Conservative Amanda Carpenter Wishes Democrats Wouldn’t Inconvenience Cops With Their ‘Voting Rights’ Stunts
When bad people pass bad laws, people of good conscience must stand up and make a scene. It's what the late civil rights activist and House Rep. John Lewis famously called “good trouble."
LEWIS: Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble
But conservative Amanda Carpenter just thinks that's a waste of time, and she's one to know: After all, she once willingly worked for Ted Cruz.
When Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty was arrested while protesting for Senate action on voting rights legislation, Carpenter tweeted:
I do not understand what it is about the liberal mindset that leads one to think getting yourself arrested is a good publicity stunt.
That's right: Carpenter doesn't understand the Civil Rights Movement, and thanks to all the bans against schools teaching anything that might make white students feel bad, it's likely that future generations of Amanda Carpenters will remain equally clueless. She went on to say:
Don't the Capitol Police have enough work to do without having to lock you up? Can't you figure out a better way to advocate your cause rather than using police officers as props. Quit it.
Oh no! Won't someone please think of the cops? You know, it is physically possible for the police to refrain from arresting Black people. It's certainly tempting whenever cops see Black people standing around. It's like those Warner Brothers cartoons where hungry guys look at Daffy Duck and suddenly see him fully cooked on a silver platter surrounded by baby carrots and new potatoes. Cops look at a Black congresswoman and can't help fantasizing about her in zip ties.
The police arrested Beatty and eight other US citizens for "demonstrating in a prohibited area on Capitol Grounds." The Capitol has recently been the site of more serious offenses and criminal acts. Defecating in the Capitol isn't in any way related to congressional business, even though Marjorie Taylor Greene's speeches on the House floor might confuse the issue. However, advocating for voting rights legislation is the people's business. It's shameful (but never surprising) that the police would use the Donald Trump-inspired insurrection as excuse to restrict the First Amendment rights of Black House members.
Carpenter's complaint is a common one from not just conservatives but white moderates and a significant number of white liberals: Can't Black people find a way to protest for their human rights that doesn't inconvenience white people in any way and is also easily ignored?
Former President Harry Truman called the 1965 Selma march for voting rights “silly" and insisted: “They can't accomplish a darned thing. All they want is to attract attention." Truman had also described the Freedom Riders as “meddlesome intruders ... who should stay home and mind their own business."
The conservative John Birch Society in 1965 denounced the Selma march, declaring that a "horde of termites from all over the country, led by half-crazed ministers and professors, swarmed over the small town of Selma, Alabama, in a typical demonstration of Communist activism." Charles Koch was a member and funder of the John Birch Society at the time.
William F. Buckley at the National Review wondered, “At what point do the local authorities begin to transfer their concern from the rights of the dissenters to dissent, on over to the right of the community to practice the profession of living?" He added: “It takes a heap of ideology to paint [Alabama Governor George] Wallace as the anarchist, and King as the agent of law and order."
Women were often arrested when protesting for their right to vote. Between June and November 1917, 218 protesters from 26 states were "obstructing sidewalk traffic." Carpenter misses the point when she suggests that the police have “better things to do" than lock up protesters. Suppressing and intimidating dissidents is a key part of their job. I doubt the officer who cracked John Lewis' skull in Selma wished he was solving an actual crime instead.
Carpenter has made a name of herself recently as a “respectable" conservative Trump critic, so a Twitter user, presumably a Democrat, responded with disappointment to Carpenter's tone deaf remarks:
We don't have the same political leanings, but I don't mind hearing different perspectives than my own. I've always found you to be reasonable and thoughtful, but I am utterly and supremely disappointed in this tweet. Just wow.
However, a conservative who doesn't want to attend cocktail parties with Lauren Boebert is still ultimately a conservative. Their ideology is garbage even if occasionally masked in a veneer of politeness. This time, the mask slipped. As Malcolm X said, “I know some of you think some of them aren't enemies. Time will tell."
It always does.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."