Note: An abbreviated portion of this post appears at MLK Day 2012: The Civil Rights Movement, The Left & The Legacy Of MLK
Liberal African American NYT columnist Bob Herbert recently had this to say in extolling the virtues of the left:
Without the many great and noble deeds of liberals over the past six or seven decades, America would hardly be recognizable to today’s young people. Liberals (including liberal Republicans, who have since been mostly drummed out of the party) ended legalized racial segregation and gender discrimination.
Mr. Herbert pretty much sums up what has been the far left / liberal / progressive line for decades. But then how to explain all the vicious, ad hominem and unhinged Palin-bashing coming from the left? To take it one further, how to reconcile that Palin-bashing with the left's acceptance of people like Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a part of their stable? It seems quite the conundrum unless one knows a bit of history and can identify the massive deceits. Here are some facts, some of which you might not be aware:
- The Republican Party - the party of Abraham Lincoln - was borne in 1854 out of opposition to slavery.
- The party of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan was, as Jeffrey Lord points out in an article at the WSJ, the Democratic Party. And Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) is the only living member of the Senate who was once a member of the KKK.
- The 13th (abolishing slavery), 14th (due process for all citizens) and 15th (voting rights cannot be restriced on the basis of race) Amendments to the Constitution were enacted by Republicans over Democratic opposition.
- The NAACP was founded in 1909 by three white Republicans who opposed the racist practices of the Democratic Party and the lynching of blacks by Democrats.
- In fairness, it was the Democrat Harry Truman who, by Executive Order 9981 issued in 1948, desegregated the military. That was a truly major development. My own belief is that the military has been the single greatest driving force of integration in this land for over half a century.
- It was Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former Republican Governor of California appointed to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower, also a Republican, who managed to convince the other eight justices to agree to a unanimous decision in the seminal case of Brown v. Board of Education. That case was brought by the NAACP. The Court held segregation in schools unconstitutional. The fact that it was a unanimous decision that overturned precedent made it clear that no aspect of segregation would henceforth be considered constitutional.
- Republican President Ike Eisenhower played additional important roles in furthering equality in America. He "proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 and signed those acts into law. . . . They constituted the first significant civil rights acts since the 1870s." Moreover, when the Democratic Governor of Arkansas refused to integrate schools in what became known as the "Little Rock Nine" incident, "Eisenhower placed the Arkansas National Guard under Federal control and sent Army troops to escort nine black students into an all-white public school."
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was championed by JFK - but it was passed with massive Republican support (over 80%) in Congress and over fierce opposition from Democrats who made repeated attempts at filibuster. Indeed, 80% of the vote opposing the Civil Rights Act came from Democrats. Women were added to the Act as a protected class by a Democrat who thought it would be a poison pill, killing the legislation. To the contrary, the Congress passed the Act without any attempt to remove the provision.
- Martin Luther King Jr. was the most well known and pivotal Civil Rights activist ever produced in America. His most famous speech, "I Had A Dream," was an eloquent and stirring call for equality. If you have not read the speech or heard it, you can find it here. I would highly recommend listening to it. Rev. King was, by the way, a Republican.
- "Bull" Connor was not a Republican.
- and finally, as an aside, Mr. Herbert does not name a single Republican - and I can find none from 1854 to the present - that has ever been drummed out of the Republican party for their opposition to civil rights. That charge is libelous. Could this be projection on his part? I ask since purges to insure ideological purity have occurred recently on the left.
Nothing that I say here is to suggest that racism and sexism could not be found in the Republican party or among conservatives at any point in American history. But if you take any period in history and draw a line at the midpoint of racist and sexist attitudes, you would find far more Republicans than Democrats on the lesser side of that line. And you would find a much greater willingness on the part of Republicans, relative to the time, to effectuate equality. That was as true in 1865 as in 1965 - and in 2008.
Sometime about 1968, the far left movement emerged as a major wing of the Democratic Party. This far left wing hijacked the civil rights movement and made it, ostensibly, the raison d'etre of their wing. Gradually, the far left has grown until it is now the dominant force in Democratic politics. JFK, Truman and FDR would recognize precious little of today's Democratic Party.
The far left fundamentally altered the nature of the Civil Rights movement when they claimed it as their own. They imprinted the movement with identity politics, grossly distorting the movement's goal of a level playing field for all Americans and creating in its stead a Marxist world of permanent victimized classes entitled to special treatment. The far left has been the driver of reverse racism and sexism for the past half century. That is why it is no surprise that, with the emergence of a far left candidate for the highest office in the nation, Rev. Jeremiah Wright should also arise at his side and into the public eye preaching a vile racism and separatism most Americans thought long dead in this country. Nor is it any surprise that the MSM, many of whom are of the far left, should collectively yawn at Obama's twenty year association with Wright. Wright is anything but an anamoly. To the contrary, he is a progeny of the politics of the far left.
The far left did not merely hijack the civil rights movement, they also wrote over a century of American history, turning it on its head. That is why Bob Herbert, quoted above, is able to wax so eloquently while spouting the most horrendous of deceits. The far left managed to paint the conservative movement and the Republican Party as the prime repositories of racism and sexism. The far left has long held themselves out as the true party of equality. They have done so falsely as, by its very nature, identity politics cements inequality. Beyond that truism, the far left has for decades played the race and gender cards to counter any criticism of their policies, to forestall any reasoned debate and to demonize those who stand opposed to them. They continue to do so through this very day.
For example, Obama has attempted repeatedly to play the race card so as to delegitimize criticism of his policies. And today we have the Governor of New York calling the McCain camp racist for belittling the executive experience one could expect to be gleaned from the position of "community organizer." Apparently, according to Gov. David Patterson, "repeated use of the words 'community organizer' is Republican code for 'black'." What Gov. Patterson is doing is the well worn trick of taking any criticism of something pertaining to one of the victim class and recasting it as an illegitimate attack on the victim class itself. These tactics, which the left has used with incredible effectiveness in the past, have done incalculable harm to our nation over the decades.
We are either a melting pot wherein "all men are created equal" - the ideal of our Founders for which we have long strived and are ever closer to succeeding - or we are to become a multicultural nation of pigeon-holed special interests. We are to become a nation where groups are encouraged to remain apart, defining themselves by their victim class before defining themselves as Americans. Multiculturalism is unworkable - we can see it destroying Europe and Britain - but that has not stopped the far left in America from their embrace of the concept. Nor has it slowed their efforts to weave multiculturalism irrevocably into the fabric of our society.
The far left has long pushed forward minorities and women to prove that they are the party of inclusiveness. On the right, the process has been slower. You had the percolation of minorities and women to major positions through the natural process of time and selection of the fittest. Only the most jaded would ever argue that Colin Powell and Condi Rice did not earn their positions solely on merit. And love her or hate her, Kristi Todd Whitman was both well qualified and a very good governor.
I have long been waiting for a self-made and accomplished woman or minority to rise to the very top in Republican politics. It is something that would intrinsically expose the incredibly damaging canard that the far left has pushed for near half a century. I had hoped Colin Powell would be that man a decade ago. As to Condi Rice, had things worked out differently for the Bush administration and had she not selected the Sec. of State slot (a killer for anyone with Pres. aspirations) I thought that perhaps she would have a good shot at running in 2008. I've been waiting for Thomas Sowell to run for any elected office for decades - and yes, I would consider him for beatification. These are people for whom neither their skin color nor their gender makes them a victim. These are people for whom what unites us in common as Americans is more important than what divides us into sub-groups. And these are people who earned their success by virtue of their excellence rather than the distortions of identity politics.
It is inevitable that one of the two concepts I earlier described - a melting pot of equals or a multicultural morass of victim groups - will gain ascendance in America. I have long felt that we are at a crossroads in our nation for precisely this reason, and that the ramifications of how we decide this issue will be existential.
On this blog, I congratulated Obama for achieving the status of the first African American nominee for President. I meant that sincerely, though I have also said before that he is the product of identity politics. He is the polar opposite of the post racial candidate he held himself out to be initially. It seems likely that the policies he would institute in America would represent the victory of multiculturalism - and indeed, Obama has explicitly stated his view of multiculturalism as the future of America. It would alter our nation fundamentally to create not simply a house divided, but a house with countless divides.
Will Sarah Palin represent the opposite choice? I think she does. As Victor Davis Hanson said of her:
Sarah Palin is the emblem of what feminism was supposed to be all about: an unafraid, independent, audacious woman, who soared on her own merits without the aid of a patriarchal jumpstart, high-brow matrimonial tutelage and capital, and old-boy liaisons and networking.
What we have seen in shrill reaction from the far left to Ms. Palin shines a giant spotlight on the far left's agenda. Their goal is not equality for women or any other minority, else the rise of Sarah Palin would be welcomed on its merits, irrespective of other political disagreements. There would be no need or attempt to delegitimize her. The frothing and vitriolic reaction of the far left shows their goal to actually be the maintenance of a permanent victim class that can be used by the far left to further their fundamantal goal of remaking society into a socialist utopia. Sarah Palin, by her very being, exposes the canard and is thus an existential danger to the far left.
All of that - the deception, the rewriting of history, the true agenda - is why Mr. Herbert can wax eloquent about the great civil rights victories of the modern left even as his compatriots set out to wholly destroy Sarah Palin. And all of that makes Sarah Palin's ascendance meaningful indeed. The rise of Obama and Hillary on the left have pushed us to the center of a crossroads on all of this, with the only option being of a turn in one direction or another. McCain's utterly brilliant selection of Gov. Palin as his running mate clarifies the issues completely and makes the choices stark. Because of that, my personal belief is that this election will have ramifications long beyond the next four years. A victory for Obama will go a long way to fundamentally reworking our society in the far left mold. A victory for McCain/Palin will mark a major step backwards from that abyss. It will be a truly major blow against the far left and their agenda for this country. There is much at stake indeed this November.
Photo at the top taken from Gateway Pundit.