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Is disenfranchisement really that bad if African-Americans can still make it to the polls?


The New York Times has questions.

At issue, at a time when minorities are becoming an increasingly powerful slice of the electorate, is how much rules like Alabama’s voter ID law serve as a brake on that happening. The turnout by black voters in Alabama raises a question: Did it come about because voting restrictions were not as powerful as critics claim or because voters showed up in spite of them?

It will come as a surprise to few that the brains that gave birth to the question If African-Americans overcame an assault on their rights that one time, does that mean concerns about racism are overblown? spent several hundred words not finding a definitive answer to their unanswerable question and a half.

Journalists understand that it is not a good idea to ask a question and then turn to the reader with a shrug a dozen paragraphs later and wander off. It’s frustrating and subscribers will let their subscriptions lapse if it happens enough. However, that only applies when the writer is posing a question that the writer believes needs to be answered. Here, the writers Just Ask Questions, an activity that involves asking the wrong question in order to raise more questions. An answer is the last thing they want.

No one the reporters interviewed could say Yes, voters certainly came out despite the state’s attempt to stop them from voting. Or, The laws designed to disenfranchise black voters are/not as bad as we thought. However, all the way at the end of the article, the reporters did include this quote, which is the only appropriate answer to the 1.5 questions – that doesn’t involve swearing:

“I do think that very committed, focused people will find a way” to cast ballots, said Ms. Brown, the co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund. ”But is that fair? If you put a rock on my foot and I beat you in the race, that still doesn’t make it O.K. that you put a rock on my foot.”

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