A recent Washington Post article (“Incompetence, Not Racism” by Richard Cohen, Sept. 20) caught my attention. It was an excellent commentary refuting the ridiculous accusations that slow response to Katrina was based on racism. I agreed with the author, his quips about the president’s incompetence on Katrina and the dolorous history of blacks notwithstanding. However, one paragraph buried deep in the article gave me pause.
The well worn and errant dogma that conservative Southern (read Democrat) bigots fled their party in the wake of the civil-rights era, taking up residence in the Republican Party – which has been used by ill-informed race baiters for decades – was trod out yet again for public consumption. Let it be understood I in no way classify the author as such, quite the opposite; but it is important to note that continued usage of said misinformation supplies the haters with ammunition.
Common sense questions would be: If Southern bigots fled the Democrat Party to the Republican Party during 1964 and following, why was it the Republicans who fought for civil rights? Why was a Republican president (Richard Nixon) responsible for affirmative action? Why do Republicans have the stellar record of meritocratic inclusion in the highest echelons of their administrations? Why did Democrats led by Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., bitterly oppose the nomination of Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas and Janice Rogers Brown? Why did the Democrats sit silent as Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Janice Rogers Brown suffered vicious ad hominem attacks based on their race? Why was it the Democrats who opposed every civil-rights bill introduced in Congress (by Republicans) from 1856 well into the 1970s? Why do Democrats today support measures that retard self-sufficiency pursuant to blacks and the so-called poor, while Republicans champion the exact opposite (President Bush’s “We will rebuild New Orleans” speech notwithstanding)? But I digress.
Permit me to inject a bit of factual history. Thom Patterson of CNN.com wrote: “Nine of the current members of Congress have switched parties while serving in office, five in the Senate, four in the House. Seven of them moved from the Democrats to the Republicans and two former Republicans declared themselves Independents. One of those Independents later switched back to the GOP.” (“Party switching comes with political risks,” May 23, 2001.)
The complete number of senators to have officially switched parties since 1893 is 19 – the majority of those leaving the GOP to join the Silver Party. Since Sept. 24, 1981, only 15 members of the House have switched parties – 13 of those leaving the liberal party to join the GOP.
That all Dixiecrats became Republicans shortly after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is another big lie. Richard Russell, Mendell Rivers, [Bill] Clinton’s mentor William Fullbright, Robert Byrd, Fritz Hollings and Al Gore Sr. remained Democrats till their dying day.
Most Democrats did not become Republicans. They created the Dixiecrats and then, when the civil-rights movement succeeded, they returned to Democratic fold. It was not till much later, with a new, younger breed of Southerner and thousands of Northerners moving into the South that Republicans began to make gains. (“Republicans and Civil Rights,” Diane Alden, Dec. 14, 2002.)
Alden also notes that in 1970 the Democrat Party had a total lock on Georgia. Newt Gingrich was the first of the “outsiders” to break that lock. Yet the whitewashing of factual history continues in the media, politics and among poorly researched teachers using biased textbooks.
Granted, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott and even George Wallace entered politics as products of their day and culture; but these men, by the grace of “Almighty God,” had the scales removed from their eyes.
These men grew up and ultimately the cream of their character rose to the top. They renounced that heritage, embracing freedom and equality for all. Thurmond became the first Southern senator to hire black staff. Facts dictate it is not the Trent Lotts, Richard Shelbys, Mike Parkers, nor was it the late Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms who were and are attacking reputable, accomplished black men and women with slanderous racist hate screed. It is the modern incarnations of Bull Connor and Orval Faubus – racists who died clutching their batons, dog leashes and fire hoses.
And while the cacophony of primal shrill from the mobocratic liberals prepare to introduce monosyllabic adjectival prefixes to my name, I ask the question that begs answering: How many of those eviscerating the likes of Janice Rogers Brown, Clarence Thomas, Alberto Gonzales, Miguel Estrada, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell, Ward Connerly, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Shelby Steele, Linda Chavez and many other independent-minded blacks and Hispanics with racist-tinged hate screed, names like Aunt Jemima and racist characterizations are white Republicans? How many white Republicans have called blacks our children should emulate stupid and embarrassments? How many Ku Klux Klan white Republicans reduce whites they disapprove of to the level of blacks they despise by calling them “white niggers” as Robert Byrd did?