It appears that President Joe Biden did not repeatedly “misspeak” as suggested on CNN. Yesterday, Biden not only did not correct his false claims about the Georgia election law but doubled down that the law is a “Jim Crow law.” Indeed, he has repeatedly said it is worse, “Jim Crow on steroids.” That is why yesterday’s press conference (with only three questions) moved from the inaccurate to the incoherent. Biden is now saying that Georgia is a Jim Crow state with laws worse than the segregationist laws following the Civil War. However, he is saying that it is ok to play the Masters in the state (and for CBS to carry the Masters) after supporting a boycott of baseball. In deciding whether to do business in what Biden calls a “Jim Crow” state, Biden declared “That’s up to the Masters.”
The press has not had any apparent inclination or (in the case of Fox News) an opportunity to ask Biden for a full answer on why the Georgia law is worse than the Jim Crow laws. As previously discussed, states like Colorado have voter identification provisions and many of the same provisions as Georgia. States like New York and Delaware have some harsher provisions. One would think that, given Biden’s widely discredited comments on the change in voting hours, the media would press Biden on an answer. That however is only true if the media wanted such an answer.
Jim Crow laws were a “cradle to grave system of racial segregation.” The State of Afro-American History: Past, Present and Future 60 (Darline Clark Hine ed., 1986). Those laws embodied separate textbooks, separate schools, separate seating, separate access, and a wide array of limitations that treated African Americans to second-class citizens. That certainly included barriers on voting.
To say that the Georgia law is worse than a Jim Crow law is a chilling conclusion from a sitting president and worthy of explanation. The two prior examples given by President Biden have been discredited concerning voting hours and availability of water for those waiting in line. Moreover, other “blue” states have the same provisions and a vast majority of Americans support voter identification law, including a majority of Democrats.
In Colorado, the provisions are largely the same. The big difference is that Colorado sends out absentee ballots automatically where Georgia (like other states) has citizens request the ballots. That certainly can make a difference in voting turnout for absentee voters but it would not seem to justify one state being called progressive state and a Jim Crow state.
In his press conference, Biden took a different position on the golf tournament than the baseball All-Star game. Instead of supporting the boycott for golf, he said that it was up to corporations. He stated “[i]t is reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws that are just antithetical to who we are.” However, he chastised states like Georgia for not yielding to the demands on voting and warned them to “smarten up.”
The real loss from this protective press cocoon is the opportunity to have a discussion on race and voting. Rather than repeatedly throwing around the label of Jim Crow, Biden could explain why he believes Georgia is beyond any reasonable (if different) approach in comparison to other states like Delaware, New York or Colorado. Indeed, no one appears eager to have that debate in the media. The coverage is as shallow as a soundbite. The Georgia law is now a Jim Crow law by pure repetition rather than any explanation in the coverage. Given the horrible history of Jim Crow, such a claim warrants explanation — not simply use as a handy slogan or political attack.
One obvious question is why there is a difference between baseball and golf when it comes to anti-racism boycotts. If Georgia is back to being a Jim Crow state and a baseball boycott is warranted, why does Biden given the Masters a mulligan?