Rep. Burgess Owens, who grew up during Jim Crow era, says comparisons to Ga. laws ‘disgusting’

Rep. Burgess Owens told Senate Democrats Tuesday that the comparisons of Georgia’s new voting laws to the racist policies of the Jim Crow era are “disgusting and offensive.”

Mr. Owens, a Black freshman Republican from Utah, said the comparison, repeated by President Biden, is “absolutely outrageous” during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee called, “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.”

“As someone who has actually experienced Jim Crow laws, I’d like to set the record straight on the myths regarding the recently passed Georgia state law, and why any comparison between this law and Jim Crow is absolutely outrageous,” Mr. Owens said.

Mr. Owens, 69, said he “actually experienced Jim Crow laws” when he was a young child in Florida, recalling White-only restrooms, inadequate school funding, and election laws like a poll tax and literacy test that “made it nearly impossible for Black Americans to vote.”

Mr. Owens said that unlike the segregationist policies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Georgia’s new voting legislation adds an ID requirement and shortens the time period for absentee voting, expands early voting access for some voters, limits the use of drop boxes, and prohibits political activists and candidates from trying to influence in-line electors with food or gifts.

“What I find extremely offensive is the narrative from the left that Black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough for education to do what every other culture and race does in this country: Get an ID,” Mr. Owens said. “True racism is this — this projection of the Democratic Party on my proud race is called the soft bigotry of low expectations.

“President Biden said of the Georgia law, ‘This is Jim Crow on steroids.’ With all due respect, Mr. President, you know better,” he continued. “It is disgusting and offensive to compare the actual voter suppression and violence of that era that we grew up in with a state law that only asks that people show their ID. This is the type of fear-mongering I expected in the 1960s, not today.”

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