I like Tom Moran. I think he’s a heck of a writer, and often has pretty good things to say. However, he has been infected by an insidious sickness running through the news media of false equivalency.
This is the disease that causes TV news shows to cover evolution by giving the scientists and young earthers equal time, thus creating the impression that both have valid points. Young earthers do not. It’s the disease that allows major news magazines to give scientists and oil company shills the same weight when covering global climate change, thus slipping doubt into what is a close to scientific fact as we get.
In Moran’s case, it is the pretense that both Democrats and Republicans are equally to blame for the dearth of African Americans and Latinos in the state legislature. In yesterdays column, Moran’s infection oozed the puss of false equivalency all over the pages of the Star Ledger in an opinion piece called “New Jersey’s parties both fall short on blacks, Latinos.”
Republicans in New Jersey don’t have a single African-American or Latino in the state Legislature. Their governor has none in his inner circle and he has removed the only African-American from the state Supreme Court.
On the whole, their record on minority representation is somewhere between bad and awful.
Not a bad beginning, pretty clear. A good description of the situation. Yet for some reason he then goes after the Democrats.
But let’s not just pick on Republicans. Because the Democratic machines that control the slate of candidates are mostly controlled by white men who have a keen affinity for their own kind as well.
Take Camden. When the African-American senator representing Camden resigned last year, the South Jersey machine boss George Norcross knew just what to do: He put his brother, Donald, in the seat.
What Moran doesn’t note is that this anonymous “African-American Senator” is Dana Redd, and the reason she resigned was to become Mayor of the state’s second largest city. Not exactly a demotion for her. Oh, and the Democrats also selected Redd as Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party and a rep to the DNC for the past six years. How dare they treat an African-American so badly?
And it’s not until much later that Moran notes that the two Assembly members who run with Norcross are African American and Latino. So now the three major races in the district are all represented, and — not for nothing, here — that district has more minorities than the entire GOP state delegation. Again, damn those Democrats!
But Moran tries to redeem himself after using false equivalence to damn the Democrats, noting that while his headline and article has so far slammed the crap out of them,
On the whole, Democrats are light years ahead of Republicans. One in three of their state legislators is black or Latino, and they can reasonably defend the Norcross and Ryan appointments.
But before he completely recovers from his disease, Moran has a relapse by allowing the Republicans to re-frame the debate. Here’s the final quote of the piece.
“Both sides have to do better,” says Republican Bill Palatucci, a confidante of the governor who is leading this fight over the map. “Since Gov. Kean left office, my party’s record on diversity is nothing to write home about. I’m not saying we’re 100 percent right. But neither are they.”
And there you have the most exquisite diagram of the virus that causes false equivalence, plotted out and sitting there for all to see.
Republicans have exactly zero African-Americans in the State House or the Governor’s cabinet. Democrats have more than 20 percent of their delegation as blacks — far higher than the state’s 14 percent African-American population — and 10 percent of their delegation as Latinos — far higher than the state’s Latino voting population.
But Palatucci gets to say, “Our 0% is the same as their 90%. A pox on both their houses!”
And Moran let’s it slide.