Finally, the federal government appears to be getting out of the business of judging voters based on the color of their skin — only 50 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. pleaded that blacks in America be judged only by the content of their character.
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Until, that is, President Obama and his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., denounced Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision and doused that flame of freedom with a warning that for as long as they remain in power, they will continue to see the world through the lenses of racism and continue to judge voters by the color of their skin.
Like so many monstrosities of injustice and unfairness — especially if the federal government is involved — the Voting Rights Act began with the best of intentions. Good people wanted to stamp out deliberate discrimination designed to prevent blacks from exercising their right to vote.
But today, long after the vast majority of Americans have emerged from the low and sordid swamp of racial discrimination, the federal government remains deeply mired in it.
No longer are congressional districts drawn to represent people based on such broadly unifying characteristics as shared geography, population density, weather or industry.
Because of the Voting Rights Act, the single overriding classification that unites congressional districts today is the color of voters’ skin. Think about that: Only the federal government would attempt to end discrimination based on skin color by passing a law requiring that everyone be discriminated against based on the color of their skin.
Not only is this despicably unjust and unfair, it has also led to a raft of perhaps unintended consequences that hurt all voters — especially the very ones the original law was intended to protect.
By dumping voters into districts based on their skin color, the Justice Department created voter ghettos where large numbers of blacks were heaped together. In the next district over, suburban whites were similarly dumped into a racially homogenized district.
The result is that the two people picked to represent these two neighboring districts come to Washington not seeking to find common ground with their neighbor, but rather seeking to exploit explosive differences. And while the folks in neither district are terribly happy with Washington these days, you can imagine which voters have been screwed the most by Washington over the past five decades.
This abomination of justice has become so popular among professional politicians that even a white politician who would have originally opposed the racial gerrymandering now embraces it. That’s because if too many black voters move into a neighborhood of his district, he can simply shift the lines and swap voters with the black district next to his. And the representative of the black district, of course, is all too happy to accept them.
Lord forbid these people accept the new voters from across the railroad tracks and try to actually represent them based on the healthy common interests of the entire community. But for now, Mr. Obama and his minions will keep on designing districts to suit politicians instead of letting districts pick people to best represent their common interests.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.