Pricking the Left's Finger

Some conservative critics of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder striking down the 1965 Voting Rights Act's federal preclearance requirement seem to be missing an important point:

Upholding a constitutional principle is meaningless in a looking-glass world.

The first and most important step toward constitutional sanity must always be the recertification of everyday reality. That's what the 2013 voting rights decision demands. That's why it was decided by a 5-4 majority instead of the 7-1 majority in Fisher v. University of Texas, an exercise in moral cowardice the denizens of Looking-Glass Land were happy to join.

Conservatives should take comfort in the fact that Shelby County was met by wails of recrimination and vilification from the usual chorus of self-promoting race-baiters and political bottom feeders, conducted by the four White Queens of political correctness on the Court itself.

This passage from Through the Looking Glass perfectly captures the "logic" of the progressive grievance industry's fractured reality:

'...there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'

'Suppose he never commits the crime?' said Alice.

'That would be all the better, wouldn't it?' the Queen said, as she bound the plaster round her finger with a bit of ribbon.

Alice felt there was no denying that. 'Of course it would be all the better,' she said: 'but it wouldn't be all the better his being punished.

'You're wrong there, at any rate,' said the Queen. 'Were you ever punished?

'Only for faults,' said Alice.

'And you were all the better for it, I know!' the Queen said triumphantly.

'Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for,' said Alice: 'that makes all the difference.

'But if you hadn't done them,' the Queen said, 'that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!' Her voice went higher with each 'better', till it got quite to a squeak at last.

Alice was just beginning to say 'There's a mistake somewhere --,' when the Queen began screaming, so loud that she had to leave the sentence unfinished.'Oh, oh, oh!' shouted the Queen, shaking her hand about as if she wanted to shake it off. 'My finger's bleeding! Oh, oh, oh, oh!'

Her screams were so exactly like the whistle of a steam-engine, that Alice had to hold both her hands over her ears.

'What is the matter?' she said, as soon as there was a chance of making herself heard. 'Have you pricked your finger?'

'I haven't pricked it yet,' the Queen said, 'but I soon shall -- oh, oh, oh!'

Alice has no luck arguing with the White Queen for the same reason conservatives are at a loss in debates with progressives: her majesty gets to impose a reality that only she perceives. Her proofs are devoid of even the semblance of empirical evidence; words don't mean what they seem to mean, and her pricks are, as it were, her own. When they fail to convince she drowns out Alice with a shriek.

The Shelby County majority couldn't clap their hands over Ruth Bader Ginsburg's mouth, cure Barack Obama of demagoguery, shut down the presses at the New York Times, or ban Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton from the airwaves. But they could drag the progressives kicking and screaming out of their looking-glass world of the Jim Crow 60s into the real world circa 2013. And they did, by declaring that "history didn't end in 1965."

Happily, that goes for Congress as well as the usual gaggle of unelected leftist malcontents. Except that members of Congress have to run for reelection. In the real world. Some of them in red districts carried even by Romney. So it will be very interesting to see how many incumbents will be anxious to pick up the gauntlet and put their seats on the line to bring the preclearance formula up to date. Especially when the progressives' only argument is that whites are racists and Mississippi was a racist state in 1965. Pure looking-glass.

Today's Wall Street Journal editorial "Voting Rights Progress" suggests the list may not be long. Will Democrats, stripped of the cover provided by statistics that are 30 years out of date, be willing to turn on Massachusetts, "the state with the largest gap between white and black voter turnout" in the country? Or will they stand in solidarity with Eric Holder to shield the Bay State from retribution while savaging states like Mississippi where turnout among "his" people now exceeds turnout by whites? Perhaps conservatives should not be quite so worried, after all.

At the very least, they should give credit where credit is due by not dissing a decision that in its own way is both courageous and necessary. 

Some conservative critics of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder striking down the 1965 Voting Rights Act's federal preclearance requirement seem to be missing an important point:

Upholding a constitutional principle is meaningless in a looking-glass world.

The first and most important step toward constitutional sanity must always be the recertification of everyday reality. That's what the 2013 voting rights decision demands. That's why it was decided by a 5-4 majority instead of the 7-1 majority in Fisher v. University of Texas, an exercise in moral cowardice the denizens of Looking-Glass Land were happy to join.

Conservatives should take comfort in the fact that Shelby County was met by wails of recrimination and vilification from the usual chorus of self-promoting race-baiters and political bottom feeders, conducted by the four White Queens of political correctness on the Court itself.

This passage from Through the Looking Glass perfectly captures the "logic" of the progressive grievance industry's fractured reality:

'...there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'

'Suppose he never commits the crime?' said Alice.

'That would be all the better, wouldn't it?' the Queen said, as she bound the plaster round her finger with a bit of ribbon.

Alice felt there was no denying that. 'Of course it would be all the better,' she said: 'but it wouldn't be all the better his being punished.

'You're wrong there, at any rate,' said the Queen. 'Were you ever punished?

'Only for faults,' said Alice.

'And you were all the better for it, I know!' the Queen said triumphantly.

'Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for,' said Alice: 'that makes all the difference.

'But if you hadn't done them,' the Queen said, 'that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!' Her voice went higher with each 'better', till it got quite to a squeak at last.

Alice was just beginning to say 'There's a mistake somewhere --,' when the Queen began screaming, so loud that she had to leave the sentence unfinished.'Oh, oh, oh!' shouted the Queen, shaking her hand about as if she wanted to shake it off. 'My finger's bleeding! Oh, oh, oh, oh!'

Her screams were so exactly like the whistle of a steam-engine, that Alice had to hold both her hands over her ears.

'What is the matter?' she said, as soon as there was a chance of making herself heard. 'Have you pricked your finger?'

'I haven't pricked it yet,' the Queen said, 'but I soon shall -- oh, oh, oh!'

Alice has no luck arguing with the White Queen for the same reason conservatives are at a loss in debates with progressives: her majesty gets to impose a reality that only she perceives. Her proofs are devoid of even the semblance of empirical evidence; words don't mean what they seem to mean, and her pricks are, as it were, her own. When they fail to convince she drowns out Alice with a shriek.

The Shelby County majority couldn't clap their hands over Ruth Bader Ginsburg's mouth, cure Barack Obama of demagoguery, shut down the presses at the New York Times, or ban Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton from the airwaves. But they could drag the progressives kicking and screaming out of their looking-glass world of the Jim Crow 60s into the real world circa 2013. And they did, by declaring that "history didn't end in 1965."

Happily, that goes for Congress as well as the usual gaggle of unelected leftist malcontents. Except that members of Congress have to run for reelection. In the real world. Some of them in red districts carried even by Romney. So it will be very interesting to see how many incumbents will be anxious to pick up the gauntlet and put their seats on the line to bring the preclearance formula up to date. Especially when the progressives' only argument is that whites are racists and Mississippi was a racist state in 1965. Pure looking-glass.

Today's Wall Street Journal editorial "Voting Rights Progress" suggests the list may not be long. Will Democrats, stripped of the cover provided by statistics that are 30 years out of date, be willing to turn on Massachusetts, "the state with the largest gap between white and black voter turnout" in the country? Or will they stand in solidarity with Eric Holder to shield the Bay State from retribution while savaging states like Mississippi where turnout among "his" people now exceeds turnout by whites? Perhaps conservatives should not be quite so worried, after all.

At the very least, they should give credit where credit is due by not dissing a decision that in its own way is both courageous and necessary. 

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