In today’s installment of vile personal attacks and strawman arguments by MSNBC. All In host Chris Hayes compared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to segregationist Strom Thurmond because McConnell stated the obvious that it's already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race.
The ludicrous comparison came during the first segment of Chris Hayes’ show in which he detailed how segregationists in the 1950s and 1960s opposed the Civil Rights Act because the 15th Amendment already made it illegal to deny the right to vote to Americans because of their race.
Hayes then played a clip of McConnell voicing his opposition to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, and then said this:
“For Mitch McConnell to come out yesterday and say well you see, it's already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race for voting and not be the source of just universal ridicule and condemnation, speaks to just how absent the historical context of race and democracy is in all of our discussions today. McConnell says it's already against the law to discriminate from voting on the basis of race. So he thinks a law policing that right is unnecessary. You can imagine a version of Mitch McConnell in, I don't know, 1920 Kentucky saying literally the exact same statement. Oh, why do we need a law to enforce voting rights? It's already illegal. Or say avowed segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond in the middle of filibustering the 1957 Civil Rights Act saying, quote, “there are mainly three reasons why I feel the bill should not be passed. The first is that it is unnecessary. Every state has enacted some legislation making it unlawful to intimidate a voter or hinder him in the exercising of his voting rights. Penalties have been provided for such violations.”
Despite what Chris Hayes wants to believe, Section 4 of the Civil Rights Act is unnecessary today. America has come a long way since the 1960s in terms of race.
As the Supreme Court noted in their opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts (who is no friend to Conservatives):
“Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. Largely because of the Voting Rights Act, ‘voter turnout and registration rates’ in covered jurisdictions ‘now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels’.”
In other words, this section of the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed. That is a good thing. Chris Hayes should be happy that our country has moved away from that dark period of racism and discrimination in our history.
But it's obvious that he’s not happy because the Democrat Party needs racial tensions to continue pushing their radical agenda of "Critical Race Theory" and the 1619 Project.
They can never admit we live in the greatest country in the world. That would undermine their agenda.
This racially divisive segment was brought to you by Volvo. Let them know how you feel about them sponsoring this content by visiting our Conservatives Fight Back Page here.
MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes
8:01 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS HAYES: For the last 24 hours I have been thinking about something that Senator-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday. You may have seen he came out to announce that he is not just against the ambitious voting rights bill known as the For The People Act, but also the much more limited John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would simply reestablish provisions of the Voting Rights Act, that were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) (AUDIO CLIP): There’s no threat to the voting rights law. It's against the law to discriminate in voting on the basis of race.. already. And so I think it's unnecessary.
HAYES: Unnecessary. Already against the law to discriminate on the basis of race. Now, there's a bunch of stuff to unpack here. First, back in 2006 Mitch McConnell not only voted for reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, but as Majority Whip he was responsible for getting his Republican colleagues to vote for it too, even took to the senate floor to give a speech about it.
MCCONNELL (AUDIO CLIP): We have of course renewed the Voting Rights Act periodically, since that time overwhelmingly, and on a bipartisan basis year after year after year because members of congress realize this is a piece of legislation that has worked and one of my favorite sayings that many of us use from time to time is if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and this is a good piece of legislation that has served an important purpose over many, many years. This landmark piece of legislation will continue to make a difference not only in the south but for all of America and for all of us, whether we're African-Americans or not.
HAYES: 15 years ago, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So you got to wonder when Mitch McConnell thinks it broke? For Mitch McConnell to come out yesterday and say well you see, it's already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race for voting and not be the source of just universal ridicule and condemnation, speaks to just how absent the historical context of race and democracy is in all of our discussions today. McConnell says it's already against the law to discriminate from voting on the basis of race. And so he thinks a law policing that right is unnecessary. Now, there is a very obvious problem here. Those who studied the history of voting rights in America and the thwarted efforts to achieve a multi-racial democracy in this country know. It has been against the law to discriminate on the basis of race in voting since 1870, when the 15th Amendment was ratified saying, quote, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” It says it right there in black and white in the U.S. Constitution. It says you cannot racially discriminate in voting. And so you can imagine a version of Mitch McConnell in, I don't know, 1920 Kentucky saying literally the exact same statement. Oh, why do we need a law to enforce voting rights? It's already illegal. Or say, avowed segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond in the middle of filibustering the 1957 Civil Rights Act saying, quote, “there are mainly three reasons why I feel the bill should not be passed. The first is that it is unnecessary. Every state has enacted some legislation making it unlawful to intimidate a voter or hinder him in the exercising of his voting rights. Penalties have been provided for such violations.” We don’t need new laws to protect the right to vote. Certainly not to protect against discrimination on race. Those already exist. It's in the constitution. Those were the type of arguments segregationists made, Jim Crow authoritarians, decade after decade, after decade, after decade in this country. As they flogged multiracial democracy to death underneath the table as they gave those speeches. We are not discriminating. The law says we can't. Anyone can vote. This is how Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, notorious segregationist, the voice of the white south, put it to Mike Wallace.
MIKE WALLACE (AUDIO CLIP): Are you suggesting that your people down in the state of Mississippi encourage negros to register and vote?
JAMES EASTLAND (AUDIO CLIP): Well, we have no voting qualifications based on race.
WALLACE (AUDIO CLIP): Well under those circumstances...
EASTLAND (AUDIO CLIP): Not at all and anybody who's qualified can vote.
HAYES: Mississippi Senator 1957, we have no voting qualifications based on race. Of course. Why would we? It's in the constitution, we can't. The constitution ratified in 1870 when Mississippi was under federal occupation. They're all saying the same thing, Strom Thurmond, James Eastland and, well Mitch McConnell, 64 years later. And McConnell says he is, says this as he is threatening to filibuster the whole set of legislation meant to affirm the franchise, leading to a situation one critic described as “a senate that is a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting.” And so even though it has been the law since 1870, as Mitch McConnell says, that did not matter to the vast swaths of millions of ostensibly free black Americans who watched their right to vote, the right to participate in self govern enshrined in the US Constitution at the cost of that blood of hundreds of thousands. They watched that destroyed, eroded and gutted by all kinds of means, extralegal terrorism in the form of the KKK, and lynch mobs and armed coups that literally took governments away from them which were multiracial in nature. That happened in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1998. White people just storming the town hall, taking it over, in which I imagine you probably have not heard a lot about, because it's not really taught in schools. In fact, armed coups taking power away from legitimately elected multi-racial governments happened all over the south. Then of course there were the Jim Crow laws which very studiously explicitly avoided mentioning race. Because again, the 15th Amendment said you cannot. And that's why we had these faux race neutral restrictions, things like literacy tests and grandfather clause, and name how many jelly beans are in the jar, laws that made it almost impossible functionally for black people to vote despite the right being enshrined in the 15th Amendment. That is the whole story, the whole struggle for making real the promise of multi-racial democracy and universal enfranchisement of all adults. So to come out in 2021 and say, well, the law prescribes it, just shows you know nothing about the history or you (sic) wildly cynical or both. You cannot understand the efforts of voter suppression. You can't understand what you're seeing today unless you understand the history, because it was precisely methods of ostensibly race neutral voter suppression, for instance changing the hours the registrar was open or making them open only once a month, those were the methods used to enforce the successful violent reactionary movement in this country that took what was a nascent multi-racial democracy in the years of reconstruction and turned it back into apartheid state. I have come to believe that story, the story of that fact, that in the wake of the Civil War we began to put in place the foundations of multi-racial democracy, and it was destroyed by a successful effort of white supremacy is the most important story about America and the least told. When it is not told, it is in the absence of its telling that someone like Mitch McConnell or Republican legislators in Georgia or Texas or Florida can attempt to get away with their nothing to see here attempt to suppress the vote targeting black and brown people specifically so they can win elections as has been the case for over a century. And of course we see these methods all the way up to the federal government, the same goes for the filibuster. Central tool that McConnell is employing at the federal level to block things like the For The People Act, or now he opposes the Voting Rights Act, right? It may sound just like a weird vessage of history. Oh there’s a 50 vote threshold, that’s weird. The history of the filibuster is also inextricably bound up with the history of race and southern obstruction of black enfranchisement. The person who first figured out what would become the modern filibuster, as Adam Jentleson writes in his great book on the subject, was John Calhoun. John Calhoun, the intellectual father of the confederacy, the man who once famously said slavery was not a necessary evil, but, quote, “a positive good”. And yes, the filibuster was used for lots of different things, lots of places, but one of its core central uses was by southern white senators to block anti-lynching bills in the 20s and 30s and bills targeting employment and housing discrimination in the 40s and 50s, and to block civil rights bill, after civil rights bill, after civil rights bill. Earlier I read a quote condemning the use of the filibuster to block voting rights. You know who said that? Martin Luther King, Jr. Here he is decrying the filibuster as essentially a tool of white supremacy in 1963.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR (AUDIO CLIP): The tragedy is that we have a congress with a senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting. They won't let the majority of senators vote. And suddenly they wouldn't want the majority of people to vote because they know they do not represent the majority of the American people.
HAYES: Wild to hear that right? That statement is just as true now as it was 58 years ago. Everything old is new again.