Axis of bigotry

The nativists in the House Republican Caucus join with the neo-Confederates to block extension of the Voting Rights Act.

House Republican nativists joined House Republican neo-Confederates to block extension of the Voting Rights Act. The nativists object to bilingual ballots and to polling-place interpreters for non-English-speaking citizens.

Someone ought to remind the Republicans that Abraham Lincoln bought a German-language newspaper, the Illinois Staatsanzeiger, to help rally German-immigrant votes for the Republican party.

But then someone ought to remind the Republicans of Abraham Lincoln.

Footnote The Staatsanzeiger was one of 265 German-language newspapers then published in the United States. That’s probably why so many of today’s Americans of German descent speak only German, and helps account for the strong movement for an Anschluss that would join Wisconsin to das Vaterland.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

15 thoughts on “Axis of bigotry”

  1. I don't know about Lincoln's buying the German newspaper, but I do know that he did NOT attend the 1860 Chicago convention that nominated him (as the article you link to reports). He stayed home in Springfield and quietly awaited the news.

  2. German is the predominant US ethnic ancestry, half again as large as Irish or English. Jingoism at the time of World War I greatly suppressed what was then a visible, lively, culture, especially the use of the German language.
    I might note here with sadness the loss of a particular [Swiss]-German-American culture, namely that of the ambrosial Liederkranz cheese, which went extinct in 1983 Nothing can replace the experience of a saltine cracker slathered with Liederkranz, am vollreif, and a slice of raw onion on top. Beer is much diminished without that complement.

  3. Technically, it's das Vaterland, Land being neuter and the compound noun taking the gender of the last componenet. Not that there's a correlation between studying German and pedantry or anything.

  4. Following up Michael's comment above, if I recall correctly the Democratic Party was pretty much destroyed in Wisconsin because of anti-war sentiment among ethnic Germans during WWI (they blamed US entry on the side of the Allies on Wilson and the Democrats).

  5. One argument I have heard from Voting Rights Act opponents that seems superficially reasonable is that the states targeted by the act are selected on the basis of the situation 40 years ago. It doesn't make sense to assume that the problem regions for voting are the exactly same today as they were then. Some say the act should either be extended to cover all states or allowed to expire. Does it still make sense to be targeting those particular states and no others?

  6. The World Wars hurt it, but there is still a substantial community of people in the US for whom a German dialect is their first language. I have not, despite this fact, seen any pressure for rejoining Germany.

  7. Doug: Thanks for the correction. I've substituted "das" for "der."
    KC: As I understand it, there's a Constitutional bar to a national Voting Rights Act. Congress has no general power to supervise elections; the VRA was justified by Congressional findings that the Fifteenth Amendment was being violated in specific places.

  8. Thanks, Mark. But it still seems like it would make more sense to have a renewed Voting Rights Act apply to the places where there are violations of voting rights *now* (Ohio, for example), which aren't likely to be exactly the same places where there were violations 40 years ago.

  9. KCinDC,
    It seems not to be as bad as that. I've only done 5 minutes of research, but it looks as though the rules for which jurisdictions are covered were expanded in 1975, resulting in more northern counties being covered, and the procedures for a jurisdiction terminating coverage were altered in 1982.
    So, it's not totally static.

  10. The VRA isn't only operative in the South, but also in Alaska, which had a history of mistreating Native voters.
    The Alaska Division of Elections provides language assistance in precincts where there are enough non-English speakers — like Native villages. I shouldn't have to point out that speakers of Inupiaq, Yupik, or Alutiiq are not "immigrants."

  11. Mark, what about ID/proof of residency? Do you object to that being required at the polls?
    Wanting everyone to speak English is not a bad thing, and I say this as an American who was not born here. Multiracial our nation is, and always should be, but multiculturalism is not something we can survive, in my opinion.
    What is unfortunate is that those of us who believe in national pride are lumped together with those who are trying to preserve a white nation.

  12. Without finding any cites, the VRA was expanded to cover Texas almost as soon as LBJ left office certain boroughs of NYC, and certain municipalities in California around the same time. Both were brought under the amended coverage formula in part to improve turnout among monolingual Spanish speakers.

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