Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of those guy people like talking about, but seldom ever engage with his arguments. Beautiful people will name drop him in conversation, for example, without mentioning what it is they like about him. Progressive writers will reference him in their writing, but never actually talk about his writing. In a way, he is like the Atlantic Magazine, his current employer. Like the magazine, his value is symbolic.
Eve n accounting for the magical black guy stuff, Coates is a rather callow person. His style is mostly conventional black whining about whitey with a heavy dose of references intended to imply erudition. He likes to mention how he can order food in French (and how the always white waiter is shocked to see a black speak such great French!), but there’s never a reason for mentioning in his posts.
Similarly, he drops references to writers the reader is expected to think he has read, but he never actually writes anything that says he learned anything but the book title. It is the type of name dropping you get from college sophomores. He’s a weird combination of magical black guy and ridiculous dilettante. His magical status means he does not have to work to hard at being a convincing phony. This post is a good example.
If you haven’t yet, it’s work checking out Barack Obama’s address before the National Action Network, last week. I think it’s one of the most significant and morally grounded speeches of his presidency. I think we will eventually regard this current effort to suppress the vote through voter-ID laws, ending early voting, restricting voting hours, etc., in the same way we regard literacy tests and poll taxes. (It’s worth recalling this piece for the magazine by Mariah Blake which helps historicize voter suppression.)
There are two assertions here. One is that this speech, that has been ignored by everyone, is his most significant as president. That’s not a very high bar for a president who has exactly zero memorable speeches according to his fans. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard anyone quote an Obama speech? When have you heard anyone talk about one of his speeches a month after it was given?
As far as “morally grounded” is concerned, that’s simply emotive gibberish the Left uses to signal. The signal in this issue is not debatable. The people pushing voting reform are evil and those opposed are good. There can be no compromise. The fact that Coates misses this entirely suggests he is not the thinking man he would like us to believe, but instead is just decorating his word salad with emotive language.
The second claim is that cleaning up voter fraud, a well documented problem in every state, is voter suppression. He is correct in so far as requiring positive identification suppresses the dead vote and other methods for stuffing the ballot box. Otherwise, comparing these measures to Democratic efforts to keep blacks from voting is the sort of thing very stupid people repeat because they heard a flak on TV say it.