Commentary Magazine


NAACP Turns Voter ID Spat Into Satire

The liberal war on voter integrity has now morphed from partisan hypocrisy to parody. It is bad enough for the Obama administration and its cheerleaders in the media to falsely brand the effort by various states to require citizens to present a picture ID when they go to vote as a revival of Jim Crow laws. But the NAACP has reduced that controversy to satire by asking the United Nations Human Rights Council to weigh in on the matter at an upcoming conference on minority rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

This is the same UN Council that is comprised of some of the worst human rights abusers in the world such as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. The idea that Americans would ask a group whose members are countries that not only restrict voting rights but lack even the façade of democratic rule to take a stand on U.S. laws is beyond absurd. It seems never to have occurred to the partisans at the NAACP that there is something humorous about regimes that deny all of their citizens any say in governance standing in judgment on an actual working democracy. The arguments arrayed against voter ID laws by the Obama administration and those seeking to create a race issue where none exists are already weak. But by involving the UN, the NAACP has exposed itself to some well-earned scorn.

The UN Human Rights Council is itself a standing mockery of the entire cause of human rights not just because it is comprised of tyrannies who routinely practice the atrocities the council is supposed to combat, but also because it devotes the vast majority of its time and effort to attacking Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The UN’s obsession with delegitimizing Israel has long since crossed the line into anti-Semitism. But the world body’s lack of interest in doing something about China’s abuses in Tibet, the plight of women in the Arab world or the suppression of dissent in Cuba and China is just as outrageous.

The internationalization of the voter ID issue is also particularly inane because most developed countries, including the democracies, require citizens to have ID cards as a matter of law.

It should also be remembered that the argument that voter ID laws disenfranchise minorities is a thinly veiled attempt to incite racial distrust at the expense of a good government measure. The notion that there is something discriminatory about requiring voters to properly identify themselves in a nation when such photo IDS are already required for all airline travel and many other routine measures is absurd. The best that Attorney General Holder could do when overruling Texas’ voter ID law last week was to cite the fact that approximately 94 percent of Hispanics have such documentation as opposed to about 96 percent of non-Hispanics. Interestingly, there was no mention in the complaint about any disparity between African-Americans and other citizens even though we are told voter ID laws target the poor.

In fact, as Rich Lowry noted last week in National Review, the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that voter ID laws were legal. That 6-3-majority opinion was written by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote, “there is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the State’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters.” Stevens also noted “we cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters.” That is especially true because the states that have passed or considered voter ID laws have made provisions to give such cards free of charge to the tiny minority of citizens who don’t already have them.

Hillary Shelton, the NAACP’s senior vice president for advocacy, claims that by going to Geneva, “We can learn a lot from those who haven’t gone through as much as we have.” But the only thing that can be learned about democracy from China, Cuba or Saudi Arabia or the United Nations is how to suppress rights, not to protect them. Imagine what imprisoned dissidents in those countries will think about the NAACP granting their torturers this sort of legitimacy.

In bringing their flimsy complaint to such a tainted forum, the NAACP isn’t just illustrating the weak nature of their argument. By going before the council in this manner, the NAACP, which once actually stood for principle in the civil rights struggle, is demonstrating indifference to the real abuses of democratic rights around the globe. That isn’t comical. It’s shameful.

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