A bit of late blogging on this topic. It was only a week ago that Harry Reid, obviously no student of history, charged from the Senate floor that GOP Senators were like lawmakers who opposed abolishment of slavery in pre-Civil war America. Then the NYT comes up with a whole range of gifts for "People of Color." They are, as more than one wry commenter has stated, apparently separate but equal gifts.
Just as a reality check, it pays to understand the historical record. I blogged this long ago, but I think it worth repeating:
- The Republican Party - the party of Abraham Lincoln - was born 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.
. . . 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.
What we see in the comments of Harry Reid is a reflection of just how successful the left has been in rewriting public perception of history. It truly is a travesty.
As to the NYT decision to provide gift ideas based on race, it is at once a tempest in a teapot and a window into the soul of the left. When they see a person, their natural reaction is to attempt to categorize them into a victim group which, thereafter, becomes their defining characteristic. It is in itself a form of racism - more belevolent then that practiced by Democrats of old, but a form of racism nonetheless. That fact is lost on the left, but it is easy to spot as it manifests in so many ways, the NYT decision to run a seperate but equal page of gift ideas being but a minor one. Affirmative action is another, as is the left's fanning of the flames of reverse racism discussed in the quote above.
I would love to see a poll that asks what it is you think of each time you, for example, look at Obama. I see a man. The fact that he is black never makes it into my consciousness unless brought to my attention by an outside source. I would imagine that is what the vast majority of conservatives also experience. On the flip side, I wonder how many on the left see a "black man." It would be interesting to know from a psychological standpoint, would it not.