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The Roberts Court Would Like to Add a Film to Its VRA Decision

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It seems the Roberts Court also made a film expressing its views on American race relations and the proper order between the races. You can watch it below.

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  • Immanuel Kant

    No hyperbole here!

    What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? Can’t we be horrified by the Supreme Court’s decision without comparing it to an odious glorification of the Ku Klux Klan?

    • Djur

      Catharsis?

      • Woodrowfan

        Indeed. Anger, or ANGER! is very much an appropriate reaction.

    • The real outrage here is to be too upset over the effective repeal of the Voting Rights Act. Moderate conversation, that’s the ticket today.

      • Immanuel Kant

        What good does this kind of hyperbole accomplish?

        • Dude, people should be in the streets in massive demonstrations about this. So knock it off with your concern trolling.

          • Immanuel Kant

            Fine, why not just go all the way and compare the decision to the Holocaust, then?

            • What does the Holocaust have to do with the history of white suppression of black rights?

              • Immanuel Kant

                The point I was making was a) that I think the comparison you are making is a bad, hyperbolic one; and b) that I think making bad, hyperbolic comparisons is counterproductive to whatever argument one is trying to make.

                I guess we agree on “b”, then, but not on “a”?

                I’d be interested to hear the argument for why your comparison is appropriate, but your earlier arguments were just attacking me for criticizing you.

                • My argument is that the Roberts Court consists of 4 racists and Thomas, whatever is up with that guy, all of whom are driving this country back to the Gilded Age.

                • Bill Murray

                  You have to establish why Erik’s argument is bad and why it is hyperbolic. Your asserting so in no way establishes this, nor does asserting a completely connected bad, hyperbolic argument.

                • Immanuel Kant

                  I’d think it’s up to Erik to establish why his argument is appropriate and useful.

                • Well, given that you are pretty much the only person who has a problem with it, I think it’s fairly self-evident.

                • RedSquareBear

                  Immanuel isn’t the only one, Erik. He may, however, be the only one who doesn’t just say “oh look, Erik is making as ass of himself again” and click to a post by another, better blogger on-site.

                • If you feel that way, you go right ahead. I certainly don’t care. I do this for me, not you.

                • EH

                  Hyperbole is not a fallacy though, just a rhetorical technique. As such, its existence in a statement does not automatically render the comparison inapt (if florid).

      • Tyto

        Exactly. And, in conclusion, liberals are the real racists.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Well, Griffith’s film does blame New Englanders for poisoning the presumably previously all-white colonial North America by introducing Africans to these shores.

      • Joe

        “Moderate” means strongly criticizing the justices’ act of seriously wrong judicial activism without comparing them to those who think the antebellum South was the good old days. Check.

        • So you are confident that the 5 justices don’t think the antebellum South was the good old days? Why?

          • sparks

            Four of them, anyway. The other one might not think so since there was no ladder to pull up then.

          • Immanuel Kant

            I doubt Thomas, at least, is actually nostalgic for slavery. More broadly, the racism of the northern urban Catholic white ethnic (which is more or less what all the other Republican justices are) doesn’t have much to do with the old school southern racism (and KKK glorification!) of Birth of a Nation. And, as TT says below, I don’t really think that Roberts (or Kennedy for that matter) is actually motivated by racial animus, so much as by a distinct lack of caring about the right to vote and a hope to help elect more Republicans.

            At any rate, I think it’s possible to view this as a deeply lamentable decision that will have really bad consequences for the right to vote in this country without saying that the justices who brought it about want to return us to the darkest days of Jim Crow. I don’t really think that even Scalia and Alito actively want that. They just don’t really care.

            • John

              You seem to think that an active indifference to the inevitable racial discrimination that this decision will enable is somehow less detestable than open racism. If I drive my car through a crowd of people because I am in a hurry to get somewhere, rather than because I want to run those people down, does that make me any less responsible for their deaths? In their rush to enable the worst impulses of the Republican Party, the five conservative members of the Court have essentially paved the way for the reestablishment of Jim Crow.

              • Immanuel Kant

                No, I think that it’s inappropriate to compare an active indifference to inevitable racial discrimination to the kind of virulent, open racism found in Birth of a Nation.

                • efgoldman

                  If it quacks like a duck…

                • Immanuel Kant

                  The kind of racism shown by the Supreme Court today can be really bad without being exactly like another kind of racism that was really bad.

                • zombie rotten mcdonald

                  “active indifference” is kind of a cute construct….

              • UserGoogol

                It’s not that the person isn’t responsible, (although personal responsibility is overrated in my opinion) but that cavalier disregard for human life and willful malice are two different things and you should address them differently. If people run people over because they’re in a hurry, you can address that problem with certain tools that wouldn’t really apply to malicious murderers. (For instance, building some sort of grassy bush around a park wouldn’t deter someone coming there to murder people, but it would prevent people from trying to drive through it at full speed.) Similarly, if you’re trying to criticize a person’s poor judgements, you should attack the arguments they made.

                That said I really don’t have much of a problem with this post. It’s a snarky one-off comment. If Erik made a long post explaining how he thought that the conservative wing of the court consisted of white supremacists, I’d complain that he was being inaccurate. But if he wants to make a quick post which acknowledges the story by taking a cheap shot at the Republican judges, then he’s entirely entitled to have that sort of emotional reaction to a bullshit decision like this.

            • Jay B.

              Well, since the intent wasn’t racist, only the inevitable results, it’s cool.

              And Thomas clearly has contempt for his fellow African-Americans. I’m sure he’d have no problem with slavery, so long as he wasn’t a slave.

              • Immanuel Kant

                I’m not saying it’s cool. I’m saying that posting a link to Birth of a Nation doesn’t do anyone any good.

                • Jay B.

                  There are some parallels, of course. The VRA was part of a second Reconstruction, one meant to stick this time, in the face of ossified white Southern ‘heritage’ types. It’s been gutted by the courts, not unlike the first Reconstruction, which was also undercut by the political establishment and terrorists. There is no “Klan” this time around, per se, but there are still unrepentant racists who will disenfranchise blacks and Latinos in the South to prevent them from voting — a right which made them ‘equal’ in the first place. It’s a shameful ruling from yet another corrupt/inept institution which has done nothing but degrade our country and embrace regression.

                  Birth of a Nation was, of course, a propaganda film to begin with and accurately represented the racism of its time. This ruling, I would argue, has the same intellectual heft as the film (without its technical aplomb) and also represents the racism of ours — in particular in the South, where the racist white GOP structure will now strengthen its grip over a minority population.

                  I think, largely, it won’t stop the rest of the country from moving forward on race. But I think the South will move backwards. Again.

              • Rhino

                ‘Uncle Thomas’, indeed.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks

              I think it’s possible to view this as a deeply lamentable decision that will have really bad consequences for the right to vote in this country without saying that the justices who brought it about want to return us to the darkest days of Jim Crow.

              Yes, that’s possible. But I’m not at all convinced that it’s correct. Please go ahead and make the case.

    • rea

      It is not in the least hyperbole.

    • Not sure. If I really thought it were that bad, I wouldn’t be blogging about it from my comfy chair.

    • Jay B.

      No. The only difference is the color of the robes.

    • DrDick

      Concern troll is more concerned about the lack of civility here than the overt destruction of constitutional protections of the right to vote. Duly noted. Also FYVM.

      • Immanuel Kant

        I didn’t say anything about civility. I think it’s a stupid comparison. I also don’t think it’s particularly productive – it’s preaching to the choir rather than making an argument that is convincing to anybody who isn’t already convinced.

        • Immanuel Kant

          I’ll add that I don’t give a fuck about civility, that this is a terrible situation, that Roberts, et al, clearly don’t give a fuck about racism and would be perfectly happy with numerous laws that would clearly violate the spirit of the 15th amendment, and that we should do everything possible to rectify that situation.

          I just think this particular post is stupid. Are we never allowed to disagree with someone who is generally on “our side” and think they’re making a bad argument?

          • I’m just glad that my post and not the Voting Rights Act decision itself is what has you so outraged today. Priorities and such.

            • Immanuel Kant

              Can’t I be outraged about both?

              • Sure!

                But…why? I mean, why be outraged at Erik’s post?

                It obviously won’t convince anyone who had any sort of liking for the decision and nothing is needed to convince the rest of us. But…it’s not an argument. It’s an expression of outrage. It might not be your preferred cup of expression of outrage, but so?

                Given that you were concerned with what Erik’s post might accomplish, it seems reasonable to ask what you thought your comment would accomplish. Erik would say, “Heavens to betsy! You’re RIGHT!!! I’ll pull this post immediately!”

                Of course, you may just have felt moved to express your outrage at certain expressions of outrage, but I sincerely doubt that’s going to either look good or prove satisfying.

                • Immanuel Kant

                  I’m not really outraged. But I was annoyed by it, and I don’t see why I’m not allowed to be annoyed about stupid Loomis posts if I want to be. But you’re right that it’s almost certainly counterproductive.

                • Did anyone say you weren’t allowed to be annoyed about “stupid” Loomis posts if you want to be? I certainly didn’t. Knock yourself out.

                  I still don’t see that your comment is much different from Erik’s in doing anything substantive. I’m not sure why you were so bothered by the original post, but I think I found the analogy more apt (see below).

                • ruviana

                  And I saw the post, LOLed, and wanted to say “Erik, you little dickens!”

                • Immanuel Kant

                  There’s always the problem of the Internet, where very minor levels of annoyance or disagreement can lead to massive levels of argument and post facto bitterness. I don’t think I was “so bothered” by it, just a bit bothered and with enough spare time to follow up. Erik’s response to criticism, which generally involves doubling down without really engaging criticism, wasn’t of the sort that leads to de-escalation, and I suspect my own comments haven’t been any better on that front.

                  But really, it’s not a big deal. I think Erik made a dumb comparison, you think it’s a reasonable one. Whatever, it doesn’t really matter. It was a mistake to engage.

              • zombie rotten mcdonald

                Relax, Kant. He just posted a video. It’s not as if he called for anyone’s head on a pike.

            • DrDick

              Which would be exactly my point.

        • Jordan

          There are, in fact, quite a few number of posts making explicit arguments on this very site. There are, in fact, many more posts making explicit arguments on other web sites!

          This is not hard.

        • preaching to the choir
          No fucking shit? There is preaching to the choir on the iNternet? When did this start? about the time someone was wrong on the iNternet?

          Do you think loads of reactionaries are coming here to be argued w/, shown the error of their ways & converted to decency?

          Seriously, if you want an argument, I suspect there’s a pretty good one that has four justices’ names on it.

          • Joey Maloney

            That’s not an argument, that’s just (self) abuse.

  • SP

    Please- SCOTUS is much more of the thoughtful, Bell Curve racist school. Science demands that we don’t let those with inferior genes vote!

  • Joe

    I’m with the first comment. This is some sort of troll reaction.

    • rea

      With all respect, fuck that shit. The Supremes, in a partisan 5-4 vote, come down in favor of facilitating racial discrimination in voting. The enormity of that seems to have escaped you.

      • DrDick

        Agreed. This is very much a fuck civility situation.

      • witless chum

        No fucking doubt. This isn’t an abstract question of law. The Republicans are currently in the midst of an effort to make it harder for black people especially, but lots of people who they think might vote Democrat, to vote. The court just said “Go get ’em boys” by striking down one of the few things standing in their way. Hyperbolize away, the Republicans have gotten to “Democracy” in the series of “Wars on.”

      • And, as I think about it, it’s a pretty apt comparison. The RacistSupremes are trying to roll back Reconstruction and the Civil War amendments (as shown by their lack of citation thereof). This is pretty much what the KKK was trying to do, albeit by extrajudicial means. The Supremes aren’t exactly extrajudicial :), but there is a certain analogy in the sheer cynicism of their reasoning.

      • UserGoogol

        “Enormous” events are precisely thing that demands careful deliberative reasoning. When things this serious happen, we have to get down to the dry business of persuading people that they’re wrong.

        But again as I said above, I don’t really have much of a problem with this post as such. I think a quick one-liner post is a perfectly valid way to let off some steam on a bad news day.

        • Linnaeus

          When things this serious happen, we have to get down to the dry business of persuading people that they’re wrong.

          Sure, up to a point. There’s going to be a segment of folks who will not want to be persuaded no matter how much effort you spend giving them arguments and information with the purposed of changing their minds. At that point, you have to leave them behind and move on.

          And a little mockery can be cathartic, as you rightly note. It can also be part of a larger rhetorical effort to move people along (either by shaming opponents or by motivating supporters). It’s a tool that has to be employed carefully, though.

      • Joe

        Facilitating racial discrimination is not the same thing or even close to the same thing as actually wanting blacks to be inferior to whites. It is not dreaming of antebellum years of slavery and the fears of miscegnation in that movie would be of special interest to Thomas, huh?

        And, what is this bit about civility? As if I’m concerned about him being mean. Really. Yeah. And, I’m the one who have lost perspective here. I don’t think Kennedy et. al. are quite like the KKK. As to the thing overall, this isn’t some sort of one-off. Prof. Loomis has gone over to excess land repeatedly so much that some regs here were pissed off at him. It gets tiresome but perhaps he needs to let off his id somewhere.

        • I’m so sad to not be VERY SERIOUS for the commenters who see themselves this way.

          • Joe

            I’m sorry, is that you Glenn Greenwald? Just kidding.

            Don’t worry. You can just be “very serious.”

            • No, if I were Greenwald the comment would have been 2000 words.

        • Facilitating racial discrimination is not the same thing or even close to the same thing as actually wanting blacks to be inferior to whites.

          How is it not?

          Blacks vote Democratic. They want Democratic voters to not have the vote. They are willing to disenfranchise blacks to achieve this end. Their party is (essentially) white.

          They literally want blacks to be inferior to whites, at least in voter rights.

          The main difference with old school racists is that if blacks, en masse, would start voting Republican, then they wouldn’t necessarily want to restrict their voting rights. But so fucking what?

  • pete

    To the genteel: You’d rather have a head on a pike?

    • zombie rotten mcdonald

      nah, you get in trouble here for that. Put the whole dude into the woodchipper.

      • pete

        But then NO ONE can snack on the brains …

        • zombie rotten mcdonald

          Frankly, I am not hungry enough to eat those branes…

          • pete

            Not a lot of substance there, either

          • Jordan

            Wait, you avoid the evil people branes??! I thought you were one of the good zombies :(

            • zombie rotten mcdonald

              not to hear N__B or bunny ears tell it.

              • Jordan

                Well shit. And so vanish my plans to have a “one of my best friends is a zombie!” facesaver when my zombie extermination activities become known.

    • DrDick

      Actually, I would rather have five of them.

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        Five woodchippers WOULD increase the throughput significantly.

  • TT

    I don’t believe John Roberts is motivated by racial animus. I do think that he shows a distinct lack of empathy particular to privileged conservative white men, whether the issues are voting rights and affirmative action, or the rights of corporations.

    • zombie rotten mcdonald

      Your belief is belied by his actions.

      I would agree if you had said that his prime motivation is to benefit corporations.

    • El Guapo

      Bugger that. The most charitable thing you could say is that he’s all for disenfranchising certain groups of people the vast majority of which vote against his benefactors to ensure that his side wins. I don’t buy the lack of empathy crap, which suggests a passivity that doesn’t seem to be there.

      • sparks

        Lack of empathy does not imply passivity. Not even close.

    • LeftWingFox

      “I don’t hate black people, I just don’t gIve a shit when other people do.”

      • ruviana

        This. Exactly, precisely this.

    • Jay B.

      Who gives a fuck what his “motive” was? The result is clearly designed to allow disenfranchisement of minorities.

      • John

        To be fair, if those minorities would just stop voting for Democrats, I’m quite sure he would be happy to protect their right to vote.

      • UserGoogol

        In order to prevent bad things from happening we need to understand the causes of those bad things. Just saying Justice Roberts is an asshole doesn’t really give us enough information to work with: we need a deeper understanding of the sort of beliefs and motives which lead him to this inaccurate conclusion. Only by understanding the errors he’s making can we prevent people from repeating those errors.

        • Jay B.

          He’s a privileged white man who is also the Chief Justice of the court. He’s a Southerner by birth. He hasn’t and won’t have the problem of voting. He’s an avowed corporate supporter. He is a modern conservative. There are legions like him serving in the House, the Senate and in Southern legislatures around the region. He clearly didn’t follow the Constitution to produce a bullshit ad hoc rationalization about his predetermined opinion that the VCR was a burden on states. Why he felt that, and felt that it needed to be gutted — to literally no one’s surprise — is because that is the sum of who he is. Asshole? Racist? Insulated elite? Conservative? Does it really matter? He did what everyone predicted and, predictably, it’s a shoddy rationale in service to disenfranchisement.

    • I think we have to draw a stronger conclusion.

      There is no way that the Republicans on the Supremes are unaware of 1) the huge voter surpression movement waged by the GOP for decades now but reaching some amazing depths recently, 2) the encouragement and material support this decision gives to those efforts, 3) the text of the 15th amendment, and 4) the history of the struggle to secure the vote and the significance of the franchise to the black community.

      Given this, I don’t see how it’s a mere lack of empathy.

  • So let’s say you can’t hit the barricades but you would like to help and sitting on your ass saying Grrrrr! at your monitor doesn’t quite seem … adequate:

    These folks some ideas for things you can do to help:

    http://www.naacp.org/

  • zombie rotten mcdonald

    if they’re gonna add a film, they should also append William FuhBuckley’s classic article highlighted by digby today . In which he argues that white majorities squelching of black rights is FOR THEIR OWN GOOD, and justified because whites are more evolved.

    • Immanuel Kant

      In an attempt to demonstrate that I am not a concern troll, I’ll say that I think this comparison is perfectly appropriate. Roberts and the conservative majority are pretty clearly the intellectual descendants of Buckley’s school of genteel opposition to civil rights.

      • zombie rotten mcdonald

        you’re not going to get any points around here for agreeing with zombies.

        • What? Do they vote Democratic too?

          Or is that only in Chicago?

  • Paula

    Well, yes, hyperbole, BUT.

    The VRA is more than legislation — it’s the result of a movement and legacy fought for by many people who endured a lot and are still living to see it thrown back in their face.

    If you are a student of American history, the Civil Rights era is a bit of a crucible for the United States, and the VRA is one of its symbols/markers/etc.

  • CJColucci

    This comparison is grossly unfair. Whatever one might think about the message of Birth of a Nation, it was a technically brilliant movie. Roberts’s decision was a technical embarassment.

  • Crikey, that thing’s three bleedin’ hrs.?

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