Republicans Hurt Themselves Attacking Immigrants, Voting Rights
by Hans Johnson

For a politician who claims to understand diversity and the lessons of history, Newt Gingrich's vow to end provisions of the Voting Rights Act that empower citizens with limited English in casting ballots is a glaring sign of ignorance ("The pursuit of happiness--in English," L.A. Times, April 7). His position appeals to anti-immigrant conservatives and would effectively silence thousands of Americans at polling places around the country.

It is a disgraceful and hypocritical stance for a politician who has based his campaigns on the concept of freedom and his classroom teaching on the cornerstone role of civic participation in a democratic society.

His stand smacks of political opportunism, given the general tilt of voters with limited English toward Democrats. But Republicans too would feel the sting of his misguided move. For instance, Republican Janet Nguyen last month won a 3-vote victory for an Orange County supervisor seat. Her campaign featured appeals to fellow Vietnamese Americans, some of whom required translation of the ballot to cast an informed vote. By opposing parts of the Voting Rights Act that enable these voters to have a voice, Gingrich is telling many Republican voters they don't matter in America.

Gingrich, who last week insulted people of color by referring to "ghetto" neighborhoods, keeps sounding less like a modern alternative in the '08 GOP field and more like throwback to an era of intolerance.