The Klan and Progressivism

(Guest post by Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  This post orignally appeared here at Cranky Conservative.)

Michael Zak does what all too many on the left fail to do:  crack open some history books and take a real look at the history of the Ku Klux Klan.  Zak correctly notes that when the Klan was at its zenith during the 1920s, it was a terrorist wing of the Democratic party, and that since its inception, Republicans were at the forefront in trying to take it down.

It would have been far more truthful for the congresswoman to have admitted the fact that all those who wore sheets a long time ago lifted them to wear Democratic Party clothing.  Yes, the Ku Klux Klan was established by the Democratic Party.  Yes, the Ku Klux Klan murdered thousands of Republicans — African-American and white – in the years following the Civil War.  Yes, the Republican Party and a Republican President, Ulysses Grant, destroyed the KKK with their Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

How did the Ku Klux Klan re-emerge in the 20th century?  For that, the Democratic Party is to blame.

It was a racist Democrat President, Woodrow Wilson, who premiered Birth of a Nation in the White House.  That racist movie was based on a racist book written by one of Wilson’s racist friends from college.  In 1915, the movie spawned the modern-day Klan, with its burning crosses and white sheets.

Inspired by the movie, some Georgia Democrats revived the Klan.  Soon, the Ku Klux Klan again became a powerful force within the Democratic Party.  The KKK so dominated the 1924 Democratic Convention that Republicans, speaking truth to power, called it the Klanbake.  In the 1930s, a Democrat President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appointed a Klansman, Senator Hugo Black (D-AL), to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the 1950s, the Klansmen against whom the civil rights movement struggled were Democrats.  The notorious police commissioner Bull Connor, who attacked African-Americans with dogs and clubs and fire hoses, was both a Klansman and the Democratic Party’s National Committeeman for Alabama.  Starting in the 1980s, the Democratic Party elevated a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), to third-in-line for the presidency.

I have one quibble with all this.  It focuses too much on the partisan aspect of the KKK and not enough on its ideological drive.  After all, modern day Democrats could just claim that the Klan represented the conservative wing of the Democratic party.  This would be an error.

While most members of the Klan held what would be termed conservative views on social issues, they were hardly purveyors of Burkean conservative values.  In fact the Klan typified the Progressive/Populist movement to a tee: “conservative” socially but decidedly left-wing economically and politically.  They supported government intrusion into the economy and were backers of the New Deal.  Jesse Walker explains some of the areas of overlap between the Progressive movement and the Klan:

1. Progressivism had roots in the Protestant pietist tradition, and its partisans were frequently interested in reforming individuals as well as institutions. It’s a quick jump from there to the moral authoritarianism described in Charles Alexander’s books. Jane Addams, the Social Gospel activist who played such a big role in passing protective labor regulations and compulsory schooling laws, was also a critic of the “debased form of dramatic art, and a vulgar type of music” that a young person might find in the five-cent theaters, writing that it was “astounding that a city allows thousands of its youth to fill their impressionable minds with these absurdities.” Prohibition, that Klan kause kelebre, reached its height as a cause during the Progressive Era, complete with muckraking exposés of the “whiskey ring” and culminating with the passage of the eighteenth amendment in 1919.

2. Racism also had a foothold among the progressives. It might be tempting to argue that bigots like Woodrow Wilson, who introduced Jim Crow rules to the federal government, were merely progressive in some areas and reactionary in others. But the American eugenics movement was tied closely to the progressives’ drive for “scientific” reform, and its heyday covered both the Progressive Era and the ’20s. Politicians offered eugenic arguments not just for laws that banned miscegenation and allowed authorities to sterilize the allegedly unfit, but for restrictions on immigration from southern and central Europe.

3. The progressives and the Klan shared an interest in mandating public education and eliminating urban political machines. The civic-activist historians tell us that the rank-and-file Klansman’s interest in such reforms was frequently a sincere response to corruption and inadequate schooling, though it’s clear that their urban proposals owed at least something to their fear of immigrants, and that their education proposals were transparantly anti-Catholic. If the Klan’s motives were not purely nativist, then neither were the progressives’ purely benign: Just as the Klansmen sometimes shared the progressives’ hopes, the latter sometimes shared the Klansmen’s fears.

4. In the late 1910s the Klan was a small regional organization. In the early ’20s it was large and national. There’s a number of reasons why it made this leap, but the biggest may be the effects of World War I. This too marked a connection with progressivism.

As the historian William Leuchtenburg and the economist Murray Rothbard have argued, Wilson’s wartime policies were an outgrowth, not a negation, of Progressive Era politics. During the conflict, government planners and “enlightened” corporate leaders replaced a relatively free market with a heavily regimented economy, while intellectuals hoped, in Leuchtenburg’s words, to adopt “the same sort of centralized directing now employed to kill their enemies abroad for the new purpose of reconstructing their own life at home.”

Jonah Goldberg discussed some of the nastier, racist elements of the Progressive movement in Liberal Fascism. Justin Logan also has taken a look at the links between the Klan and Progressives, and there is other literature that touches upon this phenomenon.

Long story short, the Klan were largely comprised of people we would term statists.  This is not to say, of course, that all Progressives were racists or klansman, but the idea that the KKK was some kind of right-wing group is not anywhere near accurate.

65 Responses to The Klan and Progressivism

  • “They supported government intrusion into the economy and were backers of the New Deal.”

    So did, among others, Fr. Ryan–who, if I remember correctly, actually helped draft certain provisions of the new deal. Any point which applies equally to the Klan and to Ryan (and Day, and Pius XII, etc. etc.) is not really analytically incisive.

  • Rubbish. The whole point of Paul’s essay is that in regard to economic matters by no stretch of the imagination could the Klan be called conservative. Your citing of Monsignor Ryan, who was such a supporter of the New Deal that he was called Monsignor “New Deal” and criticized by many Catholics as being a near socialist, rather helps establish Paul’s point.

  • Exactly, Donald. Also, to re-iterate a point, I’m not saying that all progressives were/are racists or Klan members. Simply put, though, the Klan was not, especially at its peak, ever a conservative institution.

  • There was a strong streak of progressivism/populism amongst southern Democrats during this era, and this essay notes the reformist streak of a pretty horrific racist politician, James (“the Great White Chief”) Vardaman of Mississippi.

    http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~pmullins/chapter14.htm

  • The point: since its inception, the Democrat party has traded in class envy and hatred, e.g. KKK and progressive/socialist connections.

    Robert L. Bartley, WSJ, October 20, 2003, “The New Deal: Time for a New Look”: “The New Deal was not about economic recovery, but about displacing business as the nation’s predominant elite. . . . ”

    Walter Lippman, New York Herald Tribune, May 16, 1939, regarding the thrust of the New Deal, “ . . . one group is interested primarily in social reform and the other is interested in the control of the economic system.”

    More Bartley from above: ” . . . FDR harked back to the founder of his party. In his 1832 veto of renewing the Bank’s (Second Bank of the United States) charter, Jackson complained that its profits went to foreigners and a ‘few hundred of our own citizens, chiefly of the richest class.’ Daniel Webster replied that the message ‘wanton attack whole classes of people, for the purposes of turning against them the prejudices and resentments of other classes.’ The tradition, of course, runs strong even today in the party of Jackson and Roosevelt.”

  • Donald, so what if “many” Catholics–who, exactly?–criticize Ryan for being a “near” socialist on account of his support of the New Deal? Many other Catholics, both American and European, supported the New Deal and interpreted its interventions not as Socialism–there was, after all, still private property in post FDR America–but as necessary interventions made by the State to secure the common good. The point is not that Ryan was or was not right about the New Deal. The point is rather that any argument which claims that the KKK’s support of government intervention and the New Deal tells us anything interesting about the group’s ideology is laughable when you consider the wide array of other groups that also supported the New Deal. This fact simply doesn’t bear on what distinguishes the KKK from other such groups, and so is not analytically incisive.

    Do you understand this point?

  • Progressives and KKK may have been eugenic but for different reasons. The KKK to preserve the purity of the white race. Progressives to get rid of “the unfit”. Republicans supported NSM 200 for the same reason -to get rid of the unfit.

    Tribalism and racial tensions, IMO, are great tactic of the devil to get us at each others throats. Ethnic Catholics have gotten sucked into this as well.

  • The political realignment later that century changed everything. Go to stormfront.org and see if people still support big government.

  • The point is rather that any argument which claims that the KKK’s support of government intervention and the New Deal tells us anything interesting about the group’s ideology is laughable

    Only if you are of the belief that support for the New Deal came from any truly conservative quarter. Of the vaguely named “groups” which supported the New Deal, how many of them can be termed conservative? There were also other elements of the Klan’s platform that clearly favored populist and statist intervention mentioned in the post and the cited articles. Support for the New Deal is hardly the only evidence of the Klan’s non-conservatism.

    he political realignment later that century changed everything. Go to stormfront.org and see if people still support big government.

    Yes, the current manifestation of the Klan is not as statist as the old Klan, but the several hundred whackados that still cling to the white power mantra of the Klan support protectionist policies that are not much different than what was being touted back in the 1920s. More importantly, I was focusing on the Klan when it was a relevant political faction in this country, not a couple of hillbillies who have computer access.

  • Perhaps another way to address the New Deal issue is to point out that it is but one of many things that demonstrate the Klan’s populism. While perhaps support for the New Deal in and of itself is not evidence of the Klan’s non-conservativism, that, in conjunction with the other aspects of their general philosophy show a group that had more in common with the Progressive movement than with traditional conservatism.

  • Paul,

    I don’t find the term “conservative” to be a helpful descriptor here, as it lends itself to imprecision and, at times, equivocation.

    For example, is it or is it not a “conservative” position that government intervention in the economy should be avoided? Well, depending upon whether you are talking about 16th century England or 21st century America you will get two different answers. What we usually mean when we talk about “conservative” economic policies in the twenty-first century is, as you know, more precisely described in terms of neoliberalism, with all its attendent arguments and assumptions, which themselves need to be spelled out, and about which many different people (eg. Bill Clinton or Ross Perot) disagree in particular cases.

    But even assuming that we’re limiting “conservative” to our own historical moment, there are a variety of “conservatisms,” each one of which defines the term in a very different way. Are neo-conservatives, for example, really conservative, or are they ugly reinstantiations of Wilsonian progressivism? Depending on whether you lean more toward First Things, toward the Front Porch Republic, or some other “conservative” blog, you will find different answers to this question. So that’s a brief explanation why, in general, I think labeling historical events/movements from differing periods to be “conservative” or “progressive” is not so helpful, and tends instead to make us read the past as if it were simply an extension of our present obsessions.

  • I was focusing on the Klan when it was a relevant political faction in this country, not a couple of hillbillies who have computer access.

    The upland South generally has a small black population and has had competitive electoral politics since the Civil War. I doubt it was ever fertile territory for the Klan. (Which makes Robert Byrd’s history all the stranger). IIRC, one of the principals of Stormfront in recent years has been James Kelso, who grew up in the Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles. I think David Duke’s background was decidedly bourgeois as well.

  • I don’t find the term “conservative” to be a helpful descriptor here, as it lends itself to imprecision and, at times, equivocation.

    Thanks. Please tell Paul Krugman et al.

  • The Klan, Nazis, and the “white nationalists” of today were all motivated by a desire for white advancement. In the Klan’s heyday, welfare programs primarily aided whites. Today, it is perceived to mainly aid minorities. The racist philosophy hasn’t changed but the policy implications have. They’re rent seekers who will move into whichever house, progressive or conservative, that best promotes their agenda. If they lived in Mexico, they’d be all for free trade with their white brethren in America.

    I will say that today’s liberals should reexamine their protectionist and non-interventionist positions, considering the fact that racists correctly believe that the effect of protectionism and sometimes non-intervention is the advancement of the white race at the expense of non-whites.

  • In the Klan’s heyday, welfare programs primarily aided whites.

    In 1924, about 88% of the population was caucasian. It is not surprising that the ‘welfare programs of the day’ (orphanages, poor houses, veterans’ hospitals, asylums, and sanitoriums) had a predominantly caucasian clientele.

  • AD, exactly, which is why racists didn’t oppose it at the time.

  • Glad to see this article here, Paul. Did you notice how the realignment / Southern Strategy came up?

  • Progressives, exemplified in the political arena by the likes of Woodrow Wilson, sought to radically alter (or simply ignore) the US Constitution so as to permit greater state intervention into most areas of our lives. Wilson wanted America to model itself after Great Britain, turning itself into a Parliamentary system. They wanted to rip apart the institutional mechanisms that the Framers designed that slowed down the machinery of government. Popular reform, according to the Progressive movement, had to happen quicker and without those pesky contrivances like separation of powers and indirect elections (in other words, American republicanism). The system had to be massively overhauled and cater to popular whims.

    This is admittedly a rather crude generalization, but I think it captures the key points of the Progressive movement. And while I’m sure not every man who took that oath on Stone Mountain or at various locations around the country for the next couple of decades agreed with or even knew about each of these tenets, they were by and large sympathetic to most of these goals.

    Call it whatever you want to. Just don’t call it conservative.

  • Glad to see this article here, Paul. Did you notice how the realignment / Southern Strategy came up?

    Yep.

    As discussed at my blog there are several problems with this counter-argument. It tacitly assumes that Republicans and Democrats switched places. Disaffected racist Democrats switched parties, goes the logic, except that they all seemed to switch to a party that was even more hostile to the KKK specifically and was more supportive of granting civil rights to blacks. Curious. It almost makes you think that there just might have been something else to this realignment.

  • “In fact the Klan typified the Progressive/Populist movement to a tee: “conservative” socially but decidedly left-wing economically and politically.”

    I don’t even know about the social conservatism. How do you define that? “Progressivism” extended well into the sphere of morality, only in that day, it was called eugenics and racial hygiene. Many states in this country once had eugenics laws on the books, while racists promoted abortion, sterilization, contraception, and other means to reduce undesirable populations. That’s not the kind of “social conservatism” I know.

    Its safe to say that Nazism and its American equivalent were almost as fanatically dedicated to equality as their leftist counterparts – they just wanted equality among one race.

    We see plenty of that today as well; among the “progressive” elements of the pro-immigration debate, there are vicious Hispanic racist groups. “For the race everything; for those outside the race, nothing” is the slogan of one of their groups. They march with signs that say “whitey go back to Europe” and other racially charged rhetoric. And they know full well that in this country, they are semi-officially allowed to conduct themselves as full blown racists without any political or media censure by the self-hating, self-loathing white liberals.

    I don’t see anything particularly “racist”, therefore, about protectionist policies. Hispanic racists want open borders and free trade to facilitate the reconquista.

    I agree with WJ’s comment:

    “I think labeling historical events/movements from differing periods to be “conservative” or “progressive” is not so helpful, and tends instead to make us read the past as if it were simply an extension of our present obsessions.”

    If one must use such labels, at least make them proper nouns. An old-timey Progressive is not a modern progressive necessarily, anymore than an old-timey republican is a modern Republican.

  • The realignment was complete at the party leader level by LBJ though it would take a generation to trickle down. Compare LBJ to Goldwater and Nixon. You’re not suggesting that racists should’ve preferred LBJ to Goldwater, are you?

  • Compare LBJ to Goldwater and Nixon. You’re not suggesting that racists should’ve preferred LBJ to Goldwater, are you?

    Oh of course not. As we all know, LBJ was a forward-thinking saint who didn’t have a racist bone in his body. He was motivated by only altruistic motivations to advance the cause of Civil Rights. Just ask him:

    “I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

    That’s right, LBJ.

  • Right, Paul! Blacks were so dumb not to vote for Goldwater.

  • So, blacks vote for progressive Dems (even former KKK) because . . .

  • Because they are generally more responsive to black interests. If you’re black and your choices are a candidate who supports the Civil Rights Act and the other who doesn’t, it’s not a difficult choice.

    I should clarify that I’m not saying that all Democratic positions favor blacks. Some clearly do not (e.g., school vouchers) but on the whole, the scale tips in favor of the Democrats. That also isn’t to say that issues apart from race aren’t important but at least on issues where race is a factor, there is reason to trust Democrats over Republicans.

    To say otherwise is to imply that blacks are so dumb that they vote against their own interests and values.

  • AD, exactly, which is why racists didn’t oppose it at the time.

    Were there or were there not black inmates in these institutions?

  • While we are at it, is it really your opinion that the relatives of some fellow mad and dying of tertiary syphilis in a state asylum are ‘rent seekers’?

  • I think progressives do seem to think more in terms of group identity so early on it was unions, immigrants and the KKK. Now it has changed to racial groups, women, gays and unions. And that leads to this good of the herd mentality that I find troubling.

    Classical liberals – Hayek for example -wanted to see people as individuals first. Maybe part of the fight in the GOP are between those who want favor the individualist mind set and those who want to preserve
    or rescue a way of life, through get tough laws if necessary.

    As some one who reveres the bill of rights, my sympathies are with Hayek. The tradtionalists though, using the government to enforce morality which seems to be a Catholic view. But that seems to me like the government coercing consciences from which I viscerally rebel.

    Learning

  • “The point is not that Ryan was or was not right about the New Deal. The point is rather that any argument which claims that the KKK’s support of government intervention and the New Deal tells us anything interesting about the group’s ideology is laughable when you consider the wide array of other groups that also supported the New Deal. This fact simply doesn’t bear on what distinguishes the KKK from other such groups, and so is not analytically incisive.

    Do you understand this point?”

    Oh I understand what you are arguing and it is rubbish. Conservatives in this country uniformly opposed the New Deal. Paul was making the point that the Klan supported the New Deal and were on the Left in this country on economic issues, and therefore to consider them to be conservatives is ludicrous. Your choice of John Ryan to support your contention merely indicates that you know little about the career of Monsignor Ryan.

  • “To say otherwise is to imply that blacks are so dumb that they vote against their own interests and values.”

    That’s more or less what some black political speakers, such as Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, argue. Not necessarily that blacks are “dumb”, but that they’ve been sold a false ideology of resentment and entitlement by the post-MLK “civil rights” leadership, i.e. Jesse Jackson, Sharpton, et. al. Peterson sees black resentment of whites as the key to keeping blacks dependent upon big government.

    Of course you can always label him an “Uncle Tom” if you like.

  • I find it somewhat ironic that progressives will tout books like What’s Wrong With Kansas under the premise that blue collar and rural whites are so dumb that they can be hoodwinked by religious and cultural charlatans into voting against their economic “best interests”, yet recoil at the notion that blacks might be voting against their own interests and values.

  • People vote against their own interests and values all the time, usually due to a misperception of the politicians they are electing, a tribal affiliation to one party no matter what (Parts of Illinois still vote the way they do due to partisan differences dating back to the Civil War) and intense peer pressure.

  • AD, using your logic racists shouldn’t be protectionists because it will help some black people. And I’m pretty sure “rent seekers” was in reference to racists.

  • To be fair, neither national party is in anyone’s interest.

    It is always a question of which is least bad. And sometimes people put more faith in candidates than they do parties. Quite often in fact.

  • And I’m pretty sure “rent seekers” was in reference to racists.

    Who had no relatives in asylums, sanitoriums, veterans’ hospitals, or poor houses, right?

  • AD, using your logic racists shouldn’t be protectionists because it will help some black people.

    No, that is not my logic. Prior to 1933, common provision by public agencies was manifest in institutional care provided by state employees. The employees in question were seldom on the payroll of the central government (the Veterans’ Administration excepted). I think there were some pensions provided by that agency, but that’s about it. It seems rather contrived (though I suppose not beyond the realm of possibility) that the absence of income transfer programs prior to 1933 is attributable to anyone’s supposition that the beneficiaries would be black; I would suggest that the contours of common provision were determined by the common opinion that some sort of conditions so merited (schizophrenia, war injuries) and some did not (general impecuniousness).

  • Not necessarily that blacks are “dumb”, but that they’ve been sold a false ideology of resentment and entitlement by the post-MLK “civil rights” leadership, i.e. Jesse Jackson, Sharpton, et. al. Peterson sees black resentment of whites as the key to keeping blacks dependent upon big government.

    That necessarily means that they’re dumb enough to fall for it. You’ll find plenty of blacks who aren’t fans of Jesse Jackson or Sharpton but they still vote Democrat. And yes, I would consider Jesse Lee Peterson an Uncle Tom. It’s one thing to say that the black community bears certain responsibilities. All blacks would agree with that. But it’s quite another to say that the government bears none when it comes to aiding blacks.

    Don, I find it far more likely that blacks for Democrat because they have a rational reason to.

  • People vote against their own interests and values all the time,

    Or they have their own strata about what matters in public life, which can be regrettable indeed.

  • That necessarily means that they’re dumb enough to fall for it.

    RR, most people do not follow public affairs. They have other things to do with the space available in their head, things rather more important for their immediate livlihood.

  • But it’s quite another to say that the government bears none when it comes to aiding blacks.

    Do you mean blacks as blacks or blacks as individuals in certain social circumstances?

  • AD, what is your explanation as to why racists turned against wealth redistribution programs?

  • “And yes, I would consider Jesse Lee Peterson an Uncle Tom.”

    Wow, ok. Well at least you’re honest about your contempt for black people who dare to disobey the party line.

  • No, I’m okay with Colin Powell, Condozella Rice, and Justice Thomas. But at least you’re honest about your belief that anyone who disagrees with Peterson’s self-hatred does so for partisan reasons.

  • AD, what is your explanation as to why racists turned against wealth redistribution programs?

    I am not familiar with the degree to which the two positions have been correlated over time.

    Huey Long advocated redistributing assets and there was a point in time when both George McGovern and William Loeb advocated confiscatory estate taxes, though for different reasons. However, this sort of thing has been fairly unusual in American public life.

  • RR,

    You’re really unhinged on this one. You usually defend the center-left view quite reasonably, but not this time.

    You seem to be insisting that blacks ought to vote as a herd, that individual black people couldn’t possibly have interests apart from blacks as an abstract group. It isn’t as bad as slavery, but it is still a form of dehumanization.

    You think Peterson hates himself? I’ve read his book, I’ve heard him speak, and I’ve met him in person – nothing could be further from the truth.

    You’re so desperate to cling to this narrative, and to keep black people squarely in the D column, that you’ll resort to saying malicious things about a person you know nothing about. It scares you that the black man might stop unthinkingly towing the line, doesn’t it?

    Peterson’s message is a Christian message, a deeply Christian message – that people must let go of their hatreds in order to liberate themselves from oppression.

  • You seem to be insisting that blacks ought to vote as a herd

    No, I didn’t.

    You’re so desperate to cling to this narrative, and to keep black people squarely in the D column

    No desire to keep blacks in the D column here.

    It scares you that the black man might stop unthinkingly towing the line, doesn’t it?

    I’d be more than happy if he stopped unthinking.

    Peterson’s message is a Christian message, a deeply Christian message – that people must let go of their hatreds in order to liberate themselves from oppression.

    Yes, blame the victim. That’s exactly what’s wrong with him.

  • Yes, blame the victim. That’s exactly what’s wrong with him.

    You labeled the man an Uncle Tom simply because he refused to toe the line that you expect him to toe. It is fitting that you should do so, because in a discussion about racism it’s helpful to have a reminder of one of the nastier forms of racism – that of the left-wing, paternalistic variety. We wouldn’t want black people to have to think for themselves and try to help themselves, now would we. Superman whitey to the rescue.

  • Just for the record, the Klan did have some GOP supporters in the 1920s, most notably Gov. Edward L. Jackson of Indiana, elected with the explicit endorsement of the Klan, and the all-time worst governor of Illinois, Gov. Len Small. By the mid-1920s more than half the seats in the Indiana legislature were held by Klan members — representing three political parties!

    Perhaps the Democratic connection to the Klan was largely a Southern phenomenon, since in the northern states, and especially in large cities, the Democratic Party was (and in many cases still is) firmly controlled by Irish and other ethnic Catholics — exactly the kind of white people the KKK most despised.

    I say this not to cast any aspersions on present-day Republicans but simply to point out that the Klan’s bigotry crossed political boundaries.

  • You labeled the man an Uncle Tom simply because he refused to toe the line that you expect him to toe.

    If he toes Uncle Tom’s line, what else am I supposed to call him?

    We wouldn’t want black people to have to think for themselves and try to help themselves, now would we.

    I’m the one here claiming that blacks can think for themselves. Others here and Uncle Tom are arguing that they cannot.

  • Yes, blame the victim. That’s exactly what’s wrong with him.

    Whatever this fellow Peterson’s message is or is not, nursing grievances in the sort of social circumstances there are in this country is bound to be a superlatively unproductive activity.

    I can think of three or four public policies which have been or might be quite beneficial to the black population and a mess of others which are less beneficial (or injurious) and do collateral damage to boot.

    I have been reading newspapers for thirty five years or so and the indicators I have seen are that the fraternity of black politicians so rendered has no interest in the former and is militant on behalf of the latter. All of which is regrettable.

  • If he toes Uncle Tom’s line, what else am I supposed to call him?

    You haven’t demonstrated how he actually fits this disgusting label. The ball’s in your court.

    I’m the one here claiming that blacks can think for themselves.

    Yeah, you keep thinking that RR. It’s amusing to see someone so wrapped up in self-denial.

  • Paul, I will keep on thinking that blacks can think for themselves regardless of what people here claim.

    AD, that politicians have conflicting interests should be no surprise. Those who stick to principles against pressure are rare.

  • AD, that politicians have conflicting interests should be no surprise. Those who stick to principles against pressure are rare.

    Your response is perfectly non sequitur.

  • Did the Klan support the New Deal? I thought by that point the organization was all but defunct.

  • If he toes Uncle Tom’s line, what else am I supposed to call him?

    It’s not clear to me how you can think Peterson “toes Uncle Tom’s line” but not Justice Thomas. Their politics seem pretty similar.

    Incidentally, I was just reading the Wikipedia entry for Uncle Tom, and it’s fascinating how an originally admirable character was turned into a term of abuse.

  • It’s not clear to me how you can think Peterson “toes Uncle Tom’s line” but not Justice Thomas. Their politics seem pretty similar.

    Because it’s not about politics. You can be a black right-winger and still not be an Uncle Tom. I admit that I don’t much about Justice Thomas’ views on race other than his opinions in the Michigan cases which I found reasonable. I could be wrong about him but I give him the benefit of the doubt.

  • http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/26/080526fa_fact_packer

    I just chanced on this piece in which Pat Buchanan says it was Nixon’s strategy from the start to attract the Southern Wallace Democrats. One memo stated “We should do what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two, at least at the Democratic National Convention.”

  • If you are going to cite Buchanan restrainedradical, you really need to go to the horse’s mouth. Here is a column from 2002 in which Buchanan,while lambasting his usual bug-a-boo the “neo-cons” denies that the Southern Strategy was about race.

    http://buchanan.org/blog/pjb-the-neocons-and-nixons-southern-strategy-512

    “Richard Nixon kicked off his historic comeback in 1966 with a column on the South (by this writer) that declared we would build our Republican Party on a foundation of states rights, human rights, small government and a strong national defense, and leave it to the “party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.””

  • Notice that rr still has not offered any evidence to justify his claims about Peterson. Evidently, though, it has something about daring to think unlike other black people about race.

    And yes, the fact that we even use the term Uncle Tom at all is pretty sad, doubly so when we consider the nature of the character in the novel.

  • I just chanced on this piece in which Pat Buchanan says it was Nixon’s strategy from the start to attract the Southern Wallace Democrats.

    Exactly what public policy pursued between 1969 and 1977 would have done that? The Philadelphia Plan, perhaps? How about the Office of Minority Business Enterprise?

    Politicians seek votes. They do not inquire too much into the inner lives of members of the electorate in so doing. Is it your contention that Nixon should have told a quarter of the American electorate to not vote because they were unfit to vote or perhaps cast a ballot for Hubert Humphrey?

  • Don, the piece I linked to quotes directly from the horse’s mouth.

    AD, Nixon apparently rejected Buchanan’s more racist proposals but I think it’s safe to say that Nixon painted the party as somewhat less hostile to racists than the Democratic party. Why did Strom Thurmond switch parties?

  • Paul, I agree. The hateful charge of Uncle Tom, like the puerile psychobabble about “self-hatred,” is a scoundrel’s refuge and should have no place on a blog grounded in reason and Catholic morality. Very disappointing. Reasonable men can believe that government welfare systems are poisonous to culture and the human spirit, and that includes reasonable black men.

  • I have no insights as to why Strom Thurmond did what he did at any point in his life.

    Barry Goldwater had a libertarian objection to civil rights laws. It was enough to garner Goldwater a mass of support in the Deep South, a ballot from Thurmond among them. However, that view was quite atypical in the Republican Party (80% of the Republican congressional caucus casting votes for such legislation) and not replicated by any other post-war Republican candidate for that office.

    The breakdown of the political monopoly of the Democratic Party in the South began in 1952 and was not complete until 1994. It was a process that antedated and post-dated the more limited range of years when agitation over the terms of race relations was salient (1955-71). You might consider that Southern voters, like anyone else, can be motivated by a number of vectors and concerns. Characters like Richard Russell and James Eastland were no longer functioning as effective gatekeepers on these matters, the national elites of the party were often represented by the likes of Adlai Stevenson and George McGovern (critics of America as a political society who made the position of the Democratic Party as a voice of Southern identity increasingly untenable), and the modal view of Democratic politicos on other questions was incongruent with Southern preferences.

  • Notice also how RR mocks and dismisses Peterson’s Christian message about overcoming hatred of others as some sort of delusion that perpetuates his oppression by “the man”.

    What crude materialism! I guess God’s love and salvation aren’t enough either – he better start doling out celestial welfare checks and establishing racial quotas for admittance into heaven.

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