Professor Skewers Voter-ID Laws

The Lexington Herald-Leader presents on at least a monthly basis a column prepared by a University of Kentucky professor in the interest of making sure that neither UK nor the newspaper (McClatchy-owned) is ever accused of being middle-of-the-road, conservative, or anything other than far-left-fringe. The column in the 10 January issue by history professor Ron Formisano dealt with undue hardships placed on blacks in certain states regarding their ability to vote. The states he picked for enlightenment: Alabama, Texas, Mississippi. The subject: voter ID.

To make his point, Formisano used university football games in those states, noting that most of the players are black but most of the spectators, as well as (gasp) the alumni, are white but didn't mention that 74% of the U.S. population is white. He conceded that the white spectators showed enthusiasm for the playing of the blacks but noted grimly “the efforts of its elected representatives [Alabama in this case] to prevent the young players, black and white, from voting.” The reason: those awful Voter ID laws, though he didn't mention that the laws apply to everyone, black and white, not just football players.

Formisano mentioned other southern states with the abominable, unfair ID-laws on the books, and even conceded that some non-southern states (implying that one might expect better of them) had those laws. His state, Kentucky, whether considered southern or non-southern, has had voter-ID laws for many years, but Formisano didn't describe the hardship it places upon him and others, black or white, football players or not, to cast a ballot.

Most of Kentucky's football players are black and the basketball team is so black that a white guy, if in existence, can expect to play only when UK is ahead by 40 points in the final two minutes. The coach uses a two-platoon system in which all ten starters are black. Though not as boisterous as Alabama's, UK's fans are nevertheless quite supportive of blacks who risk concussions and assorted broken bones every week. The basketball fans' arena-elevators vis-a-vis sanity are one floor short of the top—frenetic! Formisano didn't mention how the skewed numbers of blacks vis-a-vis the demographics are due to to the ID-punished majority white voters. No quotas in sports, just everything else!

Formisano opined that viewing stadiums packed overwhelmingly with whites jogged his memory as to how most of those whites voted in recent presidential elections: 10% for Obama in Alabama in 2008; 10% in Mississippi in 2012; 14% in Louisiana in 2012. He didn't suggest that attendance at football games had any influence on the voting where he claimed “football is a religion,” but one infers that to be his standard for dissing Obama, or maybe mixing metaphors is just his style. He didn't mention that about 93% of the black vote throughout the entire nation went for Obama in both 2008 and 2012, but that fact had nothing much to do with football anyway, so why bother?

The strangest twist that Formisano gave the subject, though having nothing to do with football, was the claim that southern white democrats in the 1960s began becoming the “bedrock of the modern Republican Party,” thereby deserting Lyndon Johnson, civil rights, and all the rest. Well...no! The democrats deserted because of racial prejudice while the republicans were Johnson's supporters, just as they were Lincoln's supporters in the 1860s. But Formisano wrote that republicans moderated the tirades of Alabama governor George Wallace and began using “coded racial language,” whatever that is/was. He gave no examples.

Predictably, Formisano connected all those social upheavals in the South, presumably including the worship of football, with the religious right becoming a “force among southern evangelicals.” Actually, the evangelicals are a force among the religious right. To a committed liberal, southern evangelicals are roughly equivalent to Attila's Huns and would never worship Harvard football.

In finishing, Formisano wrote that everything he had written is well known with regard to “what is now a solid republican South,” and added, “Less remarked upon are the ironic contrasts that now exist between Southern football and the politics of the white South.” So, thanks to the professor, now we know. Hypocritical white southern spectators should be booing instead of cheering in those sanctified stadiums.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark