The Crisis Pulls No Punches


Not sure how I feel about the cover of the most recent issue of The Crisis, but it sure does grab your attention. 

Justice Scalia on the Voting Rights Act

And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same….I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes…

I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless—unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution… [T]his is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress….Even the name of it is wonderful: The Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?

The Crisis’ Editor-in-Chief, Jabari Asim justified the choice of cover with the following:

[W]e thought his comments were hard-hitting and deserved that kind of response. I think that voting rights is one of those principles that the Crisis, African-Americans, and the NAACP all hold sacred. The memory of people who died for our right to vote remains fresh in many of our consciences and I think in that instance when you dare to be that irreverent and that disrespectful of the lessons of history that’s the kind of response you earn.

Feel free to weigh in.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

17 comments… add one
  • Pat Young Apr 29, 2013 @ 10:14

    Because the term “The White Ethnic Narrative” is inaccurate and the term is used in the passage you cited.

    There are multiple narratives and to posit one as hegemonic is incorrect, particularly when its name implies a false identity with particular ethnicities.

  • London John Apr 29, 2013 @ 9:12

    If Professor Vargas had got Justice Scalia’s number 15 years ago, what difference does it make to the present question how widely applicable (or not) her characterisation of Scalia is?

  • Pat Young Apr 26, 2013 @ 19:34

    For a better look at a genuine use of the “white ethnic immigrant narrative, you would do better to focus on Justice Frank Murphy, the son of Irish immigrants, who drew on his parents experiences to dissent in the Japanese Internment case during World War II, issue and opinion valuing diversity in the Schneiderman case, and otherwise supporting the downtrodden during the 1940s. His wiki entry is accurate when it says: “Murphy’s support of African-Americans, aliens, criminals, dissenters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Native Americans, women, workers and other “outsiders” evoked a pun: “tempering justice with Murphy.” As he wrote in Falbo v. United States (1944), “The law knows no finer hour than when it cuts through formal concepts and transitory emotions to protect unpopular citizens against discrimination and persecution.”” Why assign the term Immigrant Narrative to narrow-minded Scalia instead of to the expansive Murphy or to someone like Mario Cuomo for a more modern example?

  • London John Apr 26, 2013 @ 1:08

    I gather Justice Scalia has some previous. This is from an article on “The White Ethnic Narrative” by Sylvia R Lazos Vargas in 1998:
    “Justice Scalia’s affirmative action narrative in his Croson concurrence illustrates how the White ethnic immigrant narrative dismisses African-Americans’ experience and supports Whites’ highly attenuated relationship to race and racism. Prior to becoming a member of the Supreme Court, Scalia, in a law review symposium, attacked the remedial rationale of affirmative action programs by citing the story of his immigrant father. He related that his father probably “had [n]ever seen a [B]lack man.” With this rhetorical distancing, his father, the White Italian immigrant, cannot help but be seen as innocent from past acts of racism. By the logic of “I am not responsible for [White Southerners’] past acts,” race and racism become distanced from the present circumstances of the descendant of the White ethnic immigrant. Thus, to connect past acts of racism to present acts violates the principle of individualism. For full symmetry, past discrimination becomes the individual’s act; as Justice Scalia stated in his Croson concurrence, “[t]he relevant proposition is not that it was [B]lacks, or Jews, or Irish who were discriminated against, but that it was individual men and women.” Scalia rhetorically paints remedial efforts that attempt to connect past discrimination to the present as a kind of racism that is as violent and dehumanizing. He quoted Professor Bickel, saying that “‘a racial quota derogates the human dignity and individuality . . . [it] is a divider of society, a creator of castes.”‘ Finally, Scalia rhetorically equated the “racism” of the Croson minority contractor set-aside program with the “Bull Connor” racism of Ku Klux Klan cross-burnings. “When we depart from this American principle [of racial neutrality] we play with fire, and much more than an occasional . . . Croson burns.”

    Scalia’s Croson opinion is patently a White ethnic immigrant narrative or race. For the African-American reader, Scalia’s rhetorical race- based burnings recall a very different experience and a very different suffering from the suffering of the White contractor who loses a contract bid. For African-Americans, affirmative action programs are not Bull Connor racist acts, but rather represent a positive intervention that counterbalances both individual discrimination based on stereotypes and structural inequality. The sole source of support for Scalia’s turning a set-aside contract program into Bull Conner racism is White racial ideology of individualism and racial distancing as embodied in the White ethnic immigrant narrative. Scalia’s arguments gain persuasive force because they are anchored in the shared ideological values of the White ethnic narrative.”

    • Patrick Young Apr 26, 2013 @ 18:24

      This reference to “white ethnic immigrant narrative” seems grounded in bigotry. As pathetically bigoted as Scalia own ignorant flapdoodle.

  • Pat Young Apr 25, 2013 @ 19:56

    I just note that the Voting Rights Act preclearance requirements are not directed at “The South”, but rather at jurisdictions with records of violations of voting rights. Included among these are the New York counties of the Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), New York (Manhattan), hardly in the South.

  • Dudley Bokoski Apr 25, 2013 @ 17:15

    Hopefully the argument in the article makes a more thoughtful case than the image on the cover. But who can argue in a politically polarized society that tactics such as this are not effective in foreclosing debate? Ironically, that is Scalia’s point. If not a single vote would be cast against extension it must mean either the case for it is uniquely ironclad or the fear of being subjected to (double irony) this sort of characterization is very strong among politicians.

    I have no problem with keeping the law, but there should be a recognition of changes in demographics and migration between regions If the law is necessary and serves a worthwhile purpose in the southern states why not extend it’s protections to the rest of the country? If not, it makes a case the real purpose of maintaining the law (again to Scalia’s point) is more to the interest of politics than justice.

  • Brendan Bossard Apr 25, 2013 @ 11:41

    After further research, I believe that W. E. B. Dubois is turning in his grave. As the first Editor-In-Chief of “The Crisis,” he wrote, “Finally, its editorial page will stand for the rights of men, irrespective of color or race, for the highest ideals of American democracy, and for reasonable but earnest and persistent attempt to gain these rights and realize these ideals. The magazine
    will be the organ of no clique or party and will avoid personal rancor of all sorts. In the absence of proof to the contrary it will assume honesty of purpose on the part of all men, North and South, white and black.” (The Crisis, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 10, found at

    It seems to me that Asim is not living up to the ideal set forth by his forerunner.

  • Rob Baker Apr 25, 2013 @ 7:15

    More of the same.

  • Brendan Bossard Apr 25, 2013 @ 7:08

    I’m siding with those who think the cover and comments by Jabari Asim are over the top. Calling someone racist does nothing to advance understanding, especially when what that person said is absolutely true on the face of it.

    Asim has forgotten the Golden Rule. When he can prove that Scalia is just another Taney using facts and logic instead of accusations and innuendo, then I will listen to him.

  • Bryan Cheeseboro Apr 25, 2013 @ 1:57

    I feel like when people say things like Justice Scalia said (and Rand Paul said similar things about the Civil Rights Act), they are forgetting what America was like when well-entrenched laws did anything and everything to keep Black people from equality. So if a Civil Rights Acts are necessary, so be it.

  • Brooks D. Simpson Apr 24, 2013 @ 14:12

    Where are the Virginia Flaggers on this issue?

    • Kevin Levin Apr 24, 2013 @ 14:13

      I expect a post on one of their sites within the hour. 🙂

      • Brooks D. Simpson Apr 24, 2013 @ 14:26

        Thanks. I thought Tripp Lewis might embrace the fashion statement on the cover. It would make a good image for a self-published e-book.

        • Kevin Levin Apr 24, 2013 @ 14:27

          Only if it is nylon.

  • Victor Apr 24, 2013 @ 13:45

    Not sure where I stand on this issue yet, but it’s not simple racists vs. everybody else. Scalia is right about the name. We wont be able to have an honest discussion about it. The act does target the south and we have to ask ourselves, is it fair or helpful? Has the problem it sought to rectify been solved yet? It’s more about modern political demographics than history at this point.

  • Norbert Nerdlinger Apr 24, 2013 @ 13:36

    I look forward to the day when Americans realize that you don’t automatically win an argument by calling your opponent a racist. It won’t happen anytime soon, I’m afraid.

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