The black voters of Memphis reject Jew-baiting, race-baiting, and gay-baiting

A Jewish Congressman clobbers a black challenger (running on “he’s not one of us”) in a majority-black district.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, from his new platform at the Atlantic, reports that the VRWC was confident that Nikki Tinker’s race-baiting and/or Jew-baiting (along with a dash of gay-baiting and a tablespoon of school prayer) would win her votes in a majority-black Congressional District in Memphis represented by a first-term Congressman named Cohen. The Fox News types were pre-emptively trumpeting the notion that black voters as a class are intensely racist and anti-Semitic and that Tinker was going to win.

That Tinker might win wasn’t obviously a loony thing to think; she had gotten close to Cohen two years ago, so she wasn’t a complete joke candidate, and she had backing from EMILY’s List (hastily retracted at the end) and at least two members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

However, in reality Cohen wiped up the floor with Tinker, 79-19. That means she got clobbered even among black voters, and drew fewer votes this year than she had two years ago in a much bigger field. If that’s not a solid rejection of racial and religious bigotry, I don’t know what it is.

There’s no way to measure how much of the credit goes to Barack Obama, who denounced the disgusting ad Tinker ran in the last few days, how much to Cohen, how much to Tinker’s basic creepiness (in real life she’s a union-busting lawyer for an airline) and how much to the decency and good sense of black Memphians, but none of the others could have mattered at all without the last.

Here’s a little thought experiment. Move the race to a 95% white (Christian) suburb. Paint Tinker white, running against a Jew who voted against school prayer and for including gays in hate-crimes protection. Don’t you think the white Tinker in a white district could have scored more than 19% of the vote?

Of course there’s black racism around. (Coates points out that the CBC has some racist tendencies, and displayed them by rejecting Cohen as a member. That’s disappointing but, as Coates says, not surprising, if you remember that black people are human beings.) But the attempt of the VRWC to project bigotry on to black America just took a huge hit, or would have if the wingnuts cared about real phenomena as opposed to their fantasies.

I recall some right-wing bloggers demanding that Obama intervene in this campaign several months ago, though I can’t find those posts. If anyone sees any right-wing mention of the fact that Obama did intervene, and that his intervention was either successful or unnecessary or both, I’d love to hear about it.

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: