Sunday, November 19, 2006

NAACP chapter proudly outs non-voting blacks.

Politics: If you vote or not is not the business of anyone else in the damn country. It is an abomination that this chapter of the NAACP and a black newspaper endorse this sort of garbage. Worst of all is no condemnation by black officials for this sort of vote outing.

Election year politics reached a new low two weeks ago after the Tennessee Tribune, Nashville’s most influential black newspaper, published the names and addresses of hundreds of non-voting residents from the city’s predominantly black north side. In defending its action, the Tribune insisted that the list, comprised of District 1 residents who did not vote in the August primary, would motivate them to vote in the Nov. 7 general election. Although the Tribune’s action did not legally violate the letter and intent of existing civil rights laws, it did violate the spirit and ethos of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Because voting in American politics is a private right and not compulsory, disciplinary measures, such as exposing non-voters to public reprimand, are callous and unethical, and they help to legitimate a culture of intimidation in electoral politics that has historically been used to dilute the black vote. The measure was also selective and class-biased, only targeting non-voters from moderate-income, working-class and lower-middle-class black neighborhoods. Regrettably, civil rights activists and leading black figures in the city celebrated the newspaper’s action. On Nov. 2, Margaret Scrivens, a spokesperson for the local NAACP branch, told WSMV-Channel 4 news that the non-voter list was intended to encourage blacks to vote. She further hinted that since blacks died for the right to vote, the non-voter list actually reflected the best of—rather than a contradiction of—the civil rights tradition. At the weekly meeting of the Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship, Nashville’s principal black faith-based coalition, Bishop George Price, the organization’s president, also endorsed the newspaper’s action. Furthermore, none of North Nashville’s black elected officials openly condemned the newspaper’s measure. The endorsement by leading civil rights figures is even more shameful when considering that segregationists used controversial outing measures to discourage black support for the civil rights movement. In the 1950s, the NAACP brought legal challenges against government officials in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida after they ordered the organization to hand over or publish its membership lists. Segregationists used this outing measure to expose rank-and-file NAACP members, whose identities were confidential, to retaliation and violent attacks. In the 1958 case, NAACP vs. Alabama, the Supreme Court said this tactic was unconstitutional because it was intentionally designed to prevent blacks from joining the NAACP.
Then the NAACP wonders why its membership is so low. Disgusting.

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