What could the State of Oklahoma in 1915 possibly have in common with the State of Hawaii and the U.S. territories of Guam and Northern Marianas in 2014? Believe it or not, the answer is Jim Crow. Those were the infamous measures adopted throughout the old South following the Civil War that were intended to keep black citizens from voting. Oklahoma wasn't a state during the Civil War, but much of what was then known as Indian Territory was a hotbed of Confederate sympathizers. The last Confederate general to surrender was Brig. Gen. Stand Watie of the Cherokee nation in Indian Territory.
When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, its constitution included a provision exempting from voting literacy requirements anybody whose grandfather had been eligible to vote prior to 1866 or who had been a soldier of “some foreign nation.” This “grandfather clause” effectively disenfranchised blacks, since their grandfathers were slaves. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Oklahoma grandfather clause unconstitutional in 1915, thus ending the Sooner State's first Jim Crow law as well as similar statutes in a half dozen other Southern states. Still, it would be decades before the rest of the Jim Crow laws would be wiped out by the federal courts.
But Jim Crow is now making a huge comeback, thanks to the identity politics so common among liberals, especially on college campuses. As PJ Media columnist and former U.S. Department of Justice civil rights attorney J. Christian Adams notes, a federal court recently struck down a law in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands that allowed only people of “Northern Mariana descent” to vote on constitutional referendums. In Guam, the new Jim Crow appears in a law that allows voter registration only by those with ancestors living there prior to 1950, thus effectively limiting the ballot to individuals descended from the Chamorro people.
Similarly, Hawaii has a law on its books that limits registration "to only those who had an ancestor who lived on Hawaii in 1778 or received race-based land benefits in 1921. It also allows anyone with a significant connection' to the Native Hawaiian community' to register for the roll, which should nicely scoop up the radical academics who have flocked to the University of Hawaii to agitate for exactly this sort of race-based separatism,” Adams said. The Supreme Court struck down a similar Hawaii law in 2000.
Jim Crow is popular in the current U.S. Department of Justice, too. Attorney General Eric Holder frequently bashes voter identification laws as examples of Jim Crow. Apparently the nation's highest legal officer cannot distinguish between requiring a photo ID to confirm an individual's identity and requiring an individual to prove they are descended from people with the “right” skin color.
In any case, Holder refuses to fight Jim Crow in the Pacific. Whether it’s white Confederate descendants or dark-skinned men whose ancestors were from the politically correct color of the moment, it’s Jim Crow either way. As Adams laments, “Jim Crow is alive and well in paradise.” And at the Justice Department.