Of Easy Names and Idiocy.

Why can’t those foreigners have easy, ordinary, monosyllabic surnames like real Americans?

AUSTIN — A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.” 

The comments caused the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday to demand an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell. But a spokesman for Brown said her comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes.


But seriously, since I graduated from college, this sort of unapologetic idiocy has become mind-numbingly unremarkable to me. Repeated exposure to politicians, especially those on the local levels, has jaded me in this way.

Once upon a time, I assumed that anyone involved in politics was among our best and brightest. Because, of course, they were well educated, schooled on the complicated policy issues of the day and had access to staffers and colleagues who were knowledgable about nearly everything.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. A good too many public officials are willful idiots.

It reminds me of something that Steve Benen touched on not so long ago:

Most of the media and the public underestimate the scope of the foolishness, too.

If a member of Congress — not just some back-bencher, but a senator or a member of the House leadership — says something seemingly provocative, a lot of people are predisposed to take it seriously. After all, he/she is in a position of authority. He/she helps shape the policies of the federal government. His/her opinion must have some value; I’m seeing it on television.

The underlying assumption is the same one I had in high school.

But Benen could have easily been referring to members of your local school board, city council or statehouse. If anything, this brand of foolishness is exaggerated at the local levels of government.


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.