Given that we have a black president, and some of his supporters have conveniently discovered that criticizing him is tantamount to racism, it’s hardly surprising that I’m responding to an article — in a mainstream publication, no less — entitled “Is the Republican Party Racist?”
Why is it that the left is so obsessed with the spectacle of Republican racism? Is it unease with a dark racial history, from the social tensions and racial violence in the North to the governmental Jim Crow activism of progressive Democrats in the Wilson administration? Is it the compulsion to rationalize the atrophic effects of welfare and other leftist policy on black families, or that minorities are more likely to have jobs, live in better-off neighborhoods and attend better-performing schools in the Sun Belt than in the Frost Belt? Or does this obsession spring from simple, unbridled contempt for the dissidents who give the lie to the left’s hallowed illusions? Whatever the reasons, the accusation is worth addressing head on.
So let’s talk about history.
The tale of Republicans and Democrats swapping philosophies or constituencies immediately after the civil rights movement is, to paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, more mythology than fact. Ike captured four states from the former Confederacy (six, if you include bellwether Missouri and reliably conservative Oklahoma) in 1952 — before Rosa Parks, Brown v. Board, or the Southern Strategy. The 1952 GOP platform for Eisenhower-Nixon included a civil rights plank that condemned “bigots who inject class, racial and religious prejudice into public and political matters”; opposed “discrimination against race, religion or national origin”; and supported federal “action toward the elimination of” lynching, poll taxes, and segregation in D.C. In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10479, creating the President’s Committee on Government Contracts, to enforce equal employment opportunity against discrimination within the federal government. He won half of Dixie in 1956.
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