Politics and Race News Round Up – Native Voter Disenfranchisement, Jeff Yang on Sharron Angle, Juan Williams, Obama Skips Temple Visit

by Latoya Peterson

Long form links today, since so much is heating up.

Condoleeza Rice was on the CBS Early Show discussing her memoir of growing up in the segregated South:


Most interesting part? Close to the end, she mentions that her father joined the Republican party due to the segregation politics of the Democrats, but also because he is a social conservative. Still, he was very interested in black radical politics, and had Stokely Carmichael over to the house. But that’s the end of the interview, so will have to investigate this a bit more.

Spirit Lake Reservation is facing possible voter disenfranchisement, after a county voting board in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota chose to remove three polling locations:

Tribal citizens are no stranger to having their rights trampled on. Now, members of the Spirit Lake Reservation say their right to vote is also being taken away – to the alarm of some state and federal policymakers.

The Benson County Board of Commissioners, which oversees the county that includes reservation lands, decided this election season to close three polling places in the tribe’s three-precinct vicinity.

Commissioners rationalized their decision, saying there is a high cost to operating the polling places, including training and paying staff.

In response, tribal leaders offered to provide funds to recruit and train workers, and said the county could use facilities that would be rent-free.

The commission refused the tribe’s offer, saying that costs would still be too high, and that mailed ballots would be cheaper.

This column on Sharron Angle’s “First Asian American Legislator” comment reminds us of why we love Jeff Yang:

In a slate of recent attack spots, Angle had claimed that her Democratic opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, favored “open borders” and “amnesty” for illegal aliens — actions that would allow insidiously perilous elements into the U.S. The commercials were illustrated with pictures of scowling, bandanna-clad men with dark complexions and footage of sinister figures sneaking around fences.

Attempting to soft-pedal the impact of the ads to a clearly hostile audience, Angle suggested that the students had “misinterpreted” them — that the images might not represent Latinos, and the border being discussed might not be the one between the U.S. and Mexico. “Our northern border is where the terrorists came through — that’s the most porous border that we have,” she told them.

The students were obviously skeptical that Angle’s primary immigration concern was the nonexistent boundary between Nevada and Canada, so the candidate chose to press the issue using a different tack — stating that, in our diverse country, it’s difficult to even tell races and ethnicities apart: “You know, I don’t know that all of you are Latino,” she said. “Some of you look a little more Asian to me. I don’t know that. What we know, what we know about ourselves, is that we are a melting pot in this country. My grandchildren are evidence of that” — her daughter-in-law is Latino — “and I’m evidence of that. I’ve been called the ‘first Asian legislator’ in our Nevada state assembly.”

An enterprising young member of the audience who’d been capturing cellphone video of Angle’s talk immediately uploaded footage of Angle’s weird self-assessment to the Web. A thunderous clacking could be heard as jaws across the nation dropped to the floor. The Asian American blogosphere unfurled a giant virtual banner bearing the letters W, T and F. And an already chaotic race, in which unqualified and deeply unusual state legislator Angle has been running mostly ahead of her high-profile opponent, Reid, was thrown into even further turmoil. [...]

that’s the fundamental racial hypocrisy of the populist right. Like their rising star Angle, they espouse the notion of the “melting pot” — of chocolate and caramel swirled into and subsumed within America’s vast vanilla social fondue. But however much people of color assimilate, most of us still “look” Latino, “look” Asian, “look” black. And that means when we’re pulled over by Arizona troopers, or we hang out in the wrong Detroit bar, or we force the jammed door of our own home in Cambridge, Mass. — we instantly unmelt from the pot.

Obama skips the Golden Temple, Florida GOP’s Racist email fallout, Juan Williams, the hidden history of women in the Civil Rights movement, and talking voter disenfranchisement and tea partying after the jump.

Obama has apparently bowed out of a holy temple visit for fear of being photographed with a head covering. Did I mention it was a Sikh temple? And one that is regularly visited by politicians? Clearly, the terrorists (read: Islamaphobic fear mongers who don’t bother to differentiate between other faiths) have won. New York Times reports:

[T]he plan appears to have foundered on the thorny question of how Mr. Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple.

“To come to golden temple he needs to cover his head,” said Dalmegh Singh, secretary of the committee that runs the temple. “That is our tradition.”

Mr. Obama, a Christian, has struggled to fend off persistent rumors that he is a Muslim, and Sikhs in the United States have often been mistaken for Muslims. Sikhism, which arose in the Punjab region in the 15th century, includes elements of Hinduism and Islam but forms a wholly distinct faith. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Sikhs in the United States have been occasional targets of anti-Muslim discrimination and violence — a Sikh was killed in Arizona a few days after the attack on the World Trade Center by a man who mistook him for a Muslim.

Observant Sikhs do not cut their hair, and Sikh men wear turbans that cover their heads in public. Visitors to Sikh temples, known as gurudwaras, are required to cover their heads and remove their shoes. Baseball caps are not considered appropriate. Sikh scriptures require that men tie a piece of cloth on their heads, not simply put on a hat that can be easily taken off, because the act of tying has spiritual significance. Most non-Sikh visitors tie on kerchiefs sold by vendors outside the temple.

Side-eye. If these are our friends…

Talking Points Memo recaps the latest Republican email scandal:

Virginia Beach Republican Party chair Dave Bartholomew forwarded a racist email comparing African Americans to dogs. The email, subject line “my, dog,” consists of a racist parable about African Americans and welfare. In the first 24 hours since the email came to light, Democrats condemned Bartholomew and he resigned his position with the Republican Party.

The text of the message, in full:

    MY DOG

    I went down this morning to sign up my Dog for welfare.

    At first the lady said, “Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare”.

    So I explained to her that my Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is.

    So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify…

    My Dog gets his first check Friday.

    Is this a great country or what?

Bartholomew resigned, and hasn’t spoken to the press, but check the usual defense:

By Tuesday morning the heat was becoming too much for Bartholomew to handle. Second District GOP chair Gary Byler told the Virginian-Pilot that Bartholomew “agreed to resign because the e-mail had become a distraction to the Nov. 2 election.” He offered this to the paper by way of explanation for the racist email:

    The e-mail was dated March 15 and sent from the address that Bartholomew uses as party chairman. Bartholomew forwarded it without reading the contents when “he was first getting familiar with the Internet,” Byler said.

Byler assured the paper that Bartholomew is “not a racist.”

No one ever is, are they?

Juan Williams was canned by NPR following some comments he made on Fox News:

Late Wednesday night, NPR issued a statement praising Williams as a valuable contributor but saying it had given him notice that it is severing his contract. “His remarks on The O’Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR,” the statement read.

Williams’ presence on the largely conservative and often contentious prime-time talk shows of Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives.

His status was earlier shifted from staff correspondent to analyst after he took clear-cut positions about public policy on television and in newspaper opinion pieces.

No comment needed.

The Marc Steiner Show did a vital, interesting interview with Danielle McGuire, who wrote “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women Rape and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” Clearly, we need to discuss this a bit more on Racialicious, since there is so much here. For example, McGuire argues that a key part of the bus boycott was actually due to sexual harassment – white men would be sexual aggressive toward black women on buses, in a variety of forms, rendering the buses both racially hostile and unsafe. There is also a long history of rape – using black women’s bodies as a political battleground. Here’s the interview.

And I’ve been talking to some interesting folks on the Michael Eric Dyson Show.

Yesterday’s show (listen here):

President Obama and former president Bill Clinton are crisscrossing the country to stir up the youth and minority vote for the November 2 mid-term elections. Is the Tea Party making similar attempts to mobilize the youth and minority vote? Guest host Latoya Peterson speaks with Shelby Blakely, host of the popular conservative Internet radio show, “Steaming Tea with the Brazen 3” on Hot Tea Radio, to find out. [...]

The black community in the United States can no longer be viewed as one unified block, but as four distinct economic and cultural groups. At least that’s what Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post says in his new book, Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America. He joins us to explain who these groups are and how their presence challenges our traditional understanding of Black America.

The show on the 18th (listen here):

Members of the Tea Party have raised allegations of voter fraud in Harris County, Texas, and a recent poll shows that one in five Americans believes that the now-defunct ACORN may steal elections to keep Democrats in control of Congress. Election expert Spencer Overton joins guest host Latoya Peterson to sort through how much of this is truth and how much is hype.

And on the 19th (listen here):

With the United States projected to become a nation with no clear racial or ethnic majority by 2050, politicians must begin now to address issues directly affecting a more diverse voter base. Erica Williams, deputy director for Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress, talks to guest host Latoya Peterson about what these changing demographics mean for the mid-term elections. [...]

Maleka Brown is a developmental psychology doctoral student at Howard University, and this year she was named a National Science Foundation Fellow for her research studying the academic outcomes of minority youth. She joins us to discuss her research and accomplishments.