Certainty and the New Black Panthers

I had a wonderful discussion today about the Black Panther voter intimidation with one of my conservative friends, and although I presented ample evidence and argument, his ultimate response was along the lines of "Well, I've got my interpretation and I'm sticking to it."  He would like to believe that Bush Administration lawyers acted to incorrectly protect the Black Panthers from an election tampering charge on the day Obama was elected, so he does.  It would require so many people acting against their political interests that it strains credulity, but he sticks to it.

Doesn't that strike you as religious thinking?

Well, here's another data point, from the conservative bastion National Review, making my case:
Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation -- the charge -- are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only three Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far -- after months of hearings, testimony and investigation -- no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, makes a perfectly plausible argument: Different lawyers read this barely litigated statutory provision differently.
There you have it. As I said to my friend, the evidence just wasn't there for a conviction, so they left it at civil charges rather than criminal. The Obama Administration then went on to slap the baton-wielder with the maximum penalty still available.  How does that count as the Black President giving special favors to Blacks?

Oh wait, I forgot the rule: the National Review is probably a liberal plant!

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