The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, has gone to the United Nations — specifically the U.N. Human Rights Council — for, in the words of USA Today, "help battling what the organization views as forces attempting to push back voting rights."
Those "forces" are laws being passed by various states that require a photo ID for voting.
The NAACP move is so absurd and so self-destructive that one has to wonder why the organization has done this. According to the Freedom House 2011 assessment of freedom in the world, of the 41 members of the U.N. Human Rights Council, fewer than half are free countries. Ten are ranked "Not Free," and 12 "Partly Free." Among the "Not Free" members are Angola, China, Congo, Cuba, Jordan, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Those countries' elections, if they have them, are rigged, and prominent opponents are jailed, tortured and killed.
To bring a human rights complaint before countries in which there are almost no human rights is truly absurd. That the alleged human rights violation takes place in the freest country in the world further elevates the level of absurdity. And when the alleged violation is a law that requires all voters, irrespective of race, creed or color, to show photo identification before voting, we have gone beyond the absurd and entered a modern Twilight Zone.
The absurdity explains why what the NAACP doing is also self-destructive. It's one thing for a prominent individual or organization to make a mistake. But it is quite another to seem ludicrous, which is how the NAACP appears to everyone who is not on the left — and perhaps even to thoughtful leftists.
Why, then, would the NAACP open itself to ridicule?
According to NAACP President Ben Jealous, the reason is that "We are here today because in the past 12 months, more U.S. states have passed more laws pushing more U.S. citizens out of the ballot box than in any year in the past century."
One can only say that if in the past 100 years, fewer blacks were disenfranchised than in the past 12 months, all the claims about Jim Crow laws disenfranchising blacks must have been wildly exaggerated. But, of course, this, too, is absurd.
As South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley pointed out, one needs a photo ID in order to obtain Sudafed. One therefore might as well argue that blacks and other minorities are disproportionately denied the right to purchase Sudafed because a photo ID is required. The counter argument that there is no comparison between the two because there is no fonstitutional right to Sudafed completely misses the point. The Sudafed example does not argue constitutionality; it argues against the claim that great numbers of people will not vote if a photo ID is necessary. If few members of racial minorities have been prevented from getting a cold pill because of the need for a photo ID, it stands to reason that the need for a photo ID won't prevent blacks and others from voting.
The truth is that it insults the intelligence of blacks and Hispanics to claim that getting an official photo ID is too laborious, too demanding,and ultimately disenfranchising.
So, why is the NAACP going to the U.N.?
Because the wonderful fact of American life is that most American civil liberties and civil rights organizations have little reason for their continued existence. The NAACP, therefore, has to justify its existence. Which it does by manufacturing crises (and hopefully garnering media attention). Without major eruptions of racism, its raison d'etre disappears — along with its funding.
That is the real reason something as utterly innocuous as requiring a person to show a photo in order to vote is taken to the United Nations. It gets attention and makes supporters of the NAACP think their money is being used for the greatest electoral rights battle in a hundred years.
Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins). His website is DennisPrager.com.