Your Mail: Voicing Views on Voting Rights

Your comments this week on my article about the Voting Rights Act extension illustrated a diversity of viewpoints. While many of you thought voting should be colorblind, others were concerned that the extension only applied to Southern states.

As for President Bush’s pronunciation of the NAACP, like me, you seemed to think we have better things to worry about.

Carl Larsen of Raleigh, N.C. writes:

Voting systems and districts should be colorblind. One person, one vote -- regardless of color. I am a firm believer in protecting local interests, but gerrymandering a map in order to create spheres of power for any particular racial group is racial discrimination. Governmental policies such as the Voting Rights Act only fuel the rhetoric of racists on both sides of the racial divide.”

SRE: Thanks Carl, interesting points. While I think that race hate is enough of a reason to ensure black voices are fairly heard, I agree that by continuing to draw racial lines, we may be imposing boundaries on a diversifying population.

Charles Cook writes:

Susan, I am a white southerner and I agree that the Voting Rights Act should become permanent. But, why not extend it to cover all 50 states? I’ve lived in the North and I can tell you that prejudice is not limited to those states below the Mason-Dixon line.

SRE: Good point Charles. I think the answer would lie in a deeper history of literacy tests and poll taxes in the South, but I agree that the shape of racism has transformed.

Rick Praml writes:

I have to disagree with your unhappiness about the VRA extension. I live in Virginia, where our history haunts us not by our actions today, but by what has happened up until the 1960s. I have seen our state make great strides in race relations and find our being included in this legislation insulting and demeaning. After all, we have done something that none of your so-called liberal states have done: elected a black governor.”

SRE: That is certainly evidence that strides have been made since the 1960’s.

Micah B. Haber writes:

What do you mean the VRA hasn’t worked? Also, who says the federal government, at the most a co-equal, has the authority to tell the Sovereign States what they can and can’t do?”

SRE: Section 5 of the 14th amendment, which allows the federal government to restrain state action if racial discrimination occurs.

As for the president . . .

Brad Thompson of Conroe, Texas writes:

Your comments about the N-double-A-C-P were spot on. Who cares? The people who discredit the president for his accent or word choice are only discrediting themselves. I moved to Texas from a place in the north where we enunciated everything. It was nice to get to Texas and realize that the people here didn’t know how to talk, but they sure make you feel at home.

Marie J. Clough of Ellsworth, Maine writes:

Why did you refer to the president making the error when saying NAACP? I, myself, do that on occasion. It is such a petty thing, and it seems everyone who does not agree with him will say anything he or she can as long as it appears not to be in his favor.”

SRE: Many of you echoed these sentiments, Marie. I agree that it is not the most constructive of criticisms.