Deranged: Al Sharpton Says 'Jim Crow Would Blush' at GOP Candidate
If there’s one thing the 2018 midterm cycle has proved to me — aside from the fact that Krysten Sinema really should have made a point of ensuring everyone had turned off all cell phones and recording devices before she began her speeches — is that Jim Crow has made a comeback.
No, not the segregation laws that bore that colloquial name. Instead, Jim Crow’s revival has a lot to do with Democratic politicians invoking that most poisonous of names as if it were chum in the waters of the voting pool.
The most obvious example of this was Beto O’Rourke, who told a crowd at a historically black university that law enforcement officers were “the new Jim Crow.” While this remark alone isn’t responsible for his free fall in the polls of late, I doubt it helped.
However, we have a new contender in the Jim Crow game — and don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years. It’s “the Rev.” Al Sharpton who, in an appearance on MSNBC Friday, said that Georgia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate would make “Jim Crow blush.”
Ooh, ominous. What, pray tell, would make state Attorney General Brian Kemp the equivalent of Georgia’s Democratic politicians of the past? Apparently, the fact that his office has put 53,000 voter registrations on hold due to state rules makes him some sort of neo-segregationist.
First, a little background to Sharpton’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Deadline.” According to Atlanta’s WABE-FM, Georgia uses an “exact match” verification process for voter registration. In other words, the information given to the state must match information with the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration — and match it exactly.
The process can be controversial because entry errors can cause a registration to be put on hold. It’s also controversial because the majority of applicants on hold are black. Affected voters are still able to cast a ballot on Election Day, NBC News noted, and they have 26 months from when the voter registration was submitted for it to be officially canceled by the state.
Kemp, for his part, denies that there’s any matter of bias involved. Instead, he says that a voter registration group founded by his opponent, the New Georgia Project, was “sloppy” in its registration of new voters.
I’ll be perfectly willing to admit it’s a contentious issue, although I have trouble conjuring images of George Wallace in the schoolhouse door and I suspect you do too. Not Rev. Sharpton, however.
“This is blatant. First of all, you should never have the secretary of state who is over the voting process remain in office in any election that he’s in,” Sharpton told “Deadline” host Nicole Wallace.
“But on top of that, to have this guy Kemp decide on how they are going to put, quote, ‘on hold,’ people’s registration and then 70 percent of them are black, that was researched by Associated Press, not one of the civil rights groups. This is The Associated Press. On top of that, to have Kemp in charge of the process, it is as tainted as you can get.”
“Why wouldn’t he recuse himself?” Wallace asked.
“The only reason you wouldn’t recuse yourself is because you want to have this advantage, and you want to be blatantly out there saying, ‘I’m going to do what I want, even if we have to change the rules,'” Sharpton said. “I mean, Jim Crow would blush if he would see this guy Kemp.”
First, while I hate to lecture Al Sharpton on the fineries of niceties of race baiting — he certainly has more experience in it than I — wasn’t Jim Crow a stock character in a minstrel show who became a metaphor for the laws? Why would this make him blush? (And it would be tough to tell if he blushed, anyway.)
I know that’s a minor quibble, but it evinces just how fundamentally unserious and demagogic Sharpton’s remarks were.
On the other hand, of course, if he meant Jim Crow-era politicians, no, this would not make them blush. Those Democrats were moral degenerates who wouldn’t allow African-American children to go to schools with whites for years after Brown v. Board of Education became the law of the land.
The aforementioned George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus went a step further and put Arkansas National Guard troops in the doors of Little Rock High School to prevent it from being integrated. Bull Connor, the profoundly depraved public safety commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, was fond of training fire hoses and attack dogs on civil rights protesters, including children.
Brian Kemp is … enforcing the voter registration rules of his state, which he claims are exacerbated by the sloppy voter registration techniques of his opponent. This isn’t a poll tax or a poll test. And as Reuters reports, Georgia isn’t the only state with laws like these, either.
Invoking the shadow of segregation over voting laws is nothing more than unhinged demagogy. It’s also nothing new for Rev. Sharpton, who was calling any form of voter ID law comparable with the Jim Crow era at least as far back as 2012, as Matt Lewis reported at The Daily Caller. With Sharpton’s latest glib evocation of America’s segregationist past, one hopes the country’s voters have finally learned to tune out the most preposterous cleric since Elmer Gantry.
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