by Dave Weigel

Well, no, that headline is a joke. Adam Serwer, who's worked like the devil to debunk theories about why the Department of Justice isn't gunning for the New Black Panther Party, makes an important find:

[T]he case was downgraded to a civil case 11 days before Obama was inaugurated, 26 days before Eric Holder became attorney general, and about nine months before Thomas Perez was confirmed as head of the Civil Rights Division.

Conservative activist and former Voting Section Attorney J. Christian Adams identified United States Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli as the person who ordered the case dismissed, but he wasn't confirmed until March, three months after the case was downgraded. Adams also said that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes declared, “Never bring another lawsuit against a black or other national minority, apparently no matter what they do.” But according to the Raben Group, a progressive PR firm Fernades worked for prior to the Justice Department, she didn't leave her job with them until June 22, 2009, more than six months after the criminal case against the NBPP members was dropped. Even if she did say that -- and none of my sources in the Voting Section ever heard her say anything of the sort -- it wouldn't have had any bearing on the NBPP case, because she wasn't there when it was dismissed.

The conservative narrative goes like this: Eric Holder's DOJ got into office and skunked a successful case against the racist fringe New Black Panther Party because it doesn't want to defend white voting rights. (If anyone has a bunch of examples of white voters being repressed in the Obama era, please, send 'em my way.) In several segments about the case, Glenn Beck has tied the Panthers to Bill Ayers, Charles Ogletree, and Van Jones as the latest "militant group" pulling the strings on Obama policies. A simple issue -- whether the Panthers should be prosecuted further for briefly showing off their nightsticks and glowering at voters outside of a mostly-black Philadelphia polling place -- has been conflated into a catch-all storyline that really makes no sense.

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