Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763
By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
By acting decisively on the basis of fundamental Republican principle,
George W. Bush is taking the Party of Lincoln off the defensive on civil
rights, where it has never belonged.
The administration filed a "friend of the court" brief urging the U.S.
Supreme Court to overturn the system of racial preferences the University of
Michigan uses to grant admission. This, coupled with Bush's severe scolding
of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for making a racially
insensitive remark, and his renomination of U.S. District Judge Charles
Pickering to the Court of Appeals, reaffirms the Republican commitment to
equal justice under law, and the GOP's opposition to racism in all its
Republicans, unlike Democrats, have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes
to race relations.
The Republican Party was formed to fight slavery. Republicans in Congress
supported overwhelmingly every civil rights bill before the landmark Civil
Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and were chiefly
responsible for passage of those bills. (More than 80 percent of Republicans
in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All but one Republican -
ex-Democrat Strom Thurmond - voted for the Voting Rights Act.)
Every segregationist who ever served in Congress was a Democrat. It was a
Republican president (Eisenhower) who sent federal troops to remove
Democratic governors who were standing in schoolhouse doors.
Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965
represented, for Republicans, the kind of victory over segregration that
Lee's surrender at Appomattox had been over slavery. Republicans thought
their century-long fight for equal rights was essentially won.
Having come late to the struggle for civil rights, the Democratic Party
morphed easily from supporting policies which discriminated against blacks
to supporting policies which discriminate against whites.
The chief Democratic sponsor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Hubert
Humphrey of Minnesota, said the Civil Rights Act did not provide for quotas.
"If the Senator can find in Title VII...any language that an employer will
have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race,
religion or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after
another, because it is not there."
Humphrey, perhaps the most sincere man ever to serve in the U.S. Senate,
doubtless meant what he said. But "affirmative action" has been the basis of
Democratic policy on race ever since.
The myth that Republicans have something to be ashamed of on race relations
is based on a malicious distortion, and on a lie.
Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president that year, voted
against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because he thought it would lead to
quotas. A founder of the NAACP in Arizona who had voted for every previous
civil rights bill, and who was responsible for desegrating the Arizona
National Guard (well before Harry Truman ordered the desegregation of the
U.S. armed forces), Goldwater could not reasonably be accused of racism
(though he was).
The lie concerns Richard Nixon and his so-called Southern Strategy in 1968.
Nixon ran on a platform of law and order, a strong national defense, and a
limited federal government. On race, he endorsed the historic Republican
principle of equal justice under law, which put him between the Democrats,
who had embraced quotas, and the segregationists who supported Alabama Gov.
George Wallace. When the campaign began, a poll showed Nixon with support
from 42 percent of voters; Humphrey, 29, Wallace, 22. In the end, Nixon and
Humphrey each got 43 percent of the vote, Wallace 13. The bigots who left
Wallace went back to their historic home in the Democratic Party.
As president, Nixon appointed more blacks to high office than any previous
president, increased the budget for civil rights enforcement by 800 percent,
and vigorously enforced desegregation of southern schools. Nothing he ever
said or did endorsed the way things were when Democrats monopolized politics
in the South.
When Republicans speak out for law and order or equal justice under law,
Democrats say they are using code words for racism. That's a lie. By
reaffirming Republican opposition to racism in all its forms, President Bush
has demonstrated a willingness to confront the liars. Abraham Lincoln would
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© 2002, Jack Kelly