In the grand scheme of accusations of racism, comparing a piece of legislation to Jim Crow is one of the more drastic such accusation one can make. Throwing around such a charge willy nilly, however, dilutes its effectiveness, especially when the law being charged seems to conform to common sense. NAACP President Ben Jealous should have been more cognizant of this fact when he sat down with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux to discuss laws that require photo ID in order to vote.
The full clip has to be seen to be believed, but the way Jealous opens the conversation sets the tone pretty capably:
We're actually still dealing with Jim Crow voter suppression laws. These ex-felon disenfranchisement bans still exist on the books in several states.
Got that? Laws that ban people who have committed felonies from voting are supposedly racist because (according to Jealous) a lot of black people are felons.
This is just the first of many statements Jealous makes that A) Don't really help his case, and B) Don't exactly stand up to evidence. For one thing, he outright admits that IDs don't cost anything, but argues that the cost of locating one's birth certificate in order to get an ID is still equivalent to a poll tax. So in other words, even though getting the ID itself has no price, the fact that it might possibly require money is still racist because (again, according to Jealous) black people are disproportionately poor.
He also argues that voter fraud isn't that big of a problem because of a study by the "Republican National Lawyers' Association" which, he says, shows a tiny number of cases of voter fraud. However, apparently he missed this little disclaimer from that same group about their voter fraud tracking numbers:
Please note that the convictions or prosecutions listed here are not intended to be a comprehensive list of all instances of vote fraud. The RNLA conducted a limited survey to indicate whether vote fraud charges have been filed in states across the country since 2000. We looked for at least one example in each state. For examples of vote fraud on an almost daily basis, read the RNLA blog.
So much for that talking point.
But this isn't even the most unbelievable thing Jealous says. That would be his response to Malveaux's question about whether his interest in the issue is motivated by a desire to mobilize voters for Barack Obama. His response:
We don't work for this candidate or that candidate.