Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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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 forms.

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 be proud.

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12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
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12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
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07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
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03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
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03/21/02: Get the Jews!
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03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
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01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly