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Philly Knows Better: Republican Scam Machine Again Tries to Smear Obama and Black Activists as Racists

By       Message Linn Washington     Permalink
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Yet another Republican attack charging "reverse racism" is in play, this one datelined Philadelphia.

The usual suspects right-wing operatives, conservative media commentators and GOP Congressmen are portraying two members of the New Black Panther Party, including of one carrying a baton, as having intimidated white voters during the November 4, 2008 presidential election where Obama defeated GOP candidate McCain.

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A closer examination by ThisCantBeHappening! however reveals that, just like the doctored video that falsely implied that USDA official Shirley Sherrod was a racist who had denied farm aid to poor whites, this Philly claim of alleged black intimidation of white voters is just more trumped-up nonsense.

Ask Pennsylvania State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, a lawyer who knows a few things about the laws governing elections.

"No persons working at that polling place or voters there were intimidated," said Rep Thomas (D-181), whose district office is located less than a mile from the Philadelphia polling place where conservatives claim NBPP members ran amuck.

For starters, consider that the NBPP pair in question, supposedly intent on intimidating white voters, only showed up in predominately black North Philadelphia at a polling place inside a predominately black elderly apartment building in a predominately black/Democratic ward, instead of choosing to menace voters in polling places located in predominately white communities, such as those located only one mile east and/or one mile west of that location.

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But conservative ire over this alleged incident goes beyond the incident itself. (Certainly conservatives are not upset by a baton armed NBPP member when they sanction Tea Party/NRA members bringing loaded firearms to public meetings, including one with President Obama.)

Conservatives are howling at the refusal of the Obama Administration to prosecute charges filed against the NBPP in January 2009, in the waning days of the lame-duck Bush Justice Department.

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) complains of being "deeply troubled" by Obama's "questionable dismissal of an important voter intimidation" case in Philadelphia. (Earlier this year this same Rep. Wolf who found no fault in Virginia's Republican governor issuing a proclamation for Confederate History Month that contained no mention of slavery the reason for the South's rebellion against the federal government.)

Conservatives claim Obama officials backed-off prosecuting the NBPP to placate blacks, dismissing the Obama Administration's explanation that the case as filed did not contain election law violation proof sufficient to obtain convictions.

"I think the Obama Administration acted correctly in not pursuing voter intimidation that did not take place," Thomas says.

One fact conveniently missing from the conservatives' voter intimidation narrative here is the Bush Justice Department's charge, lodged against the NBPP's Washington, DC- based president, accusing him of "directing and managing' his two Philadelphia followers.

This was a specious assertion made without strong supporting evidence, which attempted to bootstrap the already spurious Philadelphia incident into an attack on the entire national NBPP organization.

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"The Panthers have no influence in black or Democratic Party leadership circles, but the Tea Party is the main influence in the Republican Party at this time," writes noted political scientist and syndicated columnist Dr. Ron Walters.

"Still, I am amazed that major news organizations, so intimidated by the Right, will give credibility to this made-up story on the Panthers, on equal terms to the NAACP's criticism of Tea Party racism."

This amped-up right-wing attack on the NBPP, a small radical fringe group, and the Obama Administration shows striking parallels to conservative assaults on ACORN and more recent lashings on Sherrod.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 

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