Op-ed submission by Project 21
It’s said Lyndon Baines Johnson used voter fraud to win his 1948 Senate primary campaign. In 1954, then-Senator Johnson orchestrated a law prohibiting church involvement in electoral politics. Yet it was LBJ’s presidential library where Attorney General Eric Holder chose to demonize ballot protection laws last year.
And it was Holder who, this past May, huddled with black clergy from the Council of National Black Churches and the IRS and the Congressional Black Caucus to determine how political black churches could be without running afoul of LBJ’s rule. And, for good measure, he further criticized voter ID.
In the analogy that black Americans are imprisoned on the liberal plantation, it’s fair to consider Eric Holder the overseer. In the days of slavery, it was the overseer who managed through fear to maximize crop yields. Nowadays, it’s fear management for political yields.
Today’s bogeymen are 30 state-level laws, enacted through the democratic process, that require proper identification to vote. These popular laws protect against voter fraud, from preventing illegal immigrants from voting to dealing with bogus registrations and identity thieves voting in other peoples’ names.
Holder and his fellow overseers say these laws disfranchise and suppress minority voters. The NAACP alleges in a 2011 report that possibly 25 percent of black Americans don’t possess the proper documentation to meet some ID requirements. Yet the NAACP’s report didn’t contain a single instance of someone deprived of his or her legal vote.
Despite being completely divorced from reality, these radical claims become harder to dismiss when allegedly revered figures such as NAACP president and CEO Ben Jealous calls voter ID the new Jim Crow and Holder calls them “poll taxes.”
Holder cracked his symbolic whip last May to frighten clergymen and their congregations against the idea of abandoning President Obama. Obama’s recent “evolution” on same-sex marriage sent a chill across black churches, and the threat of Jim Crow reborn helps rekindle support.
Holder’s tactics of intimidation and fear is condescending. Having a valid government-issued ID isn’t a poll tax, and the only form of suppression it represents is suppressing voter fraud. Blacks board airplanes, open checking accounts and rent cars just like everyone else. They buy guns, alcohol and tobacco products. All of these purchases now usually require ID. Who is complaining about these restrictions on black Americans?
Yet Holder expects clergymen to take this selective outrage back and insult the intellect of their congregations? How offensive!
LBJ stole people’s votes. He silenced churches. He did that to all races. He was certainly not a man of integrity to follow. Yet liberals embrace LBJ’s legacy, and they seem willing to continue to condone an environment in which votes can be stolen and in which only churches with the right connection can speak.
At what point will blacks become so offended at this condescension that they will no longer participate in the madness? Holder and his fellow overseers are basically telling their obedient, unquestioning slaves that they are too dumb, too lazy — or both — to obtain valid ID. This is absurd!
More importantly, given the ear of the black clergy, why did Holder rush to push politics when he could have helped create a more moral and responsible society? Why didn’t he instead encourage these pastors to return to the pulpit to preach about men being men — being responsible husbands and fathers and shunning the temptation of crimes, drugs and misogyny?
Rather than harkening back to the brutal past, why not promote a dignified humanity that comes with being created in the image of God — the dignity that our enslaved ancestors literally died in struggle to achieve.
But that was apparently too much to ask. For overseer Eric Holder, politics apparently trumps character.
Derryck Green, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, received a M.A. in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing his doctorate in ministry at Azusa Pacific University.