The good news: More than a week after they were first made, WorldNetDaily finally got around to noting Tom Tancredo's remarks at the National Tea Party Convention insulting Obama voters and calling for a "civics literacy test" before being allowed to vote (despite WND having a reporter covering events there). The bad news: they were noted by Tancredo himself in his column, and he's trying to defend them.
Tancredo's Feb. 13 WND column provides a disingenuous and misleading defense:
I did not say in Nashville that all 67 million Obama voters are illiterate rabble who would fail a civics literacy test. What I did suggest and what I believe is that in the 2008 presidential election, the margin of victory for Obama was provided by people who would not be at the polls if we had meaningful civics literacy requirements for voting.
That statement provoked a stream of angry e-mail messages from outraged Obama voters, many of whom proudly proclaimed their advanced degrees in art history, Egyptology and political science. The message was as consistent as it was strident: What an ignoramus I must be to question the educational level of Obama voters!
My tea-party remarks had nothing to do with educational credentials or even IQ. We are all painfully aware that Barack Obama, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton before him, got more votes from college professors than his Republican opponent.
Let's go to the tape:
And then, something really odd happened, mostly because I think that we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country. People who could not even spell the word "vote," or say it in English, put a committed socialist idealogue in the White House, name is Barack Hussein Obama.
He said nothing about "margin of victory," and has remarks as stated can only be described as a general insult against all Obama voters. (Oh, and Tancredo fails to quote his own exact words in his defense.)
My remarks were aimed at the electorate's lack of civics literacy, which is quite different. Literacy in civics and American history is not necessarily enhanced by additional years of higher education devoted to increasingly specialized expertise in some field.
I have often suggested that new voters should be required to pass the civics literacy test already given to immigrants who want to become naturalized citizens. Yet, my suggestion was twisted into the idea that I want to see a return to "Jim Crow laws" that were used to keep blacks from voting.
This distortion of my proposal requires two acts of self-deception. First, it requires you to believe that minorities will fail any civics test, an idea that is highly insulting to all minorities. Secondly, it requires a willful disregard of the real history of Jim Crow laws. Blacks were not kept from voting by the laws themselves but the blatant discriminatory way they were administered by local officials. It is absurd to claim that any civics literacy test will be discriminatory, yet that is how my proposal was described by leftist bloggers and liberal journalists like E.J. Dionne.
Tancredo misses the point. Literacy tests have been outlawed precisely because of their potential for abuse to keep "undesirables" from voting, as happened in the Jim Crow South. And Tancredo himself expresses a discriminatory motive in favoring their reinstatement: to prevent "undesirables" -- that is, people who think differently from himself -- from voting.
Discrimination is discrimination, whether it's racial or ideological. Too bad Tancredo doesn't see the difference.