Victimhood Has Its Privileges

Graphic credit: Washington Times

To Obama Justice, only underdogs of history are worthy of equal protection

by James A. Bacon

The U.S. Justice Department is ever-vigilant against signs of “voter suppression” these days, most recently blocking – on the grounds that it would hurt blacks – a South Carolina law that would require voter identification. But the voting rights of some groups, it appears, are more worth protecting than others.

The territory of Guam, for instance, has called for a plebiscite on the territory’s relationship with the United States that could provide momentum for an independence movement. But the only people allowed to vote will be citizens who were native inhabitants in the year 1950 and their descendants. The provision limits the franchise to a group made up overwhelmingly of indigenous Chamorro people and excludes nearly all whites, Filipinos and other racial and ethnic groups who have moved to the island in the past six decades.

When presented with a complaint in 2009 by a white resident, retired Air ForceMaj. Arnold Davis, the Justice Department declined to intervene. In response late last year, the Center for Individual Rights (CIR) and former Justice Department Attorney J. Christian Adams filed suit in Guam federal district court to block enforcement of the voter restriction.

“The Obama administration shows hypersensitivity to race in South Carolina,” Terence J. Pell, president of the CIR, told me last week. But in Guam, where a racial agenda permeates the politics of the island and government action points to intentional race discrimination, he says, “the Obama administration can’t be bothered to look into it.”

I agree with Mr. Pell’s assessment, with one caveat. In Guam, the issue isn’t race – it’s ethnicity. Blacks living on Guam will lose their voting rights just as surely as whites, Asians and non-native Pacific Islanders. The common impulse behind Obama administration policy is its proclivity for favoring what it deems to be historically victimized minorities.

Guam was colonized by the Spanish in 1668 and then ceded to the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American war. Organized as a U.S. territory in 1950, the island was granted increasing rights of self-governance in succeeding years. Guamanians are U.S. citizens, and their island of 155,000 residents sends a nonvoting representative to Congress. The United States lavishes the island with hundreds of millions of dollars in transfer payments, but collects no taxes in return.

But Chamorros were never given the right to vote on the constitutional measures affecting them, and some still feel like victims of colonial oppression. One obsession is the continuing demand for reparations to compensate for the depredations committed by the Japanese during World War II. Apparently, some Chamorros resent the Americans for permitting the island to be conquered – never mind that it was the Americans who subsequently liberated it.

Chamorros nurse other grievances. They worry about the erosion of their cultural identity as the U.S. continues expanding its military presence on the island and outsiders swamp the natives. Leaders felt snubbed not long ago when a major congressional delegation stopped on Guam to refuel on the way to Asia without doing the courtesy of meeting with them, and again when President Obama did the same.

To borrow the anti-colonial rhetoric of the left, native Guamanians were despoiled by an imperialist United States and were powerless to stop their country from being overrun by outsiders who now outnumber them. Chamorros make up only 37 percent of the island’s population today. They are a minority, and they are victims. Therefore, the Obama Justice Department reflexively sides with them.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a measure that allowed only native Hawaiians to vote when electing trustees to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Reasoned the court: “Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.”

The Guamanian measure seeks to circumvent that ruling by making the voting restriction based on residency, not race or ethnicity. However, the measure clearly imposes what liberal legal theorists might term a “disparate impact.”

The Associated Press cites numbers showing that 30 percent of South Carolina’s registered voters are nonwhite, while 34 percent of voters lacking state-issued photo IDs are nonwhite. The Justice Department deemed that 4 percentage point difference jarring enough to warrant overturning the law.

The “disparate impact” of the Guamanian law would be immeasurably greater. Chamarros may make up 37 percent of the island’s population, but it is likely they would account for 95 percent or more of the electorate voting on the plebiscite.

Clearly, the Obama Justice Department applies the principle of proportionality only when it suits it. At some point, the rest of us have to say, “We’re sorry about what happened in the past, but get over it. We’re all American citizens now. We all have equal rights. End of story.”

This column is republished with a minor editing change from the Washington Times.

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6 responses to “Victimhood Has Its Privileges”

  1. are we talking about Guam local elections or Federal elections?

    Native Americans in the continental US have separate elections for their own internal governance and they do set arbitrary standards – like what percent blood are you as a Native American.

    But Native Americans voting in national elections cannot restrict voting because they are subject to the laws of the US.

    Is this what is going on in Guam?

    I’m not necessarily excusing it but I think if this is the case – that Jim should make that clear and acknowledge that Native Americans do the same in their own elections and as far as I know the Justice Dept – no matter who has been President has not intervened.

    Was the situation in Guam going on during Bush or Clinton’s term?

    there is no question in my mind what-so-ever that Republicans favor restrictions on voting… despite the fact that the rate of voter fraud is something like .000001% but NOW… voter fraud has suddenly become an issue. Why?

    It’s pretty clear – the Republicans fear the voting strength of the minorities that they openly DISS in their rhetoric from welfare moms to foodstamp users to hispanics to gays, etc.

    they already, in effect, disenfranchise these groups is law and legislation and now they seek to keep them from voting for the party that does treat them this way.

    If we want to require IDs then the law should be that the State MUST ISSUE ID’s to ALL citizens without requiring citizens to sign up.

    If you are a citizen – you get a state ID and the burden is on the state to ensure that all legal citizens get these IDs – no excuses.

    the state should have the burden of the IDs – not the voters.

  2. Why do Republicans fear voter fraud? One word… ACORN.

  3. Someone’s been drinking the kool-aid.

  4. I don’t see what is so hard or wrong about having identification to vote. As a citizen of Virginia, I am entitled to vote in federal and state elections, but only if I register, while proving who I am; and then only in the precinct where I am registered; and on the date and times that the polls are open. If I want to vote absentee, I have to go to a county office and fill out the forms. Voting is not an unlimited right, but one with many conditions attached thereto.
    We have to show photo ID for most anything. I was required to show photo ID to pick up my son and daughter when they went to day camp at a Fairfax County Rec Center. Several times over the last year, I had to show my driver’s license to check into a hotel. One must show photo ID to get on a plane. Etc.
    Where are the Democrats on this issue? Silent because they know that requiring people to show photo ID serves many public and private purposes.
    But voting is supposed to be different. It’s still about what the first Mayor Daley said, “Vote early and vote often.” Every living legal citizen who satisfies the identification, residency, age and registration requirements, and no one else, should be permitted to vote once. I have both a right to vote and a right not to have my vote diluted by those who are not eligible.

  5. DJRippert Avatar

    Why do liberals hate minorities so much? They immediately assume that forcing people to show a drivers’ license is racist. Presumably, don’t think that minorities are forgetful and, therefore, unlikely to remember their driver’s licenses. They must believe that minorities are poor and, therefore, less likely to have driver’s licenses.

    The numbers tell a different story.

    There are 196.8M whites in America with 45M too young to vote.
    There are 37.7M African Americans in America with 9.2M too young to vote.
    There are 50.4M hispanics in America. 9.1M are illegally in the United States and ineligible to vote. 14.1M are too young to vote although this includes some double counting with illegal hispanics. Let’s say 30M hispanics legally in the country and old enough to vote.

    Percentage living below the poverty line:

    White 9.9%
    Hispanic 26.6%
    African American 27.4%

    By my back of the envelope math, that’s 15M poor white people eligible to vote vs 15.8M poor African American and Hispanic people eligible to vote.

    That is not a very effective way to disenfranchise minority voters.

    Now, if you claim that it disenfranchises poor people – that would be a point. Of course, that would lack the liberal appeal of cries of racism.

  6. I think it’s pretty clear that the Repubtards fear the minorities and with good reason!

    re: ” Voting is not an unlimited right, but one with many conditions attached thereto.”

    I don’t have a problem with the IDs if everyone gets one in the mail as soon as they turn 18 – you know…like when they can “find” you to tax your property.

    If you pay taxes of any kind to the govt – they owe you a nice shiny ID card.

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