The Race is on!

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!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Race is on!

  1. Rich Pastore

    Reed,

    It is precisely the type of misinformation in your latest missive that gives these sites a bad name. You are talking about labels, and nothing more. George Wallace-era Southern Democrats were not liberal in any sense of the word. They called themselves Democrats strictly to get elected; for more than a century, the label “Republican” was a bitter reminder of the loss of “property rights” (slaves), and new federal controls that ended an antiquated economic system based on forced, free labor and an intolerable disparity between rich and poor.

    After the Civil War, The Southern elites built the Southern Democratic platform to try to bring back those conditions, and they were quite successful. But to say they had anything in common with Northern Democrats is like saying the Pittsburgh Pirates should be put on trial with their Sudanese buddies. SDs ran on hatred, racism, and vengeance, and it worked. As soon as reconstruction ended in the early 1880s, lynchings, Klan meetings, and Jim Crow rules were quickly passed into law.

    The reign of the racist Southern Democrat finally ended when Lyndon Johnson, one of their own, desperately hoping to cling to the Presidency in the face of growing war protests, championed the Civil Rights Act. To be fair, subsequent interviews with Johnson support the fact that this former dyed-in-the-wool racist, who won election to Texas public offices based on segregationist rhetoric, had a change of heart after witnessing some of the atrocities happening in the South in the first half of the ’60s. Unfortunately for LBJ, his success in getting the Civil Rights Act passed was also his deathknell – his Southern Democrat support immediately disappeared, and he was caught between a skeptical contingent of Northern Democrats who looked upon him as an opportunist and the angry mob of Southern Democrats who saw him as nothing short of a traitor.

    The ensuing post-LBJ vacuum led to even more atrocities, culminating with Senator Wallace’s bid for the Presidency and his subsequent paralysis due to an assassination attempt, and the successful assasinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. The legacy of hate and violence practiced by Southern Democrat party led to the destruction of its power base in the South, as morally outraged southerners moved to more moderate candidates from both parties, including a liberal-minded, Baptist peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. Only in fringe pockets were the southern racists able to hang on to power, hence your smattering of Byrds in national, state, and local offices around the south.

    117 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and 15 years after LBJ effectively destroyed what it meant to be a Southern Democrat, the last vestiges of the racist south enjoyed a re-birth and had a new leader. Ronald Wilson Reagan finally made it okay for southern whites to embrace the party their ancestors despised, but it wasn’t because of any label. It was because he spoke to their not-so hidden desire for a return to white supremacy.

    Smart people with evil intentions have always used labels to their own benefit. Adolf Hitler called his dictatorship a “Socialist” party to gain favor with the masses, when it was nothing but a fascist, racist, violent, neo-conservative movement fueled by vengeance and a longing for the “glory days” of German supremacy. Economically, there was nothing socialist about it. Southern Democrats usurped the name because it meant “Not-Republican,” and that was the only way to get elected in the south for more than a hundred years. They, too, had evil intentions and longed for the “good ol’days” when a nigger knew his place.

    Unfortunately, and scarily, you are using the same tactics of labeling as a call to arms for the “scared white man” who is watching his once powerful grip on society slip away with each succeeding generation.

    Fortunately, as Obama’s election indicates, you are too late.

  2. Hey Rich! Welcome back. I guess you missed the part where I said, “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.” You’re right. Southern Democrats weren’t very liberal. Do you know why? Because true liberalism, the kind we see practiced today, is at it’s core un-American. Progressive style liberalism didn’t have a political home until the 60’s. Democrats were more sympathetic to it given their propensity for social engineering, but there were progressive Republicans as well. I didn’t see where I compared Southern and Northern Democrats. As far as I’m concerned, a Democrat is a Democrat is a Democrat. I can’t extricate myself from the progressive history and failed presidencies in my Republican party. It’s not like we can pick and choose our history. If the party supported them back in the day, then that’s what they were. Again, as in the case of Byrd (and I guess LBJ), his horrible record on race didn’t disqualify him from leadership. The Democrat party didn’t disavow themselves from these people, they ELEVATED them! Heck, by your own description, LBJ was elected President! If the Democrats really want to distance themselves from the Southern racists, that would do the opposite. It would suggest that his change of heart may have had more to do with his political ambition than his true feelings.

    As far as labels go, you can call Hitler whatever you want. The bottom line is he nationalized everything he could get his hands on. That’s not a right-wing agenda, that’s a left-wing agenda. That’s not conservative, that’s liberal. That’s not capitalist, it’s socialist. . .the thing he actually called himself.

    I’m not sure what it is that you think Ronald Reagan said that appealed to the, “not-so hidden desire for a return to white supremacy.” I became politically aware during the Ford/Carter years and it was Reagan who made me feel proud to be an American. He talked about America as the shining city on the hill, and wanted to get government out of the way of the average American. Those values resounded with me. They still do! Reagan’s conservatism was driven by the empowerment of the individual, not the state.

    I get it, you agree with Mr. Carter that the protests and opposition to Barack Obama’s policies (which by the way, aren’t working!) are purely racial. You don’t want to consider the fact that people like me are scared, not because of the rise of the black man, but because of the rise of the Marxist. As long as people like you and Mr. Carter are around, Martin Luther King’s dream will never be realized.

  3. fancybeggar

    As someone who has lived in both the South and the North, I can attest that black/white racism exists everywhere, and on both sides of the political aisle. I do, however, think it’s more overtly expressed in the South, and may therefore seem like it’s more prevalent when that may not actually be the case.

    One possible reason for this may simply be a practical matter: there are a lot more blacks in the South than there are in the other parts of the country. For that reason, I think the topic of race just doesn’t surface as often in the areas of lesser black population concentration. The races simply aren’t as co-mingled as they are in the South. And, lest you think I’m being racist by even making the statement, I base it on the US Census Bureau’s 2002 report “The Black Population in the United States.” It states that 55% of blacks live in the South, while 18% live in the Northeast, another 18% in the Midwest, and 9% in the West. The white non-hispanic population is distributed 33%, 21%, 27% and 19% in these same regions.

    By the same population concentration logic, I think there was probably more racism against Irish imigrants in the Northeast during the 19th century than there was in the South. But people don’t meet a Northeasterner and immediately assume they have a disdain for the Irish. I find that odd; but I also find it proper. The point demonstrates that it is in the nature of human beings to look first to the most aparent differences to make a point of differentiation in their own favor when faced with strong competition for the elements of survival (jobs, homes, mates, etc.). In other words, it may just be human nature to point out obvious things first.

    To make the case that Southerners (or Democrats, or Protestants, or whatever other label you’ve got) are more “racist” than the other group is, to me, committing the same error that racists themselves commit. It paints a group of individuals with the broad brush of stereotyping. In this way, the entire discussion seems to me to perpetuate the issue. And that isn’t helping.

    I think a more productive approach would be to focus on positive statements. How ’bout I get us started? *ahem* People are just people. We have our weaknesses and ugly sides, just as we have our strengths and beautiful aspects. While different cultures may tend to support and nurture different strengths, they are all beautiful (as the song says) in their own ways. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can all focus on the real threat… the Germans. (just kidding there – but I do think the focus of the discussion needs to shift to the positives if we’re going to make progress on this issue)

  4. Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.
    LOL,

  5. Anecdotal racial observations that my own experience does not confirm. My experience, and we are just comparing impressions from our own lives, has been that in many southern cities whites and black are more comfortable in close proximity. Because the concentrations are higher we have lived together with greater contact. Because racial tensions in the South became the focus of intense debate, they have been better addressed in the South than in the North. The most blatant racism I ever witnessed occurred in Cleveland, OH. A woman having trouble at a gass station was initially ignored then subjected to a burst of hateful racial slurs because she had “no business on this side of town in the first place.” She was then told to get her “ugly black ass out of here.” I know you say you’ve live north and south, whereas I have primarily lived in the south but traveled frequently north. I have been stunned and shock by extreme racial outbursts in places like, Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. Never have I seen the same level of racism in the south. When I have seen it is was subtle and usually confined to “talking down” to a person of color, although I was refused service once at an Atlanta Church’s Fried Chicken and was once denied a job because of the color of my skin. The company and the man who discriminated openly against me were located in LA. This particular company openly endorses racist hiring policies and has never been challenged. I know Reed can guess the company, but I’ll let the rest of you wonder.

    I think the state of racial relations is the best it has ever been in the U.S. but we risk hitting a ceiling if we continue to classify each other on the basis of our race rather than our political party – er ah – you know, we’re all Americans. Except maybe those of you on the Left. (;S)

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