Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Black People Don't Grow Old

...they just fade away.

Via Steve Benen comes the story of how Georgia's "voter ID" law -- a thinly disguised attempt at disenfranchising Democratic voters that was rightfully struck down by a federal judge -- managed to get past the DOJ's voting rights section. You may remember this law as the one justified by its sponsor on the grounds that if Black people "are not paid to vote, they don't go to the polls."

Anyway, Paul Kiel reports that the head of the voting rights section, John Tanner, overruled career DOJ employees who argued that the law would facilitate racial discrimination in Georgia. Tanner argued that those most burdened by Voter ID laws are not Blacks but the elderly. Now, the more perceptive among us could note a flaw in this logic: aside from the fact that the law could burden both, the bigger problem is that, in theory, one can be Black and old at the same time. Well, that's what I thought anyway. Tanner begs to differ, arguing that "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do: They die first."

Like Bill O'Reilly at a Harlem restaurant, Tanner might be shocked to know that a great many Black people do manage to survive their gang-banger lifestyle and live to the ripe old age where they might be called "elderly." Perhaps he could be introduced to some of these brave survivors, so that his horizons might be widened, and he'd stop making idiotic arguments like this.


Anonymous said...

The folks over at ePluribus Media detailed Tanner's resume earlier this year: http://www.epluribusmedia.org/features/2007/20070505_resurrecting_jim_crow.html

This ePluribus article details the racism that Tanner has brought to the Voting Section itself: http://www.epluribusmedia.org/features/2007/20070510_decimating_civil_rights.html

PG said...

"minorities don't become elderly the way white people do: They die first."

The exact wording was uncommonly stupid (I assume what he meant to say was, "African Americans actually have a shorter lifespan and thus are less burdened than whites by a policy that disadvantages the elderly because a larger percentage of whites will become elderly than of blacks, therefore the policy is not problematic with regard to a racial minority"), but Tanner is following a general Bush Administration philosophy that it's a good idea to set the interests of the Elderly and the Blacks in opposition. Cf. Bush's rhetoric re: the racism of traditional Social Security. This of course tracks with Bush's idea that we ought to replace affirmative action with top 10% programs. It never occurs to him that perhaps there's an underlying problem when high schools are so racially segregated that top 10% can bring in a roughly equal number of black students, or when black people are dying younger than whites at such a rate that Social Security payouts at 65 are unfair. (Unsurprisingly, Chris Rock understood this better when he said black men should start getting SS at 29 because of ills like "hypertension, high blood pressure, NYPD." Black people's dying earlier is not exactly embedded in their genetic code as something we simply must adjust around.)