pm

If it had been large white men at a polling place with billie clubs………………………………………………..

Peadawg

July 19th, 2010
1:08 pm

“Because so many conservative commentators specialize in trying to make white citizens feel threatened by a black president”

LMAO! I stopped reading after that.

sam

July 19th, 2010
1:08 pm

its good for ratings..thats about it.

Hoghead

July 19th, 2010
1:09 pm

If it had been me, a white woman, walking by, I would have simply given that man a one finger salute and just walked on in to vote. If he wanted to fight it out, maybe then we would have a prosecution. Maybe that is what it will take. Not all whites are wimps. The same guy called a white woman a bad name and she walked on by, he called for the killing of white babies, and whites walked by. One of these days a white will not just walk by, and then the dust up will start.

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
1:11 pm

stJ, As Thernstrom and others have said repeatedly, no voter has claimed to have been intimidated. So it’s hard to prove the “allegations are true.”

Dan the Man

July 19th, 2010
1:11 pm

@Herman Large white men don’t carry billy clubs. They carry automatic weapons to a presidential town hall with a tree of liberty sign and waving a snake flag.

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
1:12 pm

Jim in Ga., The people who have charged “voter intimidation” were poll watchers. Not a single voter has come forward to claim intimidation. What makes it a “strong case”?

Bubba

July 19th, 2010
1:12 pm

Wonder what the MM would do if sheet-wearing Klansmen showed up at a Mississippi polling place?

Peadawg

July 19th, 2010
1:12 pm

“its good for ratings..thats about it.”

You mean Cynthia’s blogs? Write the most crazy blogs just to get people to post? Yup, sounds about right.

Hoghead

July 19th, 2010
1:13 pm

About concern for Obama, the least of it is his race. He is someone that appears not to have the slightest regard for this country or where it is headed, and out for destroying any incentive to work, to do well, and to prosper. The prosperous are labeled as “fortunate” (when most have worked hard all their lives for what they have), and every avenue is being explored to take that prosperity away from them and share it with anyone in need–read: most of those who have voluntarily dropped out of school, lazy, shiftless bums. And of course, government workers and union employees, all of whom are out for themselves and don’t have the brains to understand that when they kill the golden goose, the eggs stop coming for everyone.

Granny Godzilla

July 19th, 2010
1:15 pm

Clear case of voter intimidation where no voters claimed intimidation.
Can you get more “faux” than that?

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

Hoghead, The video you have seen of a New Black Panther yelling about killing white people did not occur at a polling place. It was ugly, obscene, racist, threatening, but it wasn’t voter intimidation.

If The Profit Fits

July 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

dan the girl, guess some of them rotten tea party types were behind the weapons at the rally in Arizona huh? Wasn’t oblowblow in town at the time, why they must all be RACISTS.

terry

July 19th, 2010
1:22 pm

Cynthia Tucker says, “Can we talk? About race?”

No I doubt it. You refuse to acknowledge that racism is a black problem too. All of a sudden when racist black men show up on the scene, you want to talk, but leave out the racist black men. No, I don’t need any of your bull. You can’t whitewash black racism. Until you accept black racism for what it is, don’t talk to me about white racism.

Cosby

July 19th, 2010
1:24 pm

Video shows the billy club being exposed and flashed as if it would be used to hit someone. Videos also show these same loving individuals spouting racial hatred. Now if that had been whites Miss Tucker, you would be asking for their heads. instead, they were just standing there…sure…but then I must be a member of the tea party – you know – a racist….but it is really coming to light as where the “Real Racism” exist in this country and it is not where you would expect it. Double standard Miss tucker…the NAACP, You Jessie, Al and the rest promote racism more than ever.

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
1:28 pm

terry, I explicity mentioned the New Black panthers as racist. I’m not going to allow you to lie about what I wrote. If you don’t agree, fine. But don’t lie.

Tommy Maddox

July 19th, 2010
1:28 pm

If it had been two Klansman standing there, whether they were cursing blacks or singing The Lord’s Prayer, they would have been on the news all day every day even long after the prosecution was finished.

It would be included on every Liberal’s campaign material for time immortal.

Jimmy62

July 19th, 2010
1:31 pm

Actually several witnesses said they turned away from going to vote due to these guys strutting about at the poll. I’d be happy to link you to that evidence, but the Justice Department hasn’t released it.

Hootinanny Yum Yum

July 19th, 2010
1:31 pm

I’m intimidated by it and I wasn’t even there.

I live in Cobb county. Hypothetically, I go to a predominantly white polling district tomorrow wearing Klansman garb or a white supremacist militia type outfit and slap a nightstick repeatedly in my hand near the entrance to a polling location (as close a legally possible). A small percentage of minority voters utilize this polling location.

If no one comes forward to claim intimidation after the polls close, we can assume that there was no alleged intimidation. Right?

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
1:40 pm

Hootinanny Yum Yum, There were white, Republican poll watchers at the site. They’re the ones yelling “voter intimidation.” Had they actually seen any voters walk away before casting ballots, those poll watchers would surely have gotten names and phone numbers.

Granny Godzilla

July 19th, 2010
1:41 pm

Jimmy62

Link away dude….

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
1:41 pm

Jimmy62, What makes you think there were witnesses who said they were turned away? There were poll watchers claiming intimidation, but if there were actual voters who said that, the Justice Dept wouldn’t have to “release the evidence.” Fox News would have made them famous.

Michael K.

July 19th, 2010
1:49 pm

“A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.”
——————————————————–
“I was told by Voting Section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants for the benefit of white victims, that if somebody wanted to bring these cases it was up to the U.S. Attorney, but the Civil Rights Division wasn’t going to be bringing it.” – J. Christian Adams

Come on liberals – admit defeat for once. Do you really want to defend the New Black Panthers? The government had already won the case against these guys. Holder should just admit that it was a mistake to drop the case and promise he won’t do it in the future. There’s no defending this.

carol

July 19th, 2010
1:55 pm

When are people going to wake up and tell the truth about what is in front of them? ANY people standing in front of a voting facility with clubs in their hands are intimidating. Why else were they there?

I'm here from the government and I'm here to help

July 19th, 2010
1:55 pm

ctucker, instead of beating a dead horse, why not tell us all about Mr. Alvin Greene. Which by the way, has now spoken. I would love to get your spin on Alvin.

Tommy Maddox

July 19th, 2010
1:55 pm

By the way, 42 U.S.C. § 1973 violations include both attempt and conspiracy.

You do not have to have victims come forward to say “I was intimidated”.

Obvious conspiracy – there was two of them; obvious attempt – video.

sam

July 19th, 2010
1:55 pm

if there was voter intimidation..where are the voters that were intimidated? and if some guys from the NBP are going to to intimidate voters, why would they go to a 95% democratic precinct to intimidate voters? i mean these guys look like idiots but they cant be that stupid to intimidate people thatare voting exactly like they wanty them to….i know you guys have to be outraged when they tell you but can you at least try to use your brains and think for yourselves?

Hoghead

July 19th, 2010
1:56 pm

And Obama gives $13 Billion more dollars away to Pakistan (borrowed dollars I might add). Go figure. He is trying to buy friendship. Somebody must have told him that is the way to make friends. How sad.

Stonethrower

July 19th, 2010
1:56 pm

Folks are going to believe what they want regardless of the proof to the contrary. There are folks who still believe Nixon was right in what he did (Gordon Liddy). You are wasting your time trying to refute what the fearmongers are putting out.

Peadawg

July 19th, 2010
1:57 pm

“Why else were they there?”

Good question.

I would love to hear what Cynthia would say if some Klan members were just hanging out at the polls.

sam

July 19th, 2010
1:58 pm

to answer your question hootinanny…..give it a try and we’ll discuss on Wednesday.

Don't forget

July 19th, 2010
1:58 pm

Jimmy 62, then link to where you got that information.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

July 19th, 2010
1:58 pm

Who are you going to believe, Cynthia or the video tape?

sam

July 19th, 2010
1:59 pm

they were there to get attention…guess what? it worked..

Michael K.

July 19th, 2010
2:01 pm

I used to live in Philadelphia and, every now and then, you’d see these guys shouting their hate outside city hall on the corner of Market and 15th. Even if they were just carrying clubs, I imagine that they were quite intimidating. My understanding is that the Bush justice deparment simply wanted to ban them from appearing at polling places for a set number of years. The Obama administration won the case by default when the NBP members failed to show up to defend themselves. Then, for inscrutable reasons, the Obama administration simply asked the court to drop the case against all but one of the defendants and, in that defendants case, they only asked that he be barred from displaying a weapon at polling place in Philadelphia for 4 years. As I said in an earlier post, I think liberals should just admit defeat on this one. Holder should admit that this was a mistake and liberals should stop trying to defend this unjustifiable leniency towards the NBP.

Don't forget

July 19th, 2010
2:02 pm

Michael, who is defending the NBP?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

July 19th, 2010
2:03 pm

For once I agree with Joe Biden: “”I don’t think the losses are going to be bad at all,” Mr. Biden asserted (on a Sunday tlaking head show.) More than agreeing, I think the losses will be wonderful.

Don't forget

July 19th, 2010
2:05 pm

So Michael, are you upset that the Bush administration didn’t pursue criminal charges against them?

Michael K.

July 19th, 2010
2:07 pm

@Don’t forget
I didn’t say anyone was defending the NBP. I said liberals should stop defending the Justice Department’s leniency towards the NBP.

I’m guessing I’ve seen these guys on the corner before and they are threatening. Given the video tape of the one guy with a billy club and given the way he behaved on the tape, it is hardly unreasonable to expect that the government would bar these guys from polling places (especially after they won the case). I don’t know why liberals are defending the government’s decision on this case.

Michael K.

July 19th, 2010
2:10 pm

@Don’t forget
So Michael, are you upset that the Bush administration didn’t pursue criminal charges against them?
——————————————————-
Not particularly. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m in no position to question decisions made prior to bringing a case. However, it doesn’t take a lawyer to understand that, under Obama, Justice withdrew it’s complaint AFTER the case had already been won. That’s not defensible and I suspect that most liberals realize that.

Don't forget

July 19th, 2010
2:12 pm

Michael at 1:49 PM you said “Come on liberals – admit defeat for once. Do you really want to defend the New Black Panthers?” I realize that was over 10 minutes ago but you said it!

Jim in Ga

July 19th, 2010
2:12 pm

Cynthia, they were their to intimidate. Why else would he have his billy club out? And thankfully, no one was scared off by these wackos, but it does not mean that it was not a case of voter intimidation.

Jim in Ga

July 19th, 2010
2:13 pm

should have written “they were there”

Jack

July 19th, 2010
2:14 pm

Like Hoghead said: “One of these days…”. Then the you-know-what is going to hit the you-know-what.

ctucker

July 19th, 2010
2:15 pm

Michael K, If you read the post, you know that Abigail Thernstrom is no liberal.

joe

July 19th, 2010
2:15 pm

@ CT- “because so many conservative commentators SPECIALIZE in trying to make white citizens feel threatened by a black president…”

An all time low for you…white citizens are not threatened by a black president. Citizens of every color and creed should feel threatened by the president’s ultra-liberal policies which are rammed down our throats without regard for how the majority of our nations citizens feel about them. An endless list growing more and more every day include, healthcare, bailouts, illegal aliens, etc.

This is precisely why the Dems will lose power in Nov and why he’ll be a one-termer…Americans have had enough.

Don't forget

July 19th, 2010
2:16 pm

Michael, personally I wouldn’t have minded seeing criminal or civil charges brought against them. But there’s a down side to that. It brings them publicity which is what they desparately want. Thanks to Fox they’re getting it. Before all this I had never heard of them.