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Adam Serwer: Journalistic Con Artist

Posted on January 5 2011 5:27 pm
J. Christian Adams is an election lawyer and former attorney in the Voting Section at the Department of Justice. He blogs about elections and the laws which affect them at
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In a previous article at Pajamas, I characterized Adam Serwer of the American Prospect as using Trotskyite tactics regarding the New Black Panther dismissal.  He uncouples facts from reality to reassemble them into whatever whimsy, or devilish aim, he might have.  As I wrote at Pajamas Media of his coverage of the Christopher Coates testimony:

“The American Prospect borrows a page from the Trotskyite playbook, figuring a personal smear is all it takes to make the story go away: ‘Coates Defends Brad Schlozman,’ screams their headline.
Of course most people outside of a small inside-the-beltway audience are asking — who is Brad Schlozman? What does this have to do with the New Black Panthers?
To the American Prospect, apparently everything. Schlozman was the acting assistant attorney general for Civil Rights during the Bush years. His tenure became an obsession among those now defending the Department’s dismissal of the NBPP lawsuit. According to this bankrupt theory, since I was hired in 2005, and since Coates called Schlozman a friend, whether or not we told the truth no longer matters.
I am reminded of Solzhenitsyn’s observation of the mad world around him. Guilt or innocence no longer mattered in Solzhenitsyn’s world, truth and falsehood were obsolete:

‘The heart of the matter is not personal guilt, but social danger. One can imprison an innocent person if he is socially dangerous. And one can release a guilty man if he is socially friendly.’
Never once do the intellectually bankrupt at the American Prospect contest the veracity of Coates’ testimony. No mention about what Coates said about Schlozman — namely, that accusing Schlozman of ideological hiring is high hypocrisy.

Serwer, in a Washington Post blog entry today about the New Black Panther dismissal, frolics some more in the journalistic sewer.  Lev Davidovich would be proud once again.

Despite the fact that Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom has all but vanished when it comes to the New Black Panther dismissal after the damning firsthand testimony of Christopher Coates, Serwer writes:  “I’ve contacted Professor Thernstrom, who would not comment on the record but assured me that I did not mischaracterize her views.”  Really?
She won’t go on the record, but Serwer will put her on the record anyhow.  It seems his noble ends justified his ignoble means.

Serwer deploys more slimy tricks of the trade to help defend the government:

He claims “the voting section under Obama has intervened on behalf of white voters.”  This is an outright lie.  The Voting Section under Obama never “intervened” in anything.  At best, it filed a motion, a motion which has yet to be granted, even though Serwer pretends it has been, to extend a remedy.  The Bush Administration brought the case against Brown, and the Obama administration has never “intervened on behalf of white voters.”  He uses the complexities behind Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and his ignorance of the law, to trick people into thinking the Obama DOJ did something to protect white voters.  I’ve written in extensive detail about how the motion filed in the Brown case is a shallow trick.

In reality, the bureaucrats at DOJ were protecting themselves from criticism by quickly cobbling together the motion to extend the remedy in the Brown case – a motion which has yet to be granted six months later.  The Obama DOJ didn’t even begin to consider this route until after I started to hammer them on June 25, 2009.  Before that, crickets.   Serwer would have you believe such vigilance was part of their program, when he knows full well it isn’t.

Either Serwer doesn’t understand Section 5 and federal civil procedure, or, he is lying.  Despite the fact he isn’t a lawyer, I’ll still bet on option b.

Of course Serwer can’t resist the Trotskyite smear of me.  “Background as a conservative activist!” he shouts.  He cites Media Matters, and nothing more, for this proposition.  And this guy gets published at the Washington Post?!

Serwer inflates the remedy against King Samir Shabazz in his smear of Jen Rubin: “Again, Rubin seems to be mistaking the facts she wants for the ones she has.  The Justice Department obtained an injunction against the NBPP member with a weapon; that this remedy is unsatisfying to her does not change the fact that it was obtained.”

Serwer really plays the shill for the government here.  A simple exercise in comparing the complaint, which sought a nationwide permanent injunction against King Samir Shabazz, with the proposed remedy which sought a temporary injunction in only Philadelphia tells you all you need to know about Serwer’s veracity.

There are so many other problems with Serwer’s credibility it is beyond the patience of fair minded readers to consider them all.  One example will suffice.  Serwer attacks Rubin’s characterization of the intimidation by the black panthers.  But never once, in anything, does Serwer consider the plain language of the law which punishes even the attempt to intimidate.  Nor does he seem willing to admit that the plain language of the law protects those aiding voters, such as the poll watchers who testified.

Of course making the law fluid, evolving, sometimes useful, other times not, is an ancient tactic of the corrupt.  It is an ancient device of the dangerous.  Such plasticity in law is alien to the Anglo-American legal tradition.  Certainty in law protects us all.  It’s why the black panther scandal is something far more serious than small potatoes.

Cross-Posted from Election Law Center

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