By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo and House Speaker Terrance Carroll are in a bit of a back-and-forth over controversial comments Tancredo made last week when he suggested that President Barack Obama was elected because the civic illiteracy rate is too high.
Speaking before the first national convention of Tea Party Patriots, an ultra-conservative movement, Tancredo said, “Because we don’t have a civics literacy test to vote, people who couldn’t even spell ‘vote,’ or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House named Barack Hussein Obama.”
Tancredo’s remarks were immediately taken as hateful by Carroll, a Denver Democrat and the first black speaker in Colorado history. He told the Denver Post on Saturday that because Tancredo’s remarks were made in relation to a black president, it is fair to consider the statements hateful.
Some suggested that Tancredo’s remarks are calling for a return to Jim Crow laws, in which tests were used to prevent black people from voting during segregation.
Speaking to Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels from the background of a former social studies teacher, Carroll said Tancredo should know “how hateful those tests were and how hateful that period of history was.”
But Tancredo fired back again on Monday, calling on Speaker Carroll to retract his statements to the Denver Post and to “speak honestly about the genuine problem of civic illiteracy in the nation.”
Tancredo simply calls it good public policy to require citizens to pass a civics literacy test to be allowed to vote.
“To suggest that a civics literacy test will necessarily be discriminatory is absurd,” said Tancredo. “I have long advocated a civics literacy test for voters, and have often suggested we could use the same test as used for immigrants seeking to become naturalized citizens.”
Carroll, in an e-mailed statement to the Denver Daily News Monday, defended his remarks that Tancredo’s statement was hateful.
“I never called Tancredo a racist,” Carroll said. “But as my mama used to say, ‘You throw a rock at a pack of dogs and the one that screams is the one that got hit.’”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters