Well that didn’t take long. We all knew it was coming. It was only a matter of time. As soon as Obama starts having trouble with his agenda, the liberals trot out some washed up liberal icon to accuse his detractors of racism. Never mind the fact that the polls overwhelmingly show the general public doesn’t want the things the President is pushing. No, it’s racism, plain and simple.
What am I talking about? In case you haven’t heard, former (thank God!) President Carter decided to inject himself in the health care reform debate. Is he in favor of a single-payer system? Not sure. Is he interested in seeing more affordable health insurance options? Don’t know. No, the Nobel prize-winning elder statesman, a man of peace, who only wants us all to get along decided to say this to Brian Williams:
Just in case you can’t see the video for some reason, he said, “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man. . .that he’s African-American. I live in the South and I’ve seen the South come a long way and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans. That . . uh. . .racism inclination still exists.”
He goes on to say that many white people both in the South and elsewhere don’t think a black man is qualified to lead the United States. Did anybody bother to mention to Mr. Carter that President Obama WON THE ELECTION!! Does he think it was just the black people who elected him?
Frankly, I’m more than a little tired of being a punching bag for a bunch of people who can’t talk to me without calling me a racist or stupid or whatever. The racist tag is old and easy. As a Republican, a conservative, and a Southerner, I’m an easy target. . .unless you let the facts get in the way.
What?!? You mean there might be some facts out there that suggest you’re not as racist as the rest of the country thinks you are?!?
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the South’s record on race isn’t as bad as you think it is, not to mention the tremendous record the Republican’s have on helping the black community. Let’s start at the beginning. The Republican party was founded on an abolitionist platform. They were impatient with the continued practice of slavery and wanted to free the slaves. In 1860, their nominee actually won the Presidency. Anyone? Anyone? Yes, it was Abraham Lincoln. And guess what?!? He freed the slaves! Yup, a politician who actually did what he said he would. Now we can have a discussion later as to whether this was the right way to end slavery, but he did do it. For the black community this should endear the Republican party to them for a hundred years or more! Nope. Conversely, the Democrats, who are the oldest party in the country, had plenty of chance to free the slaves but they didn’t. That’s a fact.
Ok, so now we have all these freed slaves but they are still being oppressed. They essentially have no rights as citizens. What will we do? What. . .will . . .we. . .do?!? I know, let’s amend the Constitution to allow former slaves full rights to citizenship! Great idea. Whose idea? Yup, Republicans. In the years after the War Between the States, Congress was dominated by Republicans. They proposed and passed the amendents known as the “Reconstruction Amendments.” Now it’s up to the states to ratify those amendments. No problem, most of the states ratified the 13th Amendment (the one abolishing slavery) back in 1865. A couple of the states took a little longer though: Kentucky and Mississippi. They didn’t ratify this amendment until late in the 20th Century! 1976 and 1995 respectively. Why did it take them so long? Without going into all the detail, suffice it to say that their respective state politics had been dominated by Democrats. It wasn’t until the Republicans were elected in those states that the anti-slavery amendment was passed. Funny, huh! How is it that those bigoted Republicans keep getting out in front on the race issue?
Perhaps the most sweeping legislation concerning black Americans was the 1964 Civil Rights Act. While this act was generated in Congress primarily by Democrats, they could not have passed it without the help of the majority of Republicans. This legislation had no traction in the South. Representatives from both sides of the aisle refused to support it. In fact, while none of the eleven Republican congressmen from the former secessionist states supported this act, only eight of the 107 Southern Democrats voted for the bill! That meant the Democrats would have to rely on Republicans help to pass it, and they got it in spades (no pun intended!). 85% of the remaining republicans voted to pass the Civil Rights Act and it passed.
Why so much opposition in the South? Well, of course the standard answer is, as Mr. Carter apparently believes, southerners are racists, right? Well, then there’s this little thing called states rights. You know, the reason the states pulled out of the Union in the first place! While certainly some of the opposition to this bill was raced based, much of it was based on the fact that here again, the federal government was trying to tell the states how to conduct their business.
The main reason the Civil Rights Act was necessary in the first place was because there had been an encroachment of rights, primarily in the South, by what have come to be known as Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow was a character from a minstrel show in the early 1800’s. As the South began to reemerge from the war, white Democrats (sound familiar Mr. Carter) came to power, in large part by intimidating black voters. As they became more powerful, they enacted more and more laws to segregate the blacks and whites. These laws were the norm in the South until the middle of the 20th Century. Even after the Supreme Court had overturned segregation, it was a Democrat governor, George Wallace, who stood in the door at the University of Alabama to prevent the enrollment of four blacks. This was the fulfillment of his promise to uphold “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his inaugural speech. Well, at least he kept his campaign promise, I guess.
And let’s not forget the Dixiecrats. Yes, some Southern Democrats thought their party wasn’t segregationist enough so they formed their own party. The Dixiecrats were short-lived but were definitely pro-segregation and definitely Democrats!
That brings us to the Grand Poobah (or should I call him Exalted Cyclops) of racist Democrats, Robert Byrd who still serves in the US Senate. Senator Byrd reached the title of Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan when he was just a young man in West Virginia. And in 1964, he filibustered the Civil Rights Act in the Senate. Despite all this, he reached the level of Majority Leader in the Senate. Apparently, the Democrats don’t think his past racial views disqualify him for leadership in their party. But the pièce de résistance was an appearance on Fox News Sunday back in 2001 with the late Tony Snow. If the N word offends you, you may want to bypass this:
Am I trying to point the finger of racism solely at the Democrat party? Of course not, there’s plenty of blame to go around. It was a different time and fortunately we have all moved on. The problem is that every so often (and it’s happening much more often now than it has in the past), someone will raise the specter of racism. It’s usually a Democrat and it’s usually to advance some policy agenda that’s going nowhere. . .like health care. Frankly, I’m offended that I have to dig up all these old bones and open old wounds but I will not continue to stand idly by while I and my fellow Americans are painted with a broad brush the way Mr. (and I use that term loosely) Carter has done. Jimmy Carter is proving to be an even worse ex-President than he was a President. . .and that’s saying something!