The Black Panther Panic Returns!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 6 2012 11:00 AM

The Black Panther Panic Returns!

Over the weekend, Will Bunch checked in with the pathetic remnant of clowns who call themselves the "New Black Panther Party." Would they show up again at polling places in Philadelphia? Would they give that free b-roll to Fox News?

Yes, they would.

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The Panthers are so stupid that they deployed to the same site they hit in 2008: The 4th district of Philadelphia's 14th ward. Very few of the people who hyperventilate about this story have been to the polling place and check out its vote. I have. The precinct, located in a retirement home, gave 596 votes to Barack Obama in 2008. It gave 13 votes to John McCain. Four years earlier, it had given 24 votes to George W. Bush. It's a heavily black, Democratic area, which is why -- four years after the first Fox freakout -- no one has ever emerged to say he or she wanted to vote but was suppressed by the Panthers. And hell, in 2008, the Panthers had nightsticks. There's one guy now, armed with nothing.

Let's be serious about this. One month ago, a court struck down part of Pennsylvania's voter ID law. Voters in the state do not have to show ID, though poll workers may ask for it. Since then, the state has continued to run ads that tell voters to come to polls with ID -- "SHOW IT" in large print, "if you have it in small print." It's likely that legitimate voters who lack multiple forms of ID have seen this, and assumed it'll be tougher to vote today.

But it's boring to talk about a bogus campaign to complicate the vote in the entire state. It's exciting to show a scary-looking black dude on TV, and imply to the Fox News viewer that another scary trooper -- maybe a UN worker! -- is laying in wait at his polling place.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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