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Connelly Plays The “I’m White I’m Right” Card on Redistricting

August 10, 2011

Seattle PI’s Joel Connelly’s recent article titled “Racial gerrymandering has no place in redistricting” has received a lot of attention in communities of color in and around Seattle. They say he’s a bigot and a racist for his commentary on non-white voters. So… is he?

Let’s bring some context and fact to the topic.

In the Spring of 2011 Washington received its 2010 census data. Bottom line, our population has grown so much, it warrants redrawing our 49 legislative districts and now 10 congressional districts.

A group of community advocates are pushing the Washington State Redistricting Commission to create a new district that would be made up of mostly people of color.

Joel Connelly calls that racial gerrymandering and says it has no part in this discussion.  He then lashes out against a number of Black people with one racial stereotype and red herring after another.

Many White politicians have gone on record opposing a district with so many brown people in it- namely Connelly’s self described friend Jean Godden who also writes for the PI and who is also up for re-election. Bias much? I digress.

Connelly accuses Eric Pettigrew of “playing the race card” in his comments supporting the new (brown and black) district- which only serves to prove that Connelly doesn’t know what a race card is, but he certainly knows the power of being a White man accusing a Black man of playing it- which when you think about it, is a play of the card itself. The game is afoot!

Connelly gives examples where he feels districts with majority minority voters elected the wrong Black people such as Maxine Waters, whom he describes as “angry” all the time, and Cynthia McKinney who he portrays as downright insane. Those Black women- always pissed about something!

(Connelly also invokes histrionics a number of times, which, if you know anything about the origin of the word- well there ya go.)

He goes on to make the argument that districts with too many people of color tend to elect politicians of a lesser quality; whereas, if you dilute the voters of color into districts other than majority minority, the quality of voting and thus lawmakers, improves.

“The essential point, however, is that competitive districts yield more competent members of Congress.” -Joel Connelly

Sounds a lot like ‘you people elect people I don’t like, don’t agree with and don’t feel comfortable with- let’s take away your ability to do that.’

Here’s an irony- that’s exactly what racial gerrymandering is. So Connelly, riding his White privilege wave, has managed to play the race card and encourage actual racial gerrymandering all in 900 words or less- he should work for the Seattle Times.

His article maybe reverse psych 089 for lots of smart people, but for people who don’t know any better, it’s dangerously effective race-bating propaganda. What Connelly is saying is this: ‘don’t let “those people” vote as a block, break them up, separate them from each other, dilute their votes and take away their power- they can’t be trusted with it.’

In a perfect world, all districts would be diverse. They’d have equal parts white, yellow, brown, red, black and “other”. But that’s not the world we live in. That’s not the Seattle we live in, or the King County we live in, or the State of Washington we live in. All are segregated- always have been, always will be. People of color have always been redlined within certain neighborhoods, and you know what, they still get ignored by the lawmakers who are supposed to represent everyone but fail to at every turn. God forbid those people ever have the power or voter influence to change that.

Connelly insists that if we have a majority minority district, those voters wouldn’t recognize political awesomeness if it slapped them on their ethnically shaped noses. He says those voters, if in their own district would have never voted Ron Sims or Gary Locke into public office.

“The ebullient Sims, son of a Spokane preacher, and the buttoned-up Locke — first Chinese-American governor on the American mainland — were picked because they successfully reached out to a broad spectrum of voters.

Some would end that this year by having the Washington State Redistricting Commission embrace racial gerrymandering.”- Joel Connelly

So now we’ve got race-card-race-baiting, encouraging racial gerrymandering (the real kind) and playing on the irrational fears of the ignorant.

The fact of the matter is, Joel Connelly doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. He’s managed to conflate district packing and gerrymandering in an effort to scare the hell out of people. He’s embodied the very “political scoundrel” he claims to take to task.

And this: Connelly includes a quote from Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party which goes like so; “”When the only issue is race, idiots win, black and white.”

So then… Connelly is the winning idiot here, right? Because his only point is race. His only point is brown voters can’t be trusted with their vote. His only point is he doesn’t like quite a few Black lawmakers who were voted in by a majority of Black people.

His only point in this case is non-Whites could vote for the wrong person *gasp*- and since that’s never happened before in the history of voting by anyone, anywhere, ever regardless of race… I guess that makes him right after all: non-White voters could change the political map in a dramatic (and apparently scary) way.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2011 9:47 pm

    I’ve never particularly taken issue with Connelley’s writing before, but this particular article is written as if he first went to www dot how to offend non-white particularly black people dot com and printed out a recipe.

    It’s so….textbook:

    The only thing more ridiculous than the Dick Harpootlian quote is the fact that Connelly feels the need to point out that even though dude is from the south, he reeeeeeeeeaally supported Obama in ’08. That has nothing to do with nothing except to attempt to suggest Harpootlian can’t be criticized or dismissed because he supported Obama. That’s not even college level it’s so basic.

    And this: “Cynthia Tucker, a prize-winning Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist who is African-American, has changed her mind on a 1982 Voting Rights Act provision that encouraged creation of “majority-minority” districts…” -that entire section is an insult because it allllll begs the question; what part of it matters? That she’s Black? That she’s prize winning? That she changed her mind? Clearly the answer is d. all of the above. All of that is supposed to mean something, hmmmmm… what could it be, what could it be…

    and it just goes on, and on, and on, until the last word of the article. I can’t remember the last time such a disappointing piece of race baiting foolery came out of the PI, but I won’t soon forget this one,that’s for sure.

    None of the rhetoric, the baiting, the herrings and twisting of words- in the end- proved Connelley’s claim that a majority minority district in this state would be a horrible thing.

  2. Black permalink
    August 13, 2011 8:08 am

    Unreal. Privilege is something else.

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