Attacks of Racism, Part 2

This entry is part 27 of 47 in the series Blog1

Questions for Political True Believers, Part 6

The Evolution of Civil Rights


True Believer: You got to admit, you people on the Right have a racist past You guys fought civil rights tooth and nail.

 

Thinker: Unfortunately, you are a victim of revisionists history. First of all, the greatest leap forward in civil rights, the abolition of slavery, was accomplished by the first Republican president – Abraham Lincoln.  That’s a fact you can’t deny.

True Believer: But Lincoln was really a liberal.

 

Thinker: Yeah, and I can say FDR was a conservative but that doesn’t make it so. We’ll talk more on this later. Meanwhile lets cover the progress of civil rights since then. The first great obstacle to civil rights came shortly after the slaves were freed.  This was the creation of the Ku Klux Klan which was started by Democrats.

True Believer: Yes, it was started by Democrats but they would be Republicans today.

 

Thinker: Believe me, if I would have lived back then I wouldn’t have been a Democrat. It’s just plain silly that the Left tries to take credit for good Republican acts and while claiming disgraced Democrat actions were really by Republicans. The KKK pretty much died out in the early 1870s and then was revived again in the 1920s.  Tell me, which party brought it back?

True Believer: He doesn’t want to answer.

 

Thinker: It was the Democrats who revived it. Interest died down a again during the World War II but it was brought back a third time afterwards. Which party do you suppose revived it for the third time?

True Believer: You’re not being fair because these were extreme right wingers.

 

Thinker: The longest serving Democrat congressman in the history of the Republic was Senator Robert Byrd who was very respected by the liberal establishment up until his recent death.  Did you know he was a recruiter for the KKK and filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

True Believer: Yeah, but he changed and later regretted those things.

 

Thinker: But did he change to keep his power base or because of a true love of justice?  The fact is, all three incarnations of the KKK were initiated by Democrats who you say were really Republicans.  Can you tell me exactly what year it was that the Democrats became Republicans and the Republicans turned into Democrats?

True Believer: I wouldn’t put it that way but elements of the parties have changed places.

 

Thinker: How about the Jim Crow Laws that restricted the civil rights of African Americans for almost a century?  I suppose you think the Democrats that created them and supported them all that time were really Republicans?

True Believer: Actually, I do.  The Southern Democrats later became Republicans.

 

Thinker: The Democrats who started and supported the Jim Crow laws are dead. Are you saying a dead Democrat turns into a Republican?

True Believer: You’re just trying to be funny.

 

Thinker: When you think about it, this is not funny but a sad attempt at rationalization and the altering of history.

 

So how about Woodrow Wilson?  Was he a real Democrat or a Republican in disguise?

True Believer: He was a progressive and probably would be a Democrat today.

 

Thinker: Are you aware that he institutionalized segregation?  As president of Princeton University he prevented African-Americans from enrolling and as president of the United States all government departments under his authority segregated them from their white counterparts, dismissing those who objected, and downgrading others.  He appointed racist southerners to his Cabinet who zealously followed their boss’s lead. The entire workplace: work stations, cafeterias, rest rooms were segregated. In other words, African Americans were making reasonable progress integrating until Wilson reinforced segregation.

True Believer: I’ll have to check that out.

 

Thinker: You do that. I suppose you are also unaware that the Wilson administration passed the Sedition Act of 1918 which made it illegal to harshly criticize the government. Thousands of people turned into Nazi-type spies reporting on friends, family and neighbors leading to the arrest of many thousands. Some put the number as high as 175,000. Can you think of a Republican who has set back civil rights like this in the last century?

True Believer: I’m sure they have done their share – Joe McCarthy for instance.

 

Thinker: But Joe McCarthy was a mere senator, not the President and many Democrats supported him.  One of his largest donors and supporters was Joseph P. Kennedy (JFKs father) and Robert Kennedy worked aggressively with him and was a close friend and admirer. Unlike McCarthy, Wilson put thousands of people in prison for just speaking their mind.  Why do you suppose the Left has demonized McCarthy but not Wilson who was much worse on civil rights?

True Believer: I have a hard time believing that.

 

Thinker: Of course you do because you do not know the real history.  Look it up and you’ll find I am correct.  You will not give the answer so I’ll give it for you.  The Left does not demonize Wilson because he is one of their own and a hero for getting the Sixteenth Amendment passed that instituted the graduated income tax as well as the Federal Reserve which was created under his guidance. He has always been a hero to the Left for expanding government like never before. Those 175,000 people sent to prison for free speech were just collateral damage.

True Believer: We were in a world war.  War sometimes requires drastic measures.

 

Thinker: Yeah, and during the War on Terror the Left was upset with Bush for merely wanting authority to discover what books prospective terrorists may be checking out. What do you suppose is most egregious? Having less than a chance in a million that the government will review what books you have checked out or 175,000 placed in prison for free speech?

True Believer: You are distorting things.

 

Thinker: No.  Your problem is I’m removing the distortion. Another black mark on the Left is Eugenics and Wilson helped get the ball rolling on this.  As governor he created a board of examiners to weed out feeble-minded, epileptics and other defectives. Under it, the state could determine, “when procreation is inadvisable like for criminals, prisoners, poor kids and the ill-defined, other defectives.” Do you think that was a good idea?

True Believer: Of course not.

 

Thinker: Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, is another Democratic icon who supported eugenics. In her 1920 book, “Woman and the New Race,” she explicitly called her work “nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or those who will become defectives.” As she wrote in The Birth Control Review, “the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically defective.” Is that something you agree with?

True Believer: Not really.

 

Thinker: Many on the Left supported Eugenics.  Among them were, The Fabians, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw, Harold Laski, and H. G. Wells were devoted to the cause. John Maynard Keynes, Karl Pearson, Havelock Ellis, Julian and Aldous Huxley, Eden Paul and Winston Churchill before he became a conservative. Then there was that very famous German who borrowed eugenic ideas from America and England.

True Believer: I suppose you’re going to bring up Hitler.

 

Thinker: It is true that his misuse of eugenics led to the sterilization of many of his people, the attempted forced breeding of a master race and the extermination of six million Jews. After World War II eugenics became a disgraced science and the Left has tried to distance themselves from it even to distorting history on the subject.

True Believer: Sounds to me that you are distorting things.

 

Thinker: And too bad you can’t prove any distortion.  A civil rights violation you can’t dispute is Roosevelt’s forced internment of over 100,000 Japanese during World War II.

True Believer: Most Democrats now see that as a mistake.

 

Thinker: Yet these civil rights violations don’t stop them from extolling Wilson and FDR as great presidents while unjustly attacking Republicans as racists. Do you know which president it was that helped to right the wrong FDR did to the Japanese citizens?

True Believer: I give up

 

Thinker: In 1988, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided a redress $1.2 billion dollars to the surviving Japanese. Considering the checkered and racist past of the Democrats aren’t you a little embarrassed at labeling the Right as the racist ones?

True Believer: It is true that our party in the past has made mistakes but things are now reversed since our support of the Civil Rights Act

 

Thinker: Are you talking about Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Act of 1957?

True Believer: I was thinking of the one in 1964.  I never heard of a 1957 Civil Rights Act.

 

Thinker: Why am I not surprised? Most of the ingredients of the 1964 legislation were in the original draft under Eisenhower. Do you know who stripped it of almost all its power?

True Believer: Who?

 

Thinker: The Democrats under the guidance of none other than Lyndon Johnson.

True Believer: And why would they do that?

 

Thinker: The Democrats realized that the Eisenhower bill could deliver the black vote to the Republicans for generations, especially if they voted against it and they were strongly opposed to the bill as it was written. If the Eisenhower bill were allowed to come to vote African Americans would see that Republicans were on their side and the Democrats against. Johnson was smart enough to not allow this to happen and stripped down the bill to an ineffective and powerless bare bones and then persuaded many Democrats to support it for the sake of the good of the party. Eisenhower thus had a powerless civil rights bill passed that is almost forgotten to history. Even so, Eisenhower made other breakthroughs in civil rights for blacks.

True Believer: Like what?

 

Thinker: He sent Federal troops to Little Rock Arkansas to escort black students entering a formally all white school and prevented southern Democrats from enforcing segregation. And that’s not all.

True Believer: I’m sure you’ll tell me more.

 

Thinker: He implemented the integration of the U.S. military forces.  Although President Truman issued an Executive Order to desegregate the military services not much happened until Eisenhower commanded compliance from subordinates and was able to overcome the deeply rooted racial institutions in the military establishment. By October 30, 1954, the last racially segregated unit in the armed forces had been abolished, and all federally controlled schools for military dependent children had been desegregated.

True Believer: That’s all well and good but the real civil rights progress was made by LBJ and the Democrats with the Civil Rights and Voting acts in the Sixties.

 

Thinker: The 1964 Civil Rights Bill originated during the Kennedy administration and had bipartisan support. The Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, and Mike Mansfield, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader both supported it. Many of the ingredients that was taken out of Eisenhower bill and rejected by Democrats was added by Kennedy. After Kennedy’s death the bill had a lot of emotional support from both parties.

 

If LBJ had not supported the bill he would have looked disloyal. His motives in supporting the legislation is rather murky. Before supporting the watered down Eisenhower 1957 bill he had never supported any civil rights legislation in his life, not even anti-lynching legislation. As evidence that LBJ had ulterior motives in his apparent turn about in civil rights there is an interesting statement he made to two governors. He said: “I’ll have those ni**ers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” (Quote from “Inside The White House” 1996 by Ronald Kessler, Page 33)

True Believer: That’s hard to believe.  If I recall correctly he said that the civil rights legislation would cost Democrats the South for a generation.

 

Thinker: Yes, he is reported to have said that also.  From these two quotes it appears he weighed the advantage of gaining the black vote for 200 years against losing much of the South for a generation and decided that the trade off was worth it. You have to admit that it has been a big advantage in that over 90% of the blacks have voted Democratic since then.

True Believer: And for good reason. It was the Democrats who pushed through the legislation against Republican opposition.

 

Thinker: Maybe you’re not aware of the source of the opposition to the bill.  Nineteen senators participated in a filibuster of the bill. Do you know how many were Democrats?

True Believer: I’m sure you’ll tell me.

 

Thinker: Eighteen out of nineteen.

True Believer: You’re going to have to prove that one to me.

 

Thinker: Here take a look on my computer at Wikipedia under The Civil rights Act of 1964. Now take a look at the voting results. What percentage of the Democrats voted for the House version?

True Believer: 61%

 

Thinker: And what percentage of the Republicans voted for it?

True Believer: It says 80%.  That can’t be right.

 

Thinker: It doesn’t support your accusation that Republicans are a bunch of racists, does it? Now check out the Senate vote.

True Believer: He stares in silence.

 

Thinker: 69% of Democrats voted for it but 82% of Republicans supported it. Can you see that without Republican support the Civil Rights Act would have not passed?

True Believer: Perhaps.

 

Thinker: And you know what is even more amazing about the Republicans backing the bill?

True Believer: What?

 

Thinker: Because this bill originated during a Democratic presidency with a Democrat dominated Congress it would be the Democrats who would receive most of the credit and attract the black vote as noted by Johnson. In many ways the Republicans were committing suicide by giving the Democrats such an advantage. So why do you suppose so many Republicans voted for the bill?

True Believer: I honestly do not know.

 

Thinker: Well, I do. They voted for it because it was the right thing to do. But in 1957 when the Democrats had a chance to vote for it when the Republicans would receive the credit, did they support it because it was the right thing to do? I’ll answer that question.  No, they did not but stripped the bill of all its power.  Tell me, after all this ground we have covered do you still feel justified in calling the Republicans the party of racism?

True Believer: Well, maybe not if we go by ancient history but I’m looking at Republicans in today’s world and I see a lot of racism.

 

Thinker: In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes. Can you really accuse Republicans as being racist with a straight face?

True Believer: Watch me.  I accuse you today – not yesterday.

 

Thinker: Sigh.

 

Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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